Saturday, October 1, 2022

SWFL Radio, TV Struggle To Get Back On-Air

There are many scenes like this in SWFL (News-Press photo)

WINK News is back on the air in Southwest Florida.  The station moved to its transmitter site, according to a posting on the WINK News website.

The broadcast was interrupted Wednesday after a storm surge from Hurricane Ian breached the station’s broadcast center on Palm Beach Boulevard in Fort Myers.

“Our studios, like most of Southwest Florida, were flooded in the storm surge so we are emergency broadcasting from our transmitter site that is near Babcock Ranch,” said Mark Gilson, director of digital distribution at WINK News.

The power went out just before 5 p.m. on Wednesday, but anchors Lois Thome and Chris Cifatte and Chief Meteorologist Matt Devitt continued to broadcast on Facebook for a period of time.

Category 4 Hurricane Ian made landfall in North Captiva, pummeling the Southwest Florida coast with catastrophic storm surge and intense winds, ripping trees from the ground and ripping homes from their foundation in some instances.

WINK News stafffers

“We are like everybody else,” said Tom Doerr, director of local news and content at WINK News. “We are experiencing the same difficulties like everybody else.”

“Right now, we are working as fast as we can to get back on the air,” Doerr said. “It’s complicated by high water.”

“Once we get our generator back up, we will be able to broadcast on our TV station and our radio stations,” Doerr said.

After taking on water when Ian made landfall Wednesday afternoon near Ft. Myers and Cape Coral, the entire Fort Myers Broadcasting Co. group of stations in the Ft. Myers-Naples market was knocked off the air. The cluster includes AC WINK-FM (96.9), Spanish AC “Latino 97.7” WTLQ-FM, soft AC “Wave 101.1” WAVV and the CBS affiliate WINK-DTV. All were still dark as of Friday afternoon. According to published reports, FMBC shares a building with Sun Broadcasting, whose stations in the market are also off the air, according to InsideRadio.

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