Theft of 200-Foot Tower Silences Radio Station

Brett Elmore, the general manager of WJLX radio station in Jasper, Alabama, is left puzzled after the station’s 200-foot AM tower was stolen last week, forcing the station to cease operations. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ordered the station off the air while investigations into the disappearance of the heavy steel structure are ongoing. Elmore, a veteran in the industry, expressed his disbelief at the unprecedented theft.

The station, known as the “Sound of Walker County,” is unable to operate its FM transmitter and tower while the AM station is off the air, as per FCC regulations. Elmore lamented the situation, stating that the station is the only voice for the community of approximately 68,000 residents in Walker County.

The theft of the tower, which has been a part of the station since the mid-1950s, has had a significant impact on both the station and the community it serves. Elmore emphasized the importance of the station for community safety, stating that in the event of an emergency, listeners would turn to the station for information, but now find it silent. The cost to replace the tower could range from $60,000 to $100,000, a hefty sum for the station, which was not insured against theft.

The theft was discovered on February 2nd when a maintenance crew arrived to perform work on the site. The tower, previously located in a wooded area behind a local poultry plant, had been dismantled by the thieves who cut the securing wires and stole additional equipment, including the station’s AM transmitter from a nearby building. Elmore reported the theft to local police, who were equally shocked by the audacious crime. It is believed that the thieves intended to sell the tower for scrap metal.

If apprehended, the culprits could face a fine or up to a decade in prison. Despite reviewing video footage, no significant leads have been identified. The Jasper police department confirmed that they are investigating the incident and are seeking tips from the public.

In response to the theft, Elmore has started a GoFundMe page to raise funds for a replacement tower. As of Friday afternoon, the campaign had raised just over $1,300. Elmore expressed his dismay at the situation, stating that the theft has significantly impacted a small business and a community where local radio is crucial. He assured that any new tower would be secured with gates, locks, and cameras, vowing to spare no expense in ensuring the security of the station’s property.