WICB Shines During the Blackout Of '03


Contributed by Christopher Wheatley

WICB-FM, the College's student-run station, was the only area radio station on the air during the great blackout of 2003 on Thursday, August 14.

Just after 4 p.m. last Thursday, power to the transmitter was mysteriously interrupted several times. After those brief outages, WICB stayed on the air and kept central New York residents informed.

Richard Couture, Office of Physical Plant director, said the fact that the College had power was due simply to good luck. The campus receives its power from lines to the south of Ithaca, while Ithaca and surrounding towns receive power from lines that come from the north.

When it became clear that the blackout covered most of the Northeast, the station staff got busy fielding phone calls and faxes from local police agencies and New York State Electric and Gas.

Cris Lockey '05, who was in the newsroom that afternoon, took over DJ duties from 6:00 p.m. to midnight. By 5:30 p.m., the station began pre-empting its regular schedule to provide two feeds from ABC News each hour, as well as local updates during every break throughout the evening. Patrick Bohn '05 and Amanda Horning '06 assisted Lockey.

Lockey reminded drivers to treat every intersection as a four-way stop since traffic signals were not working. She updated listeners as the lights came back on and urged people to use power sparingly once it was restored.

The station aired a live report from Evan Axelbank and Ed Cohen, both '05, who phoned in from their internship at NBC in New York.

A generator capable of powering the new WICB transmitter, as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather station on campus, will be installed this fall. It will keep the station on the air even if the campus loses power.

Chris Wheatley
Manager, WICB-FM Radio Operations