KPFZ Lake County’s go to gold standard for disaster messaging, back on air

From right, Olga Martin Steele, programmer at KPFZ radio with Operations Manager Andy Weiss. The station went off air Oct. 22 because of poor weather and remained off to install a rooftop studio transmitter link connection with the broadcast tower. KPFZ informed the press as the installation was completed on Nov. 1, 2023, Lakeport. (File photo-Lake County Publishing.)

LAKEPORT— Scrappy radio broadcaster KPFZ, frequently punching above its weight was silenced by strong winds and rain on Sunday, October 22, yet only returned to the air waves early in the evening on November 1 following equipment installation much to the relief of loyal listeners.

It is ironic a station felled by a haymaker punch should come to life on the Day of the Dead. It was not unusual the station lost power as it has occasionally occurred before, but it was only for a couple of minutes, before re-booting the signal recalled Olga Martin Steele, president of Lake County Community Radio Board of Directors and a programmer for Voices of Lake County and other shows. One of their concerns was for a Reg Flag Warning received last week for high wind forecasts.

Whenever there is an emergency warning from first responders, many of them reach out to us and we cover the emergency,” Marin Steele said. “They’ll either send a text, direct call or stop by the studio. A lot of live coverage with first responders, is what helps us stand out in Lake County.”

The station remined off air to install a new studio transmitter link thar hooks up with the transmitter tower explained Martin Steele. The STL needed to be install on the roof of the building, which required some negotiation with a neighboring business to gain access to the roof. Installation was in progress until dusk and Martin Steele noted the new device should provide an uninterrupted signal. Listener response was nearly immediate when their signal dropped. Many listeners contacted the station through the station’s Facebook page or a Facebook page of one of the programmers.

“It’s not uncommon to have little glitches but this was the longest non-broadcast period we’ve had in recent memory,” she said. They are listener supported and management finds most want to help KPFZ. “Personally, I don’t get complaints,” Martin Steele said. “We’re self-funded and do not receive any government grants. But when we need new equipment or are in an emergency, we’ll reach out to listeners, and several will often assist us to stay on air.”

Updating listeners and supporters via social media, and in response to a question posted by board operator Susan Novak during the 11 day outage, the radio station noted they authorized the purchase of components for the new equipment last year utilizing funds from a Go Fund me campaign, but according to station representatives’ posts, people having to go on the roof and climb the tower to carefully aim antennas necessitated scheduling professional help, ultimately this delayed the process.

The station also streams via, but the stream is intermittent and known to also be susceptible to online glitches.

Typically, KPFZ’s broadcast day runs from 7 a.m. until 10 pm., seven days a week. But during a disaster the station remains on air 24/7 until the emergency is resolved. “We do on air pitches, one in spring, a week-long drive, and one in the fall for a couple of days, she added. “We did a memorial concert for one of our programmers who passed away and raised a considerable amount of funds. (Ron Green) Yet it is always distressing to be off air for a long time because then we cannot help the community with red flag warnings.”

Jackie Riche, a retiree and long-time loyal listener who spends frequent time of each day tuning in, began exchanging calls with friends who are also station buffs. “I heard some rumors why it went down and then I figured Olga (I’ve known for years) would explain the situation as soon as they returned to the air, since she has several live shows, Mountain in the Morning, being one, she noted. Nonetheless when the initial shutdown struck, then stretched past all day, she became anxious. “I was going through the delirium tremens,” Riche admitted. “I live alone with my little dog.”

But Riche is also a short-wave operator, close to a community of other short-wave enthusiasts. “Every Wednesday we check in if there’s an emergency and if KPFZ is off the air, we’ll get on short-wave and swap information to see if there’s a catastrophe,” she said. “I didn’t know KPFZ was back on the air until Olga texted me at 6:30 p.m. tonight (Nov. 1).”

“I go to all the fund raisers KPFZ has,” she added. “I’m thankful KPFZ is back on the air. They’re having another fund raiser, this for Roy Zimmerman (satirical song writer) in Lower Lake (at the Unitarian Universalist Community of Lake County, 3810 Main Street in Kelseyville) on November 11. I’m thankful KPFZ are back on the air and so are a lot of other people because we are all family here.”

Martin Steele said she would like to recognize the following volunteers: John Saar, John Moorehead, Scott Nuttal, Dennis Purcell and station Operations Manager Andrew Weiss. She also thanked Lakeport Police Chief Brad Rasmussen and Lakeport Fire Protection District Chief Patrick Reitz. “They were very responsive and helped with some of our diagnostics, we’re well supported by the City of Lakeport,” she said. She added that if listeners have any concerns about the station to call: 707-263-3640.

This article was originally published by a . Read the Original article here. .