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Fire Takes SWAU Radio Station Off Air

Fire broke out in the KJCR radio station on the campus of Southwestern Adventist University Thursday night, disabling the station.

Jessica Lozano, writing for the Southwesterner, the official online publication of the SWAU communications department, reports:

    Lighting struck KJCR 88.3 last night while station manager Randy Yates was working late in his office. “I could feel the pop under my feet when the lightning struck, and then my computer went down and some of the lights went out.”

    Yates went to check the breaker box, and noticed a wood smoke smell. He then pulled down the attic steps and saw bright orange flames. He quickly left the building and called 911.

    The Keene Fire Department and departments from Cleburne, Alvarado, and Briar Oak sent trucks to the scene. Yates says he explained the situation and the firefighters quickly put out the fire, running a water hose through to the attic.

    Keene Fire Marshal Jacob Hopps confirmed that the fire began in the attic from what appeared to be natural causes, most likely lightning. “There was fire and heavy smoke coming from the south gable when we arrived. We were able to push the fire back, and then the Alvarado Fire Department provided horizontal ventilation through the gable, which relieved a lot of the heat and smoke, and allowed us to extinguish the fire.”

    Most of the damage was to the two on-air booths and one office. Equipment damage has yet to be assessed.

    “I’m thankful that I was here when this happened, because we could have lost the whole building and all of the radio personnel and communication faculty could have lost their entire offices,” said Yates.

    The radio station is currently off the air.

Wikipedia says this about KJCR:

    The idea for a radio station was proposed in 1968. A gift to the college by Arkansas radio pioneer Raymond Beem financed the station’s start-up costs; station planning began in 1973.

    The station began as KSUC in 1974.

    The 88.3 frequency was chosen because it rhymed with the call letters. The studios were located in the school’s Heritage Hall in a dorm room.

    By 1984 station management decided to abandon the KSUC call letters as the name of the college changed, and applied for replacement calls KJCR, and the station moved from the dorm room to the studios at 304 N. College Drive.

    On May 5, 1989 110-mile per hour winds toppled the station’s transmitter, destroying 60 feet of tower sections and two of four antenna elements. In two days the station returned to the air under temporary authorization on a 75-foot tower at 925 watts. Construction began on a new 180′ tower by the fall, and was put into use on May 18, 1990. A power increase was granted for 4,000 watts with an ERP of 23,000 watts directed to the west.

    In November, 1999 KJCR began broadcasting 24 hours a day with the aid of voicetracking.

Photos courtesy of Justin Woods, who was a DJ at KJCR from 2000-2001.

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