The cost of last month's disastrous terrorist attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center has already taken a great toll on those who worked in the financial sector. But another industry has also a taken a hit-television broadcast. Most of the New York-based stations that transmitted from the WTC also had round-the-clock engineering and technical staff whose job it was to maintain the equipment. Many area broadcasters have incurred devastating personal losses, as some of their key engineering personnel have gone missing since September 11.
WCBS (Channel 2) is missing two Transmission Engineers, Bob Pattison and Isaias Rivera. Pattison has been with the station for over 30 years, and Rivera, for about a year and a half. "We're saying that they're both still missing," said Karen Matteo, director of Communications for WCBS, shortly after the events. "You know, it hits home, we're covering this huge tragic story and you know, we have two of our own that we've lost out there, so it's not an easy time," she added.
WNBC does not know the whereabouts of its Technical Engineer, William Steckman. According to Anna Carbonell, the PR director for WNBC, he did call the station after the first plan struck the north tower. He told staff he was "powering down," and nothing has been heard from him since. Steckman has been with the NBC family since 1967, and has a wife and five children.
WNET (Channel Thirteen) has lost its Engineer Gerard "Rod" Coppola, who has been with the station for over 15 years (for more information on Coppola, see this month's "Final Thought").
WABC (Channel 7) is missing Engineer Donald DiFranco. He had been employed by ABC since May of 1987, and was WABC-TV's RF Supervisor at the time of the attack. He is 43 years old, and according to WABC press materials, was a respected member of the station's engineering staff, with an in-depth knowledge of transmitter systems and supporting equipment. DiFranco graduated from The College of Staten Island with an AAS degree in Electronics, and held memberships in SMPTE, SBE, and NABET.
WPIX is missing Steve Jacobson, the station's transmitter maintenance engineer. He had been with the station for 22 years. According to Matt Eriksson, a spokesperson for the station, "We [WPIX] hope and pray for his safe return." Jacobson was a 22-year veteran of the station whose dedication to his job was made evident when, during the 1993 bombing of the WTC, he stayed on site until midnight, enduring heavy smoke conditions until the fire was put out, to assure that the transmitter was operating properly when power was restored.
Two stations, WWOR (Channel 9) and WNYW (Channel 5), luckily did not have any technicians or engineers working on the north tower at the time of the collision.
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