WPIX Back In The Saddle

When the twin towers of the World Trade Center crashed into the streets of lower Manhattan last month, with them went most of the city's broadcast transmission facilities, including much of WPIX-TV's capabilities. Michael Gano, the station's director of Engineering, was just getting into work in his uptown office that morning when American Airlines Flight 11 hit the north tower. Since the accident occurred, his station has been able to get over-the-air coverage back out to most of the New York metropolitan area. WPIX, a Tribune Broadcasting-owned WB network affiliate, had recently begun transmitting a digital signal from the World Trade Center. It has sustained massive damage to both its analog and digital infrastructure. Some of the other broadcasters who also lost millions of dollars worth of equipment in the collapse were WCBS (Channel 2), WNBC (Channel 4), WNYW (Channel 5), and WABC (Channel 7). WPIX lost its NTSC transmitter, its DTV transmitter, and its news relay microwave transmitter in the collapse. One of WPIX's staff members, Steve Jacobson, an engineer who was working on the north tower when it fell, is missing.

After the WTC incident, Gano and his staff began relaying an over-the-air signal from a 1-W transmitter atop the Empire State Building (ESB). It moved out to the Armstrong tower in Alpine, NJ, on September 17 where, according to Gano, it is transmitting at "...slightly higher power than the one that was on the north side of the ESB, but still not close to our original coverage."

Gano said he has "...not even began to think of" the amount of money this disaster will cost WPIX. For the time being he and his staff are "...just trying to work on the immediate and long-term solutions [for the disaster] going forward."

When asked about whether or not this disaster will set back WPIX in terms of its digital buildout, Gano replied that it would "...set all of New York back in terms of digital." What he meant by this of course, was that so many of the other major broadcasters in the city were transmitting digitally from the World Trade Center. The only two major affiliates not broadcasting a digital signal from the building were WCBS-DT and WNYW-DT, which broadcast from the Empire State Building. WPIX had no backup digital antenna or transmitter.