Hi, my name is Brett Elmore, General Manager of WJLX 1240 AM. You have probably seen, heard or read our story over the last week. The full account of the vandalism that occurred is below in this story. We have received an overwhelming amount of support and tips from the community, as well as around the country. Many have asked, "How can we help?"
Unfortunately, the transmitter site was uninsured. We are currently working to rebuild, but being a small market station in Alabama, we have a large hill to climb. We must purchase a new transmitter, tower, various equipment such as processing, engineering work, etc. Our colleagues at Bohn Broadcast estimated this could be a $60,000 project, if not more.
If you would like to help, we certainly appreciate it. We want to build our station back bigger and stronger than ever.
Also, if you have any tips to solve this crime, please call Jasper Police at [phone redacted].
The story below is courtesy of The Guardian:
WJLX, a station in Jasper, Alabama, was ordered to go off air by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) after thieves took the station’s AM tower last week, the Guardian first learned.
“In all my years of being in the business, around the business, everything like that, I have never seen anything like this,” WJLX’s general manager, Brett Elmore, told the Guardian.
“You don’t hear of a 200ft tower being stolen,” he added.
Elmore said the theft was first discovered last week by a landscaping crew that regularly manages the area nearby the tower, WBRC reported.
“They called me and said the tower was gone. And I said, ‘What do you mean, the tower is gone?’” Elmore said.
The radio tower was previously located in a wooded area, behind a local poultry plant. Elmore said that thieves had cut the tower’s wires and somehow removed it. Thieves also stole the station’s AM transmitter from a nearby building.
Elmore quickly reported the theft, but said that local police were equally surprised at the brazen robbery.
“They were just as stunned as I was. It’s unbelievable,” he said.
For the small radio station, the theft has had a significant impact. Elmore said the station’s property was not insured. Replacing the tower could cost the station anywhere between $100,000 to $150,000, which is “more money than we have”, Elmore said.
The FCC also notified WJLX on Thursday morning that the station would have to go off the air because of the theft. While WJLX still has its FM transmitter and tower, it is not allowed to operate its FM transmitter while the AM station is off the air.
“This is a huge loss,” Elmore said. “People have reached out and asked how they can help, but I don’t know how you can help unless you have a 200ft tower and an AM transmitter.”
As news of the tower theft has gone viral, Elmore says that many people have reached out to him and local police with their own theories on the tower’s disappearance.
“I had a guy from Virginia call yesterday and say, ‘You know, I think a helicopter grabbed [the tower],’” Elmore said.
Elmore added that WJLX wasn’t the only station to be hit by thieves. About six months ago, a nearby radio station had their air conditioning unit, copper pipes and other materials stolen.
Elmore isn’t sure if the robberies are connected, but believes thieves may have targeted WJLX’s tower and transmitter to make a quick buck from selling the metal.
Despite the bad news, Elmore remains hopeful that surveillance video from the nearby poultry plant or witnesses employed at the plant can help piece together who stole the station’s tower.
“Surely, someone saw something or heard something,” Elmore said.
Elmore added that the station is working to get the AM tower up to get back on the air, but will resume their broadcasts online in the meantime.
“The sad part is that Jasper has always been a radio town. They have always supported their local radio station,” Elmore said.
“Now we’re silent, but we won’t be silent for long. I’m gonna work tirelessly to get this thing back up and running, one way or the other.”