MERRILLVILLE—A violent storm damaged their TV transmitter on Monday July 16 forcing Lakeshore PBS off that air. After attempting repairs for over a week, the NWI public broadcaster now must move forward with buying a replacement.
A thunderstorm went through our region on the 16th that knocked us off the air and affecting the transmitter of Northwest Indiana’s local TV station, Lakeshore PBS. An engineering team was dispatched to the transmitter site located near Cedar Lake and found a power loss. Working with NIPSCO, the power to all phases was restored. The engineering team then discovered that there was an error in the transmitter system that blocked the system from operating on its 950-foot tower.
An engineering team, working with the manufacturer, had been trying to locate the issue that has kept the station down. After many days of testing and repeated attempts to repair the system, it was determined that the current transmitter was damaged beyond repair.
Lakeshore PBS is moving forward with purchasing a new transmitter. Due to the TV spectrum repack, this will take 6-8 weeks to get here on site. Lakeshore is waiting to receive a loaner transmitter that is scheduled to be onsite by Friday afternoon, but it will be operating at significantly less power.
“Through all of this, we heard from many viewers and members during our outage, letting us know that they missed their programming and their PBS station,” said James Muhammad, President and CEO of Lakeshore Public Media. “We totally understand the inconvenience this outage has caused to our viewers. We are working diligently to provide limited service on an interim basis until our new transmitter arrives. “
“This temporary replacement will get us back on the air but it will be operating at less power and will most likely leave us with some viewers who will still be unable to receive us until the new full power transmitter is installed,” offered Matt Franklin, Vice President of TV Operations for the station.
“It takes a large investment in capital to operate a TV station, and this incident shows how challenging it is,” Franklin continued. “Hindsight would have had us better prepared with a backup transmitter, but those are costly investments. Moving forward, we are looking at options at our transmitter site to allow us much redundancy as we can reasonably invest in.”
The station still maintains service on Comcast systems across Chicagoland as they have a fiber back-up in place. Comcast subscribers have seen no loss of programming on Lakeshore PBS.
Lakeshore PBS signed on the air November 1987 as WYIN Channel 56, a commercially licensed public television station. The non-profit organization continued to upgrade the quality of station production and broadcast equipment over the years, with revenue generated through member contributions and support from local businesses and organizations, as well as state and federal grants.
Nearly 31 years later, the station remains the sole televised source for local information centered on Northwest Indiana. The station, which operates out of its Merrillville studios, broadcasts two channels: its primary Lakeshore PBS channel and a sub-channel that airs NHK World on 56.2, offering an English-language global network presented from an Asian perspective.
About Lakeshore Public Media
Lakeshore Public Media provides quality local and original programming that educates, enlightens, and informs. Lakeshore Public Media chooses the best of NPR and PBS and other public media providers, broadcasting to millions of homes throughout Northwest Indiana, Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. Lakeshore PBS broadcasts its main channel over the air on 56, on Comcast on 17 or 21 (HD Channel 239), on RCN Cable on 44, on Dish Network (HD Channel 6320), AT&T U-verse (HD Channel 1056) and DirecTV on 56. Lakeshore PBS broadcasts NHK WORLD TV over the air on 56.2 and on Chicagoland Comcast on 377. Lakeshore Public Radio can be heard on 89.1fm.