We'd already heard about the fire that broke out Saturday at Brimfield Township's Puritan Systems, a rubber recycling plant off Ohio 43 near Interstate 76 in Portage County.
And as we saw a map of the location on one of the local TV newscasts, we wondered - "hey, isn't that right next to a certain local radio station's transmitter site?". Sure enough, it is...the primary - and only - transmitter site for Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1, the Kent-licensed station better known as "The Talk of Akron".
A story in today's Daily Kent Stater, the student newspaper of Kent State University, says the site's proximity to the rubber recycling fire meant an interruption of the station's regular programming Saturday evening:
Because of the risk of explosion, officials had electricity cut to the surrounding area, which included the radio tower for WNIR, which was broadcasting the Patriot Bowl live from Cleveland at the time.
For the College Football Challenged, the "Patriot Bowl" was the 2008 season opener for the Kent State University Golden Flashes football team - a Saturday contest against Boston College played at Cleveland Browns Stadium. WNIR is the "flagship" of the single-station Kent State ISP Sports Network.
Long-time readers of your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) know that WNIR has pretty much never had backup power, either at the transmitter site or at its studios on Ohio 59 between Kent and Ravenna. The 2003 Big Blackout wiped WNIR off the radio dial, with stations from Shelby, Uhrichsville and Meadville PA camping out on the Akron area FM dial until power was restored later that day.
But we don't know if the local authorities would have allowed a restart of the station's transmitter site on generator power even if WNIR had that capability, since there was an explosion concern nearby. The power was eventually restored, and the station is broadcasting as normal this Tuesday afternoon.
WNIR does not have an auxiliary transmitter or site, even at the station's Route 59 studio complex - which is also the location of the tower site for co-owned WJMP/1520 Kent/Akron/Mars/Jupiter/Pluto "Fox Sports Radio 1520".
However, if WNIR's seemingly mythical new fancy website had been launched by Saturday, the station certainly could have fed its audio to listeners via the Internet...as the station's studios are far north of the fire site, and were unaffected by the temporary power outage at the transmitter site.
And no, we don't know when that new website will finally launch.
We were given the impression that WNIR had been aiming for around early September (i.e. now). But at last check this second day of the month, the old site is still up - complete with all those banner ads dwarfing, well, its actual content...