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Alabama thieves steal 200-foot radio tower without anyone noticing, knocking AM station off the air
Photo by Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Image

Alabama thieves steal 200-foot radio tower without anyone noticing, knocking AM station off the air

A landscaper in Jasper, Alabama, was doing a property cleanup when the crew discovered that a 200-foot radio tower was missing.

Brett Elmore, general manager of WJLX, said that every piece of equipment at the radio tower's site had been stolen and the wires cut out.

"This is going to get out eventually, so I might as well make it public before it does," Elmore wrote on Facebook. "I have heard of thieves in this area stealing anything, but this one takes the cake. This morning, my bush hog crew went down to a tower site we have ... when [they] arrived, he called and notified me that not only was my building vandalized, but my TWO HUNDRED FOOT TOWER WAS GONE!" the radio manager wrote.

"They stole every piece of equipment out of the building, cut the guy wires to the tower and SOMEHOW managed to down a 200' tower and take it from the property," Elmore added.

The radio tower is about 70 years old, and its absence has completely knocked the AM radio station off the airwaves. In addition to that, the local FM radio station has been pulled down also.

The FCC even denied Elmore's request to make an exception to its rule that says FM translators are prohibited from operating if the AM primary station is off the air as well.

"Even given the unfortunate circumstances you describe. W268BM must cease operation while WJLX remains off the air," a response from the FCC read, according to CNN.

The radio station has since switched to online-only since it cannot afford the costs to restore the 1240 AM frequency.

"We shut down our transmitter and our programming will be streamed via internet and our apps only until we can restore our 1240 AM frequency," the station's website read.

"We did not have insurance on this facility. We have been given estimates of $60,000+ to build back and get our station on the air."

The station has started a GoFundMe campaign, hoping to raise the $60,000 required for new equipment.

The station manager told reporters that it is a "federal offense" to tamper with a broadcast facility and that he will be "satisfied" when the thieves are caught.

"We will build back bigger and stronger — and will be back on the air soon!!"

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