200-foot radio station tower stolen without a trace in Alabama, silencing small townÔÇÖs voice
JASPER, Ala. (AP) ÔÇö The theft of a giant radio tower has silenced what used to be the voice of a small Alabama town and the surrounding county, the radio stationÔÇÖs general manager said.
A thief or thieves made off with the 200-foot (61-meter) tower, shutting down WJLX radio in Jasper, Alabama. So far, no arrests have been made.
ÔÇťThe slogan of our station is the sound of Walker County, and right now with our station down, the community has lost its sound and lost its voice,ÔÇŁ WJLX General Manager Brett Elmore told └¤░─├┼┴¨║¤▓╩. ÔÇťThis hurts, and it hurts our community.ÔÇŁ
The theft was discovered Feb. 2, when a maintenance crew arrived in the wooded area where the tower once stood and found it gone. They also found that every piece of broadcasting equipment stored in a nearby building had also been stolen.
ÔÇťTo break into my building and steal all my equipment, and the tower?ÔÇŁ Elmore said. ÔÇťHell, leave me the tower ÔÇö thatÔÇÖs the most expensive thing to replace.ÔÇŁ
Elmore said he suspects that the towerÔÇÖs guy wire was cut first, which would have brought the structure to the ground. Then he believes it was cut into smaller pieces and hauled away. ÔÇťSome pretty simple tools you could get from Home Depot could cut this up in no time,ÔÇŁ he said.
The station had no insurance on the tower or the equipment, and he estimates that it will take $60,000 to $100,000 to rebuild. ÔÇťWeÔÇÖre a small market, and we donÔÇÖt have that kind of money,ÔÇŁ he said.
Elmore has heard from people around the nation hoping to help, and a GoFundMe page has been launched online to raise donations. He said he was reluctant to start the fundraiser, but a friend told him to put his pride aside if people are willing to help. More than $1,100 had been raised by early Friday afternoon.
The AM station has been on the air since the mid-1950s, and ElmoreÔÇÖs quarter-century in the radio business carries on work his father did at the station before him.
ÔÇťItÔÇÖs more than a job and radio,ÔÇŁ he said. ÔÇťThis is just a part of who I am.ÔÇŁ
Jasper police are investigating, spokeswoman Rachel Karr said Friday. In a statement, police said the theft was reported to police on Feb. 2, but the date and time of the crime is not known. Police are seeking tips from the public.
Elmore now hopes to somehow get back on the air.
ÔÇťWeÔÇÖre going to make it,ÔÇŁ he said. ÔÇťI have to keep the faith that weÔÇÖre going to make it.ÔÇŁ