WCAX new antenna on air, full power service restored

The WCAX tower on the "nose" of Mount Mansfield, as seen on the morning of August 1, 2020,...
The WCAX tower on the "nose" of Mount Mansfield, as seen on the morning of August 1, 2020, after a new broadcast antenna was mounted.(Joe Carroll)
Published: Aug. 3, 2020 at 10:12 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 14, 2020 at 6:51 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - As of Friday, August 14, 2020, the new permanent antenna is now online and on air, and full power broadcast service has been restored. This is the first time since mid-June 2019 that the WCAX transmission system has been able to run at full power.

In June 2019, WCAX first had to decrease power to 30% of normal as the broadcast service was switched to the auxiliary antenna at the beginning of work on the transmission system to change transmission frequencies, as mandated by the Federal Communications Commission. Another part of that mandate was that the work had to be complete by January 2020, but could not be used on air until October 2019. As a result of abiding by those mandates from the FCC and anticipating the beginning of snowfall and wintry weather at the top of Mt. Mansfield, work began in June 2019 and continued until two days prior to “Rescan Day,” October 24, 2019.

On November 19, 2019, a fire began inside the enclosed components of the broadcast antenna. The fire destroyed both the primary antenna and the auxiliary antenna, removing WCAX’s ability to broadcast over the air.

On December 1, 2019, a temporary antenna was put into service returning much of the broadcast coverage for WCAX in the United States, though many Canadian viewers were not able to see the signal because of the lower power and the fact that the temporary antenna was limited to be “directional,” instead of the original “omnidirectional” pattern.

The transmission system switched from the temporary replacement antenna to the primary full power antenna at 5:54 p.m. on Tuesday, August 11.

The exact cause of the antenna fire has not been determined, though direct observation of the damaged antenna after its removal suggests an electrical fire, likely from a failed component that could no longer handle the flow of electricity through it.

Now that the primary antenna is on air, crews have been performing maintenance on the low power backup antenna in use since last December. The continuing tower work is designed to update the capacity of our backup systems so that in the future, significant outages that have been required during this repair process are not necessary.

Click here for more information about the work at our tower.

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