Nothing Stops The News Not Even A Tornado

Both The Daily Post-Athenian and WYXI-AM 1390 in Athens were affected by the EF-2 tornado that ripped through McMinn County on Nov. 30, 2016. Yet, in spite of the damage, both were back up and running in no time.

Since the Wednesday morning of the tornado, DPA staffers have been working from various locations to continue to print the newspaper Monday through Friday. The DPA’s sister paper, The Monroe County Advocate & Democrat, hosted several DPA departments – including the newsroom, composing, business, classifieds, advertising and circulation – from Nov. 30 until Jan. 13, when the final employees set up shop at either less-damaged areas at The DPA’s location at 320 S. Jackson St., or the basement level of SouthEast Bank on Congress Parkway.

“I don’t think most people really think about how difficult it would be if everything they use to do their job was gone,” said DPA Publisher Jeff Schumacher. “I know I never really thought about it before this.”

Still, each publication day, DPA staffers at the SouthEast Bank location work to put together the newspaper and send the pages electronically to the Knoxville News Sentinel to be printed. A DPA employee drives to Knoxville to collect that day’s edition and bring the papers back to the newspaper’s permanent location on South Jackson Street where the mailroom prepares them for distribution to the carriers. This process takes more time than when the paper was printed in-house, so delivery has been later than customers are used to – this issue is a concern that The DPA works daily to improve, although delays should be expected.

As the employees continue to do their work, so do the crews working to rebuild the newspaper’s offices.

“Once the new roof is complete, work on the interior can begin,” Schumacher said. “We are probably looking at three more months before we can anticipate being back in our newly remodeled building. And that will be cause for a huge celebration.

“Meanwhile, we cannot give enough thanks to the great folks at SouthEast Bank for our temporary home,” she added.

The contact number for The DPA is 745-5664, and any department can be reached by calling that number.

Unlike The DPA, WYXI was not forced out of its building, though it still sustained some damage.

“We were on the air at the time the tornado hit giving updates as we always do,” WYXI co-owner Bob Ketchersid said.

However, as the wind funnel passed through town, the roof was torn off the station’s transmitter building, causing the building to flood and WYXI to go off the air. A 10-foot satellite dish was blown about 100 yards away and the AM transmitter was completely destroyed, and the station’s metal tower was damaged by the harsh winds. The roof of the studio building on Slack Road was also badly affected, allowing water to seep in and damage some equipment.

WYXI was off the air until Thursday afternoon, Nov. 31, when another transmitter was installed to allow the station to continue broadcasting on its FM feed, 94.5. “We get pretty good range with that,” he noted.

As of today, WYXI is back to broadcasting 24 hours a day on both AM 1390 and FM 94.5. While WYXI AM is required to reduce its power at sunset, WYXI FM’s power remains the same around the clock.

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