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TV, radio stations remain offline after typhoon in Guam

Super Typhoon Mawar caused widespread damage across American territory islands in the Pacific.

Super Typhoon Mawar caused widespread damage across American territory islands in the Pacific.

Several television and radio stations remain offline in Guam and nearby American territory islands after a massive storm slammed the region last week.

According to data released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Monday, two television stations and three FM radio stations are still off the air after Super Typhoon Mawar crossed through Guam and nearby islands last Thursday.

At the peak of the storm, sustained winds of 140 miles per hour were reported, enough to cause structural damage to homes, businesses and military installations in the South Pacific. Photographs from the island show toppled trees and flipped cars throughout the territory islands. Eyewitnesses said it was the strongest storm experienced in the region in more than two decades.

Nearly all of Guam lost electricity during the storm, according to a report by Fox Weather. It took around two full days for hospitals in the region to come back online, the outlet said, citing a government official.

No fatalities were reported after the typhoon, but satellite imagery collected by Maxar Technologies and published by Fox Weather showed the storm destroyed or relocated around one out of every five homes in the community of Dededo, which suffered extensive losses.

Television and radio stations relied upon by thousands in Guam and neighboring Mariana Islands and Saipan were knocked entirely offline during the storm. As of Monday, three network affiliates — KUAM (Channel 8, NBC and CBS) and KTGM (Channel 14, ABC) — were still not transmitting to viewers in the storm-savaged region, according to the FCC. Both stations are reporting news to viewers through digital platforms, including social media.

Three radio stations remain off the air as well, including KUAM (93.9 FM), KGZU (99.5 FM) and KGZG (97.5 FM). All three are owned by Sorensen Pacific Broadcasting, which also owns KUAM television.

More than half of the island region’s wireless phone numbers were reported to be out of service immediately after the storm, according to FCC data, with 54.2 percent of cell network infrastructure offline. That number was down to just over 49 percent as of Monday as the region’s wireless phone and data providers work to fix critical communications infrastructure.

Backup generators and other alternative power sources are helping to bring wireless phone connections back online, with the FCC reporting 112 cell sites relying on anything but main power to operate as of Monday. Last Thursday, the number of cell sites operating on backup power was 107.


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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).