ROCKINGHAM — A local radio station was knocked off the air over the weekend after reportedly being struck by vandals.
According to a press release, “virtually all wiring” was removed from the inside of the tower and transmitter facility of WAYN AM on Rockingham Road, sometime before 3:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 8.
An estimated 60,000 gallons of water were also released which flooded the basement, the release states.
WAYN on-air talent Carlton Hawkins was the first to discover the situation and he reported it to the Rockingham Police Department, according to the release.
Although the station was silent on the airwaves, station officials say they were still able to stream programming on the website until resuming broadcasting around 2:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11.
“It was a remarkable effort by skilled engineer Jim Heim to get us back on the air after so much damage,” WAYN President Bill Futterer said in a statement. “The entire facility was gutted of wiring and the sophisticated transmission equipment was completely disabled.”
According to Futterer, the three-day broadcast hiatus was the longest in the station’s 77-year history.
The tower and transmitter facility, located on Rockingham Road near Richmond Plaza, was completed in 1957. The station moved its control, production and sales offices to IncSpace in downtown Rockingham in 2022.
Disclosure: IncSpace also houses the Richmond Observer offices and the small business incubator is owned by the Melvin family, who also own the RO.
Futterer added that “malicious mischief to a commercial broadcast station is a federal offense,” and said the FBI is involved with the investigation.
As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, police said the investigation was ongoing.
Anyone with information on the incident is encouraged to call the Rockingham Police Department at 910-895-2468, Richmond County Crime Stoppers at 910-997-5454 or use the P3 Tips app.