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Jul 16, 2019 2:56 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Electrical Issues That Disrupted WPPB's Live Shows Now Resolved

Jul 16, 2019 3:47 PM

East End public radio listeners who tuned into 88.3 WPPB-FM last week to hear their favorite local radio personalities may not have gotten what they were expecting.

Instead of Michael Mackey and Gianna Volpe in the mornings or Brian Cosgrove and Ed German in the afternoons and evenings, the regularly scheduled shows were often replaced by syndicated NPR news or jazz.

For more than a week, WPPB was plagued by electrical issues that disrupted the ability of the Southampton public radio station to broadcast live programming. But as of early Monday afternoon, July 15, those issues were resolved, according to Dr. Wally Smith, WPPB’s general manager.

“There was a major underground break in electricity,” Dr. Smith said Monday, shortly after the break was fixed.

The power line that stopped working more than a week earlier serves 71 Hill Street, which houses WPPB’s studio, the restaurant Plaza Café and other offices and storefronts. Dr. Smith explained that the studio was able to get the power it needed through a second electrical line that serves the building that the radio station and the Plaza Cafe share, but all of the power had to be shut off to the studio at times so that the underground break could be located and repaired.

Dede Gotthelf of the Southampton Inn, at 91 Hill Street, owns the 71 Hill Street building complex. Ms. Gotthelf said that the complex is served by a three-leg system from PSEG, and one leg was compromised. She called in Southampton company Ocean Electric for the repair.

“It’s inconvenient. It’s unfortunate,” Ms. Gotthelf said. “It was not because of the summer swelter or the crowd or anything else. It happened. We don’t really know why—but we fixed it.”

At times when the studio was without power, WPPB could continue broadcasting because its transmitter, located on the Stony Brook Southampton campus in Shinnecock Hills, was unaffected. However, without a functioning studio, the station could air only syndicated programs and its own prerecorded programs.

“We are able, as long as the transmitter is still functioning, to broadcast canned programming,” Dr. Smith said, adding that that’s why on Monday morning listeners heard Saturday’s programs repeated.

WPPB’s weeklong summer on-air fund drive was originally slated to begin on Monday, July 8, but never got started because of the disruptions. Now, it is scheduled to launch on Monday, July 22.

Doug Gulija, the chef-owner of the Plaza Café, said that the power outage first hit on Friday, July 5. He lost a little bit of product, he said, but he noted that he keeps coolers in the restaurant for icing fish, so the loss was minimal.

He praised Perry Zito, the chief engineer of the Southampton Inn, and Ocean Electric for stepping in to restore the restaurant’s power, ensuring an inconvenience did not become “a total disaster.” Also, his seafood purveyor, Gosman’s, and his vegetable purveyor, Baldor, both kept his deliveries on refrigerated trucks until the power was back on, he added.

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