Thieves have managed to pull off an audacious heist, making off with a 200-foot radio tower belonging to WJLX, a radio station based in Jasper, Alabama. The stolen tower has forced the station to cease operations, as ordered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The incident, which has left the community without its only voice, has left both station management and local authorities baffled.
Brett Elmore, the general manager of WJLX, expressed his astonishment at the theft, stating, “In all my years in the business, I have never seen anything like this. You don’t hear of a 200-foot tower being stolen.” The station, known as the “Sound of Walker County,” still possesses its FM transmitter and tower, but FCC regulations prohibit its operation while the AM station remains off the air.
The impact of this bizarre theft on the station, which has been serving the community since the mid-1950s, is significant. Elmore emphasized the safety concerns, stating, “If something significant happened, listeners tune in and we won’t be there. With our station down, the community has lost its sound and lost its voice.”
Replacing the stolen tower is estimated to cost WJLX between $60,000 to $100,000. Unfortunately, the station’s grounds were not insured against theft. The tower was discovered missing on February 2 when a maintenance crew arrived at the site. The thieves dismantled the tower by cutting the securing wires and also made off with other equipment, including the station’s AM transmitter.
Local police, equally surprised by the audacity of the robbery, are investigating the incident. Authorities believe the thieves intended to sell the stolen tower for scrap metal. If apprehended, the suspects could face fines or up to 10 years in prison. Jasper police spokeswoman Rachel Karr confirmed that the investigation is ongoing, and the police are seeking tips from the public.
News of the tower theft quickly spread, prompting Elmore to launch a GoFundMe page to raise funds for a replacement tower. As of Friday afternoon, the campaign had raised just over $1,300. Elmore plans to enhance security measures for the new tower, including gates, locks, and cameras, to prevent any future incidents.