KXFN (1380 AM), which airs a lot of sports-talk programming, was off the air for several days recently and that provided plenty of fuel for conspiracy theorists. The station is leased by talkstl.com — a web-based programming provider — from Grand Slam Sports. And Grand Slam is best known in the last couple years for a wild saga that includes unpaid bills that led to its transmitters being turned off and employee unrest that culminated with a fight in the studio that led to a broadcaster being arrested and a company executive being hospitalized.
Grand Slam finally ran its other station, KFNS (590 AM), off the air following its more than a two-decade run in the sports-talk business that was interrupted briefly near the end when it was switched to “guy talk” (and 1380 AM to women’s-oriented shows).
So late last week when KXFN began sounding like KFNS has since November — only a blast of static — the immediate suspicion for some was that another unpaid bill by Grand Slam had led to the power to the transmitter being turned off.
But talkstl.com owner Scott Gertken said the outage was caused by a transformer falling to the ground and creating a problem involving Ameren Illinois, not Grand Slam. The transformer powers the transmitter, which sends out the signal, and they are located in a remote area on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River near the Chain of Rocks Bridge.
“We were told (by Ameren) that they think a beaver may have chewed a tree down back in the flood plain, and that tree fell and … pulled the transformer and the wire (holding up a pole) down,” Gertken said. “It was in such a heavy vegetated area that they had to bring their forestry group in to even get in there and cut a path” to get the repairs done, which took 2½ days.
“That was a debacle,” said Gertken, whose station features J.C. Corcoran in morning drive-time and Kevin Slaten in afternoons. “We were really literally at the mercy of nature.”
Programming continued to run on the company’s website, but Gertken knows the conspiracy theory talk regarding the over-the-air signal was out there.
“That’s the fun part, that’s what keeps us alive,” he said, adding that his company’s relationship with Grand Slam is good.
“I think they’re trying to do what they need to do on their end to clean things up,” he said. “I think they’re making progress.on several levels. … I think they are really trying to do what they can to do to make things right.”
Credit to the St. Louis post-Dispatch who originally published this article