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WAAY-TV signal back to normal operations

Repairs have been completed and WAAY 31 is back to normal operations, at full power broadcasting from the 1,000 tower on the top of Monte Sano in Huntsville.

Posted: May 22, 2018 11:10 AM
Updated: Aug 20, 2018 8:58 AM

FINALLY... I am happy to report that all repairs have been completed.  WAAY ABC 31 is back at the top of the 1,000 foot tower on Monte Sano In Huntsville and broadcast at full power.  Our signal should be returned to normal operations.

If you are having trouble receiving our channel and get your TV over the air, you may need to rescan.

This is the same problem that affected WZDX FOX 54.  They are back to normal now as well.  

Thank you for your patience as we worked to fix the problem.


The parts that needed to be fabricated have arrived.  The tower crews are on site and they have begun rigging the tower for repairs.  When crews are on the tower working, we are forced to reduce our power level for safety reasons.  This will be intermittent over the next two weeks as they work on the sections of the tower.  This will temporarily reduce the reach of our broadcast signal. When they aren't on the tower, we will increase power to normal levels, although keep in mind that we are still at the 600 foot level with our temporary antenna.

When the work is complete, we will back to full power at the 1,000 foot level and restore our signal back to its normal levels.  I apologize again for the inconvenience. 

WAAY (ABC) and WZDX (FOX) share an antenna.  This affects both stations.

Viewing Programming Online

In the meantime, WAAY newscasts can be seen 24/7 on our Livestream and through apps for iPhone, Android, Roku and Fire TV.

ABC programming is available here.

Another option for viewers to get live WAAY programming is through Hulu Live or YouTube Live, which both offer free trials.


As you can imagine, some of the parts needed are not thing people have sitting around. They literally have to be manufactured and shipped. All needed parts have been ordered and in progress. A repair crew will pull new transmission cable from the 600 foot level to the 1,000 foot level on the tower to replace the old line that was fried. We are now waiting for a date to make it all happen from the tower owners.

I will continue to update the information on our website when we hear any additional information. Here is a direct link to the page:

- Paul Dughi, VP/General Manager, WAAY-TV


We are still in the process of making permanent repairs to return our signal back to normal levels of operation.

Here's what happened:
We normally broadcast WAAY 31 at 1,000 feet on the tower next to our station. More than 400 feet of transmission line got fried and needs to be replaced. We were able to get a temporary antenna hung on the tower at the 600 foot level until permanent repairs can be made. We are at full power, but because it’s lower on the tower we won’t reach every viewer. The same issues affect WZDX FOX 54. We share a tower and antenna.

Many people have had success rescanning their TV sets, but not everyone. Unlike in the old days where a channel was fuzzy, with digital broadcasting you either get a signal or you don’t.

Unfortunately, we don’t own the tower, the antenna, or the transmission line on the tower. The people that own the tower are responsible for fixing the equipment that failed. They are working on a plan, getting in equipment, and lining up repair crews.

Working 600 feet off the ground, with power, is a very dangerous job. There are only a few companies and a handful of people willing to do that kind of work.

- Paul Dughi, VP/General Manager, WAAY-TV

UPDATE: Tuesday 11am

Both WAAY 31 and FOX 54 are broadcasting at full power from a temporary antenna 600 feet up the tower. Normally, we broadcast at the 1,000 foot level but 400 feet of burned up transmission line forced us to move lower on the tower. We are likely to be stuck with that for a while as they need to climb the tower and manually remove the burned out line and replace it. 


There are some places that will be unable to receive the signals until permanent repairs are made. Some viewers are having success by going to the settings on their TV set and rescanning the channels. We found that some TV sets need to rescan to receive the signals.

UPDATE:  Saturday 7:40pm
We are at full power!  

UPDATE: Saturday 5:45pm
We are currently at 10% power.  We will remain there until crews can remove their tower rigging equipment and it's safe to increase power.... then we will go to nearly full power.  Thanks for your patience.  We have already had reports from some  cable systems that the signal has returned.

UPDATE: Saturday 5pm
Initial repairs have been completed.  We are bringing the power levels back up.

UPDATE: Saturday 4:15pm
Nothing's ever easy.  Some parts weren't working properly, but fortunately we had replacements on hand.  Something about elbows, mis-matched impedance, and transformers (engineering stuff that's over my head).  But things are looking good, weather has been cooperating, and I feel we are getting close...! Paul Dughi, VP/General Manager, WAAY-TV

UPDATE:  Saturday 1:45pm
Connections are nearly complete.  Should be ready to fire up shortly!

UPDATE: Saturday 11am
The temporary antenna has been mounted on the tower.  Technicians are in the process of doing the pipework and connecting the lines.  This will allow us to increase power to near normal levels.  Because it is 400 feet lower on the tower, however, we will still not reach everyone.  It should get us to all the cable systems and hit most over-the-air homes except those far away from the tower.  Once this is complete, crew start work on the remaining 400 foot of damaged transmission line for a permanent fix. This should also get FOX54 back on the air.

Watch video of the antenna being lifted and set in place


UPDATE:  Friday 5pm
The temporary antenna has been assembled.  However, as of 5pm Friday, we are experiencing lightning in the nearby area, which means it is not safe for crews to be working on the tower.  As you can imagine, a 1,000 foot steel tower is magnet for lightning.  It appears we will have a window of clearing tomorrow morning, so crews will be back out at first light to get started.  If all goes well, we should have the antenna on the tower and be able to go to near full power by Saturday.

Watch video of the antenna arriving (click here)

UPDATE: Friday 9am
A temporaray antenna is on a truck heading our way.  It is expected to arrive this afternoon.  If the weather holds up, the crew is standing by to put it at the 600 foot mark and that should significantly boost the signal.  That would get WAAY 31 to more people and get FOX 54 back on the air.  That would allow most people and cable systems to pick up the signal.  Then, they will start on ripping out the lines from 600-1,000 feet and replacing it.  That takes special equipment as well.

You may not know this, but WAAY 31 does not own the tower, the antenna, or the transmission line.  All of this is the responsibility of another company that we contract with.  Their equipment failed and we are all paying the price.  To be fair, they have been responsive and we're getting help from other companies as well.  Getting both stations back up to the top of the tower and back up to full power is going to take some time. 

The potentially severe weather on the horizon could also cause delays.  Here's the latest on that:

UPDATE:  Thursday 2:45pm
It appears as much as 400 feet of the transmission line got fried.  We have verified that a temporary antenna is on the way along with rigging equipment to haul it 600 feet up the tower.  They will mount it there and significantly extend our broadcast area, including getting the signal to most cable systems.  We need the weather to hold up Friday afternoon/evening... can't climb a 1,000 foot tower when there's lightning out there! - Paul Dughi, VP/General Manager, WAAY-TV

 Watch Video of the Tower Crew climbing the tower (click here)

UPDATE:  Wednesday 9:40pm
We have new transmission lines and a backup antenna on the way to Huntsville for possible installation by Friday, although it may not be completed until Saturday. This would allow both WAAY 31 and FOX 54 to broadcast from the 600 foot level while final repairs are made. At a lower level, we would still not reach the entire market over-the-air, but should hit nearly all cable systems. 

- Paul Dughi, VP/General Manager, WAAY-TV

UPDATE:  Wednesday 6:30pm

Tower crews and techs have determined there is bad transmission line above 600 feet on our tower.  Unfortunately, this is neither a quick or easy fix.  The company that owns the tower needs to replace the transmission line and possibly the antenna at the top of the tower.  

Climbing a 1,000 foot tower takes specialized crews and safety equipment. It is very dangerous work. Hopefully the weather will hold up for us.  If you're interested, here is video of the climbers on the tower.  

I apologize again for the inconvenience.  We are as frustrated as you are!  There are other ways to view WAAY-TV.  Please see below.

UPDATE:  Wednesday 215pm

We now have tower crews and technicians on site to help diagnose and fix the problem.  Thank you for your patience.

UPDATE:  Tuesday 10:45pm

A three-man tower climbing crew has arrived at the tower located next to WAAY-TV.  The tech with specialized equipment to diagnose the situation is on the way.  He got delayed due to bad weather and had his first flight canceled.  Ugh.

WAAY 31 has been experiencing technical issues.  That means some of our viewers are not able to see our over-the-air broadcast.  

An issue with the transmission line on the 1,000 foot tower next to WAAY-TV prevents the signal from getting broadcast.  We have been foreced to move to a backup transmitter on a smaller tower as an interim measure. That transmitter has a lower power output, and tyhe tower is much smaller, which means our signal may not make it to viewers outside the Huntsville area.

The same issue is affecting the signal for FOX 54, which also broadcasts its signals on the tower owned by American Tower, which provides the facilities.  American Tower has sent in tower climbers and technicians to diagnose and make repairs.  Tower crews arrived Tuesday and techs with specialized equipment arrived Wednesday.

Some cable providers also use WAAY's over-the-air signal, which may mean some cable viewers aren't seeing our programming.

Tower crews and technicians have determined the problem is a bad section transmission line that needs replacement. 

In the meantime, WAAY newscasts can be seen 24/7 on our Livestream and through apps for iPhone, Android, Roku and Fire TV.

ABC programming is available here.

Another option for viewers to get live WAAY programming is through Hulu Live or YouTube Live, which both offer free trials.

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