KCBS/KCAL off air; phones not working at CBS HQ in Studio City (UPDATE: They’re back.)


It’s the Great CBS Radford Meltdown of 2010!

KCBS and KCAL were forced off the air at around 3:20 p.m. this afternoon, as the duopoly was knocked out by a “severe power hit.”

KCAL, which normally airs a newscast at 4 p.m., briefly went back on the air (or, at least online via KCAL’s video player) to explain the problem to viewers.

“It just went black,” said anchor Leyna Nguyen. “We’ve never had something knock us out for this long before.”

The station then went back off the air, in order to “let our experts figure it out,” Nguyen said.

After an hour off the air — that’s an eternity in broadcast time, and means plenty of lost advertising dollars — KCBS and KCAL were back on around 4:30 p.m. KCBS joined its “Dr. Phil” repeat already in progress, while KCAL threw on the “Inside Edition” episode that had been scheduled for 3:30; its 4 p.m. newscast was a wash.

Above, the KCBS homepage at 4:30 — in which the station gave itself the vaunted “BREAKING NEWS” icon. (Hmm, makes me wonder if the stations’ newscasts tonight will include a live report from outside KCBS/KCAL studios.)

Phones and Internet access were also affected at the CBS broadcast facility on its Studio City lot, where CBS Entertainment is also based. Phone lines to CBS execs were met with busy signals.

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power told LAist that it experienced a dip in the system around 3:15 p.m.

“It has something to do with equipment on our transmission lines,” LADWP spokesperson Gale Harris told the website.

Over at LAObserved, the site quoted KTLA’s Eric Spillman, who wondered why KCBS’ and KCAL’s backup generator didn’t kick in (if the jointly-run stations have one).

Also, “One good thing about the KCBS/KCAL outage: we get a reprieve from Dr. Phil,” Spillman tweeted. (via LAObserved)

Meanwhile, the L.A. Times weighed in on the power surge as well, reporting that dozens of traffic lights through the city were now flashing.

Which means KCBS and KCAL were back on the air just in time to report on the inevitable traffic snarls and accidents that will consume rush hour on L.A. surface streets.

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Meanwhile, you gotta love this screengrab from DirecTV, which put this up in place of KCAL while that station was off the air. “HEY! NOT OUR FAULT! DON’T EFFING BUG US!”

UPDATE: Hey, look at this: KCBS/KCAL is making at least a few bucks off the power outage afterall. The word “power” in the message “CBS 2 and KCAL 9 Are Both Experiencing Power Outages” is now hyperlinked to a web ad for Dodge.


Follow Michael Schneider on Twitter. 

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