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Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019 12:06 am

WQNA off the air

 A series of events that seems as though it could only be written in a Hollywood script recently played out in the studio of WQNA 88.3 FM. The team at WQNA 88.3 FM, a student- and volunteer-run streaming station owned by Capital Area Career Center, is in the middle of what WQNA program director Jim Pemberton says is a “perfect storm.”

On Jan. 24 he awoke only to discover that the station had fallen silent sometime during the night. Upon returning to the station that morning, Pemberton found his main and backup transmitters had both failed. The main transmitter went down due to weather conditions, and the backup had a necessary component send its final signal before taking its place in broadcasting heaven.

“Unfortunately, when it’s covered with ice, there’s not a lot you can do,” Pemberton said.

The tail of the storm hit when someone from the IT department told Pemberton that there was a crypto-virus in the main on-air computer. Hackers encrypted all of the computer’s files and demanded a ransom be paid in bitcoins within 24 hours or else the files would be deleted.

“We literally lost all of our data,” Pemberton said. “All of this happened at the same time. It’s so over the top, it’s almost hilarious.”

A computer donated by one of the station’s volunteers could restore the station’s streaming services in the next few days and at least inform listeners about the station’s misfortune. “That’s one of the worst parts of this, that we can’t tell our listeners why we’re not around,” Pemberton said.

Since the rude awakening, Pemberton said there has been a lot of support from the station’s volunteers, listeners and regular guests, which has made him hope the station isn’t gone forever. He said the support from Capital Area Career Center has also been reassuring through the technical difficulties.

Pemberton said if anyone in the community would like to donate to the resuscitation of the station, they may reach him at pemby@comcast.net.

“Ever since this happened, everybody has stepped up,” Pemberton said.  

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