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Tue, Feb. 18

GC radio station returns<br>to airwaves after 3 weeks

TUSAYAN — The monsoon season was not kind to Grand Canyon’s local radio station. Lightning strikes knocked KSGC-FM off the air for three weeks.

"On Aug. 23, lightning blew out major components within the studio," said Brian Ciesielski, station manager. "On Sunday the 30th, it hit the tower and came in and blew out four different components of the transmitter."

Brian Ciesielski, seen here at the controls of KSGC-FM, said the radio station was knocked off the air for three weeks because of lightning strikes.

The station went off the air with the first strike on Aug. 23 with additional things getting "zapped in the Sunday storm," said Ciesielski, who was back on the air last Wednesday.

"We have had different lightning strikes take us off the air at different times," Ciesielski said. "But nothing this devastating before."

Ciesielski said it took time to gain the knowledge to discover the problem. The station’s studio is located in the basement of the Grand Canyon Best Western Squire Inn.

KSGC has been in operation at Grand Canyon since 1991. Owners are Wayne and Margi Cook, who have been at Grand Canyon since 1981, starting out in the moped business. The Cooks own and operate We Cook Pizza in Tusayan.

Ciesielski said the station had the power of a "four-slice toaster" when starting out, but has since increased output to that of a "six-slice toaster." And he jokingly says they’re hoping to get up to the power of an "eight-slice toaster" in the future. Actually, the station operates at 5,770 kilowatts.

"We got a new antenna last year," Ciesielski said. "We hope to up our power down the road and improve service in low-lying areas."

For now, a priority for the future is increasing lightning protection. Over the past five years, Ciesielski estimates a loss of about $10,000 in equipment because of lightning strikes.

"We’re looking at recircuiting the wiring," he said. "Some of it has already been done within the Squire.”

KSGC’s audience numbers are impressive, ranking third in Coconino County behind KAFF and KMGM, both out of Flagstaff. The station targets females aged 18-54 with its hot adult contemporary format. Ciesielski goes on the air as a local voice for KSGC and the station subscribes to ABC radio’s live satellite feed.

"It gives us a professional sounding thing without the high cost of seven jocks on the air," Ciesielski said. "We found out we are listened to 55 minutes an hour."

Ciesielski has worked at KSGC since 1995. Going on the air is something he has always dreamed about.

"I’ve been in radio since I was 4 years old. I walked around with a little yellow stick (play microphone," said Ciesielski, who graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in radio, television and film.

"It’s been a very low overhead operation," he said. "I love it."

Connecting with the community is one of the station’s goals.

"We do feel strongly about supporting local events for the community," Ciesielski said. "We always encourage people with nonprofit organizations to give us a call. The only thing I need is more lead time."

KSGC can be found at 92.1 on the FM dial.

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