Letter to KPLC Viewers 3.7.04 - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Letter to KPLC Viewers 3.7.04

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Dear KPLC Viewers:

We're on the air! Kind of a time warp, but we're broadcasting from a fairly old transmitter loaned to us by our sister Liberty station in Tyler, Texas, KLTV (which also happens to operate on channel 7). I want to thank Butch Adair of KLTV's engineering staff for overseeing the move of that big piece of equipment down to Lake Charles. I wish each of you could have seen Butch and our engineering team unload that transmitter from the truck and "walk" it on big metal rollers into the station's garage, just the same way the Egyptians moved the huge building blocks of the Pyramids centuries ago. Hearing that old transmitter roar at 11:30 Saturday night was music to our ears.

What goes around comes around. We are now operating off of an antenna we found in Atlanta which has been mounted at the top of our downtown Lake Charles tower. If you stand at the corner of Bilbo and Division streets and look straight up, you'll see it up on the northeast corner of the tower.

Thanks to arrangements facilitated by Lester Langley at KVHP-TV (Fox 29), we now also have a satellite uplink of the KPLC signal and have begun the process of downlinking that signal to the cable systems which carry us throughout Southwest Louisiana. (As you are probably already aware from recent articles here, Cox customers in the Lake Charles/Sulphur and Acadiana areas already receive us via fiber link, as do many CommuniComm customers in the Westlake and Moss Bluff areas.) Several cable systems in and around the Lake Charles area have already restored their KPLC service, including Cox/DeRidder. I appreciate Ron Vaden, a satellite engineer from WAVE-TV, our sister Liberty station in Louisville, Kentucky, for coming down to Cajun Country to help us out with that project.

One of the first people to call and offer assistance is an old friend of many of you in Southwest Louisiana. James Smith, our former news director and news anchor, is now VP & General Manager of WWAY-TV, the Liberty station in Wilmington, N.C. He sends his regards and has offered any help he can provide (we're usually the ones who offer to help James out since Wilmington seems to attract every hurricane which ventures anywhere near the East Coast). I've also had calls offering help from each and every one of Liberty's 14 other television stations. Speaking of familiar faces, one of the ironies of this event is that another familiar face was literally flying into Lake Charles minutes after the towers fell. Ron Loewen, who was general manager at KPLC before I assumed the job, just happened to be coming here from our corporate headquarters for a meeting the next morning. His timing couldn't have been better. Ron's a great broadcaster and really knows KPLC and Southwest Louisiana. While I can't say I in any way enjoyed having to respond to the towers falling, it was gratifying to be able to work side by side with him and take full advantage of his extensive knowledge and wisdom as we developed our response plan. By the way, Ron ultimately had to fly onto other commitments elsewhere, but not before he made his usual stop at Tony's for a sack of po-boys.

Mary Anne Bunton, our corporate director of human resources, was with Ron. She pitched in to answer the phones Thusday night as viewers inundated us with calls wondering what had happened to us.

The next morning, our corporate VP of engineering Steve Smith and our company's assistant chief Bill Eschbach flew in from South Carolina and Kentucky, respectively. They've been with us every step of the way.

Our company's president, Jim Keelor, has probably forgotten more about television stations than the rest of us combined know. He has personally helped guide the process of responding to this disaster and laid the foundation for the rebuilding of KPLC's transmission facility.

We LOVE our KPLC advertisers. They are your local TV station's very lifeblood. And you should know that each and every one of them has told us they're standing by our side as we rush to recovery. Please take note of the commercials you see and let your local businesses know you appreciate them as much as we do.

And you, our loyal viewers...there simply aren't enough words to thank you for your wonderful calls and letters (and even a few poems!). Believe me...we've missed you as much as you've missed us.

So many people have rallied around us. We are humbled and grateful. Thank you to each of you reading this for your good wishes and your support.

A final thought. My father (still the smartest man I've ever known) once taught me the difference between involvement and commitment. He called it the "bacon and eggs test." He told me that when you have bacon and eggs in the morning, the chicken was involved in your breakfast...but the pig was committed.

As I reflect on the last three days, the folks at the top of my list of "thank you's" are the fantastic employees of KPLC. These are not people who are involved in KPLC and those we serve. These are people who are COMMITTED to KPLC and those we serve. You know the folks in front of the camera. Please take a moment to recognize with me the long hours and dedication selflessly shown by those behind the cameras during this trying time, particularly our incredible engineering staff. John Scott, Mike Odom, Mike Chimeno, Gerry Clark...my hat's off to you. Get some sleep tonight before you hit the ground running tomorrow.

Finally, if you are still waiting for your KPLC service to be restored, please bear with us. More homes will be on line this week, and every week thereafter. I'll keep you posted here.

Thanks again for letting us be At Your Service.

Best regards,
Jim Serra VP & General Manager 7 At Your Service KPLC

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