Correction: This post has been updated to clarify the broadcast coverage that was available to listeners at the beginning of the fire.
On the morning of June 9, the Colorado High Park wildfire near Fort Collins was just 40 acres. By the end of the day, the fire had consumed 8,000 acres and was zero percent contained. This was one of the worst forest fires in the state’s history.
KUNC had the additional challenge of having a major transmitter in the burn area.
Hours into their coverage, KUNC’s main broadcast on 91.5FM was knocked out when power to the transmitter went out. Photos of the charred area surrounding the transmitter reveal just how much damage was done. KUNC was able to broadcast on lower-powered channels two days later, which reached most of their primary coverage area, but they were still without their strongest broadcast frequency for more than two weeks.
Listeners were able to get news about the fire through KUNC's mulitple broadcast channels. But it turns out that KUNC had another channel that people were tuning into in what turned out to be record numbers: KUNC.org