Scottsdale radio station knocked off the air because of Gladiator Fire

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The “Gladiator Fire” continues to threaten homes and businesses. 

Perhaps the biggest business of all comes from the communications towers on the tops of two mountains. 

One valley radio station was knocked off the air for 19 hours after its backup system failed.

“It is the Valley's best old school, Mega 104.3,” Andrew “Hospe” Hospedales said into the microphone Friday afternoon.

He is on the radio mornings and afternoons, playing music and dishing out tickets for 101.1 The Beat and Mega 104.3.

“It's your old school hip-hop,” he said of The Beat.

At 6 p.m. Thursday, the music on The Beat stopped, and Mega 104.3 switched to a pre-recorded music loop.

“Everybody was calling in saying I can't hear you,” Hospedales said. “’Is there something wrong with the radio station? What's going on there.’”

Hospedales knew the station's tower was very close to the “Gladiator” fire. It was already running on a back-up generator because APS cut the power.

“One of our providers had a failure with their generator yesterday,” said general manager, Michael Mallace. "It impacted our audio feed to our transmitter site.”

Mallace visited the fire base Friday evening for a meeting with the US Forest Service and everyone worried about the communications towers.

“It's a very fluid situation,” he said. “Very scary. Very unpredictable.”

At the station, Hospedales continues to explain the situation to listeners who call, and he hopes firefighters can get a handle on the Gladiator Fire.

“So when you do hear them call back in and say thank god you're back on air,” Hospedales said.  “Don't do that again. We're going to try our best to keep the music going for you.”

The stations don't expect any more interruptions barring fire reaching the towers.

Fire bosses said Saturday will be a critical day in that fight.