David Zurawik

WMAR struggles to carry on programming while its building is locked down

With its York Road building shut down tight after a man smashed his truck through the front door and apparently hid inside, officials at WMAR, Channel 2 scrambled Tuesday afternoon to keep their programming on air.

The channel 2 broadcast went dark at approximately 4 p.m., and the signal became available again at about 5:20 p.m.


Station personnel used their Twitter feeds and other social media to send out information during the 80 minutes the station was dark. Station reporter Brian Kuebler tweeted at about 4:14 that the station would be transmitting its signal through a station in Phoenix.

"Obviously TV issues. Streaming online But keep TV on too," Kuebler tweeted about 25 minutes later.


At 4:42 p.m., Kuebler tweeted that police had a suspect in custody.

WJZ (Channel 13) had been supplying its feed to WMAR to use on WMAR's website "as a public service for all the Baltimore viewers, to keep them aware of the situation," WJZ spokesman K.C. Robertson said. Shortly after 5 p.m., he said WMAR and WJZ technicians were working together to get WMAR's signal back on the air. WMAR's transmitter is in the WJZ building. WBAL officials said they had also offered to help if necessary.

The station had maintained its signal for more than four hours after the 11:45 a.m. crash.

When the signal kicked back on, reporter Jamie Costello was interviewing co-workers about the crash and how they responded to the intruder. Coverage included film of an impromptu news meeting being held under a tree near the WMAR building. Reporters could be seen writing and editing video on their laptops.

"We're finding out how we're going to cover this story tonight," Costello said on air.

As 6 p.m. approached, WMAR officials were still trying to get back on the air under their own power.

Noting that their building remained a crime scene and thus shut down, Costello said on air, "We're going to try to get someone in there to flick on a switch" and start broadcasting on their own.