The disappearance of Clear Channel-owned stations from the radio airwaves Wednesday morning was traced to a software problem, a local spokesman for the media company said.
"It was quite a morning for a lot of people here, scrambling to fix what happened," said Dave Milner, president and market manager for Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Sacramento.
Clear Channel Sacramento owns the stations that were knocked off the air, including NewsTalk KFBK (1530 AM), KHLX (93.1 FM), KHYL (101.1 FM), KQJK (93.7 FM) and KSTE (650 AM).
The disruption came during the lucrative morning drive when people are commuting to work. Milner declined to discuss any loss of revenue. However, he did say "we are working to make good any lost commercials."
Milner said that the technical problem that knocked the stations off the air was a software-related issue.
"We just recently moved into a brand-new building and have state-of-the-art new software systems that control all the on-air," he said. "We had a failure in the software system."
Engineers at Clear Channel off Arden Way responded and got the stations back on the air as quickly as possible, Milner said. The disruption occurred roughly between 7 and 9 a.m.
Some of the morning shows that went silent included the KFBK morning news and the "Armstrong & Getty" talk show on KSTE.
The media company received many calls and their Facebook page was slammed with comments from people wanting to know when the stations would return, Milner said. "It's never fun to go through something like this, but it makes you aware of how much people rely on you," he said.
Milner said outages are normally brief. But this time a failed switcher on a software system knocked the stations out for a significant amount of time.
Robert Thompson, founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said the silencing came at a bad time. Morning drive is prime time for radio, he said.
"I presume they will do 'make-goods,' " Thompson said. "If a client was to have four commercials run, they will have to run them in a comparable time slot later. But, then, when they do those make-goods, they can't be selling ads for that time."