I worked at the Droitwich Transmitting Station through 1972-1974, the home of the BBC UK Long Wave 1500 m/200 kHz service as it was then.
In the summer of 1973 I was junior member of the engineering team, a 21 year-old Technical Assistant, and manned the control room for the four services from the site, Radio One, 1214 kHz, Radio Two, 200 kHz and Radio Four, 1052 kHz.
It was customary to check the two 200 kW transmitters, T7A and T7B for power balance prior to the Shipping Forecast and I duly went out in the transmitter hall just before the start at 1355.
I noted one was a little down and the other a little high so I pressed what I thought was the raise / lower buttons on the control desk. Unfortunately I had pressed the main on/off buttons instead.
The pair of transmitters came instantly off the air. I could hear on the audio monitoring the announcer starting the broadcast… it takes a while to reinstate the mercury arc rectifiers as the regulators had to run all the way down to zero and then back up to 14 kV.
By the time I had got it back on the air he was just finishing so we had to contact London and arrange a repeat after the 1400 news bulletin… Ooops!
I was much more careful after that when adjusting the transmitters.
The Senior Maintenance Engineer was not best pleased, as he had to write up the shutdown report for London citing “Operational Error” as the cause.
That’s a brilliant story, Dave! Thank you so much for sharing. Oh…I’m sure it’s a lot easier to laugh about it now than it was when it happened! 🙂