Copper Theft Has One Marianna Radio Station Singing the Blues

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Marianna- Robert Conrad leaned up to the microphone Thursday morning and happily greeted his listeners. "This is real country, WJAQ 100.9 FM Marianna. Good morning everyone" he said.

And it was a good morning, especially compared to Wednesday.

"Both Bill and Betty, who get here very early weekday mornings, realized we were not on the air. They made a call to our engineer" Conrad explained.

"I got out [to the tower] around 7:00, 8:00 in the morning" station engineer, Jeff Sallaway said "and realized they had stolen everything"

Sallaway discovered someone had stolen $10,000 worth of copper wiring.

"It could have been days, or even weeks before we were back on the air" Conrad said. "And then, you're talking about a lot of lost revenue- something that possibly could have put us under."

Just when station employees began singing the blues, their luck turned around.

"They're not really competition, our friends at the other radio station- over on the Clarksville Highway, WTYS Jimmy Adams- came through. He had some extra copper pieces."

Sallaway was able to patch the pieces and get the station back on air. But, the lucky streak didn't end there.

Just before Marianna police received the call from WJAQ, an officer answering a call on Hilltop Road, happened to notice a bunch of copper wire at the home.

After the call, he went back to the house and arrested 19 year old Robert Wendell Scott Jr. on grand theft charges.

Sallaway said the suspect could have been killed had the station not been having tower trouble earlier in the week.

"He would have been severely burned or [dead] at the bottom of that tower. We had been having tower issues replacing the guide wire to our main antenna. We were only going at about 10 watts out of the 25000 watts we're usually pumping out of there" Sallaway said.

Though the ordeal was a costly and troublesome one, of all the possible outcomes,station employees said this one was one to sing about.

"I guess we've got friends in high places, thank you, Garth Brooks" Conrad said smiling. "Someone was looking over our shoulder and took good care of us and we're still up and running."

"I'm glad he's safe and all that, but I'm also glad he's behind bars" Sallaway told us.

Scott was also charged with violating felony state probation.

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