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Lightning strikes local radio station, blowing up part of a satellite dish

Hendersonville radio station, WHKP, took a direct lightning strike Wednesday afternoon. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. -- At least three separate lightning strikes touched down Wednesday afternoon across Western North Carolina. One of those strikes damaged the WHKP radio station in Hendersonville.

The IT director says about eight systems were damaged by the strike, that happened around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Smoke was then seen rising from the equipment.

Outside the building, part of a satellite dish had to be replaced after it literally blew up.

The vice president was in the recording room during the storm, when he saw what he says was a blue flash through the window.

Richard Rhodes, vice president, WHKP radio, "It happened so quickly, you didn't know had happened. You knew it was storming outside, you knew it was raining and you could hear the thunder getting closer, but then the next thing you saw was a big light and big thunder and then that was pretty much it."

Engineers say several years ago the station also was hit by a lightning strike that left them off the air for days.

Precautions were then taken, but this direct strike still managed to pack a punch.

Tom Christensen, IT Director, WHKP Radio, "We have all kinds of lightning protection around here and it was strong enough to get around all of that protection. So, it was a dead hit is what I mean."

The station was off the air for about two hours Wednesday, as engineers worked to make repairs.

Once the station came back on, DJs still had to manually play CDs until the automated system was fixed.

The IT director says it caused about $5,000 in damage, but the station has insurance.

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