WGN-Channel 9 normally advertises its top-rated morning show as Chicago’s “must watch morning news.” But for 19 minutes on Friday, it was Chicago’s can’t hear morning news.
A technical glitch of epic proportion knocked out the Tribune Broadcasting station’s studio audio from 7:03 to 7:22 a.m., leaving “WGN Morning News” anchors Larry Potash and Robin Baumgarten free to improvise even more than usual by holding up hand-written signs and making goofy faces.
Reporter Nancy Loo, who was in the field covering the weather story along Michigan Avenue, gamely explained the situation to viewers since hers was the only microphone that continued to function during the audio dropout.
Mostly, the station filled the time with lots and lots of commercials.
“The computer that controls the audio board locked up and shut down the board,” news director Greg Caputo later told me. “The engineers began moving the newscast to the back-up system while going through the reboot procedures for the primary. . . . In classic ‘Morning Show’ style, Larry and Robin had some fun with the moment by holding up hand-written messages about the situation, about management, and about each other.”
“This tops it all,” Baumgarten said when audio was finally restored. “This tops the fake plane crash. This tops everything. We have been silenced. That has never happened to us before.”
The show’s website and Facebook page posted these highlights of what it called The Most Excellent Technical Meltdown In Live Television News History: