Atoka radio station reopens one year after tornado disaster

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ATOKA, Okla. (KXII) -- It's been exactly a year since eight tornadoes hit Southeastern Oklahoma, with one destroying an Atoka radio station.

Tuesday, that station officially reopened.

"A huge tornado on the ground, I'm not gonna stay here much longer cause it appears to be coming toward the radio station."

Those were the words spoken by station manager Ricky Chase in a video he took May 9, 2016, just moments before the tornado hit the station where he and his daughter were.

"It would go up and then it would come back down, and it would go up, my job is to let people know where it is, what's going on," Chase said.

Chase said they hid under the desk as the twister ripped through the station, home to KHKC and KZIG.

Thankfully they weren't hurt, but the building Chase had worked in for 30 years was demolished.

"It took one of our towers down, and those towers will withstand probably 150 mph winds, it took that down and of course, it took our building out," Chase said.

"It's crazy, it's just the one place that got hit and it just happened to be the radio station and it hurt a lot of people cause a lot of people listen," Michael Gabbard said, who does marketing for the station.

No one in the area was hurt and a few other homes nearby had some damage. But they said the radio station was completely destroyed.

Now, a year later, Atoka finally has its radio station back as KHKC and KZIG officially reopened their doors.

"Not having it was a bad deal, so it's nice to have it up and running again," Gabbard said.

The station used revenue to buy a new building in a new location, just a few miles away. They also bought all new equipment.

Chase said the transformation is night and day.

"To be able to have an office to go to, to be able to use the internet, to be able to call your clients, it's super, super great," Chase said.