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Vermont radio stations dealing with fallout from cyberattack

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 11:55 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2021 at 5:47 PM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Listeners might not know it, but thousands of people in radio stations across the nation are working around the clock to get commercials on the air after they were targeted by Russian hackers.

“It started with an email on Sunday night that you really don’t want to get,” Dan Dubonnet said.

Dubonnet is a 40-plus year radio veteran. He works for Hall Communications which owns stations including WOKO and KOOL 105.1. He says he’s never experienced anything like this.

“I have a crackerjack staff, so thank god we have figured out ways around it, but it is very time-consuming and we are just trying to make sure the right commercials air at the right time,” Dubonnet said.

Marketron is a national company that helps companies manage their advertisements using automation to make a once lengthy process much faster. But a cyberattack launched by the Russian outfit BlackMatter is impacting thousands of Marketron’s customers, including several stations in Vermont.

Steve Cormier of the Radio Vermont group says their Morrisville station, WLVB, was impacted. The station manager there scrambled to get ads on the air.

“All of a sudden it’s more manual than it is just inputting things in and letting things show up where they’re supposed to show up. You really have to do the hard work once again to make sure there’s separation of commercials or categories,” Cormier said.

Commercial radio and TV stations are funded largely by commercial sales, making it imperative for stations to spend extra hours to make sure these ads air.

But while it’s a nightmare behind the scenes, listeners shouldn’t be able to tell. And the stations want you to know they have not been hacked. The problems are at Marketron.

“The one thing everyone needs to know is that nothing has been compromised as far as credit card numbers; that’s all been protected,” Dubonnet said.

Marketron says they are in talks with the Russian hackers at BlackMatter as well as the FBI to help rectify the situation as quickly as possible.

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