Honolulu TV Tower to see last sunrise

Amongst those of us who are in telecommunications, America has two tower icons.

However, one will end up in the junk yard this week and the other might gain national prominence and be assured longevity.

For those located in Hawaii, or in Tennessee both are landmarks that are easily remembered and well known.

The Honolulu TV Tower has been a landmark since 1962

Honolulu is scheduled this month to lose the radio and TV broadcast tower that has stood in its urban core since 1962, according to Broadcast Engineering.

Crews have been attempting to take down the 432-foot tower since October of last year but have so far been stymied by adverse weather and the lengthy process of unseating pilings that reach 66 feet underground.

A crew from Sky Jack Communications, in Hanapepe, HI started dismantling the structure in October of last year and were supposed to be finished by now, but weather conditions and structural challenges have held up consistent progress.

The painstaking process of bringing a tower down in a dense urban area forced crews to remove the 70-foot mast and cut it into 1,500-pound pieces before lowering it to the ground. Crews are now working on the tower itself, unbolting the legs in smaller sections and lowering them to the ground.

“We’re taking this down in a neighborhood with people walking underneath on the sidewalk and cars going by on the street,” Rick Blangiardi, general manager of Hawaii News Now, a Raycom Media company.

The tower appears to be a victim of consolidation in the broadcast industry. It was used to air digital TV signals for KGMB-TV (CBS) before it combined news operations with two other stations, KHNL (NBC) and KFVE, and collocated at KHNL’s facility, which overlooks downtown Honolulu. The tower site and studios were purchased by a developer for $12.35 million and will be converted into 17,000 square feet of commercial space.

Mean while the WSM Tower (see my write up on the WSM Tower, including my own ascension) in Brentwood, TN is looking to go another route entirely.

If Tennessee’s State Review Board recommends it, and the U.S. Department of Interior agrees, Brentwood’s iconic WSM transmitting tower at Concord Road and Interstate 65 will become the newest historic site on the register. It was built in 1932.

On Wednesday, the State Review Board will meet to discuss whether the radio tower and transmission complex, plus eight other proposed Tennessee sites, should be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

For almost 80 years, the WSM-AM 650 radio antenna on Concord Road has transmitted a signal that has brought The Grand Ole Opry to the world.

WSM, which first went on the air in 1925, started using the tower on Oct. 5, 1932. Previously, the station started using a much smaller tower in Nashville.

A local historian said the tower’s installing contractor hired out mules in the area to pull the cabling that would erect the antenna.
In the early years, broadcasts came from a studio at Seventh Avenue and Union Street in Nashville and were carried to Brentwood and the tower through analog telephone lines.

Today, WSM transmits from a studio at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center via digital phone connection.

When it was built, the Brentwood tower was the tallest in North America. Originally, the diamond-shaped Blaw-Knox tower was 878 feet, but the top 70 feet were removed in 1939 to provide better reception.

The Blaw-Knox company was a manufacturer of steel structures and construction equipment based in Pittsburgh, Penn. The company was best known for its radio towers, most of which were constructed during the 1930s in the United States.

WSM Broadcast Tower, Nashville, TN taken by yours truly

Although Blaw-Knox designed and built many kinds of towers, the term Blaw-Knox tower usually refers to the company’s unusual “diamond cantilever” design, which is held upright by guy wires attached only at the vertical center of the mast, where its cross-section is widest.

Hat tip Wireless Estimator

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