When the show Tower Dogs came out for a whopping 2 episodes myself and others in the industry at the time turned off the TV within minutes.
Tower crews are hot dogs. They are the fighter pilots of construction sites. So putting a camera in front of them and saying “Act Normal” is like giving a 5 year old fireworks and a match while saying “Be careful now, ya here?” and then going inside and leaving them with it. In either case it doesn’t end well.
With a heavy hand by a manager a tower crew show could be something interesting, for about 2 minutes. Much of what is done is slow, agonizingly slow. A tall tower can take 30 minutes or more just in ascent, let alone the work itself. Do people actually want to watch us run a Anritsu test for eight hours due to a bad connector? But I digress.
The fab factor is the work, the height, and the danger and make no mistake. It is dangerous. In fact despite Discovery Channels heralding of Deadliest Catch as being the baddest job in the world, per OSHA it’s Tower Climbing.
So with all that in mind it looks like Mike Rowe and the gang at Discovery channel is going to give the tower industry another shot, with what sounds like a better crew.
Details after the jump
Tower erectors’ redemption day may be in an upcoming Dirty Jobs episode
When NBC Dateline profiled tower crews in 2008 in Tower Dogs many people thought the industry was given a national black eye; some people thought it was an accurate slice of life program.
Dirty Jobs Mike Rowe in another month or two America will once again view the tower erection and maintenance profession – but this time in a more respectful tone as they take a front row seat as a tower is erected in North Dakota on the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe”.
Rowe scours the country looking for unsung heroes who are willing to get dirty and do the jobs that make civilized life possible. Rowe said this tower erection project was ideal.
So did Kevin Reski, President of Great Plains Towers, who was approached by Rowe’s production company last December to consider the plan to film construction.
Reski, a former director of the National Association of Tower Erectors, had some reservations at first, but felt comfortable after viewing a number of Rowe’s episodes and thought he was fair in his job depictions.
“I wanted to portray the industry in its best face. If I turned it down, I was afraid that there might be a chance that they would find a crew with baseball caps and tennis shoes and I didn’t want that,” Reski said.
After two days of filming in Dickinson that ended yesterday, Reski said he believes the episode will show the professionalism required to erect a tower without overemphasizing the omnipresent need for safety.
Whereas Tower Dogs stressed that tower erectors have the most dangerous job in the nation, Rowe’s episode most likely will emphasize the vagaries of the weather and other possible jobsite hazards that must be considered, Reski said. “If anything, he certainly witnessed the weather we oftentimes have to work in.”
On Monday and Tuesday winds were blowing between 15 miles to 30 miles-per-hour-with occasionally higher gusts.
“This was fairly miserable, but we laughed most of the day,” a soaked Rowe said. “It starts blowing sideways and raining and you are soaking wet,” he said. “It is a dirty job.”
Reski had Rowe assist in jumping a gin pole and stacking the remaining sections of a 330-foot by 42-inch wide Ehresmann Engineering guyed tower.
Rowe also gave a hand in pulling guy wires and attaching them to their anchors.
Safety of Rowe and his four member filming crew on the tower was a major concern for Reski.
“I made sure that they had all of the proper fall protection equipment and were tied off at all times; had chin strap hard hats; everything we require of our employees,” Reski said.
He believes that his crew and the filming crew were all compliant with OSHA regulations as they assisted in the erection.
“I will have a lot of discriminating eyes when this airs, won’t I?” said Reski.
Not much of what transpired during the two 12-hour days was missed by Rowe’s 10-member production company, Pilgrim Films & Television, producers of a number of reality shows including American Chopper and Extreme Loggers.
In addition to head cams on two of Great Plains’ workers, eight other cameras were constantly filming. Up close views should be available during the episode since one videographer was always atop a 300-foot guyed tower only 50 feet away.
Plus, a specially equipped helicopter was brought in on a flatbed from North Carolina to assist in the filming.
Reski, known for his Garrison-Keillor-type humor, said at times it was exhausting to ensure that both crews were working safely together.
Rowe recently said that when he began the series he wanted to honor his father and grandfather, by bringing fame to “less-than-glorious” careers.
The tower was being constructed for Stark County Emergency Management.
The episode air date is unknown. For more information see http://dsc.discovery.com/