The Allure of Tall Things - Radio Magazine

The Allure of Tall Things

I like towers. Eiffel tower, CN Tower, Sutro, Freedom Tower, Devil’s Tower, Tower of London, broadcast towers, or the ham tower that protects the house from lightning
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I like towers. Eiffel tower, CN Tower, Sutro, Freedom Tower, Devil�s Tower, Tower of London, broadcast towers, or the ham tower that protects the house from lightning. Even the Bible speaks of the Tower of Siloam and the Tower Babel � I�ll admit those two didn�t work out so well.

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Townsquare Media's WYOS in Binghamton, NY started life as WKOP, when its engineer was Charlie Hallinan, a founding member of the SBE.

Photo by Scott Fybush

I think everyone should have one. It�s not the most discriminated-against personal trait out there, but it�s close. I believe we were born this way, though some have suggested that with therapy or training, I might one day be normal.

I frequently bicycle by a 5/8th wave, series-fed radiator for one of those fire-breathing clear channel stations that once covered the nation.

I know this to be true, as I listened while wasting time in a hot tub in San Diego for news of a large winter storm to pass so I could adjust my travel plans. I listened on an overnight watch to that serene voice, sailing in heavier seas than expected, headed to the Dry Tortugas in the Gulf. I listened alone sitting on the steps of Thomas Jefferson�s Memorial late one night as I thought through a meeting the next day. I listened on the shores of Lake Mono, Lake Superior and Lake Tahoe. And I think I heard her way off in the distance in Hawaii on a rental car radio with a broken antenna.

Way before John Malone�s (then the head of TCI cable, absorbed by ATT and now Comcast) 1992 controversial prediction of a �500-channel universe,� late night radio offered a 50-channel universe. The Grand Ole Opry, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, The Detroit Tigers, Barn Dance and a hundred shows long forgotten were available from their individual tall towers to the continent. One could surf up and down the dial, looking for, and finding, something we didn�t know we wanted to hear.

From down the path, I look to the tower to gauge my distance to it. Mentally, I add on 3/8ths more and compensate for the velocity factor of the tower to see in my mind what a wavelength looks like. It�s big. I look at a cloud top that I know from the radio is a storm hoverng over a community 50 miles away. It�s a bit of math, but the top of the tower lines up with the top of the storm, and I come up with 60,000 feet. There is going to be hail and damaging winds in that one, and the radio confirms this within the hour.

I can�t ride and do trigonometry at the same time � besides this is a visual construct to savor. A helpful hiker pops his earbuds to ask if I�ve counted the stripes. I�m a broadcast engineer, I don�t have to; it will be seven for any relatively short tower. He says you can tell how tall the tower is by multiplying the stripes by 100-feet. Oddly enough, he�s not that far off. The lady with him asks if I can move clouds with my thoughts too� I say no, but I can measure them in wavelengths.

When I go home to visit mom, the cluster of towers triggers the first waves of nostalgia half-an-hour before I see the house.

To every tower lover who has suffered at the hands of anti-tower extremists, you are not alone. I say pray for them, and stack, baby, stack.

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