May 9-16, 2001

South Mountain, Phoenix, Arizona

Back home in NERW-land, a "big" mountaintop FM/TV site (think West Peak in Meriden, for instance) might have a half-dozen or so towers to show off. Fly into Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix and you're just a few miles from a site that puts any of New England's offerings to shame.

Welcome to South Mountain, home to just about every FM and TV station on the Phoenix airwaves.

If I've read my maps correctly (and no doubt some friendly Phoenix engineer will correct me on some of these), here's what you see, from left to right, in the photomontage above:

KJZZ 91.5, KUPD 97.9 and KNIX 102.5 share the towers at the far left. The tall painted tower is home to KKLT 98.7, while just behind it sits the tower of KAET-TV (8) and KPNX-TV (12). Just to the right is the guyed tower of KTVW (33), the Univision affiliate.

That broad self-supporting tower with the three UHF antennas on top belongs to KNXV (15), and is also home to Telemundo affiliate KDRX-LP (48). The painted tower to the right is KTVK (3), and to the right of that is KASW (61), which shares its tower with KKFR (92.3) and KESZ (99.9). Religious KFLR (90.3) is on the short tower that's next in line, followed by a tower shared by KSAZ-TV (10), KPAZ-TV (21) and KOOL-FM (94.5). KMLE (107.9) is on the unpainted, guyed tower next to the right, followed by KPHO-TV (5), with KPHO-DT (17) mounted on the side.

KYOT (95.5) is at the back of the mountain in this view (actually, a bit closer to Phoenix than the rest), followed by KMXP (96.9) and the candelabra tower that (I think) is home to KUTP (45) and KPPX (51). Finally, at the northeast corner of the mountain, sit KDKB (93.3) and KZZP (104.7).

But wait - there's more! As you round the last corner on the drive up the mountain (it's part of a city park, the South Mountain Reservation, and the paved road up is well-marked, though it takes about 20 minutes to drive) and face the gate that leads to the transmitter buildings, there are two more sticks on the left. Those, with the sun behind them in this image, are KZON (101.5) and KSLX (100.7).

So who's not on the mountain? Only two Phoenix-licensed FMs: classical KBAQ (89.5) and share-time KNAI and KPHF (88.3). Mexican regional KHOT-FM (105.9 Paradise Valley) sits in the hills visible to the northeast of the Phoenix skyline, while several other rimshotters (KLNZ 103.5 Glendale, KPTY 103.9 Chandler and the 106.9 Buckeye/107.1 Apache Junction and 106.3 Sun City/100.3 Globe simulcasts) use still more distant sites at the east and west edges of the market, along with translators to help fill in the gaps.

Don't forget to take a few minutes on the drive back down to look down at Phoenix itself as it sprawls beneath you. The city's many AM stations are spread out widely throughout the Valley of the Sun; we'll examine some of those sites in a future Site of the Week.