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October 30 - November 6, 2003
Four Times Square, October 2003
last week's encore Site of the Week, we showed you what New York's
Four Times Square looked like in early 2001, not long after the
building had been completed and Clear Channel's five FM stations
had signed on as the first tenants.
Of course, it was just a few months
later that 9/11 rolled around - and with the destruction of the
World Trade Center, there was suddenly a pressing need for more
FM and TV antenna space in the nation's biggest market.
Even before the towers fell, Clear Channel's
WKTU (103.5 Lake Success) automatically switched over to its
4TS auxiliary transmitter when power failed at its Trade Center
Within a few weeks after the attack,
Four Times Square became home to three more FM stations: WNYC-FM
(93.9) and Spanish Broadcasting Systems' WPAT-FM (93.1 Paterson
NJ) and WSKQ (97.9). WNYC-FM and WPAT-FM had used the World Trade
Center as their primary site, while WSKQ simply took advantage
of 4TS' auxiliary capabilities.
most of late 2001 and 2002, Four Times Square was thus serving
as a primary transmitter site for three major FMs (WPAT-FM, WNYC-FM
and WKTU), all of which subsequently built new primary facilities
using the Empire State Building master antenna.
Times Square's owner, the Durst Organization, quickly began planning
for an ambitious expansion of what had become a valuable site.
By the first anniversary of 9/11, design work was underway on
a 385-foot mast that would bring the tip of the building to 1168
feet above street level, less than 300 feet below the top of
the Empire State Building itself.
The FM antenna and its 132-foot support
structure, barely four years old, was dismantled in April and
a temporary one-bay antenna installed atop the giant sign panel
on the east side of the building.
A huge gantry was assembled on the north
side of the roof in late spring, and during the summer months
pieces of the mast were hauled up the side of the building -
and just a few weeks ago, the new mast was topped off, instantly
creating a very visible landmark on the New York skyline, especially
as seen from across the Hudson.
The new mast will include enough antenna
space to handle every FM, analog TV and digital TV broadcaster
in the city. It's topped with a channel 68 antenna for WFUT-TV,
one of two stations owned by Univision, the first TV tenant to
sign on. Below that, two Dielectric broadband antennas handle
the rest of the UHF spectrum, and below that are master antennas
for VHF high and low band and for FM.
Inside the building, it's been a busy
time as well. The FM transmitter floor that looked so empty back
in 2001 has filled up with new transmitter rooms on the perimeter
and an expanded combiner at the center. One floor up, what was
an empty room in 2001 is now a construction staging area, with
two working transmitters already in place. Columbia University's
WKCR (89.9), the fourth station displaced from the World Trade
Center, installed that new Harris transmitter and made Four Times
Square its primary transmitter site in the summer of
2003. Univision's WFUT-DT (Channel 53) is also using 4TS as its
primary site, with its Harris Ranger transmitter hiding behind
a plywood shield to keep it safe from construction traffic. Tucked
in a corner behind WKCR are pieces of one of the VHF antennas
destined to be installed on the mast shortly.
Around the corner, the pieces of the
WABC-DT (Channel 45) transmitter are coming together as well,
with test broadcasts expected from 4TS any day now. Both WABC-DT
and WABC-TV (Channel 7) have signed on as tenants, and two floors
below this room a new mezzanine floor is being built above the
50th floor generators and HVAC equipment to house ABC, Univision
and perhaps other TV clients as well someday soon.
In any case, New York again has a second
viable FM/TV site in addition to Empire, which will be critically
important as Empire gets ready for more modifications to its
own antenna systems and the city's TV stations try to figure
out what their permanent future post-World Trade Center will
to John Lyons, manager of communications and broadcast operations
for the Durst Organization and 4 Times Square, for his continued
hospitality and willingness to share information and pictures
about this exciting project!
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