Text and photos by SCOTT FYBUSH
If you haven’t gathered it yet from our last few installments, there’s a lot of interesting broadcast facilities to see in and around Nashville, Tennessee. So far, we haven’t shown you much of the market’s TV/FM infrastructure, save for our visit to the WSMV-TV studio/transmitter site on the first day of our trip back in September 2016.
We rectified that omission, at least briefly, on the last morning of our trip, as we headed north of downtown to see part of the big tower farm that looms over I-24 just north of the Briley Parkway exit and just south of Old Hickory Boulevard. (We’re just southwest, in fact, of the WLAC 1510 site we showed you in part 2 of our Nashville series.)
There are three towers here, one east of I-24 and two to the west, and we’re headed for the southern one on the west side, reached down a narrow drive off Brick Church Lane that eventually becomes a dirt road headed uphill.
On the TV side of things, this American Tower candelabra is home to Fox affiliate WZTV (Channel 17/RF 15), CW affiliate WUXP (Channel 30/RF 21) and My affiliate WNAB (Channel 58/RF 23), but we’re here to see the radio stations located in several buildings scattered around the big tower here (and the stub of the earlier analog TV tower right next to it.)
The big building that houses the TV transmitters also has a room with several FM facilities in it; this is where Midwest’s WNFN (106.7) has its transmitter, sharing a room with EMF K-Love translator W225BV (92.9).
Over by the tower base, two smaller, older buildings now house more tenants, including two competing FM operations sharing a single building. Midwest’s WCJK (96.3) sits cheek-by-jowl with iHeart’s “River” WRVW (107.5), which in turn shares its row of transmitters with a frequency-agile backup that can be used by other iHeart FMs in the market as needed.
From this site, we can look just a little bit north to another big candelabra, home to more UHF signals: ion’s WNPX (Channel 28/RF 36), TBN’s WPGD (Channel 50/RF 33) and a bunch of LPTVs, plus Cumulus’ WGFX (104.5) on a panel antenna beneath the candelabra.
And we can look across I-24 to see the tower of CBS affiliate WTVF (Channel 5), which has an interesting pair of transmitter facilities here: its main signal is now on RF 25, but after initially being assigned back to low-band VHF, it kept a fill-in translator here on RF 4, using a six-bay antenna below the UHF antenna up top.
Headed back downtown, we get a lovely view of the Nashville skyline overlooking the Cumberland River as we head back into town. (If we could see through downtown, we could see the other TV/FM farm south of downtown; that site, down near Brentwood, is home to ABC affiliate WKRN channel 2, PBS outlet WNPT channel 8, plus several more FMs.)
Did we mention there’s a little bit of everything to be found in Middle Tennessee? Head east on I-40, as we did late one night after the Radio Show festivities, and after a little more than half an hour you’ll find yourself in Lebanon, Tennessee. If you know the right driveway off the right side road, and if you know the right people to ask, you just may find yourself out at the region’s lone shortwave voice.
This is WTWW, which signed on out here in 2010 with one transmitter and a callsign meaning “We Transmit World Wide.”
Today, there are three transmitters packed into the metal transmitter building at the end of the long driveway here. Two of them – the Continental “Transmitter 1” by the front door and the Harris “Transmitter 3” way back on the left side of the building – broadcast religious programming around the clock.
The third transmitter, WTWW-2, nestled next to transmitter 1 in the middle of the building, is rather more eclectic: depending on when you tune in to its transmissions on 5085 or 9930 kHz, you can hear all sorts of leased-time shows, not to mention the “QSO Radio Show” hosted by Ted Randall, who manages things out here – oh, and a worldwide shortwave feed of the Nashville-based Dave Ramsey show, too.
We’ll have to get back here in daylight at some point to show you the antennas in daylight; at night, all we can see is the feedline as it heads out into the fields around the transmitter building.
And there’s much more Nashville yet to show you – join us here again next Friday for a look at some of the Music City’s broadcast treasures!
Thanks to Jason Cooper and WTWW’s Ted Randall and Holly Misslin for the tours!
And don’t miss a big batch of Tennessee IDs next Wednesday, over at our sister site, TopHour.com!
Next week: Nashville 2016 – The Legends