Text and photos by SCOTT FYBUSH
For my entire lifetime (and a few years before that), the tallest structure in my hometown of Rochester has been the Xerox Tower, rising 443 feet above the east side of downtown. For nearly my entire lifetime, the Xerox Tower has been crowned by the antenna of WDKX (103.9), the locally-owned gem of a station that super-serves Rochester’s urban community. And for nearly my entire lifetime, I’ve looked up from below at the WDKX site without ever getting up to the roof.
Thanks to last summer’s visit from my tower-photographing pal Mike Fitzpatrick of NECRAT.us, that omission has at long last been rectified. That’s Mike there on the lower roof level, while I’m up on the very top roof level enjoying my brief status as the highest person in Rochester.
WDKX itself is the Shively side-mounted off the penthouse on the roof; the newer addition just next to it is a pair of translators, W248BH (97.5, a Spanish-language translator for WRSB 1590 Brockport) and W288CS (105.5, urban “Beat” rebroadcasting WLGZ 102.7’s HD2).
The WDKX transmitter room is down a couple of flights of stairs in a small walled-off space adjoining a big mechanical room. That Gates on the left? That’s the original transmitter that put WDKX on the air back in 1974; the BE on the right now powers the station, which has one of the best class A signals out there.
And the view from the rooftop? It’s spectacular. Look to the west (above left) and that’s the big FM tower on Rochester’s west side (carrying WRMM 101.3, WBZA 98.9 and WLGZ 102.7) silhouetted against the setting sun. Look south (above right) and the University of Rochester is prominently visible just west of the Genesee River.
While Xerox no longer makes its home in the Xerox Tower, what remains of Eastman Kodak is still easily seen to the northwest. And to the southeast, there’s a dynamite view of Pinnacle Hill, home to all of Rochester’s TV signals and many of its FMs.
The WDKX studio, just a few blocks away on East Main Street, deserves a complete feature of its own (and will get it eventually) – but for now, we give you just a quick peek into the station’s 1990s-era studio in the main part of this Victorian mansion (which was a funeral parlor before the Langston family moved the radio station here in the 1980s), and into the snazzy new Wheatstone-equipped air studio Andre’s been building at the back of the building.
Thanks to Andre Langston for the tours!
We have a great lineup of podcasts here on our site. While you’re catching up with your summer reading, don’t forget about your summer listening. Now is the time to make sure you’re up to date with Top of the Tower.
Our latest one features Donna Halper discussing her life in radio, from her time at WMMS when she helped Rush get US airplay, to what she learned from Arnie “Woo Woo” Ginsburg.
Don’t forget you can still visit our store to check out our other great products. We’ll be taking preorders for the 2021 calendar soon. Stay tuned!
And don’t miss a big batch of Rochester IDs next Wednesday, over at our sister site, TopHour.com!
Next week: A little more from Rochester? Yeah. (But then we’re done for now.)