Text and photos by SCOTT FYBUSH
Sometimes, my tower photography colleague Mike Fitzpatrick and I get really deep into the weeds on certain markets – and Buffalo, New York is one of those. Over the years, he and I have seen just about every site in and around the Queen City, including some pretty small ones.
Here’s a good example: our fall 2020 Buffalo visit included not only the return visit to WECK (1230) that we showed you in our last installment, but also a few stops around WECK’s extensive network of translators. With the able help of consultant Mark Humphrey, WECK owner Buddy Shula has added three FM signals covering downtown Buffalo and the south side, Grand Island and the north side, and most recently a new one, W261EB (100.1), serving Buffalo’s eastern suburbs.
It’s on a tower we know well from our frequent Thruway drives – look north just before you come to the Transit Road exit and you’ll see a big crushed stone quarry with a tower perched on its northern edge. That’s where this 100.1 signal lives, with a pair of antennas near the top creating a directional signal protecting another 100.1 translator just to the east, and a fairly complex receive antenna above the transmitter container at the bottom to pull in the 102.9 translator from downtown while nulling out a co-channel Canadian signal.
Where to next? Grand Island, between Buffalo and Niagara Falls, was the obvious next destination, to catch up on Entercom’s big tower project for WKSE (98.5). Over the last few years, “Kiss 98.5” has been busy taking down its aging tower (once part of the array for former sister station WHLD 1270) and replacing it with a new tower and prefab transmitter building. (The old WHLD building was collapsing around the WKSE transmitter room!)
Last fall, WKSE was still transmitting from its temporary site half a mile away on the WBEN 930 towers. The new tower was up and the building was in place, but there wasn’t power at the Staley Road site yet – so we’ll have to get back again at least once more to see the finished product.
While on Grand Island, we check out the other sites, too – Mike gets some new WBEN pictures, and then it’s over to the east side of the island and the tall TV towers on Whitehaven Road.
The tower at left in the photo above is Sinclair’s WUTV (Channel 29) and WNYO (Channel 49) site, while the one to the east (at right) is public broadcaster WNED, and there have been a lot of changes here in recent years.
At WUTV’s site, there’s a “goalpost” atop the tower, now carrying the two post-repack antennas for the stations. The shorter one on the left is WNYO’s RF 16, which has become the ATSC 3.0 host station for the Buffalo market; on the right is WUTV’s ATSC 1.0, now on RF 32.
Over at WNED, the gate is open and we know the engineer, so in we go for a quick tour of what’s become an emptier site in recent years.
This tower was built in the late 1980s for WNED’s channel 17 analog signal and its then-new second signal, WNEQ (Channel 23); over the years, WNED sold off the channel 23 signal to commercial competitor WIVB (Channel 4), which turned 23 into CW affiliate WNLO.
WNLO’s pre-repack digital signal was here at Grand Island, but post-repack it ended up sharing its channel with WIVB and moving back to WIVB’s original site in the hills south of Buffalo at Colden. (We’ll see that site in an upcoming installment.)
That left just WNED’s own compact post-repack signal here (now on RF 31), a lot of open transmitter room space – and a couple of translators up on the tower, too. One of them is another WECK signal, W263DC (100.5), as well as Family Life’s W239BA (95.7) and a 106.9 signal, W295BW, that relays WXHL from Delaware.
One more stop rounds out our day in Buffalo: at Buffalo State College off Elmwood Avenue, WBNY (91.3) recently increased power and installed a new directional antenna to replace its old Phelps-Dodge antenna that went back to its early days in the 1980s.
Thanks to WECK’s Dennis Majewicz and WNED’s John Horton for the tours!
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Next week: Repacking the Syracuse TV dial