The Case of the Naked Tower

 Connoisseur Media Tower
Tower Before 
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Mick Rapeer is director of engineering for Connoisseur Media Pennsylvania. He’s been a broadcast engineer for over 20 years and been at Connoisseur for one year (18 with the previous station owners.)

He recently encountered something he had never seen or heard of before, and provides Radio World with some choice details. We’re a family publication so some editing was involved.

“One of my remote controls called me and the status was an audio alarm. That usually means there’s no audio going to the transmitter. I was figuring it was another Microsoft Windows error, which is usually the case,” he began innocently enough.

“So I logged into the automation system to look and it was going about its business playing. I then logged onto the WSBG website and the audio was playing there … OK, somewhere the audio stopped getting to the transmitter. I followed the audio chain and everything looked good all the way to the STL transmitter, which had audio and RF,” he explained. “Hmmm, has to be the STL receiver at the transmitter site.”

So Rapeer had to drive up the mountain to the transmitter site. Aren’t all troublesome transmitters on the tops of mountains?

Rapeer returns to the tale, “I drive up the mountain and I meet a tower crew coming down the mountain. I ask the guys what they were doing up there. I dreaded the answer, ‘We have a work order to decommission the tower.’”

“I nervously asked, ‘What tower?’” Rapeer said. He had a bad feeling. “The one all the way at the top” was the crew’s response.
 Connoisseur Media Tower
Tower After Visit From Tower Crew  
Click on the Image to Enlarge

Still hoping for the best, Rapeer inquired further, “Whoa! Hold on, which one? There a couple towers up there.”

“The small 80-foot one,” was the answer.

“What! What did you do?” he asked with a sinking feeling.

“We took everything off the tower except one that was hot,” the tower gang informed him.

Rapeer now was more irritated than anything, “You did what? We’re now off the air!” he shouted.

He drove the rest of the way to the TX site and sure enough, everything but the main antenna had been removed from the tower.

“I have never seen this before where a tower company takes everything off the tower, while you’re on the air, and doesn’t even tell you that they are going to do it!” he exclaims.

Rapeer made several calls. The tower manager claimed to be as surprised as Rapeer at what had happened. “Have you ever heard of such a thing? A tower company sends a crew to a tower after hours to remove parts and doesn’t tell the tower manager?”

Finally, “after a lot of expression,” Rapeer got some response and the crew was sent back to the tower.

But it wasn’t that easy. “The coaxes were all cut in different lengths and one of the antennas was cut up. I had them get the two longest pieces of coax and put connectors on them and get the STL antenna back where it was. After two more hours we were back on the air. Now I have to get that tower company to put back everything with new coax.”
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Comment List:

This is nothing but the newest scam by out of work tower crews. I had one show up at one of my site saying they had been hired by AT&T to clean up the site, well AT&T doesn't own the site, they just pick whatever sign is posted and claim that's the company that hired them. They're nothing but copper and metal thieves. If this happens call the police or sheriff immediately!
By Radio Engineer on 7/15/2014
While I'm not sure about the legal mechanics, in the abstract I would not be above filing a police report for theft and property damage. Pretty sure that tower crew won't make such an egregiously stupid mistake again after getting a felony indictment against them.
By Aaron Read on 7/10/2014
I will admit that this is really bazaar. (and your company sold the site to who?) This is the downside to selling off station assets for some quick cash. It's not pretty, and a complete pain to boot.
By Michael Payne on 7/9/2014
This exact thing happened to me! I was driving to another one of my sites and was listening to another one of our stations when I heard it to silent. I drove up to that site and found a tower crew cleaning up their gear with all my antennas (except my broadcast antenna) in the back of their truck!
By Marcos on 7/9/2014

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