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WMCA’s Meadowlands Sign Is Lit Again

Salem engineers installed an LED system to replace the old neon

WMCA call letters sign atop transmitter building illuminated in red

A former part of the Big Apple’s radio landscape has returned.

“After more than decade of being dark, the mighty WMCA sign has been relit by the Salem New York engineering department just in time for the holidays,” wrote Andy Gladding, chief engineer of Salem Radio Network’s New York cluster, in an email to Radio World.

Gladding says the AM station’s neon sign, which sits atop a transmitter building out in the wetlands of northern New Jersey, was erected around the time that the nearby New Jersey Turnpike was built, to maximize on the natural advertising opportunity. For many years after, it was a friendly landmark to people driving past (including the younger version of a certain Radio World editor).

Andy Gladding working on one of the letters of the WMCA sign
Andy Gladding working on one of the letters.

But Gladding said Hurricane Sandy in 2012 severely damaged the transmitter building and towers, and the sign had been dark since.

The sign may be old school, but its new lighting is 21st century. Cody Hmelar, Gladding’s 19-year-old assistant and a student at Hofstra, figured how to use LEDs to make the effect look like the original red neon.

Teenager Cody Hmelar stands on the transmitter building roof assisting with the install of the LED lights.
Cody Hmelar assists with the install.

“We relit the sign with outdoor-rated LED strips that have WiFi and Bluetooth control,” Gladding said. “The lights shining up onto the building are par 36 LED floods.”

The sign sits on a frame structure mounted to the roof of the building; the letters are individually mounted to the cross members of the frame.

WMCA's call sign letters viewed from the rear with the old neon tubing visible
A view of the letters from the rear, with their mounts

Gladding at first intended only to light the sign for the holidays, but liked how they looked and got the OK from Jerry Crowley, Salem’s general manager in New York, to keep them.

“We decided to go the extra mile to do something fun for the listeners as well as bring a piece of radio history back to life. “Once again, she proudly glows red above the Meadowlands.”


WMCA transmitter building at night with call letters illumiinated in red