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I Ain’t Climbin’ That Thing!

A tower owner calls in a rigger to climb his tower. Before he even sets foot on the structure, the rigger makes a visual inspection...Sorry, there will be no climbing today...Figure 1 shows why: the hollow legs of the tower have split.

(click thumbnail)Fig. 1: Tower Legs SplittingA tower owner calls in a rigger to climb his tower. Before he even sets foot on the structure, the rigger makes a visual inspection.

Sorry, there will be no climbing today.

Figure 1 shows why: the hollow legs of the tower have split. Clogged weep holes have allowed water to build up inside the legs. When the water freezes, the legs split. Clamshell supports, seen at the top and the bottom of the closest leg, were added, but the split between the two supports clearly is visible as a gray vertical line between the clamps.

Figure 2 shows a mounting flange that has completely cracked off. These problems didn’t happen overnight but resulted from years of neglect. They are a reminder that it is easy to succumb to “out of sight, out of mind.”

Inspect your tower bases. Check that grounds are secure – they should not be loose, but firmly connected. Cad-welding is the most secure. As for the weep holes, make sure they are not clogged with rust or paint.

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(click thumbnail)Fig. 2: Cracked Bracket. Arrow indicates crack.
Today’s “consolidated” engineer learns quickly the importance of time management. An organized department is a must. This includes coordination of technical manuals.

Figure 3 shows how WWZZ(FM) in Washington, D.C., keeps its manuals organized. You’ll find magazine holders at most office supply stores. They keep the manuals on the same shelves as transmitter or console binder-type manuals.

At my last chief’s job, the engineering office had no shelves. Manuals were kept in a file cabinet, and many of the binders just didn’t fit.

Keeping everything on the shelf has another benefit. In the case of the binder-type manual, if one is missing, you see a big hole in the bookshelf.

. . .

(click thumbnail)Fig. 3: Organize those manuals!Jeff Johnson of WVXU(FM) in Cincinnati offers a suggestion to engineers fighting the thermal paper battle with their EAS boxes.

Try “EAS Watch.” It’s a free download from Dave Biondi’s Broadcast.Net. The system requirements aren’t elaborate: a stripped-down 486 and a hundred-dollar printer, which Jeff points out will cost only $50 or $60 after the rebate. You’ll never have to worry about thermal rolls again.

In Jeff’s case, the station use Panasonic KXP-3200 dot-matrix tractor-feed printers, connected to the serial input port, with excellent results.

. . .

Figure 4 will bring back memories for some; for others, perhaps some nightmares!

Shared with Workbench readers by Rick King and Don Culp at ABC/Disney station WMAL in Washington, the photo shows the old WMAL(FM) automation system in the 1970s. The engineer adjusting the reel-to-reel is unknown. Readers, can you tell us?

Seasoned engineers will remember the Carousel cart machines, the Instacart on the far right and the push-pin programming matrix in the center cabinet between the Instacart and the Carousels.

The “55” held 55 carts. A movable deck rode up and down a shaft, like an elevator, sucking a cart into the playback deck – replacing it in its slot after each play. How does that slogan go? “You’ve come a long way, baby!”

Send us your legacy photographs and we’ll share them with readers.

. . .

(click thumbnail)Fig. 4: 1970s Automation at WMAL(FM)
If an inexpensive call-screening system is in your future, you might want to consider these ideas.

Tom McGinley, Infinity Seattle market chief and RW technical adviser, has used two dumb terminals connected back to back in null modem mode, to echo text from one room to the other. I used Tom’s method for several clients when I did contract work. The system is simple and inexpensive – two words that will make the GM happy!

Aaron Read works for, an IDG company. His call-screening suggestion is to download AOL Instant Messager ( Use the chat room to send instant messages between the studio and the screener. What station doesn’t have Internet access in their studios these days? And you save on another monitor to place in front of the board op or talent.

. . .

Let’s wrap up with another contact for your Rolodex of critical names and phone numbers.

Famous Telephone Supply is a good source for telephone systems and supplies. It also offers accessories like cable-pulling lubricants, cleaners and Plenum-Gard, a quality nonmetallic corrugated flexible raceway.

Its catalog also includes floor boxes and single-gang zip boxes. Got a conduit full of wires and need to add one more? A metal fishtape can gouge or snag on existing wires. Instead, select the Nylo-Flex, a nonconductive nylon fishtape with a 300-pound tensile strength. Nylo-Flex is light and flexible, and glides through 1/2-inch to 4-inch conduit. Famous Telephone Supply can be reached at (800) 321-9122. Its Web address is, where you can order a free catalog.

Submissions for this column are encouraged, and qualify for SBE recertification credit. Fax your submission to (703) 323-8044, or send e-mail to [email protected]