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NYC Broadcasters Eye WTC Rooftop Opportunities

Durst is approaching radio broadcasters individually to determine their commitment levels

A giant spire is now in place atop the One World Trade Center in Manhattan stretching the new skyscraper to a height of 1,776 feet and maybe forever changing the FM antenna infrastructure in the country’s largest radio market.

The 800-ton, 408-foot spire was lifted into place last week and is expected to serve as a broadcast antenna for television and FM radio stations in the city. The projects developers believe the new “world-class broadcast antenna” will serve as an adequate replacement for the broadcast facilities lost in the collapse of the fallen twin towers at the site during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The Durst Organization, which will manage and lease space at One WTC, met with radio and television broadcasters in the city several months ago and is now approaching radio broadcasters individually to determine their commitment levels, said John Lyons, assistant vice president and director of broadcast communications for Durst. 

“We are in a holding pattern right now because of the TV repack,” referring to the television channel repacking expected to occur after the spectrum auction. All of that activity, Lyons said, “will determine where we place antennas and where we stack them on the tower. If the TV is going on top, I prefer to do that first before we place the master FM antenna,” Lyons said.

Design features for the transmission facility are done but no orders have been placed for transmission hardware, such as the antenna and FM combiner, according to Lyons. 

Midtown Manhattan’s Empire State Building is 1,250 feet tall with a 204-foot-antenna. Empire is currently home to most of New York City’s FM radio stations. The historic building, which is has multiple FM master antennas, also serves as home to nearly all of the city’s digital television transmitters. In a 2012 prospectus for an IPO, the Empire State Building acknowledged that 19 radio stations call Empire home.

Lyons said there would be room enough for all the FMs at the Empire State Building to move their primary transmitter sites to One WTC.

In addition, a broadcast structure atop the Conde Nast Building at 4 Times Square, which is 1,118 feet above street level and also managed by Durst, includes 14 FM transmitters. The vast majority of those are backup FM transmitters, Lyons said.

When One WTC is completed, and once it is verified by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the building will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and third tallest building in the world.

The spire — complete with galvanized steel broadcast rings — will serve as part of the One WTC’s transmission facilities for the region’s media outlets. Perched at its tip is the spire’s stainless steel beacon.

The spire contains 18 separate sections of steel and three communication rings. It will serve as an antenna for a television broadcast facility housed in the building.

See here for the Huffington Post’s One WTC spire crowning and spectacular pictures.