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Work Begins at 4 Times Square

Project Would Be First New Broadcast Structure Built in City Since 9/11

The Durst Organization, owner of the Conde Nast Building at 4 Times Square, will build the first new broadcast structure in the city since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The designers hope the new 384-foot rooftop structure will attract clients who will use it as an auxiliary site. They are building the facility with sufficient room for every FM broadcaster in the city to do so. The project will include transmission sites for New York City television stations.

Work on the 4 Times Square project began in late April with the dismantling of a 132-foot tower built in 1999. A Shively Labs 6017 is being used for a temporary FM master antenna on the roof during construction. The $25 million project is expected to be complete in October. The top of the tower will be 1,142 feet above street level.

The 4 Times Square transmission facility already serves as an auxiliary site for Clear Channel’s five-station group, Spanish Broadcasting’s WXKQ(FM) and WPAT(FM) and public radio WNYC(FM).

Ready for HD-R

John Lyons, manager of communications and broadcast operations for the Durst Organization, said Electronics Research Inc. is constructing the new tower while Shively Labs is building the FM combiner.

“The new FM antenna is a Shively 6016-3/4 modified master antenna with Dielectric Communications handling the TV antenna,” Lyons said. “The new FM master will be HD Radio-ready without the need for any additional antennas or equipment.”

Lyons said 4 Times Square eventually could serve as a primary site for several radio and TV broadcasters. “We are in negotiations with a couple groups about that.”

Sources say Univision Communications, the largest Spanish-language television network in the United States, was close to signing a deal with the Durst Organization to transmit from 4 Times Square.

The Durst Organization has received all necessary approvals for the new tower from the Federal Aviation Administration as well as the FCC, Lyons said.

The Empire State Building currently serves as the main transmission site for nearly every commercial FM in the city. The ERI master combiner system has 16 FM tenants with an antenna height of 1,454 feet from the street. Other stations broadcast from Empire but are not part of the master antenna group.

Durst is building the facility in the hopes of capturing a share of the broadcast space-leasing market in the city, and to a certain extent is building part of it “on spec,” hoping for more tenants.

Plans to expand the FM master combiner at Empire State remain stalled, said one source familiar with the current availability of rooftop tower space in the city. Plans also call for a maintenance combiner to be added.

Herb Squire, vice president of engineering and operations for DSI RF Systems Inc., which is assisting the master FM antenna group, said limited physical space is a problem with transmission facilities at the Empire State Building.

“We need more floor space for equipment on the 85th floor. A few structural issues with the tower itself remain, too,” Squire said.

Spanish Broadcasting System’s WPAT(FM) joined the master combiner at the Empire State Building in late April, bringing the number of stations on the master combiner to16. “That is the original design capacity,” Squire said.

If a structural engineering study indicates the tower and rooftop structure can handle it, “we would like to expand the existing combiner,” Squire said.

A handful of stations are still considering a “mini-master concept” at the Empire State Building. The group would lease space for a new independent antenna system. Sources say that five stations, WPLJ(FM), WQHT(FM), WCBS(FM), WQCD(FM) and WKCR(FM), likely would be included in the mini-master antenna project.

Across town

Five radio broadcasters lost main transmission facilities in the World Trade Center collapse on Sept. 11, beginning a scramble for additional primary and aux sites around the city.

Meanwhile, the search for a site of a new 2,000-foot broadcast tower continues. A spokesman for the Metropolitan Television Alliance, a consortium of New York City television stations, says officials in Bayonne, N.J., have agreed to host the $200 million permanent tower. However, the MTVA is still entertaining offers to build a temporary tower on Governor’s Island just off the tip of Manhattan, to use until a new skyscraper is built at the WTC site.

A MTVA representative told Radio World nothing would rule out radio broadcasters leasing space on the new structure, but that it is being designed with television in mind.

The Bayonne plan calls for the construction of a structure similar to the CN Tower in Toronto, one that would also serve as a tourist destination.