How much longer will WBZ stay at 1170 SFR?

Scott Fybush
Mon Jun 13 15:43:14 EDT 2011

Martin Waters wrote:

> And outside, just about the only things from 1948 are (maybe!) the
> fence around the property and, certainly, the twisted steel stubs
> left from the original channel 4 tower that fell on the building in
> the early '50s. One of them now is used to anchor one of the guy
> wires for the WBZ (AM) backup tower.

I'm quite certain the fence came later than 1948. I have some aerial 
shots from after Hurricane Carol that don't show a fence at all.

> One relocation issue would be that, as was posted, CBS corporate
> might want to shove WBZ (AM) in with some or all of its other radios
> and move the TV to a new building. Given the radio format, being
> physically right next to the TV newsroom has a lot of benefits -- and
> it goes both ways. IMO, if they moved, they ought to go in the other
> direction -- moving WBZ-FM into the new place with the AM and TV to
> gain the benefit of the same synergy. They're running two information
> formats on radio -- making it a whole different situation than if
> they were just jukeboxes.

CBS doesn't seem especially interested in creating or preserving those 
sorts of physical synergies. As I've noted, they broke up what had been 
long-standing co-locations in Chicago (WBBM/WBBM-TV at 630 N. McClurg), 
LA (KNX/KCBS-TV on Sunset) and Philly (KYW/KYW-TV on Independence Mall), 
and I'm reminded now that they recently moved KDKA(AM) out of the 
Gateway Center building it's shared with KDKA-TV since 1960 or so. Same 
deal in Pittsburgh: KDKA-FM is doing sports, and it's doing so out of 
the radio cluster in Green Tree rather than with TV at Gateway.

For whatever reason, CBS corporate just seems to believe in keeping 
things separate - even in San Francisco and NYC, there's no physical 
connection between the radio and TV plants in the same building. Boston 
is configured the way it is because Westinghouse designed it that way, 
not because CBS wanted it that way.

> Another issue would be finding a new location for the AM backup
> antenna. It could be an opportunity to separate it from the studio
> location, although having it right there makes it pretty close to
> bulletproof when it's needed.
> I once heard that, supposedly, one of the reasons the backup is only
> 10 kW is that shielding the equipment in the building from any higher
> power would be a nightmare. The phones sometimes get a little dicey
> when it's on the air.
> If they diplexed from some existing antenna or somehow overcame
> NIMBY-ism to find a new backup location of their own, they might be
> able to have a backup as high as 50 kW. (Around 15 or 20 years ago,
> WCCO (AM) built a separate backup site that's licensed for about 48
> kW.)

More correct to say "WCCO took over an abandoned AM site." I believe 
their backup site (which I've never had the chance to see) was the 
former 1470 site when that station moved to a different location in the 
Minneapolis suburbs.

Being a I-A clear channel and all, WBZ has a lot of wiggle room for 
locating an aux tower, should they feel the need to replace Allston. The 
most obvious bet might be Bob's WJIB tower, if he's amenable. But, heck, 
they could probably even run a folded unipole up the old "TV 38" STL 
tower behind Leo Birmingham if it came to that.

There are very, very, VERY few AMs with completely separate aux sites. 
Beyond WBZ and WCCO, I'm hard-pressed to think of any. The more common 
arrangement for AMs with any aux at all is to erect a separate shorter 
tower at the main site, as most of the I-A AMs have done. In the case of 
a directional, like WBZ, a fairly simple modification of the phasor 
would allow them to run ND into one tower while working on the other.


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