Blaw-Knox towers and Nashville

Thu Mar 17 11:20:46 EDT 2011

Many more were built than exist today. My guess is that fewer than
half of those built remain. Also, remember that, in the mid-1930s,
when the diamond towers were popular, there probably weren't more than
maybe 500 AMs in the US. Even though the number of FMs now far
outstrips the number of AMs, the number of AMs has grown by almost a
decimal order of magnitude in the 70 to 80 years since those towers
went up. What I'm suggesting is that Blaw-Knox probably built these
towers at as many as 10 to 15% of the then-existing AMs. Considering
that there probably were dozens of companies that built towers back
then, a 10 or 15% market share wasn't too shabby. Also, not all
Blaw-Knox towers were of this type. The company built lots of
square-cross-section self-supporters. IIRC, Blaw-Knox was still in
business in the early 50s. They ran ads all the time in Broadcasting
Magazine. I do not recall ever seeing an ad promoting the diamond
style of tower, however. All of the ads that I remember featured the
square-cross-section self supporters.

One reason is that the self-supporters, though expensive as towers
went, were probably a good deal less expensive than the diamond
towers. Part of the reason was that the the diamond towers were, on
average, quite a bit taller than the self-supporters, but except for
Class I stations, most AMs built 1/4-wave towers rather than half-wave
towers. WLW and WSM were Class Is and their towers were greater than
half wave. WFEA and WBNS were Class IIs and were among the minority of
such stations that built towers taller than 1/4 wavelength.

Viewing any photos of the diamond towers that might have been taken
while a few of the towers were being constructed ought to be very
instructive. I have never heard of anyone posting such a photo on the
Web, though. Indeed, I have never heard of anyone saying he had ever
seen such a photo. I suspect that the photos would reveal a difficult,
hazardous, and expensive construction process. Constructing the
self-supporters was probably much easier.

Dan Strassberg (
eFax 1-707-215-6367

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Kevin Vahey" <>
To: "bri" <>
Sent: Thursday, March 17, 2011 8:24 AM
Subject: Blaw-Knox towers and Nashville

> Being on a road trip with the Bruins I am doing the trifecta of
> Blaw-Knox
> towers - WBNS, WLW amd today WSM.
> WBNS reminded me of WFEA and WLW was simply stunning and I expect
> WSM will
> feel the same.
> I am curious on why so few were built given how radio engineers rave
> about
> their design.
> I am not a big fan of county music ( 2 years of doing Clyde Joy at
> WMUR is a
> prime reason) but I am curious if there is anyplace in Nashville
> that is
> devoted to the broadcast history of WSM and I am failry certain hee
> Haw was
> taped here.
> Any idead?

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