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April 22, 2021 10:10 am  #1


This 50K Radio Giant Once Had Its Transmitter On A Remote Island

What a fascinating story this turned out to be. And even more so for those who like to read stories about odd radio transmitter placements. It turns out WCBS-AM, the flagship for CBS in New York City, used to have its powerful 50,000 clear channel stick on an island off the Big Apple. It was remote enough that the only way to get there was by boat. 

And that required a hotel-like atmosphere for the engineers who, at the time, were required to be there whenever the station was on the air.

"Daily boat runs brought a change of operating crew, food, potable water and other creature comforts from the “mainland.” Weather and waves were not always cooperative. The bedrooms, kitchen and other quarters were put to use by stranded crews when circumstances isolated the site."

Imagine going to work and not being able to get back home for any number of reasons - emergencies, bad weather, or blown fuses. WCBS eventually relocated from the expensive site and it's now a luxury home for sale in the middle of the river with a price tag of some $13 million. (You can take a video tour of the place here.)

Still, there's one thing you won't find there now that any DXer would have loved.  

"Regrettably the 20-foot-square, 410-foot-high tower is long gone — regrettable, because for any resident the radio reception using that stick would have been extraordinary."

And one last thing from the article. You'll notice that way back when, the call letters weren't WCBS. In fact, when it started out, it was known as WABC. The irony of that can't be lost on anyone. 

WCBS: A Radio Island in the Stream

 

April 22, 2021 11:36 am  #2


Re: This 50K Radio Giant Once Had Its Transmitter On A Remote Island

The closest example in Canada may be CHEK-TV in British Columbia, which has its stick on Saturna Island - one of the Gulf Islands off the coast of Vancouver Island. Only accessible by boat, though it does have a small permanent population.

 

April 22, 2021 2:24 pm  #3


Re: This 50K Radio Giant Once Had Its Transmitter On A Remote Island

 

April 22, 2021 4:27 pm  #4


Re: This 50K Radio Giant Once Had Its Transmitter On A Remote Island

mike marshall wrote:

There's something much closer: CKFH, Toronto.

https://www.broadcasting-history.ca/listing_and_histories/radio/cjcl-am

You're right, but I doubt the shack out there came with a kitchen, a bathroom and several bedrooms! As it is, the thing broadcasts a lot of its signal into the lake, so I understand it rates very well with fish. In fact, the current user of that TX recently got permission from the CRTC to make a few adjustments to its signal because of the precarious nature of its equipment out there. More on that for those interested here

 

     Thread Starter
 

April 22, 2021 6:15 pm  #5


Re: This 50K Radio Giant Once Had Its Transmitter On A Remote Island

RadioActive wrote:

You're right, but I doubt the shack out there came with a kitchen, a bathroom and several bedrooms! As it is, the thing broadcasts a lot of its signal into the lake, so I understand it rates very well with fish.

Les Sole, who ran things when it became CJCL/Metro 1430, used to say we had to be #1 with the airline pilots
because most of the signal had to be going straight up.
As someone who preferred an off-air feed when working, what I found frustrating was the fact that it never
sounded the same two days in a row. Like John Denver sang, some days were diamonds...
 

 

April 22, 2021 6:55 pm  #6


Re: This 50K Radio Giant Once Had Its Transmitter On A Remote Island

Half of Kingston's FMs and the TV station have sticks on Wolfe Island, accessible only by Ferry. When the city had AM radio, both sites were also on the island.


 
 

April 22, 2021 8:11 pm  #7


Re: This 50K Radio Giant Once Had Its Transmitter On A Remote Island

And then there's this station in Taos, New Mexico which, incredibly, powers its 100,000 FM signal and all its equipment through an array of solar panels (below.) As far as I can tell, they're not hooked up to any electrical grid.

To make the place even more unusual, before COVID, the small-town station was also part of a now-virus-closed complex that includes a bar, a restaurant and a movie theatre!

KTAO: On The "Sunny" Side Of Your Dial

https://ktao.com/uploads/gfx/ktao-solar1.jpg

     Thread Starter
 

April 22, 2021 8:24 pm  #8


Re: This 50K Radio Giant Once Had Its Transmitter On A Remote Island

RadioAaron wrote:

Half of Kingston's FMs and the TV station have sticks on Wolfe Island, accessible only by Ferry. When the city had AM radio, both sites were also on the island.

In its day, CKLC AM had its transmitter on Wolfe Islandhttps://i.ibb.co/n3Z50Rh/cklc.jpg

 

April 22, 2021 8:38 pm  #9


Re: This 50K Radio Giant Once Had Its Transmitter On A Remote Island

Yep...and when they went to FM, they tore down all but one of those AM towers from which CKLC-FM transmits today.

turkeytop wrote:

RadioAaron wrote:

Half of Kingston's FMs and the TV station have sticks on Wolfe Island, accessible only by Ferry. When the city had AM radio, both sites were also on the island.

In its day, CKLC AM had its transmitter on Wolfe Islandhttps://i.ibb.co/n3Z50Rh/cklc.jpg