The Right Stuff

Have you ever thought about where broadcast television signals come from? I’m not talking about the studio, I’m talking about the actual transmission tower. You know, the thing you aim your rooftop antenna at to get the best signal. In parts of the country where it’s really flat, a single tower can reach a circle with a 55 mile radius or more. You could drive for two hours and not lose the signal.

In order to get that coverage, however, you need a tall tower. In one particular case, the tower is 1,768 feet tall. That’s taller than the Empire State Building. It’s taller than the Sears Tower. The top is more than a third of a mile up in the air. And if something breaks, someone has to go up there and fix it. Ever thought about that?

Well, here’s a video that can show you just exactly what that’s like. The clip starts after the climber has completed a 1,600 foot elevator ride (the equivalent to riding to the 160th floor in a skyscraper, if it goes that high). Then he starts climbing. And it all gets recorded by his helmet-mounted video camera. After he reaches the top of the tower, he still has to climb the 60 foot antenna itself. (Another six stories!)

I don’t do well with heights. I have trouble working on my own rooftop antenna. There’s no way you could get me to do what these guys do for a living. And this video is a great demonstration of what it’s like at the top of a broadcast antenna. Wow!

(And a tip of the hardhat to TV Technology for finding this video.)