Highlights for Towers and Transmitters
Bob Searcy at the controls in the WRAL transmitter building in November 1966
Sunday, December 10, 1989 is a day etched in the memory of so many employees at Capitol Broadcasting. It was the day the 2000’ “Tall Tower” crashed to the ground. This WRAL news story by reporter Les Boney.
WRAL built the 2000 ft broadcast tower, also referred to as a “tall tower” in 1978. The site is located near Garner, North Carolina. The promo tells the viewer what the tall tower will mean to them in terms of reach and picture quality. This tower would fall to the ground on December 10, 1989 after an ice storm. The tower and guy wires were not able to withstand the unevening thawing of ice. on the structure. A new tall tower was built in 1990 and still stands today, although it no longer transmits the WRAL signal. WRAL now broadcasts in HD from a tower that is on the same property.
July 13, 1999 marked a milestone in the construction of WRAL-TV’s HD Digital Tower. It is among the tallest towers in the country topping off at 2,000 feet and was built by Doty-Moore Tower Services.
The video starts with an interview with CBC senior vice president John Greene, talking about the significance of this particular moment in WRAL’s HD development. Later in the video is an interview with Pat Moore, co-owner of Doty Moore Tower Services, a recognized leader in television tower construction.
Part of the ceremony involved in setting the first section of the tower is placing a “lucky penny” on top of the pin that provides a pivot point for the tower at the foundation. You will hear John say “we lost one, but this one is forever,” which refers to WRAL’s tall analog tower that crumbled to the ground in 1989 due to heavy icing during a winter storm. The HD Tower includes a new technology that allows the tower to pivot on a pin at the base.
P.B. Jernigan, retired WRAL engineer, started in 1961 and retired December, 2005. P.B. is a man of few words, but his work ethic and vaste knowledge demonstrated his passion for engineering and innovation. If you ever wondered who pulled the switch to light the Christmas tree lights on the tower, now you know.
P.B. started work during the black and white era of television and continued to work into the high definition/digitial era. In this video, he shares his memories of working at WRAL and Capitol Broadcasting Company, including a few pranks.