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THE WORLD TRADE CENTER

The subject of radio and television reception may seem trivial in the light of the devastation and tragic loss of life caused by the world's worst act of terrorism, but in times of crisis communication is important and radio and television can be a comfort.

Regular visitors to this web site will have noticed that one of the two towers of the World trade Center supported a radio and tv transmitter mast and you may well have wondered about the broadcast services which were served from there.

First we must mention the names of all six of the New York engineers who were running their transmitters atop One World Trade Center when it was attacked on Tuesday morning. Steve Jacobson, N2SJ, was WPIX's engineer; he, along with WCBS's Bob Pattison and Isaias Rivera, WNBC's William Steckman, WABC's Donald DiFranco and WNET's Rod Coppola, hasn't been heard from since. All are missing, presumed dead.

The World Trade Center broadcast thirteen separate services:

VHF TV UHF TV VHF FM RADIO  

ch2
ch4
ch5
ch7
ch9
ch11
ch13

WCBS-TV
WNBC
WNYW-TV
WABC-TV
WWOR-TV
WPIX-TV
WNET

ch31
ch47

WPXN
WNJU

89.9 
93.1 
93.9 
103.5 

WKCR
WPAT-FM
WNYC-FM
WKTU

The seven New York VHF TV stations and two of the UHF stations had their analogue transmitters on the WTC. However, the TV stations have direct feeds to most of the cable companies in the New York area, so the 70% of NYC viewers with cable were unaffected in this regard. CBS and Fox have digital transmitters on the Empire State Building - which was the major New York transmitter site before the WTC went up - and CBS has its auxiliary analogue transmitter there which was quickly back in service. (Interestingly, the reason CBS kept its Empire State facility in place is that nobody bothered to drop the lease after the WTC facility was built.)

In the case of FM, only one public radio station (WNYC-FM, operated by the City of New York) and three commercial stations were on the WTC; the rest are either still on the Empire State Building or at other sites.

On the FM side, Columbia University's WKCR (89.9) returned to the air on 15-Sep-2001, running low power into an antenna on a university dormitory building. There's no word yet on their long-term plans, nor any sign of WNYC-FM on its own 93.9 frequency (programming from WNYC 820 AM continues to be heard over WNYE-FM 91.5 as well). At the center of the recovery efforts is one of the region's most historic broadcast sites: the three-armed tower in Alpine, N.J., high above the Palisades Interstate Parkway, that was built by FM inventor Major Edwin Howard Armstrong back in 1937.

Summary compiled with the assistance of Ed Ellers
and the following web sites where more information is likely to be found:
NorthEast Radio Watch | Transmitter Sites from Hell

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