Denver stations in digital stymie

Apr 1, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Denver-A year after community opposition stymied efforts to build a joint digital TV “supertower” on Lookout Mountain at the western edge of metropolitan Denver, most area broadcasters are backing a new plan being offered to Jefferson County officials and residents in April.
Efforts to build a joint tower have been blocked for seven years by foothill residents concerned about the health effects of nonthermal RF radiation from terrestrial broadcasting antennas above or level with their homes.
Under the latest proposal from Lake Cedar Group, the limited-liability corporation created by a coalition of local TV and radio station as a litigation buffer, four towers would be replaced by a single tower near the existing KCNC-TV tower on Lookout Mountain.
Mounting digital and analog gear on the tower would be KCNC (CBS), KMGH-TV (ABC), KUSA-TV (NBC) and KDTV-TV (UPN). All four stations’ analog towers would come down, and their separate transmitter buildings would be demolished and consolidated into one.
Addressing concerns
If the county denies the revised application, Peter McNally-who works for an affiliate of Intermountain Corporate Affairs, the political consultancy hired to spearhead county approval-warned that Lake Cedar Group members will build interim digital towers on “less desirable” Front Range sites such as Squaw Mountain or Eldorado Peak, leaving the four existing towers on Lookout Mountain standing until the Federal Communications Commission forces an analog shutdown, then replace those with four digital towers, each with its own building, so the county would have “zero gain” from saying no.
The new plan was unveiled to mostly station engineers March 26 before a gathering of the Denver Web Forum for Advanced Visual Systems at KCNC. A similar presentation will be offered at a public meeting April 16.
“We recognize nobody in the community likes us or believes us,” Mr. McNally said. “But we hope we can get this through without litigation, because we’ve now turned our proposal upside down to address all the concerns against us before.”
Directional RF
To counter health worries, the previous omnidirectional antennas will be replaced by directional panel antennas aiming across the city, sprawling onto the eastern plains and reducing residual RF radiation in the foothill community to the west (also reducing TV reception).
An unpopular three-pronged candelabra proposed earlier, has been abandoned for a single stick. The initial height of 850 feet has been shrunk, so it’s now 110 feet shorter than the existing KCNC tower-the tallest on the mountain-and the site has been moved another 180 feet down the hill to reduce risks of “ice fall” on neighboring homes in winter.
The large collocated transmitter building proposed before has been shrunk in square footage and would now be dug into the mountain (60 percent underground) to disappear among the evergreen trees.