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Four Times Square

The combiner room at 4 Times Square as it was being installed. Photo by John M. Lyons.

The combiner room at 4 Times Square as it was being installed. Photo by John M. Lyons.


Four Times Square is one of the best-known alternate transmitter sites in the United States. But why was it originally built? When the 9/11 attacks occurred, Josh Hadden (the CE of WKTU and Z100 at the time) already had a backup facility ready to go there; WKTU turned on the 4TS site shortly after the attack began. Let me give you just a small excerpt from a memo he had written, in August 1998, explaining to his then GM about why an alternate site was needed:

"What kind of problem could result in our not being able to broadcast from our primary location (then WTC)? Most dramatically, is the bombing of the World Trade Center (in 1993). This bombing resulted in WKTU (then WYNY) ceasing operations from WTC for weeks, as the FBI investigated, and structural engineers worked to reinforce the badly damaged foundations of the building. Initially, there was even some concern that the building would have to come down altogether. After a month of being closed, the World Trade Center reopened, but with significant deficiencies. For four years, WKTU dealt with unexpected power outages, a result of soot and smoke having gotten in to electrical switch gear..."

4 Times Square as the finishing touches were being put into place. Photo by John M. Lyons.

4 Times Square as the finishing touches were being put into place. Photo by John M. Lyons.


Other reasons were given, in the same memo, not the least of which was a two-week total shut down of the master antenna planned for June of 1999.

John Lyons (of WAXQ), Jim Stagnitto (of WWPR) and Nick Doshi (of WLTW) all had plans at the beginning of the last decade to build at 4TS as well, and eventually the plans were carried out. Fast forward to today: Clear Channel has backup transmitters for its five NYC FMs at 4TS. New York Public Radio (WNYC and WQXR) has its backups there, as does Spanish Broadcasting. WKCR and WNYE transmit from the site full-time. Most of the FM stations that transmit full-time from the Empire State Building have alternate transmitter sites either in Manhattan, or just across the Hudson in New Jersey.

Transmission line being hauled up to the 4 Times Square tower site. Photo by John M. Lyons.

Transmission line being hauled up to the 4 Times Square tower site. Photo by John M. Lyons.


The 4TS site is equipped with a large Shively combiner, and Shively master antenna up on the building-top tower that was enlarged after 9/11. The building supplies chilled water for air conditioning purposes, as well as backup ac power, with systems maintained by the building engineers themselves.

Clearly the WTC 1993 bombing and subsequent destruction in 2001 were extreme cases; and as you might expect, the "we don't want to be off the air, no matter what" attitude is pervasive in New York. (Josh has worked under that guideline for a long time -- and he's been the Clear Channel NY DoE for 10-plus years now.) CC has main and backup transmitters at ESB, in addition to the single ones at 4TS -- so, each station has three transmitters total. At ESB, all the master FM users have access to the main and backup antennas; at 4TS, there is also a main and backup antenna. Each of the five CC stations at 4TS had the same STL arrangement as ESB: the main STL (Worldcast Systems Oslo using AoIP over a private IP network); a 950MHz radio link; and finally, a pair of 15kHz "analog" (which are really digital) phone lines from the studio. There are two Audemat Relios on site for remote control; one manages WKTU, WHTZ and WAXQ. The second one manages WWPR and WLTW.

- continued on page 5



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