Radio dial: Utah's radio towers dwarfed by scenery

Published: Friday, Jan. 29 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

What is Utah's "tallest" radio broadcast tower?

The new Burj Khalifa Skyscraper in Dubai is the tallest man-made structure in the world. At 2,720 feet (162 stories), this $1.5 billion building has eclipsed the 2,063-foot tall broadcast tower belonging to KVLY-TV in Fargo, N.D., the previous overall record-holder.

(The broadcast tower is, of course, "guyed" or anchored with cables.)

This got me wondering about Utah's tallest broadcast tower.

Now if you're talking "tallest," that may imply broadcast towers already sitting on high mountaintops. But I'm talking pure man-made height here, not "highest" in elevation.

The KSL-AM radio tower, located near Saltair on the shore of the Great Salt Lake, is 455 feet tall.

"It is the highest AM broadcast tower — ground level — in Utah," said John Dehnel, chief engineer for KSL radio, KRSP, KSFI and the BYU Radio Network.

This tower was built back in 1939.

Dehnel said AM towers are often located near bodies of water — lakes, marshes or rivers — since that increases the ground conductivity and hence the range of the signal the tower can produce.

KSL also had an auxiliary tower that is 225 feet tall.

A 455-foot-high tower is very impressive out in the Saltair area because the nearby Kennecott Smokestack is 1,215 feet high, and the Oquirrh Mountains rise some 4,000 feet above the valley floor. The radio tower is also a "needle" in thickness, compared to the smokestack.

However, the LDS Church Office Building is 420 feet tall, so the KSL-AM tower is taller than that, or anything else in downtown Salt Lake City.

By the way, most Salt Lake-area FM radio signals and TV signals hail from broadcast towers located in the Oquirrh Mountains. So, they are at an elevation of 9,000-plus feet above sea level. But from their mountain peak base upward, they are not nearly as tall as the KSL-AM tower.

NEW OSMOND SHOW — The new Donny Osmond radio show will begin on KBEE (FM-98.7), starting Monday, 3-7 p.m. The show premiered nationally several weeks ago.

Rusty Keys, KBEE program director and afternoon personality, said the station will be dropping the Ryan Seacrest radio show to fit Osmond's new show into the schedule.

"I'm really excited about it," Keys said of the new show, noting that it will be a great opportunity to have someone like Donny Osmond airing each weekday in Utah.

He also said KBEE will be giving away trips to Las Vegas to see the Donny and Marie Osmond show there, in conjunction with the new radio show's first few weeks on the air in the Salt Lake area.

The show airs live from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. (MST), meaning the program will be on tape delay on KBEE.

— Here are some comments Osmond put on his own Twitter site about how his new radio show feels: "You know ... I'm learning a lot doing radio. Like, who eats bacon-flavored popcorn? … OK, radio is a lot different than being on stage, but it's kinda exciting."

ALL ELVIS CHANNELS — Do you like Elvis Presley? XM subscriber radio has an all-Elvis music channel. Also, Berea, Ky. (population 14,000 and 113 miles southeast of Louisville), started an all-Elvis music station this month at FM-106.7.

e-mail: lynn@desnews.com

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