WITI TV Tower
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The WITI Tower in Milwaukee, Wisconsin was completed in August 1962 and was briefly the tallest free-standing tower in the world, rising 1,078 feet (329 m). (Tokyo Tower had been the world's tallest, and after the construction of WITI's tower, it added additional members[clarification needed] to regain the title.) For many years, it was the tallest free-standing tower in the United States. The Bentley Company was the foundation contractor for the Dresser Ideco tower, which was erected by the Seago Construction Co.
The tower was built at the same time the FCC relaxed some guidelines on station co-location. In 1956, WITI came to the air, but due to WOC-TV of Davenport, Iowa also being on channel 6, WITI was determined to interfere with small portions of WOC-TV's market area. WITI thus launched being licensed to the North Shore suburb of Whitefish Bay, with a tower located in Ozaukee County in the then-Town of Mequon. This provided disadvantages to WITI because viewers in the area had to aim their antennas more northward or northeastward in order to receive WITI, where the city's other stations were centrally located north of downtown. WITI campaigned the FCC to locate in Milwaukee, and finally was successful in doing so in 1962.
The village of Shorewood, Wisconsin allowed WITI to build the tower on a piece of privately owned land that might have completed Estabrook Parkway along the Milwaukee River. Doing so added to the village's tax base. The WTMJ-TV and WISN-TV towers were nearby, and locating the tower there meant that Milwaukee TV viewers could point their antennas in the same general direction. Since the property had no room for guy-wires, however, the tower had to be free-standing. In August 1962, construction of a 1,078-foot (329 m) tower at East Capitol Drive and Estabrook Parkway was completed. It was formally dedicated on 9 October 1962. Milwaukee Public Television leased space on the tower for WMVS and WMVT until a move to WVTV's tower in 1981 (eventually moving to the new digital-ready MPTV Tower in 1999), while WUWM-FM (89.7) has continued to transmit from the tower, along with Family Radio's WMWK (88.1).
WITI was looking for a way to make the tower a Milwaukee landmark, and in October 1963, the station received permission from the Shorewood village board to install lights on it. Shortly thereafter, approximately 2000 25 watt lights were installed. Station manager Roger LeGrand then coined the phrase "Milwaukee's Tower of Light". Some neighbors objected. The Shorewood village attorney opined that the lighted "6" sign might violate the village's lighted sign ordinance, but that the lights affixed to the tower's legs were legal. The village later declared the lights and the sign to be legal. Except for special requests - such as to aid navigation on Lake Michigan during sailing races - the tower was only lit from dusk until midnight.
The lights stayed on until the energy crisis of 1973-74, when at the suggestion of a viewer, they were turned off. They were finally removed in 2003 when the station began converting the tower for digital TV.
- History of Milwaukee television
- Listing 1056835 in the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Antenna Structure Registration database
- WITI TV Tower at Structurae
- Fall 2009 Tower Work Images