Old KISS broadcast towers come tumbling down

New tower being erected on Grand Island site

May 16, 2018

Grand Island, N.Y. (WBEN) - They say the devil is in the details.  And that certainly applies to the preparation and planning necessary to bring two soaring 411 foot red and white radio towers toppling to the ground in a controlled fall.

VIDEO/PHOTOS:  KISS Radio Towers Come Tumbling Down

Dodging occasional rain showers Tuesday, skillful workers from Ultimate Tower Service did their homework and followed engineering guidelines in detaching the guy wires holding the twin transmission towers for WKSE Radio along Staley Road.  The crew, using survey scope equipment to determine the towers' position, carefully decreased the tension on the tower guy wires on one side in preparation to have the tower structure fall to that side once they released the tension on the other side.   One wrong calculation or move could mean the tower falls in the opposite direction and in harms way.

"It took a good week, week and a half to put something like this up, only thirty seconds to bring it down", said Michael Lee with Ultimate Towers.  Lee walked away from the second tower fall with some gear in hand and a smile on his face with the reward of knowing two towers were safely brought to the ground in a controlled mangled mess of steel.

The two towers are part of an aging transmission site for KISS 98.5 that is being replaced by one new tower that will hold a new transmission antenna and other broadcast equipment.   The new tower will be the same height, 411 feet, and positioned in the exact same spot as one of the two toppled towers.  WKSE Radio is currently broadcasting at their regular strength and coverage from a backup transmitter site while the tower demolition and construction project is completed.

Engineers come up with a plan of attack for the demolition according to Lee.  "Pretty much what they had on their prints and everything else and all their engineering, it happened exactly the way they wanted it to, buckling in the middle", said a satisfied Lee.  "It's almost like a guessing game(at times), you write it all out in documentation and everything else and you're expecting it to go one way and it goes another", Lee told WBEN.  But in this case, the engineering plan was spot on and both towers came down without incident and landed within feet of their original base on the expansive property in residential Grand Island.

Lee and his daredevil team travel the country constructing, climbing and dismantling towers.  When asked what he enjoys most, Lee said, "putting them up, don't want to climb them".

The WKSE transmission site once housed WHLD Radio, which is why there are two towers on the property.  Only one tower is necessary to hold the equipment required to transmit the top-rated programming on KISS 98.5(WKSE), which is owner by Entercom.