760 ft. WOR-TV, WOR FM tower in North Bergen, NJ in 1949
Weight was about 420 tons, designed to withstand winds in excess of 120 mph.
Completed by Terry Steel Construction
around July 1949. At that time, it became
the 10th tallest man-made structure in the
world.

Source: (1)

WOR-TV and FM Transmitter
in North Bergen, NJ

(Jim Hawkins Radio and Broadcast Technology Page Home)


A tribute to the first transmitter site of WOR-TV, channel 9, which went on the air from N. Bergen, N.J., on October 11, 1949.

The first studio telecast was from the New Amsterdam Theater on 42nd Street on the top floor of building. Permanent studios were still under construction at 67th St. NYC.
John B. Gambling was the first speaker. The first few minutes began with a picture without audio.

WOR-TV is now WWORTV with official web site
at www.wwortv.com . Also, visit their history page for more details on the opening moments.

This site is private with no affiliation with WWORTV. For inquiries and programming please visit their official web site.


About Initial Photo and Information Sources

At the time of this web page creation, information was obtained from two magazine articles: "electronics" magazine September 1949, McGraw Hill, "WOR TV FM Design for the Future by F.J. Bingley, Chief Television Engineer for Bamberger Broadcasting Co., Inc. New York, NY. ; and "Radio & Television News February 1950, "Ultra-Modern WOR-TV is 84th Television Station" by Newland Smith, WOR-TV Video Facilities Engineer.

There seems to be no trace of information about this facility or its history on the web, hence it is my intention here to fill that void with this overview of an important event in radio and television history (not to mention my own). The articles, especially in "electronics" give much more operational details. It is beyond the scope of this presentation to provide all of those details.



Newspaper Articles




My Historical Association and Memories



Through the ages of 4 and 5 (1949-1950) years old, I lived at 334 76th St., in North Bergen, NJ, one block east of Bergenline Ave. Our old (Archie Bunker style) house faced south with a driveway on the left side facing the house. I remembered the presence of a tower looking from my driveway to the south. The exact location, relative to my house, is shown below. At night, bright neon lights were visible on the tower, which read: "WOR". My mother has recently told me that I was very curious and fascinated by the tower at my young age, but no one in my family was remotely connected with the radio business to satisfy my curiosity.

We moved to River Edge, NJ when I was 5 and I forgot about the tower for the time being as my attention focused on a new school, new friends and new territory.

It wasn't until I was about 15 years old that I became interested in electronics and eventually became a radio amateur. The WOR tower may have crept into my mind periodically, but it wasn't until a couple years ago, as my research in broadcast radio history and technology was on the increase, that thoughts of the tower came back and I began to wonder what it was. My mother remembered the tower, but did not know what it was for. Her strongest memory about the tower was that ice, that formed on the tower during winter months, occasionally fell to the ground and on automobiles close by.

I put up a message on the Usenet asking what the North Bergen tower was a few years ago and received a reply from Al Germond (KFRU) that it was WOR-TV. I began to search for information on the Internet and WWW and found nothing about the tower in North Bergen.

Recently I began to search for old magazines, I came across a set of Radio and Television News magazines. The picture of the magazines were good enough for me to see that one of them, published in February 1950 had an article entitled, "Ultra Modern Video Control at WOR-TV...N.Y.C." I won the auction and sure enough, the one magazine had a 2 1/3 page article about the transmitter site in North Bergen and a very good color photo of the transmitter room on the cover. At the same time, I had put up a WTB on the Usenet for old McGraw Hill "electronics" magazines. John Byrns replied, saying that he had some duplicates in his collection and he would sell them to me. Also, to my surprise, he mentioned that one of his favorite articles was about the WOR-TV tower and transmitter site in North Bergen in a September 1949 issue. He had no idea I was interested in this information and I wasn't looking for it at the moment. However, these two finds were serendipitous as they provided me with a wealth of information and photos on this subject. This web page is a presentation of information and selected photos from the two magazines as I feel the need to fill the void of information on the Internet on this subject.

I encourage anyone who has additional information and or photos of this site to please write to me. I will give due credit to all who can help me make this a complete story.


Click on photos for larger views.

W2XOR FM (Pre-WOR FM)

W2XOR transmitter 43.5 MHz at
444 Madison Ave, NYC
WOR Mutual's 1 KW FM outlet.

since 1940. The photo was
published in 1941.



W2XOR/W71NY/WBAM moved to
the North Bergen, NJ site.

Source: (4)


Transmitter Room Layout


Cover photo of the WOR-TV and FM
Transmitter Facility from Radio &
Television News February 1950

Showing Frank Gerufy, transmitter
engineer and James Long, video engineer,
at the TV studio controls.
Kodachrome by Edward Ozern
Original Radio &
Television Magazine
Cover

click on image

Layout of equipment and facilities in the transmitter
building. (click on image to enlarge).

Source: (1)

The WOR-TV and FM transmitter facility was completed in 1949 in North Bergen, NJ in the block from 72nd-73rd Streets, Bergenline and Palisade Avenues at the top of the 240 ft Palisades ridge on the west side of the Hudson River. The first preference for the facility was Fort Lee, NJ, but the CAA did not grant a tower construction permit, so North Bergen (4 miles further to the south) was considered the next best choice. This put the top of the 760' tower 1000' above sea level. The 50' antenna attached to the top put the total height above sea level at 1050'.

Chronology

  • 1948 Site planning completed and construction begins
  • 1949 Tower Completed in October, site construction completed and testing begins
  • 1950 WOR-TV and WOR-FM 98.7 begin transmission from the North Bergen Site. By this time, the tower is graced with a large vertical neon call letters sign. Work began on the multi-station antenna tower on top of the Empire State Building. WOR-TV started with a 20 hr/week schedule.
  • 1953 WOR-TV transmitter is moved to the Empire State Building and WOR-FM was left silent until December 1955 when, according to "Television Digest," WOR-FM resumed operation at the Empire State building because of renewed interest in high fidelity FM. The North Bergen site remained an inactive/standby site, henceforth.
  • 1956 The North Bergen Tower is struck by an airplane before crashing into an apartment building, killing 6. The town threatened WOR with law suit if the tower is not completely dismantled.
  • 1957 The tear-down of the tower was completed.
  • Sometime in the 1990s, I am told, the vacant lot and remaining footings of the tower were replaced by new apartment or townhouse dwellings.

From the above time-table, the North Bergen site was only in primary use for about 3 years and the total life of the fully standing tower was about 6 years. In contrast, the massive 410' Armstrong tower, built around 1938 in Alpine, NJ, 13 miles to the north on the same Palisade ridge, has been standing for about 65 years! (I lived 1 mile from the Armstrong tower from 1963 to 1975 at the bottom of the ridge in Norwood, NJ).

In the background the TT-6-D television transmitters are on
the left and BT-4-B FM transmitters are on the right.
Transmitter control is centered on the console. 


Source: (1)
Passageway behind the FM and TV transmitter racks. Nearest racks
house the television transmitter with diplexer mounted above. The
other racks house the FM transmitter. In the left foreground is the
dummy load while above it are the dehydrators for automatically
pressurizing the transmission lines. The racks in the background
contain telephone terminal equipment for audio and video; and test
and measuring equipment.


Source: (2)

The television transmitter was a GE TT-6-D with a 5 KW video output and a 2.5 KW aural output. The video final consisted of a pair of forced air and water cooled 9C24 (6039) triode tubes, low-level modulated.

The aural transmitter output consisted of a pair of 5513 forced air cooled triode tubes. Frequency modulation was accomplished using a phase initiated
Phasitron circuit, which allows the carrier frequency to be controlled by a crystal..

Taking transmission line losses, antenna gain and antenna height (975 feet above average terrain), the video erp is 9 KW, the aural erp is 11KW.

Audio equipment, video monitors, sync generator
and associated equipment form the outer wall of
the shielded room to the transmitter operator's right
.

Source: (1)

Program control panel (left) and transmitter
supervisory control (right).


Source: (1)


Interior view of power cubicle of
FM transmitter showing transformers
and rectifiers.





Source: (2)

One of the coaxial cable terminal racks
(left) and monitoring equipment (right)
located in the hallway outside the
shielded room. 






Source: (1)


Utility Room and Cooling Equipment

Utility room with distilled water cooler, water pumps and cubicle cooling
fans. Flow control equipment and safety interlocks are mounted on the
wall at the rear.



Source: (1) 


Maps and Property Layout

Coverage map

Source: (1)

Detailed location map
Tower at RED DOT.

Block from 72nd-73rd Streets,
Bergenline and Palisade Avenues
(FCC official address: 72nd and Palisade)

Map generated Delorme Street Atlas 2004

Property layout - tower oriented to NS-EW.

Source: (1)


The transmitter building covers 5000 square feet. The utility room contains the ventilating and cooling equipment. The substation contains two banks of three 50-KVA transformers, each bank connected to a different feeder. Power is stepped down from 440 volts three phase to 120/208 V 3 phase. In the event of a failure from one bank, the power is switched to the other bank, which is fed from an alternate substation.

The ground system consists of an expanded-metal copper mat with 20 radials tied into this system, extending from the tower base to the edge of the property. All metal parts of the building, including the windows are tied into the ground structure.

Notice in the illustration, that the tower is skewed relative to the property so that it is aligned with north-south-east-west.


Antenna System

Final tests of the 50 foot six-bay superturnstile are performed by
engineers. The person on the left measures standing waves on
slotted line section. Person on right is adjusting the signal generator.

(I was probably riding my tricycle 3 blocks away at the time.)



Source: (1)

Above the FM antenna is a six bay superturnstile (batwing) antenna for WOR-TV Visual and Aural. This type of antenna has a the wide bandwidth necessary to radiate both visual and aural signals. A single bay has approximately unity gain with respect to a dipole. Additional bays increase vertical directivity and horizontal power gain. The power gain of the WOR-TV antenna was about 6.78.

The north-south and east west pairs of batwings are fed separately with a 90 degree phase shift to provide circular radiation.
Source: (1)

At the top of the tower is a single bay circular antenna for
WOR FM. It is a special form of folded dipole, which has
been bent around in toe form of a doughnut for omni-
directional horizontal polarization. It has a gain of 0.79
as referenced to a 1/2 wave dipole.



Circular antenna for FM from
Source: (3)

Both antennas are provided with heating to melt ice, that may form.



Signal Flow


The aural and visual for WOR-TV and audio
for WOR FM signals come from NY via the
Lincoln Tunnel
.

Source: (1)
Remote operations diagram.

Source: (1)
Video signal switching and check points at the
transmitter plant.


Source: (1) 


Airplane Collides with Tower
November 8, 1956


Left: top of tower is bent after small airplane
collision.

Right: The tower buckled and twisted after
a failed attempt to detach the damaged top
portion with the intent of dropping it to the
ground

Source: (6)


Recollections by Larry Nuesch
with photos by Jacob "Jake" Seitz

Story by Larry Nuesch
Photography by Jacob "Jake" Seitz ©2012 All Rights Reserved

The WOR TV Tower has been an interest of mine since I was a young boy.
I grew up about 4 blocks south and 4 blocks west from the tower at
Adams St & 68th in Guttenberg, NJ.

Although I was just over 6 years old at the time of the crash, I still have vivid memories of it.
My grandfather, Jacob Seitz, was an avid amateur photographer and going through his slide
collection recently, I discovered 5 good quality Kodachrome slides taken right after the
failed attempt to remove the top of the tower right after the crash and of the apartment
building that was destroyed.

As can be clearly seen in these photos of the tower (taken near what is now the intersection of
Madison Street and 72nd Street), the section that was cut is still dangling dangerously
over the heavily populated area and the section that was above where the plane stuck it
is no longer attached.

I remember seeing a picture of the wing that had been lodged in the tower
lying on the sidewalk near corner of 72nd or 73rd and Palisade avenue after
it fell out of the tower when the attempt was made to cut the top off.
I believe this picture of the wing was in the Hudson Dispatch, but it could
have been in the Daily News the Jersey Journal or the Star Ledger.
I can still "see" it lying on the sidewalk next to the fence.
After seeing the picture I remember begging my parents to take
me to see the wing, to no avail. I've never been able to find that picture,
but perhaps some else will and submit it for inclusion on this page.

I believe that the last of the tower and base pads were removed sometime
between the Spring and Fall of 1965. In aerial photographs from 1966 that also
show ice on Woodcliff Lake (perhaps from January - March), the roofs of
14 houses on the former site of the tower are visible.

I had a Hudson Dispatch paper route and I picked up my papers from a
boarded up store front on 72nd st opposite the tower every day. I remember
wondering if they were ever going to demolish the large concrete base pads
and remaining steelwork above them when I saw it every day.

I finally got my answer when I arrived to pick up my papers one morning and
saw a large crane on the site ready to remove what was left and make room
for the 14 homes that still stand there today.

About Jake Seitz - if you or your parents purchased a car from the former
Eichler Motors Ford dealership in WNY up to 1966 and had your car serviced
there, you probably met him. He worked that all his life and was their service manager.



Newsreel Video on YouTube

Uploaded to YouTube.com by AIRBOYD.TV





Accessed times since February 10, 2004


Request for contributions (information and/or pictures).

  • Any additional photos would be appreciated and attributed to contributor.
  • Contributors of information will also be listed at the bottom.
  • Personal stories related to the WOR-TV North Bergen site/tower are welcome, but may be posted on a separate page.

Send comments to Jim Hawkins


Contributors


Ken Barber - W2DTC
Charlie Burham - Origin of Test Pattern Background
Bob Cambreleng - Correction to name to Frank Garufy (Magazine cover)
Doug Douglas - for exact site location, Newspaper Articles and research.
Norm Gagnon - for official FCC address, Newspaper Articles and research.
Al Germond - KFRU, First provide information in February 2003
Pauline Hawkins - My Mother - The falling Ice problem
David Herschberger - W9GR,
Phasitron information.
Rick Lindquist - N1RL, Senior News Editor of
QST
Paul McLane - Editor of
Radio World
Larry Nuesch - Local resident who wrote essay above
Jacob "Jake" Seitz - Photographer of color photos
AIRBOYD.TV - YouTube Video


Sources

(1) "electronics" September 1949
(2) "Radio & Television" February 1950
(3) "Antenna Engineering Handbook", Jasik, McGraw Hill 1961
(4) "Radio" magazine, April 1941
(5) The Jersey Journal, June 8, 1948; July 12, 1949 (supplied by Doug Douglass)
(6) Hudson Dispatch, November 24, 1956 (supplied by Doug Douglass)

© 2004 by James P. Hawkins


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