WOR-TV North Bergen Transmitter
News Articles

(Jim Hawkins Radio and Broadcast Technology Page)



The following is quoted from The New Jersey Journal of June 8, 1948.

WOR Television Tower To Be in North Bergen

The Jersey Journal, June 8, 1948

Site Sold for $30,000; Will Have
Hook-up With Washington Station

Radio Station WOR today disclosed North Bergen has been selected as the transmitter site for its powerful television station WORTV scheduled to begin operations in the fall.

The disclosure of the new powerful transmitter came to light following purchase of land by the station through Miss Margaret M. Driscoll, 53 Duncan Ave. Jersey City, yesterday. Miss Driscoll, associated with James Coolihan, attorney for WOR, bought a large parcel of land at the rear of the Embassy Theater, North Bergen, for $30,000 yesterday.

The plot, comprising approximately 30 lots, is bounded by 72nd and 73rd streets and Palisade Avenue. The block, excepting Bergenline Avenue frontage, is zoned for residential purposes. The FCC and CAA have already approved the WORTV deal, WOR officials said. Waiting to be cleared, are an exception to the zoning law and the ordinary search made on titles.

Thoedore C. Streibert, president of WOR, in revealing that WORTV will take the air on Channel Nine, said the station will be on the Palisades overlooking the metropolitan area. He told The Jersey Journal WORTV is the only New York television station to locate its transmitter outside the high building area of Manhattan.

"The location of WORTV transmitter should give maximum clarity of reception in all areas of Greater New York, New Jersey and lower Connecticut," Streibert said.


"Ghosts and reflections resulting from location among skyscrapers will be largely minimized or completely eliminated" he added. "Programs on WORTV will reach an area with a population of approximately 12 million."

Spokesmen for WOR also disclosed the new deal, linked with the erection of WOIC, a Bamberger television outlet being built in Washington, D.C., will give the metropolitan area a video link with the nation's capital. Both stations will take the air at the same time if present plans carry through, spokesmen added.

The tower being constructed will also accommodate WOR's FM station, WBAM, spokesmen for WOR said.

Equipment is already on order for the building and transmitter tower. The one-story modern building will have floor space of 4,000 to 5,000 feet and will have facilities for a garage, kitchen, machine shop and two mobile television units, according to spokesmen for the station.

The new transmitter will mix a 5 kilowatt visual transmitter signal with a 2.5 kilowatt aural signal.


"It is planned that many of the Mutual and WOR radio programs will be available simultaneously to the television audience and WOR has elaborate plans for producing the finest programs of varied and popular appeal," Streibert said.

WOR was reported figuring in a possible television-FM station outlet at Fort Lee, but spokesmen's comments today apparently indicated this project is a dead letter.

My sincere thanks go to Doug Douglass for obtaining this newspaper article from microfilm at the Jersey City Library and sending it to me.

Tower Not Popular With Some Locals

The following is quoted from The New Jersey Journal of November 9, 1950.

The Jersey Journal November 9, 1950

J.R. Poppele, vice-president and chief engineer of WOR radio and television broadcasting station, said today that there are no immediate plans for the abandonment of the station's television broadcasting tower in North Bergen. "The location in North Bergen is proving itself to be good with the daily broadcasting and we have no intention of giving it up," Poppele said.

The statement was in answer to a rumor that WOR was about to sign a contract to move its television broadcasting equipment to the Empire State Building in Manhattan to join with WATV in use of the new tower atop the world's tallest building.

Poppele said today that his firm has not accepted the invitation extended to join in use of the Empire State Building tower and that there was no decision on the matter imminent.

The North Bergen tower has been a bone of contention in North Bergen since it was planned. Its construction resulted in a political upheaval in the township that brought about a commission recall in which Paul Cullum was ousted after 17 years of service as mayor and the election of a ticket that also brought about the defeat of John Roe, a commissioner of the township who had been opposing the Cullum regime.

Since the tower was built, two fires and the formation of heavy ice pieces on it that hurtled to the streets for blocks around the area last winter presented the township with more problems. Meanwhile, the WOR management arranged for the installation of de-icing equipment on the tower and the elimination of anything not fireproof.

My sincere thanks go to Doug Douglass for obtaining this newspaper article from microfilm at the Jersey City Library and sending it to me.

Move to Empire State Building

The following is quoted from Broadcasting Telecasting, January 14, 1953.

January 14, 1953
Issue of Broadcasting Telecasting

Empire State Transmitting
Begun Officially by WOR-TV

BEGINNING of regular transmitting operations by WOR-TV New York from the tower atop the Empire State Bldg., starting starting last Saturday was announced last week by Thomas F. O'Neil, president of General Teleradio Inc. licensee of the station.

Power Booster

With the move, the station will increase its power from 22 KW to about 165 KW, representing an eight-fold boost in power. WOR-TV also will have new studio facilities on the 83rd floor of the building for news and special events programs.

The station previously transmitted from North Bergen, N.J., and will retain its tower there as auxiliary facilities.

My sincere thanks go to Norman Gagnon sending this article.

Tower Hit By Plane (First Article)

The following is quoted from The New Jersey Journal of November 9, 1956.

2,500 Quit Homes in Disaster
The Jersey Journal, November 9, 1956

Plane Tragedy Brings New Court Battle

By Gene Scanlon

Ironworkers today attached a cable to the top section of the 810-foot WOR-TV tower, hoping to bend the plane-battered tip in a direction, which would permit a harmless crash.

It was a gamble.


Would the pull on the cable have the desired result? Or would the 110-foot, 12-ton steel segment snap off and come crashing down on homes below?

Already dead were four persons; already destroyed were the top floors of a large North Bergen apartment house, the result of yesterday's crash of an airplane which first hit the tower.


As North Bergen and neighboring communities rallied about a common battle cry-"The tower must go!" -an eight-man team rigged the cable and ran it to a winch on a truck, safety to one side.

Mayor Angelo Sarubbi expressed the fear that the top of the tower, falling to the ground, might mean the loss of some houses in the area.

The top floors of the apartment house at 7805 Broadway, were lost yesterday when the twin-engine plane, after clipping the tower and shearing off a wing, dove into the roof of the structure.

The area surrounding the tower---from Bergenline Avenue to Broadway and from 71st to 75th Streets --- was a ghost town. Some 2,500 persons had been evacuated from their homes, and few tried to go back today for belongings.

A few hundred persons stood on the perimeter of the police lines and watched the proceedings. Occasionally a bus stopped so that its passengers might get a glimpse of the tragedy scene.


But inside the perimeter there were no watchers. Police kept a strict guard and cars were detoured away. Wreckage littered the streets.


Two ironworkers and two riggers hooked the steel cable around a girder near the torn portion of the transmitter. A fifth man, meanwhile, climbed hand-over-hand up the outside part of the tower while a 70-mile an hour wind buffeted the shaky steel structure.

Three other workmen followed the five up the tower in an ascent, which normally takes 45 minutes.


Sarubbi says he would declare the state of emergency canceled when the teetering part of the transmitter was grounded. However, Srubbi reported that emergency crews would not be able to remove personal belongings from apartment houses in the expected path of the tumbling steel.

In Guttenberg, where several hundred persons were evacuated from their homes last night, Mayor Herman G. Klein called a special town commission meeting this afternoon. Town Attorney John Tomasin was to be empowered to take action against WOR-TV if satisfactory action on removing the tower were not taken voluntarily by its owner.

Meanwhile, a report that a fifth body-possibly that of a child-had been discovered in the wreckage was labeled as unfounded by Clarence Rieman, agent for the medical examiner.


Two North Bergen women were killed. Mrs. Harriet Phelps, 65, and Mrs. Estelle Pyne, both of whom lived in the five story apartment house.

Also dead were the pilot of the plane, William L. Cromley, 32, of Trafalgar, Ind., and Russell S. Williams Sr., 60, of Indianapolis, described as a millionaire oil company executive, who was a passenger in the plane.


Treated for injuries at North Hudson Hospital, Weehawkin, were:
PETERSON, Patrolman George, 30, of 7604 Park Ave., North Bergen, smoke poisoning. Released.
HAGERMAN, Fireman Henry, 53, of 901 Smith Ave., North Bergen, smoke poisoning. Released.
SINKINSON, John, 48, of 7803 Hudson Ave., North Bergen, smoke poisoning. Released.
ZIEGLER, Fireman Michael, 58, of 336 72nd St., North Bergen, fracture of the spine. Detained.
FERENCE, Fireman Michael, of Guttenberg Hose Co. 1, treated for smoke poisoning.
NOWATNICK, Fireman Paul, West New York Engine Co. 5, treated for a cut on the left index finger.

Detained at Christ Hospital, Jersey City:
O'NEILL, Patrolman William, Hudson County Boulevard Police Department, treated for smoke poisoning.

The Red Cross declared the section a disaster area. Last night schools were opened to feed and house those evacuated. Early this morning the First Army sent in emergency supplies.


North Bergen Commissioner James P. Nolan said investigation revealed that Cromley apparently became lost in the heavy overcast and after striking the tower tried to make a crash landing in the North Hudson Park just one block north of the apartment house.

The $1,000,000 tower, which has not been in use for three years, stood as high as an 80 story building. Soaring from a high bluff, it reaches a height greater than the Empire State Building.


After it hit the tower the plane spun crazily over the crowded Immaculate Heart of Mary chapel school before hitting the apartment building. A 75-foot gash was ripped in the top of the building and fire gutted the fourth and fifth floors.

One of the plane's two engines buried itself in a garage behind the school. One of its wheels bounced on the street 150 feet from the apartment, narrowly missing passersby. One wing dangled over the edge of the apartment, which housed 35 families. The other wing hung from the steel skeleton of the television tower.


Mrs. Phelps, wife of an engineer at the New York Times, plunged to her death in an alley after clinging momentarily to a windowsill in her fifth floor apartment. Mrs. Pyne was killed by the impact of the plane. She too lived on the fifth floor.

The tower is east of Bergenline Avenue between 72nd and 73rd Streets. The apartment house is six blocks north, at 78th Street and Broadway.

Last night police and firemen toured a 20-block area around the tower, warning residents that the top of the tower could topple without warning. Many families already had prepared to leave their homes and some carried bedding.

For years North Bergenities fought for the removal of the TV tower. Always they argued that someday a plane would hit it and townspeople would be killed. They fought it through the highest court in the state and they lost every battle.

The apartment house, erected 26 years ago, the last to be built on Broadway, is owned by Mr. And Mrs. Max Fernoff, who live on the fourth floor. The building is worth about $130,000, Mrs. Fernoff said yesterday.

Last night Sarubbi met with engineers who built the tower in 1948. Following the meeting, Gordon Gray, vice president and general manager of WOR-TV said the top would be removed today and the "all safeguards" were being taken to insure the safety of people living near it.

Williams, the passenger in the plane, was flying to New York to meet his son, due to arrive there today from Europe. The plane had taken off at Indianapolis and was headed for LaGuardia Field.


A.J. Nogard, supervising agent of the CAA at Teterboro Airport declared that "normally we don't like high towers or any other aeronautical obstructions." Nogard headed a team of CAA investigators at the scene.


James Cacacie, president of the North Bergen Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said today that the PBA will adopt a resolution calling for the removal of the tower. "Our organization will do everything it can to help the township officials in this fight." Cacacie said.


A 300-poind section of the tower struck the home of Michael Grebelja, 333 75th St., North Bergen. The 10-foot long piece of steel tore into the side of his house, broke a bedroom window and landed in Grebelja's yard. He lives three blocks from the tower.


A Cylinder head from one of the plane's engines crashed into the bedroom of the home of Sol Mars at 237 76th St.

My sincere thanks go to Doug Douglass for obtaining this newspaper article from microfilm at the Jersey City Library and sending it to me.

Tower Hit By Plane (Second Article)

The following is quoted from Broadcasting Telecasting, November 12, 1956.


Broadcasting Telecasting, November 12, 1956

Twin-engine aircraft strikes 50 ft. below top of 760-ft.
unused facility in North Bergen, N.J., Hits apartment.

A twin-engine private plane crashed into the 760-foot standby tower of WOR-TV New York early Thursday afternoon and then plunged into a nearby apartment house. Six persons were killed.

The tower, unused since WOR-TV transmitting facilities were moved to the Empire State Building in October 1953, was lighted by automatic devices and in accordance with Civil Aeronautics Administration requirements, according to station spokesmen. The plane struck 50 feet from the top, CAA reports indicated.

John B. Poor, vice president of RKO Teleradio Pictures, Inc., licensee of the WOR station, said "the company deeply regrets that its tower was involved in this accident," and pointed out: "The tower was erected in October 1949. It was placed on a standby basis as an emergency TV transmitting facility on October 1953 when WOR-TV transmission went into operation at the Empire State Building. Since its construction the tower has been lighted by WOR on the recommendation and according to the specifications of the CAA."

The plane apparently was lost in a heavy overcast that lay over the New York area at the time. It was reported unofficially to be registered in the name of Gaseteria Inc. of Indianapolis Co. and carried the name "Bonded Gas & Oil Co." on its side. Commercial planes were operating at the time.

Although damage to the tower was first reported to be relatively slight, a crew of riggers was put to work Friday morning to dismantle the top 75 feet. This followed a move by officials of North Bergen, N.J., where the tower is located, to evacuate some 2,500 persons from their homes in a 15-block area around the structure Thursday night as a precaution against the possibility it had been damaged enough to cause toppling. The dismantling of the upper structure was slated for completion by about noon Friday. Whether the 50-foot mast which stood atop the 760 foot tower would be mounted from a new platform on the shortened structure was not ascertained immediately.

Original cost of the tower was placed at $2.5 million.

Reconstructing the crash, a station spokesman said a watchman stationed on the tower premises heard a noise about 12:51 p.m. Thursday and climbed up to an observation platform at the 550 foot level, could see no damage and did not see the plane. The apartment building into which the aircraft fell was located six blocks away.

The tower was the subject of a court fight a year or so ago when North Bergen residents sought to have it removed as a hazard, particularly in icy wintry weather. WOR-TV replied that its construction had been approved by all the proper authorities, including the North Bergen zoning officials, and the court upheld the station.

This is the seventh tragedy since 1950 involving an airplane colliding with a broadcast tower. There was one in 1950, when a plane rammed the 204 ft. tower of KWAK Stuttgart, Ark.; two in 1951 when one aircraft struck the 280 ft. tower of KSDN Aberdeen, S.D., and another struck the 375 ft. tower of KXLA Pasadena, Calif.; and three in 1953, when a plane struck the 1,036 ft. structure of WHUM-TV Reading, Pa.; an aircraft hit the 370 ft. tower of WPTR Albany, N.Y., and a plane crashed into the 538 ft. tower of WBCK-TV Battle Creak, Mich. During that time there were also three airplane-tower collisions involving power company structures.

The New Jersey accident occurred the same week that comments were due on an FCC proposal which would require TV applicants to justify antenna locations away from established antenna "farms" or in areas of high structures.

My sincere thanks go to Norman Gagnon sending this article.

Aftermath of Airplane Collision

The following is quoted from Hudson Dispatch, November 24, 1956.

Weather Halts Tower Work
Hudson Dispatch, November 24, 1956

Sarubbi Awaits WOR-TV Word on Disposition

With the biggest part of the damaged portion of WOR tower in North Bergen removed, ironworkers were unable to work yesterday because of the wind and cold. Rain on Wednesday and the Thanksgiving holiday will bring to 5 days when no dismantling operations were in progress. There is no work on Saturdays and Sundays.

Mayor Angelo J. Sarubbi said yesterday he is awaiting word from WOR attorneys on final disposition of the tower. He has set Monday as the deadline for favorable reply to his demand the entire tower be dismantled. He said he will be in touch with WOR officials on Monday. The mayor had already directed Township Attorney Nicholas S. Schloeder to prepare papers for legal action if the tower owners decide not to remove the tower completely. Monday is the 2-week deadline set by the mayor Nov 12.

The tower was damaged by an airplane Nov. 8 and a larger section buckled when attempts were made to sever the damaged portion. Four lives were lost when the plane, after hitting the tower, rammed into the apartment house at 7805 Broadway. Approximately 2,900 residents in the vicinity of the tower had to be evacuated 2 days because of danger from the tower.

Pilot's Kin "Sorry"

Yesterday Police Capt. John Kvilesz disclosed he had received a letter from Harry W. Green, brother-in-law of William Cromley, plane pilot, who was killed. "I hope the people of North Bergen will not hold it against my brother-in-law for what happened," part of the letter said. "He, too, was a well-liked man and if he could have avoided it, he would have. With all the hurt that was caused, we still are awfully sorry, and we are hurt, too."

Green, who with his brother, Leon, came to Hudson County, from Indianapolis, Ind., to identify and claim the pilot's body, expressed his thanks to members of the police department for their kindness. "I think all of them were real swell, he concluded."

My sincere thanks go to Doug Douglass for sending this article.

Broadcast Antennas on the Empire State Building, Broadcast Engineering,
August 1967
(LNL Distributing Corp. Web site)

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