The Hot Beat


The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him:

Radio tower work to begin this afternoon

There’s a forested rise west of Walker called Spencer’s Grove.

The elevation is somewhere around 950 feet above sea level. That’s about 100 feet higher than Waterloo, 150 feet higher than Cedar Rapids and 300 feet higher than Iowa City.

The elevation, as well as the remoteness from airports and rivers that pilots use for sight navigation, make the spot perfect for broadcasting towers for TV and radio.

Three silent 2,000-foot towers stand there, halfway between the Wapsipinicon and Cedar Rivers, just across the line in Buchanan County. Each tower has its own hill, and each begins to blink red lights each night as dusk slides in from the east.

“You want to be as tall as you can to get the most coverage,” said Wayne Jarvis, the director of network operations for Iowa Public Radio.

Iowa Public Radio’s KUNI 90.9 FM transmits from the KCRG tower, the one furthest north, only a mile or two from Highway 150. The transmission line running up the tower failed Monday, and crews have yet to start working on the tower. WSUI 910 AM in Iowa City broadcasts the same daytime schedule as KUNI.

The problem is about 1,000 feet up the tower, Jarvis said, and a special crew had to be called in from out of state.

“Our tower crew ran into some weather difficulties and a truck broke down,” Jarvis said.

He expects work to begin this afternoon.

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