Bringing three phase power to the site was not a problem. It was right below us on the street. No one from the power company had asked about where to put poles so when I checked it out, the lines were flagged to run thru the guy line field. I caught the AEP contractors up there and explained it to them. It was agreed to run the line parallel to the guy wires. Unfortunately, when I came back a few days later, the last pole was within 30 feet of the tower! Too late to change it now!
The tower people were real pros! They put up200 feet in one day. By the FAA rules, they hung a 60 watt red bulb at the top. (Remember the airport was just one mile up the hill.) That night got to be very interesting, starting about 2 AM. I was awakened by the Williamson police on the phone. "What is it you have got on top the mountain?", was the question from a stern voice. I explained we had just put up half of a 400 foot tower and there is a red light bulb at the top. The guy acted as if he had never heard of our new FM. His response was, "You need to go over to Vincent Street then. There's a crowd in the street and they are very upset!". What the h....?! I eased over to Vincent Street and sure enough, people were in the street pointing up at the mountain. I got out of the Blazer and someone came over saying, "Look, look up there! It's been hovering there all evening!". I looked and it was the red bulb on the top of the tower. In the fog, it did seem to move a little. I quickly explained what they were seeing was the light on our new tower and that tomorrow it would be taller and have more lights on it, including a big one on top. Then I was told they had called the Police, the Newspaper and all the TV stations for there was a UFO in Williamson! The wandered off but instead of going home, I went to the South Williamson side. In the fog that bulb did look strange! (A year later I saw the tower glow orange for a few minutes just before a thunderstorm. "Saint Elmo's Fire" I think it's called.
In four days the tower was up. The six bay antenna was up and the coaxial line connected to the transmitter. The transmitter was a rebuilt Harris FM20H with an MS15 Digital Exciter (the box that makes the signal) making it an FM20K model. I had taken great pains to ensure that everything was wired correctly. I spent many nights doing the wiring, while listening to WLS and WCFL. Interesting thing...I could hear everything said on Third Avenue like I was there at night. The wind was bringing the sound up the mountain straight into the transmitter exhaust vent.
Finally the time to turn it on was at hand. It was late in the morning and quite cool. The high voltage DC power supply had a voltage reduction switch so it could run on about 1/3 power. It was in position and all was ready. I pushed the "start" button on the transmitter and....CRACK, POW!! A blue flame came out of the power supply and circled the room. Then smoke filled the room. A real "smoke test" you might say. I was crushed to say the least! What had gone wrong? I opened the double doors to let the smoke out. Whatever had happened, it was in the high voltage power supply!
It took a while to calm down and I was blaming myself. I opened the power supply cabinet and saw nothing wrong at first. Then I found the high voltage filter board burned. There were tracks on it where the voltage had arced around in it. Then there was the oil. There was a fan over top the filter board and there was oil on the fan and the board. Some idiot had oiled the fan! Oil conducts! Damn! I called Harvit and explained it to him. He called the factory and they tried to tell him I oiled the fan. He would have none of it! Three days later we received a new board complete. You can not imagine the stress of pushing that button again. The step start relays kicked in and it was on the air at low power. A few minutes later, with Francis and a few others listening on the control room modulation monitor, I gave the first ID ( Byusing our old RCA remote mixer). I could hear the reaction thru the phone. A quick switch to full power and a few tweaks and it was ready. The sales department wanted to play music so the could gauge the coverage (prior to the required program tests). But the STLs (microwave units transmitting from the studio to the tower) had yet to be hooked up.
Now most of the work was at the studio, including making the automation work. You may be surprised by who helped us with that.