Radio Waves: Bell Labs Horn Antenna At Risk, Tuckerton Tower, The Warsaw Radio Mast, and End of AM Car Radio?


Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. 

A special thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dennis Dura, for these news tips! Enjoy:

Historic Bell Labs Horn Antenna At Risk, Holmdel Citizens Group Says (

Citizens for Informed Land Use is against a proposal before the Planning Board to reclassify the former Nokia site for redevelopment.

HOLMDEL, NJ — Citizens for Informed Land Use, Preserve Holmdel and others are rallying to preserve the Bell Labs Horn Antenna, which they say is threatened if the 43-acre site it stands on is reclassified for residential development.

The property at 791 Holmdel Road is home to the Bell Labs Horn Antenna, once used by Bell Labs scientists Dr. Robert Wilson, who still lives in the township, and Dr. Arno Penzias, to study microwave radiation from beyond the Milky Way, the organization says.

The site is also described by the group “as the highest point in Monmouth County, providing remarkable views of Raritan Bay and Manhattan.”

The scientists’ “research confirmed evidence of the Big Bang Theory as the origin of the universe and earned both men a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1978,” the land use group said in a news release.

But on Nov. 22, the Township Committee approved a resolution directing the Planning Board to study whether the former Nokia site in the Crawford Hill section of Holmdel – the site of the Horn Antenna – should be reclassified as an “area in need of redevelopment.” [Continue reading…]

New Jersey’s Disturbing Monolith Secrete: The Rise and Fall of Tuckerton Tower (YouTube)

In Tuckerton, NJ, a massive cement monolith sits out of place, and upon closer inspection, out of time. You see, this gigantic block was once the base of the tallest structure in North America and the second tallest in the world after the Eiffel Tower. Built in 1912, the Tuckerton tower stood at 825 feet and was the first and most potent transatlantic broadcasting tower ever, but here’s the twist, although it was on US soil, it was entirely built by and belonged to Germany.

Why the tallest tower on earth collapsed | The Warsaw Radio Mast (YouTube)

The Warsaw Radio Mast (Polish: Maszt radiowy w Konstantynowie) was a radio mast located near G?bin, Poland, and the world’s tallest structure at 646.38 metres (2,120.7 ft) from 1974 until its collapse on 8 August 1991.

Designed by Jan Polak, and one of the last radio masts built under Communist rule, the mast was conceived for height and ability to broadcast the “propaganda of the successes” to remote areas such as Antarctica. It was the third tallest structure ever built, being surpassed as the tallest by the Burj Khalifa tower in the United Arab Emirates in 2009 and Merdeka 118 tower in Malaysia in 2022. Designed by Jan Polak, its construction started in July 1970, was completed on 18 May 1974, and its transmitter entered regular service on 22 July of that year. The opening of the mast was met with extensive celebration and news coverage by the Polish Film Chronicle.

The tower was used by Warsaw Radio-Television (Centrum Radiowo-Telewizyjne) for longwave radio broadcasting on a frequency of AM-LW (long wave) 227 kHz before 1 February 1988 and 225 kHz afterwards.[6] Its base was 115.2 metres (378 ft) above sea level. Because a voltage of 120 kV existed between the mast and ground, it stood on a 2-metre (6.6 ft)-high insulator. It operated as a mast radiator (half-wave radiator), so its height was chosen in order to function as a half-wavelength antenna at its broadcasting frequency. The signals from its 2 MW transmitters could be received across essentially the entire globe. The Warsaw Radio Mast’s weight was debated; Polish sources claimed 420 tonnes (930,000 lb).

[1] The mast was designed for national pride, mainly because of the height of the mast, which made it the tallest structure in the world, surpassing the KVLY-TV mast in Blanchard, North Dakota. It was also designed to broadcast the “propaganda of the successes.” However, an unintended effect of the mast’s height was that the “officially non-existent Poles of the east” could tune in to Polish radio broadcasts, including those in remote places such as Antarctica. The mast was so powerful that the waves of Polish Radio Programme 1 were received in areas far from the Polish mainland such as Canada and the United States.

Wielki to byl Maszt radiowy w Konstantynowie (YouTube)

Dennis notes: “A much longer documentary on the Long Wave Tower for our Polish Speakers.

The end of AM radio in your car? Not if Ed Markey has anything to say about it (

Sen. Ed Markey sent off letters to 20 different car manufacturers asking to keep AM radio around in future models.

AM radio in cars isn’t going anywhere while Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey is around.

In a letter he sent to more than 20 car manufacturers, Markey outlined why he thinks AM radio is important and asked that they continue to have AM radios in future models, including electric vehicles known as EVs.

“Broadcast AM radio remains a crucial, cost-free source of news, sports, and weather, and, more importantly, is an essential medium for public safety officials — including the president — to communicate with the public during emergencies,” he wrote in the letter.

Markey cited statistics from the Pew Research Center News Platform Fact Sheet from September 2022 which said 47% of Americans receive their news from the radio. [Click to read full story…]

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8 thoughts on “Radio Waves: Bell Labs Horn Antenna At Risk, Tuckerton Tower, The Warsaw Radio Mast, and End of AM Car Radio?

  1. Pat

    Most people, especially “authorities” what are not SMEs or authoritative in a given area, only hear “what’s now”, not “what if” and get caught out.

    Major portions of Canada have had cell and Internet service completely cease for days at a time and that was NOT during some big disaster! However, the powers that be as them to be more resilient, when they have backup solutions at hand that they keep pushing out of existence. Short-sighted, narrow thinking with no foresight is the order of the day.

  2. Roger Fitzharris

    So bye-bye, Miss American Pie
    Drove my Chevy to the levee
    But the AM band was dry
    Them good old boys were scanning and listening
    Singing, “This’ll be the day that I die”
    This will be the day that I die

  3. Mike Bennett

    ..until North America gets its asses together and/adopts DRM, etc., analogue AM will be a necessity!
    But, what else is there for the distance……..FM is nice but doesn’t reach far distance, iinternet/cable/sateliite radio is NOT terrestrial broadcast and there is a subscription fee..! America will NOT adopt DRM/Dab+, and IBOC -HD, is just hot air, so what else to do…? America seems to have some attitude problem…if DRM was NOT invented in America, “we don’t want it!” If its’ good for much of the world, why not here, also?

  4. Jake Brodsky, AB3A

    As Dave Mason points out, AM Broadcast technology has had to withstand a series of incredibly bad technological blunders by regulatory authorities as well as consumer manufacturers.

    Another technical problem is that shielding the noise from the LF and MF frequencies costs money. We’re not just talking about cars, we’re talking other Variable Frequency Drives in the home (such as washing machines and HVAC), solar panel inverters, and even the plague of really nasty, noisy wall-warts we use to charge our phones. The social problem is that there are other services very eager to sell that market with media that don’t require the same level of care to deliver adequate sound that is typically better than the average AM radio.

    I think that the effort required to police the LF and MF bands for RF noise sources is so great that most regulatory authorities are just throwing their hands in the air and giving up. That’s why the future of MW broadcasting is not so bright.

    1. Dave Mason

      So well put, Jake. The beauty of AM – the ability to receive long distance stations. WLS, WCFL, KMOX, WBAP, WABC, WCBS, KYW (Cleveland), WCAU, WCKY, WKBW, WLW, WSAI, KXEL, XERF, W-well I could list a zillion of ’em – stations that I was lucky enough to hear on a $30 Emerson 5-tube radio as a kid. These stations still exist with their monster signals, but are being endangered by the interference we described. In 1977 Buffalo had a monster blizzard. WKBW was available to me in Pittsburgh so I could keep track of the progress of Buffalonians through the storm. When Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, it was AM radio that brought us the news (from WCBS, WABC and others) – and the long distance ability of these stations will be lost if AM radio goes away. The internet is a wonderful thing, but in 2022 it’s still not a sure thing. AM can -and in my opinion should -be preserved and rescued from obscurity.

      1. Roger Fitzharris

        Most of those stations still exist. The exceptions being WCFL, which ceased over-the-air operations in 1987, WCAV eventually became WPHT, and WKBW is now on 90.7 FM. I’ve heard almost all of these stations at my QTH in SW Ohio with the exception of WABC on 770 kHz. Should be able to get that since I can hear WJR and WBBM in Detroit (760 kHz) and Chicago (780 kHz), respectively.
        I think I’ll fire up the CC Radio 2E and give it another try. Thanks for your post.

  5. Dave Mason

    AM radio has been plagued with blunders from back in the 70s when many receivers were fitted with limited bandwidth, rendering an inferior quality to FM. Increased EMI and RFI from lights, computers, video monitors, high voltage power lines-you name it. Nearly 5000 AM stations may be obsolete at the rate things are going. The noise/quality issues also affect HF signals and anything else that uses Amplitude Modulation. AM broadcasters should be consulting with their lawyers right now to discuss how to get the problem fixed. Car makers could care less, especially when companies like Sirius/XM and others are making it a financial goal to get their products in the dashboard at the expense of ota broadcasters who seem to be headed toward a cliff while they’re on cruise control. Fixing the noise, the receiver quality and the programming of AM stations looks like a simple answer, but in 2022 (and beyond) it will be tough to get the fixes off the ground. Great that we’re talking about it, but where are the answers?


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