Tonight I am up late in observation of this being the last night of the Entercom radio tower dotting the neighborhood skyline. Sectional dismantling of the main tower is scheduled to begin tomorrow. The Mayor of Westwood sent out a message the other day detailing the deconstruction process, pointing out that a radio tower has been on site since 1933. For a city of just a couple thousand, this is truly a historic event.
Cities and neighborhoods also go through cycles. Urban areas are becoming denser again, which has a ripple effect on inner ring suburbs like Westwood. The KC streetcar doesn’t extend to 45th and State Line like it did in my grandparents’ time, but at least there is a KC streetcar again. New business are opening, bolstered by people’s desire to walk somewhere close or locally owned. People ride bikes to work and want (deserve, I would argue) protected lanes. Even Woodside Village, the upscale apartment building I wrote skeptically about years ago on this very blog, has proven viable in attracting residents and tenants, while also encouraging new investment along the 47th Street corridor.
Earlier this evening I walked past the tower with my family and saw the sun set behind it for probably the final time. I’ll miss the tower’s gravity and lightness, the way it seemed to be a divining rod for whatever mood or atmosphere was hidden in the clouds. I realized I will *definitely* never climb it now, and not just *most likely never* climb it (a bit of a somber thought, as a former schoolmate died years ago after falling from its summit). On a positive note, I will finally be able to play my Fender wah-wah guitar pedal without signal interference from talk radio, sports scores and weather updates, which my 13-year-old self would be delighted by.
Yes, change comes to us all, even here in Westwood. Tomorrow the communications tower comes down, but the communication itself continues. More than any outward landmark, it’s what defines us as a city.
UPDATE: At 10:37 p.m. Tuesday evening, the tower was still standing. Now it is raining. I suspect it will still be there tomorrow, if maybe not the next day.
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3 thoughts on “An ode to the Entercom tower, and a new era in Westwood”
Nice…deeply mined, mind caverns…a fun journey…Westwood’s Citgo sign…
I enjoyed your perspective and this was a great read. I laughed out loud at the dressing up as medium density for Halloween.
My name is Tom Hartnett II. In the winter of 1981, I graduated from Penn Valley Community College with an emphasis in radio broadcast engineering. That summer, my best friend in high school (Steve A.) had a dad that was the Program Director at KMBZ-AM radio. He gave us two different summer intern assignments at the radio station: 1) go around the entire property fence-line and cut off all the extra brush that was growing on the fence (needless to say, I got a severe case of poison ivy) and 2) re-record the entire music library for the radio station from monaural to stereo magnetic broadcast cartridge (approximately 4,200 songs from vinyl albums). Both projects took up the entire summer of 1981. I practically knew every inch of the tower and the base anchor guide wire support lines. I always wanted to get my broadcast engineering career started working there. The chief engineer was Art Pemberton (and his wife Roberta Solomon, on-air radio personality for KMBR-FM) worked at the station there. Art knew every possible technical aspect of the radio tower. If he is still alive today, he would be a great person to contact to conclude your story. Thank you Lucas for allowing me to share my story with you. Tom H.