South Mountain towers: Security and safety top concerns for 28 broadcast towers

PHOENIX - It's a glow that's seen for miles around the Valley as the towers atop South Mountain shine bright overnight and stand out tall during the day. 

South Mountain is home to 28 structures that broadcast the news and information from TV and radio stations along with local government.  

The site itself is off-limits to the public, protected by two gates and alarm systems guarding the integrity of the towers. Not only is security a top concern but safety as well.  

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Ryan Steward, Director of Engineering for ABC15, is part of the team that works on the location regularly and radiation exposure is a very real concern. 

"This is non-ionizing radiation so it's just RF but you have to be careful with it. It is dangerous, it's not something you want to spend a lot of time on a tower or in an aperture, it's not a good place for you as a human," reminds Steward. 

That television signal you watch at home travels through copper pipe at the base of the tower and is sent up to the transmitter before being pushed out to your home or provider. Thousands of watts --- 38,000 watts to be exact -- of Channel 15 is inside the base of the tower. It's a signal so powerful it actually heats up that copper pipe in which it travels through. 

And at 2,000 feet above the Valley there's no better view and place for a television signal to be transmitted. 

"For news and information deployment this is key, a key area," says Steward. As the mountain provides the majority of the height, the tower itself just adds on another 200 feet providing the optimal broadcast signal. 

 

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