NEAR ROSSTON — Unknown to many locals, a structure taller than the Empire State Building or the Sears Tower was quietly built in the southwest corner of the county.

The largest structure in Texas — known technically as Liberman Broadcasting Tower Era — was erected in 2006, east of Rosston.

The tower, which appears from miles away as just another vertical row of flashing white strobe lights which are common to the county, is a guyed mast (a structured tower supported by guy wires attached to the ground), reaching 2,000 feet (609.6 meters) into the north Texas sky.

The tower is located on the MK Ranch between Era, Leo and Rosston and stands prominently visible along FM 922. It shares the distinction of being one of 24 towers in the U.S. at the maximum height allowed by the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates antenna height.

The Liberman Broadcasting tower doesn’t have much of a lead on other towers in the immediate area. It’s only a foot taller than the Salem Radio Properties Tower at 1,999 feet (609.3 meters) built in 2002, located outside Collinsville in Grayson County. A tower in Liverpool, Texas, owned by Clear Channel Communications for KLDE-FM is also at 1,999 feet.

The yet-to-be-built Vertical Properties Tower Busterville would be also be 2,000-feet tall guyed mast located near Busterville, Texas, but would be a tad bit lower at 609.5 meters.

The Sears Tower in Chicago is a few hundred feet lower than the tip of the Liberman Broadcasting Tower Era, at 1,730 feet high.

Two under-construction skyscrapers aim to be taller, however. The Burj Dubai, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is planned to be a 2,651-foot-tall residential and office tower when finished in 2008; and the Guangzhou TV and Sightseeing Tower in China is expected to be 2,001 feet in height when completed in 2009.

The tallest radio mast ever built — also the tallest structure ever built by man — was the Warsaw Radio Mast, built in 1974, at 2,118 feet (646.38 meters) in height. The Warsaw tower, located outside Warsaw, Poland, collapsed in August 1991 when guy wires connecting the tower to the ground were being exchanged for newer materials.

Chris Buchanan, a Burbank, Calif., resident and vice president of engineering for Liberman Broadcasting, said in an interview Tuesday the southwestern Cooke County tower was built to transmit the signal of KNOR-FM, 93.7 “La Raza,” a Spanish-language music station playing “Norteno” music (roughly comparable to contemporary country in English). But the tower is also host to some of Buchanan’s equipment for his Ham radio hobby, as well as some equipment which may come in handy during a weather emergency.

Buchanan said he has three repeaters (transmitter/receivers which amplify and “repeat” a smaller radio’s transmission) on a platform at 1,500 feet, and the owner of the property, Dr, Walter Knight, has a Ham radio repeater of his own on there.

Knight, a licensed ham radio operator of 10 years and a prospective member of the Cooke County Amateur Radio Association, said line-of-sight transmissions from the platform can reach as far as the Arbuckle Mountains in Oklahoma. He said he is working on a deal with the North Texas Weather Group to use repeater “for better reporting for the region,” including Cooke, Montague, Wise and Jack counties.

Knight said Cooke County Emergency Management Coordinator Ray Fletcher was looking for a Ham radio operator to serve as a go-between from a local, public service repeater to the National Weather Service when he sought Knight.

Knight said he has high hopes for the repeater in future reporting of severe storms and tornadoes in the area.

At first, he said, he was unsure about the prospect of having such a large structure on his ranch.

“A representative from the company contacted me a few years ago and wanted to build a tower on my dad’s property,” he said. “It sounded like a crazy idea to me, but I told him I’d be glad to talk to you about it.”

Knight, a retired orthopedic surgeon and brother of Gainesville veterinarian Marvin Knight Jr., lives in Dallas and plans to relocate to the ranch, which was the property of their father. Knight’s father was the late Dr. Marvin Knight Sr., himself an orthopedic surgeon who practiced at Muenster Memorial Hospital and provided orthopedic care to the Dallas Cowboys.

He said he was surprised when Liberman Broadcasting representatives met him on his property with the exact global positioning system (GPS) coordinates of where they wanted to place the tower. The company president then asked him if he would lease the spot for the tower.

Knight said he was unsure until he found out Buchanan himself was a Ham radio operator.

“I didn’t know at the time Chris was a ham,” he said. “So that worked out.”

Knight said he used the Ham radio connection to strike a deal where he could place his own equipment — with Buchanan’s help — on the tower.

It was also a win-win for Liberman Broadcasting, which produces many television and radio broadcasts in Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Diego, Calif.

Winter Horton, chief operating officer of the company in Los Angeles, said Liberman operates KMPX-TV, Channel 29, in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, as well as five FM stations and one AM station. All are Spanish-language.

Liberman Broadcasting, which began in 1988, expanded into Dallas in 2003.

“The stations have been doing great, and our audience is growing rapidly -- the company is getting competitive with other Spanish-language broadcasting companies,” Horton said.

KNOR-FM was started by Liberman Broadcasting in 2003 at a different tower site in the Dallas/Fort Worth area; but the tower’s owner, Entervision, would not allow anything but an English-language station. English-speaking listeners may remember it as “Party 93.7,” playing dance mix songs. Liberman soon acquired Entervision and changed it from “Party 93.7” to “La Raza.”

“Spanish language media is a great market right now, and it’s certainly growing if you look at the census data,” Horton said. “I think anytime you have a growing segment of the population you have to take fair advantage of the situation.”

The high antenna allows the station to reach a large Hispanic radio listening audience in north central Texas.

At such an altitude, Buchanan added, there are many safety precautions taken at the site. Guy wire connections are inspected by the FCC annually, though he said there is a low chance the tower would ever collapse under normal circumstances.

Buchanan’s personal equipment on the tower enables him (with the help of other repeaters) to communicate between his home California and Texas. At the 1,500-foot mark, he said, the tower sways a bit in the wind.

“But not as much as you would think,” he said.

On the Net:

See how Liberman Broadcasting Tower Era compares to notable high-rise buildings at www.skyscraperpage.com

Liberman Broadcasting’s English home page may be viewed at www.lbimedia.com

A list of guyed masts in the U.S. may be viewed at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_masts



Reporter Andy Hogue may be contacted at andyhoguegdr[at]ntin.net

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