Iconic Billings Radio Tower Comes Down
The first thing I noticed Monday while driving into work from Laurel is that the iconic KGHL AM radio tower was no longer standing. As a "radio guy" I kind of geek out a little bit on stuff like this, so bear with me.
Legend has it that this radio tower was the tallest freestanding broadcast tower west of the Mississippi for a long time. Freestanding, meaning it did not have any guy wires helping support the tower. It supposedly held the tallest record until sometime in the early 2000s, when it was surpassed by a TV station in North Dakota. I spent a few minutes poking around the internet and couldn't find concrete proof of this claim, but that story has been told to me by numerous radio people over the years and I tend to believe it.
This tower was massive. A whopping 568 feet tall. The span of the tripod legs is easily 20+ feet at the base. When I stopped by to snap a couple of quick pictures before the remnants of the tower completely disappear, I was lucky enough to catch the owner of the property on-site. An older gentleman whose son now runs the Vermeer Equipment company, he shared some great stories with me about the tower, most of which I've already heard and a few that I can't really share with you.
The tower has not been used for a handful of years (ever since KGHL moved locations to Lockwood). The property/tower owner said with the recent small plane crash north of Billings, they felt the time was right to tear it down for liability reasons. He said they were approached by a company to do the demolition and the price tag came in at $100,000. He figured since they have the equipment and manpower at Vermeer, that they would just do it themselves. Classic Montanan.
Anyway, I'll kinda' miss looking to the south of the interstate by Zoo Drive every day and seeing that big, beautiful, freestanding beacon of Billings radio history.