View Full Version : Was WMTW-TV Ever Off the Air for an Extended Time Due to Weather Caused Damage?

08-04-2013, 08:27 PM
My Dad installed a fringe area TV antenna and rotator on our house in Schenectady, NY, in 1955 and, with it, we could receive a snowy, but viewable, picture with clear sound from WMTW channel 8. I recall hearing that WMTW was knocked off the air one winter due to weather caused damage, and didn't get its transmitter back on the air until the weather improved in the spring. I do recall pointing the antenna in the right direction and being unable to pick up a signal. I was wondering if there were any old timers like myself who might recall when that happened. It would have been in 1956 or later, but, probably not later than 1960.

Copies of the Lewiston (Maine) Sun from the 1950s, including schedules for WMTW, are available free of charge online. However, when retrieving a sample of issues, I have been unable to find a gap in programming. If someone can provide a date, I am sure I can find an article about WMTW going off the air and a subsequent article when they went back on air.

Incidentally, I have read Marty Engstrom's "Marty on the Mountain" and phoned him, but he didn't recall such an outage. However, his career didn't start until 1964.

Thanks, in advance, for your help!


08-25-2013, 10:58 AM
Thanks to all of you who have read my post! I am continuing to search for documentation to support my memory of an extended off the air period for WMTW. My search hasn't found what I am looking for, but I did locate a fascinating article on WMTW in the February 1957 issue of Broadcast News, published by RCA, which I would like to share with you. The issue is posted at:


If you find that the pages displayed in your browser are blurry, save the pdf file to your computer and open it with Adobe Acrobat.

The article is titled "TV Weathers Mt. Washington" and the aerial photos include Mt. Washington Observatory.

The article narrows down the time frame that WMTW could have been off the air for an extended time. It would have had to be after the February 1957 issue of Broadcast News went to press.

It is interesting to read that "Television has come to stay at Mt. Washington." It did stay for a little over 47 years and it wasn't the harsh climate that caused television to leave. Instead, it was government regulations and advances in technology. Technology produced other means of getting the signal to homes in the coverage area, including CATV and satellite TV, so remote areas were no longer dependent on the channel 8 over the air signal. The FCC's digital TV mandate made operation from Mt. Washington no longer economically feasible. WMTW would have had to construct a second transmitter and power it in order to keep its analog transmitter on the air until a scheduled full digital transition in 2009. The digital signal is less tolerant to weak signal reception and reflections, effectively cutting the coverage area, so the digital transmitter might have been relocated anyway in 2009 to concentrate a stronger signal on populated areas.

The analog coverage area is shown in Figure 25. Schenectady is in the lower, left hand corner, outside the "official" coverage area, but that didn't stop us from receiving the signal. We had network affiliates in the area, so there were very few programs on WMTW that couldn't be received with a clear picture from a local channel. The exception was Boston Red Sox games. Mt Dad was from Maine and remains an avid Red Sox fan today. The NY Yankees games that were carried locally and the Red Sox were only carried when they played the Yankees. Even when that happened, my Dad would watch a snowy WMTW picture to avoid having to hear an announcer (Mel Allen) biased toward the Yankees!