Local News

Crew climbs to 'death zone' to work on WRAL tower

Posted December 29, 2008 5:00 a.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:11 p.m. EDT

— Shane Best considers himself part of a "special breed of people.” Perched high in the air, his job as a tower rigger regularly puts him 2,000 feet off the ground.

Best is part of the crew of Tower King II, a company that works on big towers. They spent Christmas week at the WRAL transmitter tower near Clayton installing a new digital antenna.

“There (are) very few people who can do what we do,” Best said. “A lot of people say they've got the gumption and the guts and the backbone, but when they get up there, they're white-knuckled and they can't move."

WRAL’s tower has six antennas at the top, making the work a little tricky. Clouds and howling winds stopped work for a few days, but crews eventually lowered the old antenna and hoisted the new one.

“This job's a little more difficult than a normal antenna change,” Best said.

He and the crew said they get a thrill from working at extreme heights.

“Once you pass 50 feet, it's the death zone. I'm an adrenaline junkie,” Best said. “We don't really care if it's 2,000 or 10,000 feet. It's the same to us."

Some WRAL viewers might have noticed some problems receiving the station’s digital channels while crews worked on the equipment. The signal will be stronger than ever on Feb. 17 when the nation converts to .

The crew's work on WRAL’s tower will allow the station to use new technologies in the future, including mobile television.