Fairbanks radio tower removed after long service

Posted: Thursday, July 22, 2010

FAIRBANKS - After 63 years, a radio tower that served several Alaska stations before it finally went silent has been torn down.

The 320-foot radio tower by the fairgrounds on College Road in Fairbanks was removed Monday after AT&T Alascom recently bought the property wi th plans to build a cell phone tower.

The radio tower served various stations while it was active, including KFRB, KCBF and KXLR, but had not been used since the 1990s.

"It was originally KFRB 900, then changed hands a few times. Augie Hiebert ended up buying it under Northern Television around the early '60s," said Peter Van Nort, a DJ at radio station KIAK.

Business owner and investor Gary Schikora bought the parcel with the radio tower about 10 years ago with plans to turn into a parking lot for fairgoers.

While he owned the property, Schikora received a letter from the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates the tower because it's tall enough to be in the flight path.

"That was another signal to get away from the tower," said Schikora, who ended up selling it to the Tanana Valley State Fair Association about six years ago.

Randi Carnahan, general manager of the association, said the tower was a liability.

"If one of those lights goes out on the top of it, we're responsible for replacing it," she said. "There was just cost associated with the maintenance."

Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins sponsored an ordinance in early July that could change the permit requirements for the land.

The ordinance would require developers to obtain conditional use permits for cell towers in the developed core of the borough.

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