WTVT's Tampa Studio and Tower (continued)

As WTVT employees strained to work in the confined studio and makeshift offices, a major change in management would soon take the facility to a new level.  In August of 1956, the original owners of WTVT, Walter Tison's Tampa Television Company, sold Channel 13 for around $3,500,000 to the WKY Radiophone Company, a unit of the Oklahoma Publishing Company and publisher of Oklahoma City's daily newspaper.  Later known as Gaylord Broadcasting, the company brought fresh capital to WTVT and a new General Manager from WKY-TV, P.A. "Buddy" Sugg.  Sugg revealed plans to expand the crowded facility, which was fortunately situated on a large piece of property - - about 1 city block square.  There would mean plenty of room for future expansion.

This 1956 plan takes the original restaurant and adds a studio and office space.  
The building would serve until its demolition in 1989.

On the station's west wing, the new Studio B would accommodate larger productions.  Offices for traffic and production would border Studio B on the second floor.  On the east wing, new offices would be built for the station's management, along with a conference room and screening room.  

Most notable in the plan is the twin tower holding microwave equipment and weather instruments.  The tower as illustrated is much shorter than the final 150 foot version, and does not bear the station's call letters or Roy Leep's domed radar unit.  

New offices and a two-story high studio are under construction in this photo from early 1957.


Almost ready!  The new WTVT takes shape over the summer of 1957.

WTVT's signature twin tower would be replacing the original single-masted version used since 1955.  Atypical in design and totally unique, the twin tower would literally put WTVT on the map.  Because of Florida's flat topography, the tower could be seen from a good distance.

At left, the new twin tower under construction.  Note the original mobile unit parked below,
and the single-mast tower used to microwave signals to the main transmitter in Balm.
There are no satellite reception dishes, since it will be 1962 before the first communication satellite (Telstar) is launched into orbit.

The Twin Tower in 1966.  Note Roy Leep's original radar with plexiglass dome, 
and a microwave receiver aimed at the St. Pete studio

The new twin tower antenna housed a microwave receiver (for reception from the mobile unit) and a microwave transmitter aimed at the main transmitter in Baum.  Roy Leep's new radar, so powerful that its range covered all of Florida, was positioned at the top and center of the tower in 1961.  Shortwave antenna for radio/telephone communication with reporters sat adjacent to the radar.   Finally, the tower was used as a terrific marketing tool.  The call letters were positioned vertically, and read correctly when seen from either east or west.

WTVT'S original Building.  MOVE YOUR MOUSE over photo to see the NEW BUILDING in a matchup view!