clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

One of the Oldest Pieces of LA Television History is Up For Sale on Mt. Wilson

Mt. Wilson is easy to pick out of a mountain lineup; it's the one with all the antennas. (It's also home to an incredible observatory, but that's harder to see from afar.) Several of those antennas are going up for sale, reports the LA Business Journal—they're in what's called the Poole Tower Complex, a 6,000-square-foot parcel that holds four transmitter towers for TV and radio, as well as a transmitter building, according to this brief listing from Media Services Group, which is helping Poole Properties Inc. with the sale. "This is beachfront property in the world of tower sites," a rep for MSG says.

The Poole Tower Complex was developed by Los Angeles radio broadcasting pioneer John H. Poole in the 1950s. A radio fanatic since childhood (family lore says Poole was putting out live radio broadcasts for Aimee Semple McPherson when he was just 16), he'd had enormous success in radio before creating his Mt. Wilson antenna farm, launching radio station KBIG-AM on Catalina Island. "[B]ecause radio waves travel best over salt water, Poole knew that a Catalina-based transmitter would broadcast a stronger signal throughout Southern California," the LA Times wrote in Poole's 2004 obituary. He was right, and suddenly people all over Southern California who had never received LA County radio stations before were finally able to hear them.

In 1952, Poole scored LA's first commercial UHF TV station permit for KBIK Channel 22. According to an article written by Los Angeles-based radio programming consultant KM Richards in 1953, the channel, renamed KBIC, was transmitting from atop Mt. Wilson. KBIC-TV wasn't too riveting—it didn't really have any programming, so it just showed the station ID slide 24 hours a day. Poole's son told the LA Times that Poole got into TV too early, and that despite all the research he had done in order to get the station up and running, "the market wasn't there yet." It went off the air, predictably, but came back and had some success. Channel 22 still exists, and is now owned by Telemundo. Stations that broadcast today from the Poole Tower Complex include KBIG-FM (104.3), KYSR-FM (98.7), KXOS-FM (93.9), and Channel 22, KWHY-TV. It's expected to sell for between $5 and $10 million.