The old tower was no longer strong enough to handle the loads placed on it. “It was a used tower when it was put up on land donated to the TV station by the Lia family,” said Pioneer’s President and General Manager Les Heen. In addition to Pioneer’s equipment, the new tower will be mounted with equipment from Verizon, the Swift County Sheriff’s Department, MVTV Wireless, Otter Tail Power and NOAA Weather Radio.
The 420-foot tower was originally constructed in the pre-satellite days to serve a nationwide network of microwave towers that made up the public broadcasting system at that time. The new tower continues to sit in the shadow of the existing 1,260 foot tower that broadcasts Pioneer’s digital television signals to the region. The replacement tower now serves as Pioneer’s “head end tower” for distributing microwave signals to Pioneer’s network.
The Appleton tower complex is one of 11 towers in Pioneer’s network. Other tower complexes are located in Chandler and Fergus Falls Minnesota. Combined, these towers enable Pioneer to broadcast 4 digital channels (available unscrambled over the air with a simple antenna and digital TV or an analog TV with a converter box) to more than 1 million people in western and southwestern Minnesota, northwestern Iowa and the eastern Dakotas.