The KRKD radio towers had been a miserable sight since I first saw them. Forgotten with time, they sat like two burnt, un-ornamented Christmas Trees atop the Spring Arcade building at Fifth and Broadway. Still, I liked them. For over 80 years, they’ve added a bit of character to Historic Core’s sparse skyline.
It came as no surprise when I heard of plans to demolish the towers. They hadn’t transmitted a signal in decades, and naturally didn’t meet FCC and FAA regulations after their lack of use and maintenance. The owner of the Spring Arcade, Joseph Hellen, is hardly a pioneer for preserving historic architecture. In the early ’90s, he attempted to demolish the iconic Roxy, Cameo, and Arcade theaters on Broadway, which are still sitting in slum-like condition with illegitimate electronics shops occupying the butchered ground floors. Most rooftop signs and towers in downtown had been lost decades ago, and the KRKD radio towers would soon join their fate.
You can imagine I was confused when I noticed a 2-man crew replacing the beacons in January. As it turned out, historic preservation architect Lambert Giessinger and the Department of City Planning’s Office of Historic Resources heard of the demolition plans and somehow miraculously convinced Hellen to restore the towers. Despite the radio silence, I’m among many who are pleased that the towers look incredibly vibrant once again.