Alford Antenna to be showcased at AES New York
Tuesday, 23 July 2019
alfordantennaAn Alford antenna array served multiple FM stations and millions of listeners for over 50 years (photo: Doc Searls)
USA - The Empire State Building has gifted the Audio Engineering Society with one of the 32 elements from its Alford antenna array, which overlooked Manhattan from high above for more than half a century. This piece of FM broadcast history will be on display at AES New York 2019, the 147th Audio Engineering Society International Pro Audio Convention at the Jacob K. Javits Centre in October.
“The Alford Antenna is an important part of what made broadcasting as we know it today possible, and the Empire State Building is excited to share this special piece of history with the Audio Engineering Society,” says Anthony E. Malkin, chairman and CEO of Empire State Realty Trust.
Since its opening in 1931, the Empire State Building has been on the cusp of innovation. When the Alford master FM antenna was installed around the 102nd-floor observation deck of the Empire State Building in 1965, it was a revolutionary development in broadcast technology. Instead of operating at lower power from various rooftops and hilltops around the city, for the first time multiple FM stations could operate at full power from a single shared antenna system atop what was then the tallest building in the US, carrying the signals of more than a dozen top New York radio stations to tens of millions of listeners in the tri-state area.
“The Alford Antenna played a critical role in the delivery of spoken word and music to millions for decades,” notes Nadja Wallaszkovits, AES president. “The AES is proud to present this slice of New York’s rich broadcasting legacy to the attendees of AES New York.”
The 32 elements from the Alford antenna ringed the 102nd floor observation deck, 16 each above and below the viewing windows, each element angled at 45 degrees to create both horizontal and vertical polarisation, another pioneering aspect of Andrew Alford's design. The array continued to serve as a backup antenna for New York FM stations well into the 21st century, including being used for emergency restoration of FM signals that had transmitted from the World Trade Centre.
The Alford Antenna display is just a part of a full slate of broadcast and online delivery content at AES New York 2019, including workshops, tutorials and presentations. 
(Jim Evans)

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