Radio News: New documentary on tower climbers

Apr 18, 2022 11:33 pm

Elle Kehres reports for Radio World that the Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association, which is the union for broadcast tower climbers, and Storybuilt Media are releasing a feature-length documentary “Vertical Freedom,” about six communications infrastructure workers in the United States. Ky Nguyen is featured in the film, and said he had no experience before joining the industry. “I started as a climber and then just kept working my way up,” he said. “Then I became foreman and began project managing. I’m one of those types of guys where, if you want it done a certain way, you have to be with them, showing them, leading by example – so I’m climbing every day.” In 2012, a PBS Frontline documentary called "Cell Tower Deaths" reported that in the previous decade nearly 100 climbers were killed on radio, TV, and cell towers, a rate that is about 10 times the average for construction workers. The latest death was in December of Michael Vasquez, working for Broken Arrow Communications, when he fell from a communications tower in Arlington, WA. This industry documentary does not focus on those deaths and accidents, but hints at the issue. “The turnover rate is pretty crazy because not everyone can do it,” said Nguyen in "Vertical Freedom." “It takes a special type of crazy, a certain type of person, to want to be up that high working and traveling on the road. You know, you sacrifice not being home.”