Vulcan Tower – the “Tower of Strength”
Bill Brennan was famous for stating that things should always pay for themselves. His fleet of airplanes was not just for his personal enjoyment, but they were considered by him to be another business venture. Having learned a great deal from two tower constructions on the WVOK site, Bill Brennan and Billy Benns also set out to use one of Birmingham’s industrial resources; steel.
Vulcan Tower was formed in 1950 as a 50/50 partnership between Bill and Billy. Vulcan would in fact be a design, consulting and contracting firm for the construction of broadcast towers. All fabrication would take place at the Sherwin-Moore steel yards. The tower sections would be shipped to the station sites by truck for final assembly.
The first big job for Vulcan would be the design and construction of the towers for WBAM in Montgomery. The next series of photos shows the fabrication and assembly of those towers.
No records were found of other work which Vulcan may have done during their ten years of operation. What is known is that the company did construct other towers for the Brennan and Benns stations’ WFLI and WAPE (both the Orange Park tower and the six towers at Baldwin, FL).
One of the most notable and ambitious jobs for Vulcan was as the contractor of record to build the proposed massive WSLA-TV tower in Selma, Alabama. In April of 1954 Billy Benns, 40% owner of WSLA, announced that he would seek an application to modify the construction permit for the station to move the transmitter to Lowndesboro, Ala., about 25 miles from Selma and 20 miles from Montgomery. The request also included a request to build what would have been the tallest television tower in the country. Surmounting the 1,800-ft. tower was to have been a 73-foot transmitting antenna, making overall height above of the structure 1,873 feet. Benns estimated that the tower would cost almost $500,000 dollars to build require 300 acres of land to accommodate the guy anchors.
The fate of the tower was sealed in April of 1958 when the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington up-held an FCC ruling which denied the application of WSLA-TV for the proposed changes. After an initial decision favoring the move was granted in 1956, objections were raised by other Montgomery TV stations and by the U.S. Army and Air Force, who objected to the tower height.