As the final section of the spire was lifted atop One World Trade Center in lower Manhattan last week, John Lyons, the man charged with bringing broadcasters back to the site, smiled toward the sky, knowing the six broadcasters who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks would be proud.
“It was a tribute to those broadcasters we lost on 9/11,” Lyons, The Durst Organization’s VP and director of broadcast communications, told Playout Monday morning. “It’s nice to be able to put that spire up in their memory, as well as everyone else who was killed that day. To put that back up and smile to them is a moment you never forget.”
The six broadcasters who lost their lives in the attacks were Robert Pattison and Isaisas Rivera of WCBS, William Steckman of WNBC, Donald DiFranco of WABC, Steven Jacobson of WPIX and Rod Coppola of WNET.
Lyons said he was closest with Jacobson, who was best known for wearing a fedora hat to and from work each day.
“I could always see Steve at the end of the day going off into the sunset,” said Lyons. “I still have that very, very nice memory of him smiling as I would tell him to have a good night, and he’d turn around and say, ‘Don’t tell me what to do!’ He always had that smile and laugh.”
The spire is currently on a platform on the roof of One World Trade Center and, weather-permitting, will be officially installed on Wednesday.
Lyons said he’s been engaged with all New York TV broadcasters and is starting talks with radio broadcasters, but no one has signed a lease yet. Most broadcasters have their antennas at the Empire State Building or the Durst-owned Four Times Square building.
On the TV side, the biggest holdup is the pending spectrum auction and channel repack. Depending on where channels move determines the kind of antenna that goes on the building, said Lyons.
For now, the Durst Organization remains in marketing and sales mode to convince broadcasters to put their antenna atop the symbolic building, promising future-proof technology.
“This is one more project I get to be involved in to help develop a state-of-the-art communication site that will hopefully be used by the broadcasters,” said Lyons.