Tower Dogs

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pawsrock

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NBC's "Dateline" to explore the perilous world of tower dogs on July 21

July 16, 2008 - NBC's "Dateline Presents" says it will take "a
never-before-seen journey into the hazardous world of the tower climbers who
work on the frontlines of America's high-tech communications system." The
program, "Tower Dogs," will air on Monday, July 21 at 10:00 PM/ET.
 

ch40n1k

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NBC's "Dateline" to explore the perilous world of tower dogs on July 21

July 16, 2008 - NBC's "Dateline Presents" says it will take "a
never-before-seen journey into the hazardous world of the tower climbers who
work on the frontlines of America's high-tech communications system." The
program, "Tower Dogs," will air on Monday, July 21 at 10:00 PM/ET.
I saw the preview for this last night ... should be interesting. More so than the "every night" Dateline that has plagued NBC all summer.
 

iMONITOR

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I think all these reality shows follow the same exact script. Too much drama, too little substance.

I'll admit some of the video was stunning, but nothing technical, just personal stuff, arguments, relationships, drunks, people showing up late, taking off, time tables, threat of being fired...blah, blah, blah. I was really surprised to hear these people were only paid $14.00/hr!
 

Thayne

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I think all these reality shows follow the same exact script. Too much drama, too little substance.

What you said.
Why do tower work for $14 an hour;School bus drivers make that much and the kids will spit on you for free.
 

brent30

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I think all these reality shows follow the same exact script. Too much drama, too little substance.

I'll admit some of the video was stunning, but nothing technical, just personal stuff, arguments, relationships, drunks, people showing up late, taking off, time tables, threat of being fired...blah, blah, blah. I was really surprised to hear these people were only paid $14.00/hr!
I agree, I wish they would just leave drama out of these shows, it would make them much more enjoyable..

I too thought it was amazing that they only make 14 an hour.... if im climbing that high i better be making 10 times that an hour, and even then im not sure i could even climb that high.
 

KC0QNB

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Well at least the rest of the world knows what a monopole is. As far as pay goes in this case it had to do with the contract, the tower dogs I have talked to over the years make at least $20 an hour, I was making $15 back in the early '90s, with just two guys me and the boss, and we had no time restrictions, we also worked seasonal May through October not before not after. We hung 4 STL dishes and took a week to do it on one job.
 

WayneH

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The guy getting paid $14 is an ex-con so that may have something to do with his pay. I'd expect there are a lot more out there. Some climbers my company has used certainly seem like they could have been.
 

gmclam

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Tower Dogs Show

I'll admit some of the video was stunning, but nothing technical, just personal stuff, arguments, relationships, drunks, people showing up late, taking off, time tables, threat of being fired...blah, blah, blah.
They might have aired this in the DateLine time slot, but nothing about it was DateLine. I thought the (TV) production aspect of the show was horrible and agree with all you guys have posted. This show looked like it was produced as a "local cable show" not as a network prime time report. Also, there was too much reduncancy as well! ;) I was upset to not see good aerial footage. The local NBC station here showed some footage (during the 11pm news) of work when their 2000' tower was put up in 1984 which topped the content of this show.
 

RobKB1FJR

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In the beginning of the show it was cool, they were climbing an old L-4 tower with the Horns still on it! Other then that that Blonde was pretty good looking. After that point the show was too much drama.
 

Grondoline

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Most of the climbers in that program were dealing with cellular antenna installs on pre-existing structures. When I saw this was going to be on, I was thinking more about the guys who
hang steel 400'-800' up. That would have been more interesting, and I don't think they work for $14.00can hour.
 

SCPD

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I have cause to question the claim of "most dangerous job" or whatever wording they chose. Some research within the last two years or so, showed that traveling sales people, who drive cars in their travels, have the most hazourdous occupation. At least that is how I remember it. But traveling sales people don't have jobs we normally think of as "dramatic."

My opinion of "Dateline" is such that it is the least likely show, of all the "news magazine" TV shows, I'm probably going to watch. 20/20 almost ties them. This is based on some experience working for the Forest Service and being scheduled for a Dateline interview back in the 90's. The unfortunate death of Princess Dianna changed the focus of the media and I never had to do the interview. The Forest Service actually had an instructional course of several hours that they gave to anyone who had to do a Dateline interview due to the unprofessional and unscupulous methods the shows producers use. Anyone torched a GM truck lately?
 

ka5lqj

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Ha ha ha ha ha,

I get the "willies" just standing on a chair to change a light bulb. Doesn't take but one good, 30 fall to "break you from suckin' eggs." Well, I missed it anyway. If it was just about cell tower "monkey's", I would have passed anyway. The guys with the 'chutzpah' are the one's climbing anything over 100'.

Respectfully,
73,

Don/KA5LQJ
 

SCPD

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Oh wow, I used to climb radio towers for a living when I was in my 20's (50 now, ain't no way I'd be climbing these days). I was only making $8/hr at the time, plus travel pay and a per diem, and it was a great job. Getting up there on the towers, one could see almost forever. I also took some great pics from towers on a 35mm camera.

God, those were the days!
 

KC0QNB

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Oh wow, I used to climb radio towers for a living when I was in my 20's (50 now, ain't no way I'd be climbing these days). I was only making $8/hr at the time, plus travel pay and a per diem, and it was a great job. Getting up there on the towers, one could see almost forever. I also took some great pics from towers on a 35mm camera.

God, those were the days!
Was kinda cool hangin out at 300' on a 500 waiting for the boss, to hook up the handline for the antenna we were hanging, lit a smoke and kicked back looked around, got buzzed by a bird, guess I wasn't suppose that close to here nest., It is a young mans job, and if any of you youngins are interested, stay away for the outfits that do cell towers. Too fast too careless take your time and do it safely, stick with the LMR gangs.
 

AK9R

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Another point of view

The following appeared today in the online edition of Mobile Radio Technology:

========

Was Dateline unfair to tower sector?
Aug 1, 2008 10:39 AM, By Glenn Bischoff

Last week, NBC's weekly newsmagazine Dateline aired a segment called "Tower Dogs" that focused on those who climb to the skies in the name of telecommunications of all sorts and the dangers they encounter. The tower sector, led by the National Association of Tower Erectors, isn't happy with what it perceives was an unfair portrayal, which they say provided too much emphasis on the danger and irresponsible behavior by climbers, operators and not enough on the yeoman efforts being undertaken to make tower climbing safer.

"This is now America's perception of tower climbers," said Patrick Howey, NATE's executive director.

I didn't catch the segmentÑmuch to my dismay, as it looked pretty interesting. I was, however, able to view the half dozen clips taken from that segment and posted on NBC's web site. In one, a mother tearfully alleged that her 19-year-old son, who only recently had become a climber, died needlessly because he was too high on the tower, given his inexperience. He and two co-workers, who also perished, fell 1000 feet to the ground when the man basket, a cable-supported contraption that hoists climbers and materials to the higher reaches of a tower, gave way.

When senior writer Donny Jackson discovered that this was the topic for this week's column, he told me a story that bears repeating, as it underscores the danger that tower dogs face every day, and provides some insight into their mindsets. Jackson was visiting a tower site for a story he was writing, and was lifted 800 feet in a "very small elevator." The elevator had no front door and Jackson was plastered against the back wall, "scared to death." The experienced climber had positioned himself in the opening, facing Jackson, the heels of his work boots at the edge, effectively playing the role of human door. He kept from falling out by holding onto each side of the opening.

"I couldn't believe there was no latch, rope or anything to keep someone from falling to their death," Jackson said. "And this was just the trip up the tower, he wasn't doing anything difficult like technical work on an uneven surface at the top."

I don't like climbing a stepladder, so this is beyond my comprehension. When I spoke with Howey, he acknowledged that tower climbing is an extremely dangerous profession. He also conceded that "cowboys" who take unnecessary risks mar the profession, as do bottom-line-driven tower operators and project managers that put climbers in situations they shouldn't be in.

"All too often, unrealistic deadlines are put on projects, and climbers are forced to work in an unsafe capacity," Howey said. "If it rains for two days, they still want a five-day project done in three days."

Howey's point is that the industry is well aware of these problems and is working to eliminate them. For example, NATE has launched a program to educate tower operators about their responsibilities regarding climber safety. The organization also has worked with OSHA for the past year on a program in which member companies voluntarily agree to train their employees properly and to have a safety program in place. Other recommendations include having an inspector on site to ensure that workers are adhering to safety procedures and conducting voluntary site audits to identify potential hazards. NATE recently renewed its agreement with OSHA.

While much still needs to be done, Howey said tower-climber safety already has improved. "You don't see people climbing without helmets and harnesses anymore," he said.

Dateline ignored all of that, Howey said, even though it interviewed NATE board member Kevin Hayden, who helped found the organization. Hayden, who owns Hayden Tower Service in Topeka, Kan., told me that Dateline reduced a 20-minute interview to about a minute. He said he spoke of the NATE initiatives and the increased emphasis on safety throughout the sector, but that part of the interview didn't make the cut. "What aired was a far cry from what the interview was," Hayden said.

It's impossible for me to pass judgment on Dateline's editors because I didn't see the segment. But I can offer some insights regarding the journalistic process. When reporters work a story, they gathers way more information than they'll ever be able to use, the proverbial 10 pounds of sugar for a five-pound bag. Each reporter has to decide what to use. It's not an easy process, and usually tough decisions have to be made. Once the reporter files the story, the process begins anew. Editors, faced with space (print) or time (broadcast) constraints, usually have to trim those stories to make them fit, often considerably.

The decisions these journalists make are determined in part by their own experiences, prejudices and moral compasses. Though journalists are trained to be objectiveÑand most try to beÑhow they perceive a story and what they deem important depends largely on intrinsic biases that are formed both by nature and nurture. One could provide two reporters with the same notes and background on a story and it is likely they will write similar, but not identical, stories, for they will have applied their individual value systems to determine what gets into the story and what doesn't.

When reporters and editors make such value judgments, they are bound by journalistic ethos that require them to provide the reader, listener or viewer with the most complete picture possible given the constraints they are working under. There always are at least two sides to every story, usually more.

If Dateline's reporters and editors failed to tell both sides of this story, they didn't do their jobs. Telling a one-sided story does everyone a disservice.

That said, it must be noted that the effort undertaken by the tower sector so far has been voluntary. For it to really have impact, it needs to be mandatory, with meaningful sanctions for non-compliance. Perhaps that's one of the reasons why Dateline gave it short shrift.

Unfortunately, very few, if any, trade organizations have the power to pull off mandatory compliance. OSHA would be a better bet, but that organization has had decades to clamp down on the tower industry. The chance of it doing so at this point is somewhere between slim and none.

However, should NATE, with or without OSHA's help, somehow be able to make participation in its safety programs mandatory, then it would have a story that Dateline would have more difficulty ignoring.

=========
 

colonel-hogan

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Oh my....

I did see this. In the previews I noticed the W.T. Wilson Hearse, and thought "I know that funeral home" It's about 30 miles up the highway from me in Rainsville Alabama. I've had relatives at that funeral home before. I know it is a very rural area, but oh my...... I'm embarrassed. Flowers in the back of the pickup truck? People at the funeral home in their shorts and tee-shirts? Hair not combed in a week, at least? Come on people. Show some respect for the dead. This is NOT indicative of the state or the south, but when people across the country see this, you can see how they get such a negative connotation of the area.
 

mtindor

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It was absolute garbage. If you go to watch it thinking it is a documentary, it's not. Not surprising since its on slime-time network television. There is nothing of quality on ABC/NBC/CBS/FOX anymore in my opinion - this included. Scripted / drama / reality tv.

This was total trash. You may watch it, but don't be surpised when you walk away feeling the same way.

mike
 
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