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Crews knock down landmark on Maui for new radio tower

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WAILUKU » Crews were slated to erect a new radio tower in Wai­luku on Monday where an iconic 450-foot spire had stood only a day earlier.

The KMVI broadcast tower, long considered a landmark of the local skyline, fell to the ground in a matter of seconds after workers loosened and then torched some of the attached cables.

Rick Jones, owner of Sky Jack Communications, the Houston- and Hawaii-based company that took down the 11,000-pound tower, told The Maui News he was "very pleased" with the tower’s tumbling.

It took weeks of preparation to ensure the fall did not damage nearby buildings, including The Maui News offices and a Kaiser Permanente parking lot.

No buildings were damaged.

Once the cables to the middle of the tower came off, the tower snapped in the middle.

With a snakelike movement the 11,000-pound tower plunged to the ground.

"One landmark for Maui gone," said Jeffrey Kuni­shige, president of Pacific Pile & Crane, a company helping to erect the new tower.

The KMVI broadcast tower had been the tallest structure in Wai­luku since 1947.

The tower that went down was the second KMVI tower and was 15 years old.

Jones said that the new tower will be 180 feet tall and 3 feet wide.

Chuck Bergson, president of Pacific Radio Group, said that the shorter tower will provide almost the same coverage as the tall tower.

With its shorter height, the new $150,000 tower will also no longer need to be lit, Bergson said.

The new tower is expected to be less susceptible to wear and tear. At 450 feet the upper parts of the old tower suffered more from corrosion. The top portion of the tower was rusted, while the bottom appeared to have fared better against the elements.

KMVI-AM was the first radio station on Maui. Maui Publishing Co., owner of The Maui News, started the station after World War II, when many radio licenses were made available. During the war there were only two commercial stations, KGU and KGMB, both on Oahu.

The first tower was a heavy structure, more massive than needed, because materials were scarce right after World War II. The replacement tower, built in the 1990s, was about as tall but lighter.

For a while the tower was also a television tower, but KMVI-TV did not continue.

Pacific Radio Group acquired the tower in 1999 by purchasing what by then was Maui Radio Group, which was no longer part of Maui Publishing.

Information from: The Maui News,

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