In 1934, a powerful radio transmitter lit up Mason, Ohio literally.
The transmitter's power was cut back a few years later, but those who lived in its shadow testified to problems that persisted well into the 1970s as residents coped with the awesome reach of WLW "The Nation's Station" and its 831-foot, diamond-shaped tower on Tylersville Road there.
"You'd take a bath, and you could hear WLW radio on the tub," said Freddie Zumar, who lived in Mason in the 1960s and `70s. "Kids could get broadcasts on their metal braces. Sometimes, the radio broadcasts were so strong on the phone that you couldn't even hear the other person talk."
And that was years after the federal government cut the transmitter's power from 500,000 watts to 50,000.
Back in those 500,000-watt days, from 1934 to 1939, there was a motel at U.S. 42 and Tylersville where the neon sign would never go out because of energy from the transmitter. Metal gutters routinely shook loose from buildings.
Over the years, the United Telephone Co. and WLW tinkered enough that the ubiquitous signals eventually faded from tubs, braces and phones.
Crosley Broadcasting literature in the 1930s boasted that the 135-ton tower was taller than the Carew Tower (574 feet). Since then it has been surpassed by 1,000-foot TV towers, and when a flagpole was removed from the top of the WLW tower, it was reduced to a mere 736 feet.
The tower now sits virtually alone near Voice of America Park, since the forest of transmission towers that were once nearby and supported the VOA's Bethany Relay Station were removed. It sits on one of the highest elevations in Warren County, which is why WLW owner Powel Crosley Jr. built it there.
Photos are posted in our CCOC "Crosley Radio" album.