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What is a Radio Mast?

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  • Written By: Alexis W.
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2016
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A radio mast is a vertically designed steel structure utilized by radio stations around the world. Radio masts are used to support the broadcasting equipment the station requires to transmit signals to listeners and different repeater stations. There are also different towers called radiation masts that closely resemble typical radio masts.

It is important to distinguish the radio mast from the radiation mast. While radio masts support equipment, radiation masts are actual broadcasting equipment. Radiation masts can be used as both the transmitter antenna and the receiving antenna. They require no transmitting equipment to be attached to them, which is advantageous is preventing tower failure and mast collapse due to weight and wind resistance.

The construction of a radio mast typically consists of tubular and angle-cut steel. The angle steel makes up the vertical supporting pieces. The tubular steel is either welded or bolted into a lattice pattern between the angled supports.

Some masts are built to resemble straight-sided towers, with little to no visible angles designed into the rise of the tower. Others are designed with a wider base at the ground level, tapering as the tower grows in height. These towers are typically used for television broadcasting equipment, as the devices used to transmit television signals are generally much larger and heavier than radio transmitting equipment.

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There are also different support methods used for radio masts. The methods used to support a radio mast are usually referred to as “guys.” These guys are used on each side of the radio mast, and may be used for both the upper and lower portions of the apparatus.

It is also possible to attach the guys to the upper portion of the radio mast and allow them to support the entirety of the structure itself. Alternatively, the guys may be attached to the structure at the midway junction of the mast and run to the ground. This leaves the top half of the mast a free-standing unit. No matter how they are attached, however, the guy supports for radio masts are run diagonally from the mast to the ground where they are attached to reinforced concrete blocks used to prevent them from shifting or loosening.

The naming of the masts or towers is usually done based on the area surrounding the mast itself. Such masts most commonly take on the name of the town or city the mast is located in. Some masts are also simply named for the radio station or television broadcast network that they were built to support.

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