Lodestar Tower and International Communications Management was founded by Ron Crider and Paul Lansat in West Palm Beach Florida in 1985. The companies were started, to build a tower near Orlando, Florida to facilitate the move-in for two Daytona Beach FM stations to move closer to Orlando. Doug Arbauch was the actual inspiration for the tower. Doug worked for WFTL and Joe Amaturo in Fort Lauderdale. At that time Ron Crider worked with Doug. Doug later became the GM of an FM station in Daytona Beach. He remembered Crider’s expertise in the Tower business. Doug worked for the Baltimore Sun that was the owner of the Daytona Beach station. He convinced the Sun to provide some of the seed money and sign a long term contract to lease space on this proposed tower. Crider and Lansat arranged the financing for the tower by using their relationship with Norman Wane and Bob Weiss of Metroplex Communications to convince Ameritrust of Cleveland, Ohio to provide the necessary long term financing.
Our contact at Ameritrust was Chesley Madox. Chesley arranged the strangest initial cash advance of $250,000. Although the bank had agreed to finance the Orlando tower and the Jacksonville tower, no papers had been signed with the bank. As the closing day approached, there was still no paperwork from the bank. Chesley assured us they were doing the deal and moving ahead. The day before closing, Chesley told us to go to Orlando, to the Sun Bank on closing day, show our ID card and a cashier’s check would be there for us in the amount of $250,000. Neither Paul nor I really believed she could wire that much money to a bank we had no account with, for funds we had not signed for. Well, guess what. Yep, the funds were at the bank the next day and all I had to do was show my drivers license. Later I asked Chesley why she advanced so much money with no paperwork. She told us she didn’t think it was enough money for either of of to skip the country. Never have I ever been involved with a stranger banking transaction as this one. Ameritrust the following year also financed the Lodestar Jacksonville 1,049 foot tower as well.
Lodestar Orlando and Lodestar Jacksonville took 100’s of hours of dealing with the banks as well as the various counties to obtain the necessary permits to construct these tall structures. Jacksonville had a surprise ending. Just prior to construction I lost 3 FM stations, who then become tenants on another tower. They decided to purchase an old un-used TV tower rather than joining us. I got scared that our Jacksonville project was too ambitious and at the last minute scaled the capacity of the structure down to save money. The tower was launched with it’s reduced capacity only to discover soon after it was finished we really needed the strength I had given up. We then had to do a major retrofit to accommodate the unexpected new tenants. Six months after the tower was completed I was informed the tower was 49 feet too tall by the FAA. The tower manufacturer failed to take into consideration the 49 foot elevation above sea-level, where the tower was built. The FAA insisted we chop 49 feet off the top of the tower. That was impossible since the stations FM antennas were actually the top of the tower. There was no way to do this without rebuilding the entire structure. All the tenants were out for my head as all their FCC filings were totally wrong. Fortunately for me and after a great deal of white knuckle meetings with the FAA, they finally reluctantly agreed to raise the flight minimums, therefore paving the way for them to clear our tower. The bad news was that the stations then had to deal with the FCC to get their paperwork correct. The good news is that the Lodestar Jacksonville Tower is actually the tallest tower in Jacksonville by 49 feet. This was really a good thing for the stations, but it sure was an embarrassing few months for me and my associates, because in reality, I was the designer and President of Lodestar and the buck stops with me. As they say all’s well that ends well.
Next came “Lodestar New Orleans,” Lodestar St. Pete, Lodestar Charlotte, NC , Lodestar North Palm Beach, and Lodestar Daytona Beach. Yes, you guessed it there are stories about those towers to come soon.