Broadcast Blues

Starting in 1953, radio and TV networks broadcast their signals to the Denver area from Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado. In the early 1990s, when the networks prepared to increase their signals’ power, Golden’s citizens (including engineers who had worked for NASA) began to research whether the antennas’ emissions were in compliance with FCC guidelines and whether these emissions affected their health. Len Aitken’s “Broadcast Blues,” completed in 2000, presents the first round of the battle between the Golden community and Denver-area TV and radio broadcasters.

Broadcast Blues by Len Aitken

Deb Carney,, attorney for the Golden Community

When television and radio towers first went up on Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado, many of the area’s residents thought they were ugly. We did not think they could be dangerous. We believed that governmental regulations protected us. After resident scientists, doctors, lawyers and engineers donated thousands of hours to researching antennas’ effects on health, we learned that we were not protected.

We learned that in Ukraine, an agency equivalent to the FCC deals with the technical aspects of transmitting signals. An additional agency serves to protect peoples’ health. In the U.S., we have no such agency.

With funding from the National Institute of Health, scientists from two universities took blood samples from 300 residents. We learned that as our exposure to radiation increased, so did our white blood counts. Even at radiation levels one hundred times less than what the FCC allows, the scientists found biological effects in our blood samples; and every resident near Lookout Mountain with a brain tumor lived in direct line of sight to the TV/FM towers. The scientists published their findings.[1],[2] In 1999, the University of Colorado’s Department of Radiation Oncology wrote, “Without proper scientific data, we consider it unconscionable to expose the people of Jefferson County to these levels of radiation.”

For eight years, the Golden area’s citizens effectively prevented a group of television stations from building a new, 730-foot tall tower on Lookout Mountain designed to broadcast digital signals to the entire Denver area. Golden area residents and officials feared that an increase in electromagnetic radiation would harm our health, scar the mountain and create electrical interference in nearby homes and businesses. We collected 3000 signatures from people who did not want a new tower installed.

In 2006, the TV stations hired Wiley Rein & Fielding, a lobbying group that “maintain(s) ongoing professional relationships with the highest Executive Branch officials and key Republican and Democratic members of Congress.”

On Saturday, December 9, 2006 at 2:09 am, a “noncontroversial” bill was “hotlined” through the Senate (and later the House) with no hearing or debate. The bill pre-empts local zoning control over towers on Lookout Mountain. On December 22, President Bush signed the bill into law. If this could happen to Golden, it can happen anywhere.


1. Burch, JB, Clark et al, “Radiofrequency nonionizing radiation in a community exposed to radio and television broadcasting,” Environ Health Perspect, Feb, 2006; 114(2):248-53.

2. Reif, John S., Burch, et al, “Human Responses to Residential RF Exposure,”  Env. Health Persp. 8.23.05.

Many, many communities are now exposed to radiation from cellular antennas that exceeds FCC limits.

In March, 2013, the EMR Policy Institute (EMRPI) launched “Americans Beware,” a campaign to alert workers and families about nationwide violations of FCC radiation limits. EMRPI tested industry-operated antenna sites in 23 states and found them in gross violation (up to and in excess of 600%) of the FCC’s public exposure rates. This means, for example, that hundreds of thousands of people who work on rooftops and cannot avoid standing near antennas (that do not have adequately posted warnings or barriers) are exposed to radiation beyond FCC limits. The FCC has not levied a single fine against a wireless carrier for exceeding these limits. The EMRPI called on Congress to hold the FCC accountable, to inform Americans about their risk of unlawful exposure to radiation–and their right to protection from such exposure.

Watch “Wireless Industry Safety Failure,” part I on

Peer Reviewed Scientific Papers About Lookout Mountain 

The Incidence of Brain and Central Nervous System Tumors in Residents in the Vicinity of the Lookout Mountain Antenna Farm in Golden, Colorado
Prepared by The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, in collaboration with The Department of Environmental Health, Colorado State University and Jefferson County Department of Health and Environment
Feb 1999

Radio Frequency Nonionizing Radiation in a Community Exposed to Radio and Television Broadcasting
James B. Burch, Maggie Clark, Michael G. Yost, Cole T.E., Fitzpatrick, Annette M. Bachand, Jaya Ramaprasad and John S. Reif
Environ Health Perspect. Feb 2006; 114(2): 248–253