The Lucky Penny

Throwback Thursday: CBC History

When someone is in need of a bit of luck, the path to good fortune is thought to be found in a rabbit’s foot, or a four leaf clover, or rubbing the head of a person with red hair, or fill in the blank with your favorite charm. Ask a television engineer or executive what the magic charm is in raising a broadcast tower and the response will be to place a lucky penny at the base of the tower moments before the first section is lowered into place.

Below is a picture taken in August 1990 showing WRAL Chief Engineer Wilbur Brann placing a lucky penny at the base of the 2000’ tall tower that replaced the one that fell in December, 1989. This penny is still on the job today! We wonder if the previous tower was missing a lucky charm?

Wilbur Brann

WRAL Chief Engineer Wilbur Brann places lucky penny at base of tower. 1990

Fast forward to July 13, 1999 when construction of the HD tower was nearing completion at the WRAL “antenna farm” in Auburn. CBC Vice President John Greene had the honor of placing the lucky penny at the base moments before the first tower section was swung into place.

As John placed the penny at the pivot point on the base, he said “all right, we lost one, but this one is forever.” So far, so good!

You can watch an interview with John Greene moments before the ceremonial placement of the lucky penny by clicking on this link.

Thanks to Corp’s Pam Allen for this capcom story. Pam Parris Allen is a former WRAL newscast producer/director who now works as a researcher and producer on the CBC History Project.

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