I just read this “important information” about Sutro Tower and how it’s time to re-scan my TV set, but I have no idea what any of it means. What, exactly, am I scanning when I “re-scan” my TV? Do I need to do this with cable? With antenna? Just for ABC?

My attempts to contact Sutro Tower were unsuccessful: after calling their main number multiple times and failing to get a response, I tried dialing their 24 hour emergency hotline. The man I spoke to did not know the answer to any of my questions, nor did he have contact information for his supervisor (??). Potential future Ask the Appeal question: Is Sutro Tower actually some sort of front?

Luckily, I got in touch with David July, who refers to himself as a “Sutro Tower amateur historian” and runs his own Sutro Tower website. He kindly answered all of my questions in this informative email:

The changes to Sutro Tower do not affect anyone who gets television through cable or satellite providers. If something has changed recently for those customers, it is unrelated.

Now that work to install new DTV antennas higher on Sutro Tower is complete, those who receive television over the air with an antenna should re-scan to make sure they receive all the stations.

What does this mean? The television or converter box needs to see what channels it is capable of receiving. Because DTV has been broadcast from different antennas lower on Sutro Tower up until now, you may be able to get more stations than before and with improved quality. Additionally, some stations’ channels may have changed.

Re-scanning is as simple as a few button pushes on the television or converter box (check the owner’s guide for specific instructions) and should only take a few minutes. Afterward, flip through the channels and verify you can receive all eleven.

This is not specific to any one station, channel or network. All television stations broadcasting from Sutro Tower were affected during the upgrade project. A history of the project is here.

Anyone having trouble receiving a specific channel should contact the station for assistance. A list of stations (and their websites) broadcasting from Sutro Tower is here

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  • Jim

    My brief expereince with DTV in various areas of the 415 involved a lot of rescanning just to get the giveaway govmint converter boxes to work. I’d be surprised if there were a signif. improvement in overall reception based upon the increase of 7% or less (depending on the station) in antenna altitude. At least they’re trying…

  • Jim

    My brief expereince with DTV in various areas of the 415 involved a lot of rescanning just to get the giveaway govmint converter boxes to work. I’d be surprised if there were a signif. improvement in overall reception based upon the increase of 7% or less (depending on the station) in antenna altitude. At least they’re trying…

  • Erik

    Still no channel 11 if you live near a hill.

  • Erik

    Still no channel 11 if you live near a hill.

  • cv

    There is an official Sutro Tower website at http://www.sutrotower.com (compared with the amateur .org site which admittedly does have a nice history of the tower).

    The problem with KNTV Channel 11 is two-fold. First, it is broadcasting on VHF which has less range than UHF. Second (and more important to SF viewers), KNTV is broadcasting from San Jose.

    You can figure out which direction you need to point your antenna by visiting http://www.antennaweb.org and clicking on the “Choose Antenna” button (punch in your ZIP code, no need to input your full address if you’re paranoid about privacy).

  • cv

    There is an official Sutro Tower website at http://www.sutrotower.com (compared with the amateur .org site which admittedly does have a nice history of the tower).

    The problem with KNTV Channel 11 is two-fold. First, it is broadcasting on VHF which has less range than UHF. Second (and more important to SF viewers), KNTV is broadcasting from San Jose.

    You can figure out which direction you need to point your antenna by visiting http://www.antennaweb.org and clicking on the “Choose Antenna” button (punch in your ZIP code, no need to input your full address if you’re paranoid about privacy).

  • Katie Baker

    I tried contacting Sutro Tower via the information on the official site. I called their main line and left multiple messages – no calls back (still, and this was last week). The person who answered their emergency hotline was unable to answer any of my questions or provide me with contact information for his supervisors (he actually said he had tried to call them earlier, and didn’t get through – which is beyond me). David July may be an amateur, but he was way more helpful than anyone at the official site – if anyone reads this and “officially” works for Sutro Towers and wants to add more information, feel free to contact me!

  • Katie Baker

    I tried contacting Sutro Tower via the information on the official site. I called their main line and left multiple messages – no calls back (still, and this was last week). The person who answered their emergency hotline was unable to answer any of my questions or provide me with contact information for his supervisors (he actually said he had tried to call them earlier, and didn’t get through – which is beyond me). David July may be an amateur, but he was way more helpful than anyone at the official site – if anyone reads this and “officially” works for Sutro Towers and wants to add more information, feel free to contact me!