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Is Anyone Really Fooled By Those Cell Tower Trees In Charlotte?

Nick de la Canal
Funny-looking foliage rises over a practice field for J.M. Robinson Middle School, near I-485.

A version of this episode of the FAQ City podcast originally aired in April 2019.

There's something awfully suspicious about that pine tree off the side of Interstate 485. You know, the one with the perfectly smooth trunk and the oddly sparse branches? Seems strange that it would grow so much taller than the other trees. Oh, and the giant panels on the top are interesting. Perhaps they're a type of fruit?



Let's get real. That's no tree! That's a cellphone tower, and Charlotte resident Amy Reader Lalor wants to know why someone would go to such lengths to camouflage it.

"It would be less eye-catching to have just left it a cellphone tower as opposed to put all of the tree things on it," she says, "So why go to all the extra effort?"

On this episode of the FAQ City podcast, we set off on a mission to find out, and get some insight from a man on the inside — that is, he works for a company that specializes in disguising cell towers.

He'll clue us in on how his company began making cell towers look like trees, and talk about other things they've made cell towers look like (everything from flagpoles, to cacti, to giant Ticonderoga No. 2 pencils).

Special thanks to Sean McLernon with Stealth Concealment Solutions (recently acquired by Raycap Inc.) for sharing his expertise with us on this episode. Thanks also to Amy Reader Lalor for her question.

Nick de la Canal
A pair of cell tower trees keep company above Carmel Road Neighborhood Park in south Charlotte.

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Nick de la Canal is a reporter for WFAE covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. He work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal
Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literature and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. Reach her at cdonnelly@wfae.org or on Twitter @donnellyclairee.