updated 7/18/2008 12:03:40 PM ET 2008-07-18T16:03:40

An upcoming "Dateline Presents" takes a never-before-seen journey into the perilous world of the tower climbers who work on the frontlines of America's high-tech communications system. They scale heights of up to 2,000 feet, in all types of weather, to install, maintain, and upgrade cell phone, Internet, and broadcast towers coast to coast. And according to figures cited by OSHA, these so-called tower dogs have the highest death rate per capita of any occupation in the country.

The hour-long broadcast goes up close and personal to give a no-holds-barred look at tower dogs' lives – up in the air and on the ground. We experience their on-the-job tension and watch them work hard, play hard, and mourn when they lose one of their own.  In a twist on all the dangerous-job programs viewers have already seen, "Tower Dogs" follows an unusual subcontract crew boss: a woman named Nikki Collins, a single mom, former cheerleader, and the person keeping her tough-guy charges in one piece.

There are approximately 9,500 tower climbers working at any given time, and they spend about 300 days per year on the road. A "Dateline" team worked with veteran tower dog Doug Delaney for four months documenting this group of tower climbers as they worked their way through 40 towns and cities in 24 states. During this time there were seven fatalities nationwide, including five deaths in a 12-day period in April.

"Tower Dogs" airs on Monday, July 21 at 10:00 PM/ET. David Corvo is the executive producer.


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