AM Technical Profile: WAPI

Talk, News
Transmitter Location:
[map] [bird's eye] [google aerial] [street view] On the aptly-named Tower Rd. in Forestdale. Towers are approx. 1 mile west of US 78.
Power (ERP):
50,000 watts day / 5,000 watts night
Day: 1 tower omnidirectional
Night: 2 towers: Directional towards Birmingham. [pattern - PDF]
Other Information:
[Bhamwiki] Information on this station from the WSY era in Birmingham
[Bhamwiki] Information on this station from the WMAV era in Auburn
[Bhamwiki] Information on this station as WAPI
[Studio] Street View imagery of the Cumulus Birmingham studio facilities.
Owned by Cumulus
// WZRR Birmingham
Although it's generally understood that this station began in Auburn, it actually had roots dating to 1921, when Alabama Power put on the station to communicate with its own far-flung operations.  WSY-AM relayed weather information and announcements and eventually picked up a following amongst local radio listeners.  After the radio operation's popularity grew substantially, Alabama Power decided it didn't want to be in the radio business anymore, and donated the equipment to the Alabama Polytecnic Institute in Auburn.
The donated radio equipment was already outdated and useless, so the university bought a new 1,000 watt transmitter and studio equipment, putting on WMAV (We Make A Voice) on 1200 kHz in 1922. The station was on no less than five frequencies before winding up on 1070 in the late 40's**. The calls later changed to WAPI while it was on 880 kHz in Auburn, standing for "Alabama Polytechnic Institue" (Auburn University). WAPI was the first station in the nation to broadcast with a directional pattern. Owned later by both channel 13 and FM 94.5, they all shared the WAPI calls at one point. It was an CBS affiliate for much of it's past***, dating back to at least the 1940's. At one point it was also one of the last stations to carry CBS' Radio Mystery Theater. CBS cancelled that show in the 80's. For virtually all of the station's history, it had a middle-of-the-road and talk format, up until the 90's when it switched to all news briefly. Now it is a talk station, heavy on the news and traffic.  It's also worth noting the the ownership of the station in the 50s was Advanced Publications Incorporated, the folks running The Birmingham News.  The WAPI calls also happen to fit their name, as well.
** -- Part of the reason why this station moved so much was because of the North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement that created Mexican and Canadian clear channels. Over 800 AM stations switched frequencies in 1941 because of this agreement.
*** - It wasn't always CBS! A big contributor to my site has this confusing switcharoo summed up: "WAPI was a CBS station, during the "golden age of radio" (WBRC was NBC, WSGN was ABC, and WILD the Mutual station). [However] WAPI hasn't always been with CBS.  In the late 1950s, WAPI went to NBC (when WBRC changed to Mutual after WILD became WYDE and dropped networks altogether).  WLBS (later WATV) then became CBS.  WAPI was an NBC affiliate for many years, until 1980-ish, when it went back to CBS.  Then, it was back to NBC for AM 1070 (WVOK for a stretch during the mid '80s was CBS) in 1984.  Confused yet?" But wait, it gets better. In 2005 the station switched from CBS news to ABC when WERC dropped them for Fox News. WAPI has also picked up Paul Harvey, who also got the boot from the competition.
This station was reported to be broadcasting in HD, although reception could not be verified.  In September 2009 it appears the sidebands have been switched off.
In February 2010, WAPI picked up an FM simulcast partner in the former Live 100.5.  As the year progressed, the AM and FM took separate talk radio paths, with the AM keeping all the syndicated programming and the FM going for a more local approach.  That lasted until August of 2013, when a major sports shake-up in Birmingham saw WAPI-FM switching to ESPN as "Jox 2" and all the FM's remaining local hosts coming back to the this station.  Fast forward three years to May 2016 and the station is once again paired with an FM companion this time 99.5 WZRR, after it failed at CHR and country music formats.