AM Technical Profile: WAAX

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Talk, News
Transmitter Location:
[map] [street view] [bird's eye] Practically in Agricola Lake, east of US-411 in Rainbow City.
Power (ERP):
Day:  5 kW
Night:  500 watts
Day: 1 tower, omnidirectional
Night: 3 towers [pattern - PDF]
Other Information:
0.5 mV/m Daytime Groundwave Service Contour from the FCC's Public Files
[Studio] Street View imagery of the old WQEN studios off Rainbow Highway, now home to iHeartMedia's WGMZ and WAAX.
Owned by
// W270DQ Gadsden
This station came on the air in 1947 as WGWD.  In the 50's it was bought by Charles A. Smithgall (of WSB fame) and became WCAS.  Around this time it was listed as a Mutual affiliate, with 1 kW days only, operated by Etowah Broadcasters.  Smithgall eventually installed the now-well known 3 tower array just south of town on Rainbow Drive, near the river.  The good ground conductivity and increase in daytime power to 5,000 watts gave this local station very good coverage.  He also changed the calls to WAAX at this time, with the slogan "The Big WAAX".
Under Smithgall's ownership, the station picked up CBS affiliation, and programmed light music in the day and CBS programming at night. The station later added top 40 during the nighttime.  The station's staff actually had quite some latitude in what they put on the air.  The station's Wikipedia article details this and other facts about the station, including their growth as a regional news powerhouse.
In the late 60's the station moved on to country music, while still keeping top 40 at night.  It wasn't until FM became more popular that the station moved to talk radio and left the hot music to FM sister station WQEN.  At one point in the 2000's, under Clear Channel ownership, the station became a satellite of WERC Birmingham, relaying all of their programming.  The station has since gone in its own direction.

In June 2018 the station was granted a new permit to construct an FM translator on 101.9 MHz.  Originally to be located on a hilltop off Owls Hollow Road in Gadsden, the station modified the permit to move to a tower off Overlook Drive, behind the Cloundview Apartments.  It appears to have signed on in August 2020.