TV Technical Profile: WALA

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10.1 - Fox
10.2 - Cozi TV
10.3 - Laff
10.4 - ION Mystery
10.5 - The 365
10.6 - Oxygen True Crime

Transmitter Location:
[map] [street view] Northeast of Spanish Fort along US-31, near the intersection of Jenkins Pit Road. Co-located with WFNA-DT and WMBP-LD.

Power (ERP):
29 kW

Height Above Average Terrain (HAAT):
1,250 feet

Other Information:
36 dBu protected contour map, from the FCC.



[Story] Alvin Williams of the News and Information About Television and Radio in Southwest Alabama site writes this multi-article history on WALA-TV's origins.
[Video] A short promotional video tour of the station from March 2002.

Owned by Gray Television Licensee

This is Mobile's second television station (the first being WKAB TV 48, which lasted only a year). It was put on the air by WALA AM 1410 in January 14, 1953. The station originally broadcast from a 300 ft. tower behind the WALA-AM/TV studios at 210 Government Street. That tower was felled in a storm in the 50's and the station moved to a 500 ft. tower in Spanish Fort. A few years pass and the station again moves, this time to its present location near Loxley for better Pensacola coverage. WALA was an NBC affiliate until 1997 when it was acquired by a Fox subsidiary. Has been through many owners in its 46 year history, with the more minutae details available on the station's Wikipedia page. The studios at 210 Government were used until 2002, when the station moved to a new site near Hank Aaron Stadium in the western part of town.
WALA became Alabama's first digital television broadcaster, on DTV channel 9.
The second tower WALA broadcast from, in Spanish Fort, was donated to Alabama Public Television for WEIQ and is still in use by them today.
The book, "Alabama's First Broadcast Stations", by Harry Butler says the WALA calls stood for "We Are Loyal Alabamians".
WALA carried area CW affiliate WBPG on a digital subchannel until March 2007, when that station signed on its own low power digital signal.  The station (now WFNA) has its own full power setup.
This station elected to keep analog broadcasts on until the new June 12th deadline.
In March 2012 it was revealed that the station was working on upgrades to allow them to broadcast local newscasts in HD.  The high definition newscasts debuted about one month later. 

The station had been owned by LIN TV since 2006.  As part of a merger between LIN TV and Media General in the summer of 2014, the combined company was required to spin off certain stations in certain markets.  In Mobile, the choice was between WKRG (Media General) and WALA (LIN).  The combined company decided to sell off WALA to Meredith Corporation, and the transfer was approved by the FCC in December 2014.  Around the start of June 2015 the station added a subchannel with the heading "Cozi TV" on 10.2.  The channel launched on the 9th of June.  In September 2015 it was announced that Media General was acquiring Meredith Corporation.  Once again, this will require divestiture of either WKRG, WFNA or WALA.  It's unknown at this time which station will be divested, although shortly after the announcement it was speculated that Media General would cancel the merger in order to be bought by another company.
The station added a third channel to its lineup in mid-February 2016, with the addition of the comedy-centric Laff network.  A fourth channel debuted in late May 2017, with the addition of Escape.  A fifth channel, Circle, debuted in January 2020.

In late March 2020 the station added a sixth subchannel airing school-related programming from the Mobile County Public School System, which lasted only a short time, until Mobile schools went back to in-person teaching.  Escape became CourtTV Mystery in 2020.

After months of rumors, Meredith Corporation announced they were exiting the television broadcasting business in May 2021.  WALA and other sister stations are being sold to Gray Television, who already own stations in Huntsville, Dothan, Birmingham and Montgomery.  After the sale closes, Gray will become the second biggest television station owner in America after Sinclair.

In February 2022, CourtTV Mystery rebranded as ION Mystery after Scripps acquired the ION networks.

On 20 September 2023 the station began advertising that over the air antenna users would need to rescan their TVs on 27 September in order to keep watching Fox 10. There is nothing filed with the FCC regarding any change for WALA or sister station WMBP-LD, which simulcasts WALA on a subchannel, so it unclear why this is being asked for viewers.

At the end of 2023 the Circle TV network was shut down. The station replaced it with the black-oriented network "The 365" in January 2024, in 720p HD.  The station also later added Oxygen True Crime to the .6 subchannel.