AM Technical Profile: WAYE

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Regional Mexican
Transmitter Location:
[map] [street view]  [bird's eye] [google aerial] Mims Avenue between 14th and 16th Avenues in west Birmingham, near Elmwood Cemetery.
Power (ERP):
Day: 1 kW
Night: 75 watts
1 tower, omnidirectional
Other Information:
0.5 mV/m Daytime Groundwave Service Contour from the FCC's Public Files
[Article] NBC 13 story on Alabama's first "FM" Regional Mexican station
Owned by Riviera Communications
// W252BE Tarrant, AL (STA)
// W226CT Leeds, AL
RDS logo :
PS-La Jefa
Top 40
Came on the air in 1949 as WEDR by J. L. Doss (of WJLD fame), as the second all-black staffed station in the country.  The KKK blew up the tower shortly after the station came on the air.  Locally famous personality Shelly "The Playboy" Stewart got his start here thanks to help from blues legend Little Walter, who hosted a blues show here in the early 60s.
Tommy Charles bought this station in 1964 and changed the calls to WAQY (WAckY) and the format became Top 40.  He bought it after being dismissed from WYDE, where he'd teamed up with Doug Layton. (Charles defected from WSGN in 1957 before going to WYDE.)  Simple intros and closes marked the sound of this station, a big difference from the Top 40 sound with reverb on the mics and dramatic news elements sort of like an adult Top 40 approach.
Layton and Charles hosted the morning show on this station. The station's only claim to fame is being the home of the "Beatle Boycott", started after John Lennon's comment in 1965 about the Beatles being "bigger than Jesus". A big contributor to the site notes, "clips of Layton and Charles can be seen in Beatles documentaries, The Compleat Beatles and John Lennon: Imagine."  No other stations in Alabama really joined the boycott, but the crazy part was WAQY really played mellower top 40 and never touched the Beatles anyway.
By 1968 the station had changed to something of a talk station for women after failing at Top 40. In 1969 they took a last stab at Top 40 before Tommy Charles sold the station to a group which switched the format to R&B, with the slogan "The Bull" and WBUL calls. The Bull was a major soul station in Birmingham until the 80's, when the format was changed to the Stardust satellite programming with calls of WTWG. Then it was to WAYE, and black gospel.
In June 2009 the IRS got involved with WAYE due to unpaid taxes and employees getting paychecks that bounced.  The station has been reported off as of mid-July 2010.
One year later in July 2011 it is reported the station has been sold to Richardson Broadcasting, owner of R&B-flavored WJLD AM, who announced plans to return the station to the air on 15 August as "Praise 1220" with a gospel music format.  The station was confirmed on-air in September 2011. 

In early June 2013, the station was observed to be broadcasting Spanish language music programming, taking the "La 10 Q" regional Mexican format away from WZGX in Bessemer.  In August 2013 it was announced that Richardson Broadcasting agreed to swap WAYE for ownership of WIXI in Jasper.  As part of the unusual deal, the swap involves the payment of $275,000 in cash and several home improvements to owner Gary Richardson's home, including, "enclosure of the patio deck, construction of a two car garage, repair and replacement of gutters, replacement of two windows, and repairs to the foundation."  After the swap, 1220 became "El Jefe" and WZGX's "La 10 Q" format fell silent. 

In May 2014 the station began being heard on W252BE, a translator at 98.3 MHz transmitting from atop Red Mountain.  This was not only the first time a Hispanic-targeted format was heard on FM in Birmingham, but it appears to be the first Latin format anywhere in the state.  An issue arose late in 2016 when a nearby full power FM station, WFXO, moved their transmitter site from Ashland to a site near Sylacauga.  After that site went on, it began receiving interference from the W252BE translator, kicking off a round of back-and-forth filings with the FCC trying to either resolve the issue or take this translator off the air.  In the Spring of 2017, Shelby Broadcast Associates, owner/operator of the translator, was granted a change of facility to attempt to mitigate the problem; shortly thereafter, the FCC took the unusual step of rescinding the grant due to further complaints from the owners of WFXO, now licensed to Stewartville in Coosa County.  As of June 2017, the translator is seeking a second construction permit with an even more aggressive antenna pattern to attempt to mitigate signal to the southeast, towards WFXO.

While waiting for the application to be granted, the translator's antenna coax was damaged, and the station filed an Special Temporary Authority to operate at lower power from a lower antenna height while repairs are conducted.

In June 2020, it was announced that Riviera Communications purchased the translator that had already been airing WAYE for $184,000, from Shelby Broadcast Associates.  It's worth noting that the FCC has still not issued a decision on the legality of the translator, and Marble City Media has, as of November 2019, still been filing with the FCC encouraging the license to be cancelled.

In June 2021, the station applied to move the transmitter site from the Mims Avenue site in Birmingham, to be diplexed with WJLD's tower on Pearson Avenue, a few miles to the west.  That permit was granted in October 2021.

The Leeds-licensed translator was sold by Avondale Metal Works (which appears to be connected to Reynolds Technical Associates, who has made many station moves, build-outs and upgrades to Alabama stations over the years) to Riviera Communications in January 2022 for $110,000.