AM Technical Profile: WBCF

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Talk, News
Transmitter Location:
[map] [goKML aerial view] Located northeast of the intersection of Waterloo Road and Lauderdale County Road 23, just west of Florence. 
Power (ERP):
Day: 1 kW
Night: 1 kW
1 tower
Other Information:
0.5 mV/m Daytime Groundwave Service Contour from the FCC's Public Files
[Studio] Street View of the station's studios on Tennessee Street in Florence.
// W246BS Florence
Owned by Benny Carle Broadcasting, Inc.
This station was put on the air in 1946 by Tri-Cities Broadcasting (Franklin L. Bush), as WMFT, with Keystone affiliation, operating on 1240 kHz with 250 watts day and night.  Originally, both the studio and transmitter were at 800 Cypress Mill Road, which is today the studio location for WHDF-DT, the market's CW affiliate.

In 1952, shortly after Bush's death, ownership was transferred to Daylight Broadcasting Company (Jack Hollis and Richard Biddle), which changed its name to Radio Muscle Shoals later that same year.  Under their ownership, the calls changed to WOWL, so picked because the station owner's mother collected owls!  Radio Muscle Shoals attempted to move the station to 1290 kHz, with higher power, in 1954, but that request was denied by the FCC.  Instead, they sought and won a boost to 1 kW days in 1958.  That facility, with a Gates BC 1T transmitter, went on the air in 1961.  During this time, the station was affiliated with the ABC network.

The transmitter site moved in 1963, to a site approximately 1.8 miles west of the intersection of S Court Street and State Highway 20 (now Coffee Road), not far from the Tennessee River. 

During the time the station was WOWL, it spawned the area's first TV station (WOWL channel 15, which signed on in October of 1957) as well as the area's second attempt at an FM broadcast (WOWL-FM launched in 1962 on 107.3 MHz).

Through the 60's, this station had a Rock music format.

Ownership of the station was transferred to Hammell Broadcasting in 1972.  It was sold to Benny Carle Broadcasting, Inc. in 1977, who changed the call sign to WBCF.   Carle was a well-known TV personality in the late 50's and early 60's in Birmingham (Zach's note: My father appeared on this show as a child!)  According to the
book, "Alabama's First Broadcast Stations", by Harry Butler, the calls stood for "Benny Carle, Florence".  Under Carle's ownership, the station had a Top 40 format through the end of the 70's. 

Around 1980, the station dropped Top 40 due to competition from FM, and flipped to a Middle of the Road (MOR) music format.  Through the rest of the decade, the station seems to have tried several different stabs at Adult Contemporary and/or Nostalgia formats before finally settling on News/Talk with Big Band and Old Time Radio on the weekend by the mid-90's. 

In 1991, the station spawned a second FM companion, with WXFL on 96.1 MHz launching an Adult Contemporary format in 1992.

The station's transmitter site west of downtown Florence was re-purposed for a wastewater treatment facility in the late 90's.  The station received a permit to move to the current transmitter site (above; FCC records have the old site still for some reason) in 1999.

In September 2009 the station acquired FM translator W247BP in Florence, on 97.3 MHz.  The translator suffered interference from several co-channel stations all around, so in November of 2009 it moved to 97.1 MHz as W246BS.  The translator broadcasts from a short tower behind the studios on Tennessee Street in Florence.