TV Technical Profile: WCOV

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20.1 - Fox
20.2 - Antenna.TV
20.3 - This TV
Transmitter Location:
[map] [street view] Southeast of the Grady community in Montgomery county, along Fannin Mill Road, just west of its intersection with CR-39. Co-located with WSFA.
Power (ERP):
670 kW
Height Above Average Terrain (HAAT):
1,731 feet
Other Information:
41 dBu protected contour map, from the FCC. (FCCdata Link)
[Facebook] "Then and now" photos and information on the tornado and tower collapse from a Facebook user. (May require a Facebook account to view.)
[Street View] A view of the WCOV studio and old tower in the heart of Montgomery.
Owned by Allen Media Group
Most of the following information was gathered from WCOV-TV's engineering department's history pages on the WCOV website. Check it out!  The late engineer Phil Whit created that page, along with one about the transmitter facility that may be of interest to some. Sadly, the transmitter page is gone, but the history page and some historical photos live on at the current WCOV website. (Links active as of 05-22-2022.)
This station went on the air on April 23, 1953, with mostly CBS programming. A feat considering practically no one had UHF sets back then. The station also carried occasional ABC programming during fringe viewing periods. It went to full CBS affiliation in 1964 when channel 32 came on the air. In 1955, the control room and co-located transmitter were destroyed in a fire, which took the station off the air. The station was back on the air shortly thereafter with much new equipment.
In early 1965 the station was sold to Gay-Bell Manufacturing Company of Lexington, Kentucky. The new owners wanted more coverage and by the summer of '65, the station had a new 793 foot tower at their Adrian Lane studio location. Gay-Bell also bought channel 8 in Selma, and when it was allowed to move into the Montgomery market, CBS went to that station, leaving WCOV as a floundering independent. It struggled until Fox started up, and they've been with Fox ever since...  Although at one time the station was apparently affiliated with the short-lived attempt at a fifth broadcast network called PTEN - Prime Time Entertainment Network in the 90's.

On 6 March 1996, a tornado touched down in the area, causing the tower to collapse into the station's parking lot.  As it collapsed straight down (as designed!) it only destroyed a satellite dish and spared the residents who lived right up against the property.  By 22 March, the station had erected a temporary 350 foot antenna at the studio to get back on the air with 14 kW of ERP (Effective Radiated Power).  The station would begin construction of a new full power facility at the WSFA-TV tower in rural Grady, Alabama, in September 1996.  It signed on in January 1997, with a fully modern transmitter and stereo audio.  The new facility was transmitting from over 1700 feet above average terrain, and 4 MW of ERP, a huge boost in coverage compared to the Adrian Lane tower.

In November 2003 the station's digital broadcasting commenced on channel 16.
A few days after the original analog shutdown date of February 17th, WCOV switched off their analog signal and began broadcasting digitally on channel 20.  They had been planning to switch on that day, but technical trouble pushed their switchover back a few days.
In July 2009 it was announced that this station would be picking up the ESPN-created "SEC Network" for collegiate sporting events.  Around the same time This TV showed up on subchannel 20.3.
In 2012 it was announced that the station would be picking up Antenna TV, which airs classic programs. It debuts 1 July 2012 on 20.2, replacing the AccuWeather channel.

As part of the FCC spectrum repacking process, WCOV received a permit to relocate to RF channel 22 from channel 20 in July 2017.  In early August 2019 the station received a Special Temporary Authority to operate at lower power, at a lower antenna height, on RF channel 22, while work for the TV repacking process is completed.  The station returned to full power in June 2020.

It was announced in December 2021 that Woods Communications would be selling their Montgomery properties to Byron Allen's Allen Media Group for $28.5 million.  Allen owns several cable channels, broadcast stations and other media properties.  The deal also includes WALE-LD and WIYC in Troy.