AM Technical Profile: WDAK

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Transmitter Location:
[map] [street view] Just east of where US-27 (Martha Berry Highway) meets N Lumpkin Road. Co-located with WHAL.
Power (ERP):
Day: 4 kW
Night: 38 watts
1 tower
Other Information:
0.5 mV/m Daytime Groundwave Service Contour from the FCC's Public Files

[Studio] Street View imagery of the iHeartMedia studios in Columbus.
[Historical Artifact] A 1967 “editorial” from station mascot Big Johnny Rebel, on Martin Luther King Jr.'s opposition to the Vietnam War.
Owned by
The original licensee for this station was Aubrey Gay (as Valley Broadcasting Company).  She put this station on the air in August of 1940, with studio and transmitter at the General Tyler Hotel in West Point, Georgia.  The station was on 1310 kHz and ran all day and night with 250 watts of power.  In 1941, almost all the stations in North America went through a frequency shift, and WDAK shifted to 1340 kHz, still with 250 watts full time. 

The station relocated to 1028 Broadway Street in Columbus in 1944.  The site in town must not have been very conductive to broadcasting, as they moved the transmitter to a site on Brickyard Road on the Chattahoochee River in Phenix City just a few months later. 

Ownership changed to Radio Columbus, Inc. (Alan M. Woodall) in early 1954.  They applied for and won permission to change to 540 kHz in 1958, with 5 kW non-directional during the day and 500 watts directional at night with a 3 tower array.  The station went on the air from this new bigger facility west of Phenix City, off Sandlot Road, in 1958 with a Gates BC-5P transmitter.  It was supplemented later in the year by another Gates, model BC-1E, for nighttime and auxiliary day use.

WDAK was Top-40 in the 60's, one of several in a chain of stations owned by Woodall Broadcasting Company.  All of their stations called themselves "Big Johnny Reb Radio". Station logo included a rebel flag and caricature of a Confederate soldier.  In 1967, the studios moved from Broadway to The Elms, an antebellum mansion on Buena Vista Road.

By the mid-70's, the station had ceded top 40 to FM and was doing Adult Contemporary with ABC network news.  After Alan Woodall died, the station license was transferred to Solar Broadcasting in 1979.  They gave Top-40 another shot in the early 80's, but it didn't last long and they flipped again to country by 1982.  Radio Columbus transferred the license to Solar Broadcasting in 1985.  They dropped the WDAK calls and went soft oldies in C-QUAM stereo as WEIZ, but were back to WDAK by 1988.  Then to WSTH by 1990.  Then WMRY in 1991, when they tried country yet again.  But wait!  That call sign?  It lasted one day.  The same day they picked WMRY, they changed again back to WSTH.  By 1994 they were doing southern gospel, because why not?  It wasn't until 1995 or 1996 that they finally settled on the news/talk format they have today.

The station received a series of Special Temporary Authority grants starting in 1999 involving the nighttime operation of their directional antenna system.  At one point, they had dropped to 100 watts and two towers instead of three.  By 2004, they were down to the current 38 watts at night with just one tower.

Solar Broadcasting appears to have been absorbed by Cumulus in 2002; they in turn sold it to Clear Channel in 2003 for $2.73 million. 

The station acquired a construction permit for a new FM translator companion, for 93.7 MHz, in April 2018.  iHeartMedia requested that the permit be cancelled in November 2020.