AM Technical Profile: WFHK

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Classic Hits/Adult Contemporary
Transmitter Location:
[map] [street view] About 1/4 mile south of I-20 exit 156, right on the easterly bend in US-78 (Cogswell Avenue) just west of Pell City.
Power (ERP):
Day: 5 kW
Day: 1 tower
Other Information:
0.5 mV/m Daytime Groundwave Service Contour from the FCC's Public Files
[Picture] A picture (courtesy a friend) of the studio on Cogswell Avenue, just outside of Pell City, after the tower came down.
[Street View] Google Street View image from May 2015, showing the downed tower behind the studios.
Owned by Stocks Broadcasting, Inc.
// W231CW Pell City
An original construction permit for this station was issued in November 1952 to St. Clair Broadcasting System (William David Frink, Fred Lamar Kelley, John Herbert Haynes and Glenn Pruitt).  The station signed on either late January or early February 1956, on 1430 kHz, running 1 kW from a Collins 20V transmitter, daytime only.  The station has had the WFHK calls (for three of the owners) and has always transmitted from west of Pell City on US 78, near Wolf Creek and the Eden community.

By the mid-70's the station was running a Middle of the Road (MOR) music format.  In 1976 they added a 500 watt PSA (pre-sunrise/post-sunset) authorization to extend the broadcasting hours slightly.  The station changed to Country around 1978. 

In 1980 the station appears to have changed to a mix of Top 40 and Middle of the Road (MOR) music. In 1983, the station was granted a permit to increase their power to 5 kW, but still as a daytimer.   By 1984 the station's format was back to Country.

The station was sold to Williamson Broadcasting in May 1999 for $10,000.  They in turn sold it to Stocks Broadcasting (Adam and Karen Stocks) for $275,000 in February 2001.

In the summer of 2013 the station was paired up with a construction permit for a new translator in Pell City at 94.9 MHz, W235BQ, licensed to religious outlet Radio Assist Ministry.  It was to transmit from a site northeast of Pell City, and north of I-20, but was actually being prepped to broadcast from the WFHK tower west of town, even though no permit for that location was ever filed.  Before the translator could be mounted in mid-August 2013, the tower collapsed.  It injured no one, and the cause was suspected to be poor quality welding of the tower bracing, work done during a previous owner's time. 

The AM quickly got back on the air from a longwire antenna strung up at the studio, albeit with low power.  The translator was relocated to a site near downtown Pell City and when it went on the air, the station re-branded as "94.9 The River", still with Country music.

In April 2014, the station received a permit to relocate to Bald Rock Mountain, west of Pell City, with 230 watts from a very high perch.  Before it could be built out, the translator was relocated again, this time to a site colloquially known as 'Water Tank Hill' overlooking Pell City, with just 30 watts.  At some point during all this, the station flipped to a mix of Adult Contemporary and Classic Hits music.

On 18 October 2014, the translator moved to Bald Rock Mountain, site of one of the earlier permits.  Only, they did not actually have authorization to do so, and moving here caused immediate issues with a co-channeled translator in Birmingham, owned by iHeart Radio.  During all these moves, the AM remained off the air, having burned out the transmitter not too long after erecting the longwire temporary antenna a year ago.  iHeart Radio wound up intervening and getting the licensing and interference issues fixed, by first moving the translator back to its licensed location in Pell City, then helping prepare an application to move the translator back to Bald Rock Mountain on a different channel.

An application was been granted to allow the translator to move to 94.1 MHz and return to Bald Rock, bringing a viable local FM signal back to much of St. Clair County.  A report from early December 2014 says the AM is back operating full time, albeit on a longwire antenna setup as the tower has not yet been rebuilt.  The translator was on 94.1 shortly thereafter.  In 2014 or 2015 the AM tower was rebuilt; the station was finally back to its full 5 kW of (daytime only) authorized power in July 2017.  Stocks purchased the translator from Edgewater Broadcasting in the fall of 2018.