AM Technical Profile: WFTW

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Talk, News
Transmitter Location:
[map] [street view] On a tower just east of the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Memorial Parkway NW in Fort Walton Beach, behind the Cumulus Broadcasting offices.  Co-located with WFDM.
Power (ERP):
Day:  2.5 kW
Night: 131 watts
Day and night: 1 tower
Other Information:
0.5 mV/m Daytime Groundwave Service Contour from the FCC's Public Files
// WZNS HD-2 Fort Walton Beach, FL
Owned By:
This station dates back to an original construction permit first issued in October 1952 to Vacationland Broadcasting, Incorporated, run by Robert Sixes and Wilbur Powell, Jr.  The station was originally licensed as a 1 kW dayimer, and it signed on in January 1954. The first studio was on Miracle Strip Parkway (then Main Street) between Shell and Harbeson Avenues on the north side of the highway.  The transmitter site was originally northwest of Hollywood Boulevard and Wright Parkway, most likely where the Fort Walton Beach Tennis Center sits today.  Wilbur Powell became head of the company running the station in 1958.

The station launched a companion on the FM dial, WFTW-FM, a Class A at 99.3 MHz, in 1965.  Up through at least the mid-70's, the AM and FM simulcast all day.  The studio moved to Hollywood Boulevard in 1966, where the Cumulus Fort Walton Beach studios are today. 

The format in the early 70's was Middle of the Road (MOR).  The transmitter moved to its current site in 1975.  In August 1976, the station was granted a permit to increase daytime power to 2.5 kW.  That higher power went on the air in April 1977 via a Sparta 703-B transmitter.  Not long after that, they upgraded the transmitter to a Gates BC-1F.  The station's call sign changed to WDIS in 1979; it's unknown if a format change accompanied the new calls, but if it did, it was very short lived.  By 1981, the call letters were back to WFTW and the format remained (or returned to) MOR. 

Around 1981, the stations split the simulcast, as they launched an Adult Contemporary format on the FM, while keeping the AM with a 40's through 70's MOR music format, along with phone-in/talk programming.  Specter Broadcasting bought the station and its FM sister in 1988. 

The station and its FM sister were bought by New South Communications for $1 million in September 1992.  They flipped this station to news/talk.  Less than a year later, the stations were bought again, this time by Clay Holladay's Holladay Broadcasting, again for $1 million.  In 2003, they sold the stations to Cumulus for an undisclosed sum. 

In September 2020, the station applied to erect a shorter Valcom tower in place of the existing metal tower, citing rust issues due to the saltwater environment nearby.  That application was granted in January, 2021.

In early 2023, Cumulus began rebroadcasting this station on WZNS-HD2.