AM Technical Profile: WLAY
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- 80s & 90s
Old site - Cox Road just south of AL-184 (East 2nd Street) in
view] Main Street, Sheffield, near the Helen Keller Library,
behind the URBan Studios. (STA)
view] Near where Milk Springs Road and New Cut Road
meet, just west of Old US Highway 43. (CP)
- Power (ERP):
- Day: 1 kW
Day: 930 watts
- Night: 1 kW
Night: 930 watts
- 1 tower
0.5 mV/m Daytime
Groundwave Service Contour
from the FCC's Public Files
Street View imagery of the URBan Radio studios on North Main Street
- Owned by Singing
River Media Group
// WLAY-FM Littleville
// W286DP Florence (CP)
- STA: 0.6 kW day
and night, operating from a longwire behind the studio building.
- This station was put on the air by Kathryn Jones in
1933 as WNRA, on 1420 kHz. It switched frequencies in the early
1940's to 1450 and became WMSD. The WLAY calls began in the mid 40's
and had originally belonged to the very first radio station in
Alaska, which started in 1922 at Fairbanks.
- As WLAY, the station was the Shoals' rock n' roll
home. Some important figures in early popular music were disc
jockeys here: Sam Phillips, the "Father of Rock and Roll" and
founder of Sun Records, began his music industry career here.
Clayton Ivey was a jock here when he "discovered" Percy Sledge. FAME
Recording Studios of Muscle Shoals owner Rick Hall was a jock here,
as well. FAME has an extensive history in rock music; artists like
The Tams, Joe Tex, Etta James, Clarence Carter, Wilson Pickett and
Aretha Franklin either recorded at FAME or were produced there by
Rick Hall. Their
website has good reading on the history of the studio.
- WLAY spawned an FM outlet (WLAY-FM) which had a
country format. As with all AM music stations, FM eventually began
taking its toll, and the AM drifted to a MoR (Middle of the Road)
format. In the 90's the station was acquired by Citadel, then later
Clear Channel. They tried various formats through the 2000's,
including Sports, satellite-fed Oldies and then finally Classic
- In 2005 the station was bought by URBan
Broadcasting. They retooled things to focus on the station's
heritage. After several weeks of stunting, the station debuted its
new format, on Halloween 2005: music only written or recorded in
Muscle Shoals! In late 2007 or early 2008 the station
acquired an FM translator at 92.3, with 225 watts.
- In late June 2010 WLAY and Shoals-area WVNA lost
the lease on their combined transmitter site. The stations are
off the air until a new site can be located and facilities
built. The station was reported back on around 24 June 2011
with very low power. The AM is operating from the STL (studio
to transmitter link tower) at the WLAY studios under a special temporary authority.
In December 2011 owners Urban Radio turned in the license for the
translator that had been carrying the station on FM, along with one
for Florence-area AC WMXV, licensed to Saint Joesph,
Tennessee. This station was transferred from URBan Radio to
Kevin Wagner in January 2013, although it appears Wagner is a shell
for URBan Radio Licenses, LLC.. The station was put on the
FCC's silent list in December of 2014.
- On 7 December 2015 Kevin
Wagner-led URBan Radio filed a pleading with the FCC to keep the
license for this station and WVNA active, claiming to have found a
buyer for both stations, which was granted on 15 December. The
stations collectively will have been off for exactly a year on the
16th, which normally means they are automatically deleted by the
FCC. As part of the request, URBan wants to return WLAY to the
air with 60 watts from a longwire installed behind the URBan Radio
studios on Main Street in Tuscumbia. That authorization came on
by the 16th with country music and WLAY-FM liners, although it is not
a direct simulcast. The STA was granted and they kept stringing
along on STA's into 2017, when they finally filed an application to
permanently move the station's transmitter site to the WLAY-FM tower
off New Cut Road, south of Tuscumbia. That permit was granted in
late April 2017.
- On 5 July 2017, Tuscumbia
Utilities disconnected the power to the studios in town, causing all
the stations to lose their programming feeds. The stations fell
silent (but remained on with dead air).
The station returned to the air on 12 July 2017.
In September 2018, the station received a construction permit for a
new FM translator companion on 105.1 MHz in Florence.
- The station was sold,
along with the other URBan Radio group of stations, to Singing River
Media Group in October 2018, for $1.275 million. Singing River
Media Group is headed by James Michael Self, whose father (D. Mitchell
Self) was the former owner of WLAY AM and FM.
As of the start of 2020, the station was reported to be simulcasting
WLAY-FM's Country Hits format.