AM Technical Profile: WLOR


Frequency:
1550
Format:
Classic Hip-Hop/R&B
Transmitter Location:
[map] [street view] [bird's eye] West of Pulaski Pike, south of Beaver Dam Road, west of Hereford Cemetery.
Power (ERP):
Day: 50 kW
Day: 28 kW
(CP)
Night: 500 watts
Night: 15 watts
(CP)
Antenna:
Day & night: 3 towers [pattern - PDF]
Day & night: Omnidirectional (CP)
Other Information:
0.5 mV/m Daytime Groundwave Service Contour from the FCC's Public Files
[FCC]
[FCCData.org]
[Radio-Locator]
[Wikipedia]
[Facebook]
[Studio] Street View imagery of the Rocket City Broadcasting studios at The Boardwalk in Huntsville.
// W251AC 98.1 MHz Capshaw, AL
:PS-[?] Time-[?] Text-(artist/song) PTY-[?] PS-WLOR-FM
History:
Some of this history was taken from the WAAY-TV history page.

The Huntsville Times newspaper put this station on the air in 1947.  It started off as a 250 watt signal on 1490 kHz, as WHBS.  The studios were going to be at the corner of Gallatin Street and Clinton Avenue in downtown Huntsville, while the transmitter (a Western Electric 451-A-1) operated from the corner of O'Shaughnessy Avenue and County Road.  Instead, by the time the station signed on, the studio was operating from the transmitter site.  Today, this site is better described as 905 Church Street NW, a block south of Cook Avenue NW.  Shortly after going on the air, the station sought a move to 930 kHz, with 1 kW days and 500 watts night from a transmitter site on Martin Lake Road, a few miles north of downtown.  That facility was never built out and the permit dismissed in 1949. 

Less than a year after signing on this station, The Huntsville times launched an FM companion on 95.1 MHz, with 15 kW, as WHBS-FM.

In 1953, the station moved to 1550 kHz, and raised daytime power to 5 kW, with 500 watts at night and different directional patterns day and night.  The daytime directional pattern was dropped in 1954.  The format around this time was Adult Easy Listening.  The station was acquired by Smith Broadcasting in 1958.  They flipped the format to Top 40 and changed calls to WAAY.  Some DJs quit because they didn't like the "new sound", and a petition was circulated to do away with rock and roll radio in town.  It must have little effect, because by 1963, this was Huntsville's dominant Top 40 player. 

Smith Broadcasting purchased the struggling TV station WAFG in 1963, changing it to WAAY-TV.

The station debuted a much more powerful daytime signal in 1980, when it added a 50 kW daytime signal broadcast from a new site off Pulaski Pike.  The directional nighttime signal remained 500 watts, from the older site closer to Huntsville.  Interestingly, there was a petition to deny the upgrade filed by the station's in-town rivals at Powell Broadcasting, but that petition was denied.  In 1983, the station began broadcasting in the Kahn stereo system.  Unfortunately, despite stereo sound and a bigger signal, the 80's were the end of Top 40's AM era.  That year, Athens-licensed 104.3 MHz flipped to Top 40 as WZYP and immediately dominated the ears of local listeners.  Around the same time, the owner, M. D. Smith, III, had a heart attack.  The station finally gave up and changed to a Satellite Music Corporation-fed Adult Contemporary format in the winter of 1985.  The station suffered several years of financial losses, and was taken off the air in 1988 while the estate of Mr. Smith looked for new buyers.  United Communications purchased the station for $300,000 in 1989 and returned it to the airwaves with a Black Gospel music format as WAAJ.

The station suffered heavy financial losses and was off the air again in the early 90s.  In 1992, the original studios were demolished, and the old equipment and transmitter were sold off.  Ownership of the license reverted back to the Smith family estate.  A minority partnership known as M. B. Associates purchased the station in 1993 and returned it to the air with a Black Gospel format, as WLOR. 

The station was acquired by STG Media in mid-2000.  They flipped the format to Urban Oldies as "Jammin' 1550".  In early 2001, the oldies were de-emphasized at the behest of the Tom Joyner Morning Show.  The station flipped to a regular Oldies format in June 2008, when it picked up the satellite-fed "Scott Shannon's True Oldies" format from ABC Radio Networks.  A year later in June 2009, the station picked up its first FM translator, Capshaw-licensed W251AC on 98.1 MHz. 

STG Media eventually became known as Black Crow Radio, LLC; they filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and sold the station to Southern Stone Communications in December 2011. 
In the early spring of 2014 the station shifted focus back to Urban Oldies, picking up the Steve Harvey Show from the now-defunct Hot 103.5.  In March of 2016 the translator changed from a directional antenna pattern to a non-directional one, albeit with slightly less power; the end result was still improved coverage of the metro area.  Around this time it was noted that the format was tweaked a bit to include the occasional current hit, not just old school R&B hits.  In early December 2016 the station received a permit to cut the daytime power from 50 kW to 28 kW, and to drop from 500 to just 15 watts at night, and to drop the three tower directional array completely.

The station flipped from its longtime urban oldies format to classic hip-hop and R&B as "98.1 The Beat" on 1 February 2017.