AM Technical Profile: WNGL


Frequency:
1410
Format:
Religious: Catholic
Transmitter Location:
[map] [goKML aerial] Just off Peach Street in Mobile, near Conception Street Road and I-165, at or near WGOK's location.
Power (ERP):
Day: 5 kW
Night: 4.6 kW
Antenna:
Day: 1 tower
Night: 2 towers, nulled to the north slightly. [pattern - PDF]
Other Information:
0.5 mV/m Daytime Groundwave Service Contour from the FCC's Public Files
[FCC]
[FCCdata.org]
[Radio-Locator]
[Wikipedia]
[Facebook]
[Image] Image of the Woonie Bird sticker or pin from the WUNI days on the Radio Sticker of the Day blog. 
Owned by Archangel Communications
History:
1410 is Mobile's oldest surviving station, with the first license issued in 1929 for a 500 watt broadcast on this frequency.  It went on the air in 1930, put on by Pape Broadcasting Company (W. G. Austin and W. O. Pape). The original call sign was WODX.  From sign-on until 1934, the station operated on a shared-time system with WSFA in Montgomery, which is also on 1410 kHz.  Pape tried over several years to move the station to a better frequency first to 1010 kHz, then 590 kHz, then 1340 kHz, but all were denied.  Eventually the station was able to operate all day, but still had to share time with WSFA at night.

The original transmitter site was in the "rural section" of the Spring Hill community, west of Mobile, with the studios downtown at the corner of Royal and St. Michaels streets.  A year after the station signed on, the studios were moved to the Battle House Hotel.  The station was a long-time affiliate of NBC.

After years of trying to get off 1410 kHz and away from sharing time with WSFA, the station finally was granted a permit to move to 1380 kHz, with 1 kW days and 500 watts night, in 1934.  With this move the call sign changed to WALA.  The station received a permit to increase power to 5 kW days in 1940, but it does not appear to have been built out.  Instead, in 1941 NARBA went into effect and practically every station on the dial had to move frequencies; for WALA, it was back to 1410 kHz.  They at least got to keep their 1 kW daytime signal
The book, "Alabama's First Broadcast Stations", by Harry Butler says the calls WALA once stood for "We Are Loyal Alabamians".

The station received a boost in power to 5 kW day and night in 1942.  With this change, the transmitter moved to the Cochrane Bridge Causeway (today known as just The Causeway, or US-90/98) about 4 miles east of downtown Mobile.  Thanks to this location in the swampy, salty marshland of upper Mobile Bay, the station wound up with the best AM signal in Mobile, day or night.  To get the full 5 kW at night, the station also had to install a two tower directional array, which is still standing today.  (As of June 2018, it's now the home of 1360 WMOB.)

Pape Broadcasting launched WALA-TV on channel 10 in 1953; that year the radio and TV studios were both located at 210 Government Street.  Pape sold off the TV and radio properties to two different companies in 1963.  Roywood Corporation bought this station and flipped it to country as WUNI.  The call sign meant "You and I" but it was also called "Woonie", with a "Woonie Bird" as a station mascot.  The ownership changed names to WUNI, Inc. and went on to be a dominant station in the ratings for years.  During this period of the station's history, the studios were at 1257 Spring Hill Avenue. 

Country singer Mel Tillis bought the station in 1983, and changed the call sign to WMML (which stood for M-M-M-Mel, a nod to his famous stutter), but with the same country music format.  Stiff competition from FM broadcasters caused the station to lose money, and Tillis shut it down and sold it to Bridgeway Communications in 1989.  They brought the station back to life with a hip-hop and rap music format.  Despite decent ratings, the station was financially unstable and went dark again. 

The station was resurrected once again, this time by Albert L. Crain, for $25,000, in 1991.  He changed the format to black gospel as "Love 1410" WLVV.  After Crain died, the station was sold to WLVV, Inc., who kept the gospel format alive. 

The station remained on the air until 2005 when it sustained heavy damage from Hurricane Katrina.  Rebuilding proved to be too much for the company, and the station remained off the air for the remainder of WLVV, Inc.'s ownership tenure.  The station was sold to Archangel Communications, a lay-Catholic group, in the late summer of 2009.  In October the calls changed to WNGL.  The station did not resume operations until September of 2010; when it returned to the air it carried Catholic religious talk and music programming.
 
In late April 2010 the station received a construction permit to move from its historic Causeway transmitter site to one off Peach Street in Mobile.  They signed on from this new location in September 2010.  Buddy Tucker's WMOB eventually moved to the old Causeway site.