TV Technical Profile: WOTM-LD

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Channel:
19
Programming:
19.1 - Local, Independent
19.2 - blank
19.3 - blank
Transmitter Location:
[map] Located near the water tower off Meadow Brook Road and Meadow Drive, just south of Valleydale Road in the Meadowbrook section of Hoover.
Power (ERP):
9 kW
Height Above Average Terrain (HAAT):
-
Antenna:
Directional
Other Information:
41 dBu protected contour map, from the FCC. (This, the antenna HAAT and the directional antenna pattern were unavailable from the FCC at the time of publishing.)
[FCC]
[FCCdata]
[RabbitEars.info]
[Wikipedia]
[Facebook]
[Article] Story on Don Earley and his history with Alabama Cable Network and this and other LPTV stations in Alabama, from the Birmingham Business Journal.
Owned By:
Broadway Communications, LLC
History:
This station dates back to an original construction permit issued to Sylacauga Cable Productions in 1995, for a station on channel 65 with 7.5 kW output.  The transmitter site was just east of Skyview Road, east of US-280 in Sylacauga.  The FCC assigned the call sign W65DC. 

James David Earley acquired the station in 1996.  Earley was known for operating a few other low power TV stations in central Alabama, but was more famously the man behind the Alabama Cable Network, which broadcast hundreds of college and high school sporting events to cable TV outlets all over the south at one point.  Under Don Earley's ownership, the station was granted a move to channel 19, with the transmitter relocating to rural Shelby County between Montevallo and Alabaster.  It signed on in 1997 as W19CB with all locally-produced programming, including an emphasis on local sports.  The station had a modest over-the-air coverage area, but was in over 200,000 homes thanks to Charter Cable carrying the station throughout Shelby County. 

The station's call sign changed to WOTM-LP in January 2000.  In 2005, Earley transferred the license from his name to WOTM, LLC for $2 million.  In 2012, the license was transferred to ACN Sports, Inc. (Alabama Cable Network) for $420,000 plus assumption of outstanding bank loans.  In 2014, the station went silent.  In a letter to the FCC, it claimed to be off the air to construct the digital facility, which sign on RF channel 19. 

The license was transferred to Over The Mountain Television for $370,000 in 2015.  They signed the station back on in digital later that same year as WOTM-LD.  The site listed with the FCC points to the Montevallo Texaco gas station at AL-119 and CR-22, but no broadcast towers have ever been sighted at this location or adjacent to it, so it's unclear if the station was really built out or was transmitting from a completely different location. 

Due to channel repacking, the station was displaced from RF channel 19 and had to seek a new channel in January 2019.  The FCC granted a permit to move RF channel 35; along with this, the station also moved transmitter site to just off Valleydale Road in Hoover, just west of US-280.  With a boost in power to 9 kW and a new directional pattern, the station will over the air coverage to much of the Birmingham metro area.  In May 2019, the license was transferred to Broadway Communications, LLC for $20,000.  Broadway is part owned by James Earley and part by Katherine Earley.  It's worth noting that in all the previous license transfers, Don Earley had ownership of each company so he was involved with the station continuously.

The station was reported on air with color bars on three subchannels in mid-January 2022.  After filing a license to cover for the digital facility, the signed signed back off before ever airing any programming.  In early February 2022, Broadway filed a request with the FCC to rescind the license to cover.  In the request, they stated that the previous engineer had inadvertently installed the new transmitter in the incorrect location.  It appears that instead of the site off Valleydale Road in the Meadowbrook area of Hoover, it was construction on Double Oak Mountain, just east of US-280 south of Inverness.  A new construction permit request was concurrently filed for that site, with 5 kW and a different directional antenna pattern to compensate for the higher mountain location.  That facility was granted in late February 2022 and a license to cover was filed almost immediately.  The station was confirmed back on the air by 16 February 2022.