AM Technical Profile: WQRX

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Frequency:
870

Format:
Contemporary Christian

Transmitter Location:
[map] [street view] Just outside of Valley Head on Old Highway 11 (Old Valley Head Road), on the east side of the road.  Across the creek, on Jeff Cook Road.

Power (ERP):
Day: 10 kW
Critical Hours: 4,700 watts

Antenna:
1 tower

Other Information:
0.5 mV/m Daytime Groundwave Service Contour from the FCC's Public Files

[FCC]
[FCCdata.org]
[Radio-Locator]

[Wikipedia] For the Good News Network that this station carries full time

Owned by Joy Christian Ministries

// W257EU Valley Head, AL

History:
This station dates back to an original construction permit granted to Cook Communications, owned by Alabama country band member Jeff Cook.  The station was granted a permit for 870 kHz, 5 kW, daytime operation only from Valley Head.  When it signed on in February 1986, it may have debuted with an Adult Contemporary music format.  Broadcasting Yearbook listings for the station show either that or "Greatest Hits" from sign on until at least the late 90's. (Note: the original write-up for this station had claimed it was Country the entire time, but the source for that claim can no longer be located.)  The station was given a major construction permit grant in July 1987 to upgrade to 10 kW, still as a daytime only operation, but with an added critical hours authorization of 4.7 kW.  A license to cover for that change was filed in July 1989.

The station was sold to Smith Communications in August 1994 for $28,000.  In May 1998, the station was sold to Scenic Communications, Inc., for $110,000, who appear to have flipped the format to Oldies.  Barinowski Investment Company, LLC acquired the station in October 1999 for an undisclosed sum.  They, in turn, appear to have been acquired by the religious Good News Network at around the same time.  It's likely that this is when the station picked up the organization's Spanish Christian religious programming feed, although those historical Broadcasting Yearbook editions continued to list it as Oldies until at least 2005.

A planned transfer of the license from the Good News Network (by way of their Barinowski Investment Company LLC) to Augusta Radio Fellowship was announced, but it appears that the change either never materialized or was removed from FCC filings.  In September 2009 the station filed to switch to noncommercial broadcasting.  Around this time they also acquired an FM translator, W211BW in Fort Payne, on 90.1 MHz.

In late July 2011 the translator was granted a permit to move to the commercial band at 100.9 MHz, with a substantial increase in power, along with a change in the city of license to community of Cedarburg.  Originally planned with a wickedly tight directional pattern, a subsequent modification loosened the pattern to allow some signal to reach both Cedar Bluff in Cherokee County as well as parts of Rome, Georgia, from a site neasr Gaylesville.  The facility was reported on air as W265CE in the middle of August 2014; it appeared to not cover the city of license (Fort Payne) at all.  Just as well, it was eventually moved out of the state to relay a station in Cartersville, Georgia.

The station received a permit for a second translator, this time in Valley Head, on 99.3 MHz in January 2018.  Before signing on, it moved to 99.7 MHz.  A license to cover for this facility was filed in June 2022, as W259DK.  Between the time the permit was granted and the license to cover was granted, the translator was relocated to nearby Fort Payne, although it remained licensed to Valley Head.

The station was reported off the air in the Spring of 2020 due to transmitter issues.  In May 2020 the Augusta Radio Fellowship sold the station to Courington and Mastin, LLC, for $10,000.  Pat Courington has a stake in a few other northeast Alabama stations including WQSB in Albertville.

A Special Temporary Authority was granted in March 2021 to put the station back on with lower power (4 kW) during daylight hours while the new owners wait for a new transmitter to be installed.  That same month, the station converted back to commercial operation.  The STA was renewed as recently as August 2021.  In June 2021, the station applied to change the translator from Valley Head to a site in downtown Fort Payne, on 99.7 MHz. 

A license to cover for the translator was filed in June 2022.

In July 2022, the station was sold by Courington & Mastin, LLC for $15,000 to Joy Christian Ministries, who operates a few other Classic Gospel stations in Mississippi.  Joy Christian had previously operated stations in other parts of Alabama, but all them were sold or had the licenses turned in due to non-operation.  That same month, the translator that had only recently had a license to cover for operation from Fort Payne was filed to go back to Valley Head and back to the original 99.3 MHz allocation it was originally granted.  The FCC granted that change before the end of July.  In August, the deal with Joy Christian was finalized, and they also applied to change the station back to non-commercial operation.

A license to cover for the translator's move back to Valley Head was granted in June 2024.

Of note is that, from the beginning, this station broadcast in Motorola C-QUAM AM stereo.  It was thought to be active at least up until mid-2000's when the Spanish Christian format
came about.  (Zach's note: "This is one of the few stations in Alabama I ever actually saw promoting AM stereo in its advertising.  I distinctly remember a mural on the side of a wall in either Valley Head or Fort Payne, saying '870 Stereo'.  By 2014, it was confirmed to be only broadcasting in mono.")