AM Technical Profile: WRBZ


Frequency:
1250
Format:
Classic Hits
Transmitter Location:
[map] [street view] About 4 miles south of Wetumpka in Elmore County.  Along and west of US-231 between Periwinkle Lane and Jasmine Forest Road.
Power (ERP):
Day: 5 kW
Night: 80 watts
Antenna:
Day & night: 1 tower, omnidirectional
Other Information:
0.5 mV/m Daytime Groundwave Service Contour from the FCC's Public Files
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// W238CE Montgomery
Owned by Terry Barber Enterprises (TBE, LLC) as Little Engine Broadcasting
History:
WETU (WETUmpka) is reported to have signed on in October 1954 at 1570 kHz with 250 watts daytime. In 1956 the station had a permit to move to the present dial position of 1250 kHz, with 1,000 watts daytime.  By 1958 the station had upgraded to 5 kw.  This change was facilitated by WCOV in Montgomery, who moved from 1240 kHz to former the WJJJ frequency of 1170 kHz.  1570 kHz was later occupied by WRWJ in Selma.
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The format of that time was country with a real western influence.  It was owned by Elmore Service Corporation, who in some ways also started WNUZ in Talladega and WRFS in Alexander City. Charles and James Whatley were involved in Elmore.  James took on the business end and Charles was the engineer.
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The original site of the station was an old saw mill just north of town; the antenna was a 180 ft free standing tower.  Since the station started on a higher frequency, they moved to a taller tower when they went down the dial.. The old tower lay unused until later purchased for use as a CB antenna (!) which is still standing near Weoka Creek in Titus.
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In the 60's the station tried to get into the Montgomery market but didn't have much luck.
Supposedly this station had an FM allocation, and when a new studio was built in the 60's an FM studio was included; the FM license was never put on the air. Another story has this station battling with another in Wetumpka, Oklahoma for the WETU calls.  Oklahoma is west of the Mississippi and therefore the calls start with 'K' but who knows what may have happened in the heyday of AM radio!  Perhaps it wasn't Oklahoma but Wetumpka, Florida or some other locale.
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The station switched to a black gospel format from black adult contemporary music at some point between 2000-2004 (!) and also airs a lot of brokered (paid) programming.
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In the summer of 2006 the station adopted some urban oriented talk programs, adding the moniker, "The People's Station". They are keeping some gospel in the lineup.
 
It was reported in mid-January 2009 that the station is now staying on 24 hours.  They have had an authorization to run 80 watts at night for quite some time.
 
As of late June 2009 the station had acquired a Special Temporary Authority (STA) to rebroadcast on a translator in the Montgomery area.  W239BN, licensed to Headland, previously carried WAQS out of Ozark.  The translator had a Construction Permit (CP) at the time to increase power to 250 watts, moving to north Montgomery.
 
In March of 2010 it was reported that the station began airing soul music at night.
 
The middle of March 2011 saw a complete format flip, from gospel and urban "Soul Classics" to classic hits as "KOOL 95.7", with calls changing from WAPZ to WRBZ.  The oldies music is fed via Dial Global's Kool Gold satellite feed.  The Spanish-language programming, including a top 40 type music show, continue to air on weekends.
 
In October 2011, Greenville-area station WKXN relocated from 95.9 to 95.7, causing interference to WRBZ's FM translator.  The translator quickly moved to 95.5 MHz, with almost identical coverage.  In May of 2015 the station was sold J&W LLC for $210,000 to Terry Barber Enterprises.  Barber already owns WMGY AM and is a former Bluewater GM in the city.  In addition to the AM, Barber will be operating this station's FM translator via a LMA (Local Marketing Agreement) starting 1 May 2015. In late April 2016 it was noted that the studio/office space in Wetumpka appears to have been vacated.  In August 2016 it was noted that the weekend limited Spanish programming was gone.