AM Technical Profile: WRCG

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Frequency:
1420
Format:
Black Gospel
Transmitter Location:
[map] [street view] [google aerial] Just east of the intersection of Ingersoll Road and US-280 in Phenix City.
Power (ERP):
Day: 5 kW
Night: 86 watts
Antenna:
1 tower
Other Information:
[FCC]
[FCCdata.org]
[Radio-Locator]
[Wikipedia]
[Facebook]
[Studio] Street View imagery of the PMB Studios on Wynnton Road in Columbus.
Owners:  PMB Broadcasting.
// W221DP Columbus, GA
History:
This station dates all the way back to 1928, when Roy E. Martin applied for a new radio station with 50 watts of power in Columbus.  When it signed on May 10th of 1928, it operated on 1200 kHz as WRBL.  The original studio and transmitter location were at Talbotton and Comer Roads in town. There is some uncertainty about what the call letters stood for, if anything.  The obvious choice seems to be "Rebel" as a nod to the Confederacy, but the Columbus State Archives (source) suggest that it may instead be for "Radio Bill Lewis".  Bill Lewis appears to have been associated with Roy E. Martin, along with a motion picture operator by the name of Monte Moore.  The same year the station signed on, it was sold to the Columbus Junior Chamber of Commerce for $250.  They couldn't keep the station on the air and it went silent for a short period, until it was acquired by David Parmer of Parmer's Office Equipment.

In 1930, the station applied for a change to 970 kHz, with either 1 kW or 500 watts, but this was denied.  The license was transferred to WRBL Radio Station Incorporated (
J. W. Woodruff and W. R. Luttrell) in 1931. In 1932, the station was granted a boost to 100 watts. In 1936, the station tried once again to change frequencies and boost power, this time to 500 watts days, with a directional antenna, on 1330 kHz.  The change was denied.  Instead, the transmitter site was moved to near the intersection of 15th Avenue and 30th Street and they were allowed to operate with 250 watts days, falling back to 100 watts at night.  That same year, the studio appears to have briefly moved to the intersection of 15th Avenue and 30th Street.  In 1938, the name of the company changed to The Columbus Broadcasting Company, Inc.  W. R. Luttrell relinquished his stake of the company at this point, transferring that portion to J. W. Woodruff, Sr.  J. W. Senior handed control of the station over to his son, J. W. Junior.  Also that year, they were granted the right to run 250 watts full time.

The station was granted a permit to install an on-channel booster in 1944, but it was never built.  It was to be located near Upatoi Creek at Fort Benning, and would have run 250 watts full time.  The station spawned Georgia's first commercial FM broadcast signal in 1946, launching WRBL-FM on 93.3 MHz.  The AM station was finally able to achieve more power in 1947, when they signed on a 5 kW signal at 1420 kHz, from a site on Old Opelika Road in Phenix City (today this is US-280, where the ALDI grocery store is located.)  The station was non-directional during the day and utilized a two tower directional array for nighttime service, with the major lobe pointed southeast towards the city of Columbus.  The transmitter installed was a Western Electric 405-B-2.

WRBL launched a TV station in 1953, carrying the CBS network.  This radio station began operating the daytime transmitter remotely in 1954 from 1350 13th Avenue, where the studios had relocated to a few years prior.  In 1958, the station installed a new RCA BTA-5H transmitter. 

In 1974, the station's studio was listed at 327 Warren Williams Road.  Around this time the station had a Middle-of-the-Road (MOR) music format along with some personality, sports and local & network news programming.  When J. W. Woodruff, Jr. passed away in 1976, the AM-FM-TV combo was split up.  WGBA, Inc. acquired the AM and changed the call sign to WRGC (Radio Columbus Georgia) in 1977, and flipped the format to Country music.  That must not have worked, as the station was back to MOR by the early 80's. 

By 1990, FM competition had killed the chance of survival with music on AM for most stations, and WRGC flipped to a News/Talk format, later with an emphasis on Sports.  In the 90's, during a wave of consolidation in the industry, WGBA, Inc. was absorbed into McClure, who owned other stations in the market and elsewhere in the country.

The station (along with other McClure properties) was acquired by Archway Broadcasting Group in 2003.  They, in turn, were purchased by PMB, Inc. in 2008.  That same year, the station signed on from a new tower site southwest of Phenix City, with 5 kW days and just 78 watts night.

In April 2010, the station gained coverage on an FM translator, W295AY on 106.9 MHz. Although licensed to Crystal Valley, Georgia, the translator was actually located in Phenix City on the WCGQ tower off US-80 West.  When sister FM station WRLD dropped their Oldies format for classic hits, the "Boomer" name they'd used and Oldies format migrated here, with music from Scott Shannon's True Oldies Network.  WRLD's experiment with classic hits didn't last and the oldies went back there, with this station picking up the Classic Hits as "The Ride".  That didn't last long, either, as by April 2011 the station was reported with an Active Rock format as "106.9 Really Rocks".  Two years later, in 2013, the translator was split off from the AM, and this station flipped to News/Talk with Braves baseball; it eventually was being heard on Cuthbert-licensed W293BV on 106.5 MHz, which at the time didn't cover Columbus so much as pine trees and cows south of Fort Benning.  To shore up some regional coverage on FM, PMB also began simulcasting this station on W288CV on 105.5 MHz, licensed to nearby Americus. 

The Active Rock was moved to another area FM translator/AM combo in February 2014, when this station switched to Classic Rock as "105-5 The Ride".  The carousel of formats would continue, however, as just a month later the station had flipped to Southern Gospel. They also began carrying Ranger Joe's God & Country Show, and had stopped being heard on any area FM translators. 

As part of the FCC's AM revitalization plan, the station once again picked up an FM translator, moving W226AK from Sylvester, Georgia to a site in Laconia, Alabama, on 92.1 MHz. It signed on in July 2016.  The station changes formats once again in November 2016, this time to Adult R&B as "R&B 92.1".  It's intended to take on full power WAGH as well as rimshot WKZJ from Eufala. 

The station received a construction permit to relocate to the old WIOL (AM) site in Phenix City in mid-June 2017.  That new facility went on the air in December 2017.

The station appears to have flipped to a Black Gospel format some time in early 2021, as "Flavor 92.1", with both local and sports talk programming, too.