FM Technical Profile: WRSA

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Station Name:
Mix 96.9
AC/Variety Hits
Transmitter Location:
[map] Due south of Redstone Arsenal in Morgan County. West of US-231 along Telephone Tower Road, off Apple Grove Road.
Power (ERP):
100 kW
Antenna HAAT:
1,010 feet
Other Information:
60 dBu protected contour map, from the FCC.
:PS-NEW MIX 96.9 Time-[?] Text-MIX 96.9 (song) / (artist) PTY-[?]
More Information:
[RDS] Image of the radio's text display on an Insignia HD portable radio.
[Studio] Street View imagery of the station's studio building on Memorial Parkway SW in Huntsville.
NCA, Inc.
An original construction permit for a Class C FM station on 103.5 MHz was granted to Paul R. Nielsen in the summer of 1962.  Nielsen came to Alabama from New Jersey to work for NASA as a propulsion engineer at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.  Although he had worked on such high-profile projects as Werner von Braun's Apollo project, radio also held a special place in his heart.  Since he had land near Laceys Spring that was good for FM broadcasting, he located the station on his property there, building a ~800 foot tower for it on his property.

Before the station signed on, it went through several on-paper changes and received several extensions to the construction permit.  One of those changes was to move to 92.3 MHz, another bumped them to 96.9 MHz.  Another change involved a boost in power from 20 kW to 25 kW; still another changed the city of license from "Decatur-Arab, Alabama" to just Decatur.  The station finally signed on in the summer of 1966, as WRSA (for RedStone Arsenal).  Using a Western Electric 506-B2 transmitter, feeding an Andrew 1304-1 4 bay antenna, the station carried a Beautiful Music format from studios located on-site with the transmitter.

In 1975, the station went through some technical changes which resulted in an even bigger signal.  They modified the Western Electric transmitter and fed it into a new Shivley 6811-14 fourteen-bay antenna with increased antenna height, giving them 50 kW of effective radiated power.  In the fall of 1976, the station installed a Gates FMS-20B transmitter and increased power again, this time to the full 100 kW allowed. A year later, they amended their city of license to read "Decatur-Huntsville, Alabama", no doubt reflecting the fast growth of north Alabama's biggest city.  That same year they also added a 67 kHz SCA (Subsidiary Communications Authorization).

Paul Nielsen passed away in 2001 at the age of 72.  His wife Penny took over operations (as NCA, Inc.) and still runs the station to this day.  With the beautiful music format now being extremely niche at the dawn of the 21st Century, the change in ownership was an opportunity to freshen things up a bit.  The station segued to a more modern-sounding Soft Adult Contemporary format and began branding itself as "Lite 96.9". 

Further changes came in 2005, when the station re-licensed to Holly Pond as part of a larger re-alignment of the north Alabama radio dial.  They also got a slight boost in antenna height when they installed an RCA BFG-12 twelve-bay antenna.  In 2009 they changed antennas again, this time to an eight-bay Dielectric DCR-M8.

Over the years, the more modern sound of the station floated more towards straightforward Adult Contemporary from the laid back, sleepier sound of yore.  The station re-branded in January 2015 to reflect the wider playlist, as "Mix 96.9", keeping the same jocks and shows.