AM Technical Profile: WTKI

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Frequency:
1450
Format:
Soft Adult Contemporary
Transmitter Location:
[map] [street view] Between Bell Avenue NW and Wilson Drive NW in Huntsville.
[map] South of I-565 on Langford Avenue NW, a block east of Glenwood Cemetery. (CP)
Power (ERP):
Day: 1 kW
Night: 1 kW
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]
[Facebook]
[Facebook Post] Morning Host and station owner Fred Pollard, discussing the ending of the talk radio format in 2021.
[Studio] Street View imagery of the station's studios on Holmes Avenue, under I-565 in Huntsville.
Owned by Focus Radio Communications
// W225AH Huntsville
// W287DH Huntsville
History:
In 1946, an original construction permit was issued to Huntsville Broadcasting Company (John Garrison, Lauren Mickle and Joe S. Foster, Jr.) for a new broadcast station.  When this facility signed on in the fall of 1946, it was assigned the WFUN call letters and ran 250 watts unlimited on 1450 kHz, with a Gates 250-C-1 transmitter.  Both transmitter and studio were at 410 Holmes Avenue West in Huntsville.  The format appears to have been full service with news and music.

Around 1959, a Top 40 station in Miami on 790 kHz paid the station big bucks for the WFUN call sign, and this station became WFIX. 

The station increased to the current 1 kW day and night power in 1969, with a Gates BC-1T transmitter.  At that time, they also moved the transmitter site from the Holmes Avenue studios to a site off Mill Street, just north of downtown Huntsville.

Into the 70's the station had a Middle-of-the-Road (MOR) music format. 

With the rising dominance of FM (which became greater when Arbitron increased the Huntsville market outside the confines of Madison County), stations like WFIX began to suffer in the ratings.  Through the 80's, the MOR format morphed to Oldies, Country, and then back towards pop with an Adult Contemporary format.  The license was transferred to David Smith in 1987.  In 1989, with the construction of I-565 taking over their transmitter site on Mill Street, the station's transmitter was re-located again, this time to a site off Wilson Avenue Northwest.  The application sent to the FCC had the wrong coordinates, however, showing a site closer to the old studios on Holmes Avenue West. 

In 1990, the call sign changed to WKGL.  It appears that the station had one last hurrah with music in the Big Band/Standards format, which lasted until 1992, when the station finally flipped to News/Talk as WTKI, the second talker in the market after WVNN.  That same year, the station was sold to Jennings Enterprises, Inc. for $100,000.  They, in turn, sold the station to Mountain Mist Media in 1995. 

In the Summer of 2001, the station tried returning to music with a Classic Country format, but this only lasted a year.  In 2002, the station flipped to a "Relationship Radio" format with Talk focused on healthy living as "The Heart of Huntsville"  WHOH.  The experiment didn't last and in 2002 the station returned to the WTKI calls with ESPN Sports Talk radio.  The station was sold in 2007 to Christian Voice of Central Ohio, Inc. for $460,000.  They paired the station up with WDPT in Decatur to launch a Christian-leaning News/Talk format as "ProTalk 1450/1490".
 
It was reported in early February 2009 that both WTKI and WDPT were shut down by the owners, citing the down-turned economy as a reason they could no longer operate.  Christian Voice of Central Ohio transferred the license to Focus Radio Communications at the tail end of December 2009 and they began LMAing the station, along with WEKI (formerly WDPT).  The stations returned to the airwaves in late winter of 2010 with News/Talk programming.
 
Around early March of 2010 WTKI picked up its first FM translator, W225AH in Huntsville.  In late March 2010, it was discovered that WEKI had picked up an FM translator, this time in Decatur, W232BX.  Although both stations carry similar programming and use the same "Talk Radio for Real Life" slogan, they no longer simulcast.
 
Although the station's FCC record lists the tower location as south of I-565 where the studios were, the actual location is off Bell Avenue NW, just north of I-565 and the former site.  In 2017, the station filed a Special Temporary Authority with the FCC to operate with just 550 watts from an inverted-L longwire antenna at the studio, citing the loss of their licensed transmitter site.

The station received a permit to construct a new FM translator in Huntsville on the east side of Monte Santo Mountain on 105.3 MHz in January, 2018.  It will match a translator for their sister station, WEKI, also on 105.3 MHz, in Athens.  The Huntsville translator signed on in late July 2018, although a license to cover was not filed until February 2019 (!).  The original translator, W225AH, was moved to another location to relay WQRV-HD3.

In November 2020, the station received a permit to relocate to a new transmitter site (only blocks from the "licensed" but incorrect transmitter site coordinates), maintaining the 1 kW day and night service.  As of November 2020, the station continues to operate on reduced power via the STA first filed back in 2017.

At the start of 2021, the station dropped its long-time conservative Talk format and flipped to Soft Adult Contemporary, re-launching as "Easy 105.3".  The station is being run by Mike Brandt's Southern Broadcasting via a LMA (Local Marketing Agreement); Brandt's company had previously launched the same format on WYDL in the Corinth, Mississippi market just a week prior to the change here.