AM Technical Profile: WXJC


Frequency:
850
Format:
Gospel, Religious, Talk
Transmitter Location:
[map] [bird's eye] [street view] Off Tallapoosa Street, just north of Tarrant City.
Power (ERP):
Day: 50 kW
Night: 1,000 watts
Antenna:
Day: 4 towers, light nulls to the north and northwest [pattern - PDF]
Night: 4 towers, strong lobe to the south southeast, secondary lobes due east and northeast [pattern - PDF]
Other Information:
0.5 mV/m Daytime Groundwave Service Contour from the FCC's Public Files
[FCC]
[FCCdata.org]
[Radio-Locator]
[Wikipedia]
[Facebook]
[Studio] Street View imagery of the Crawford Broadcasting studios on Summit Parkway in Homewood.
(inactive)
Owned by Crawford Broadcasting
// WXJC-FM Cullman
// W245CS Birmingham
History:
This station dates back to an original construction permit issued to Thomas N. Beach (or Beech?), for a 250 watt full time broadcast on 1490 kHz.  It signed on in 1946 as WTNB (for the owner's initials), with studios at the corner of 2nd Avenue North and 21st Street North in downtown Birmingham.  The transmitter was somewhere in the city limits.  The station was affiliated with the Mutual network. 

Before signing on, Beach applied to move the station to 850 kHz with 5 kW days and 1 kW nights, but another broadcaster objected to the move and it went into a black hole for a few years.  Ownership was modified in 1948 when Beach entered a partnership with Roy M. Hofheinz, as "Radio Station WTNB"; months later that company changed name to Pilot Broadcasting Corporation.  They moved the studios to 3427 27th Avenue north in Collegeville in 1949. 

A new Gates S-251 transmitter was installed in the fall of 1951.  At that time, the transmitter site was moved to somewhere in Tarrant City, while the studios moved to Titusville at 117 2nd Avenue North.  George A. Mattison Jr. bought out Beach's (Beech's?) shares of the company in 1952. 

Years after the first attempt to move to 850 kHz, a move was finally granted in the early 50's, along with a call sign change to WILD.  In April 1953 the new upgraded facility signed on, transmitting from the current transmitter site between Tarrant City and Pinson.  The power was bumped up to 10 kW days and 1 kW nights, with a directional pattern used after dark.  The night pattern was probably adequate at the time, but as the city grew in later years, the narrow nighttime pattern left gaps in the eastern and western suburbs.  The studios also moved back to the Collegeville location east of downtown after this new location went on-air.

The studios moved to a site atop Red Mountain in the late spring of 1955.  The location, at 1901 Montgomery Highway (now Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard) was across from Vulcan Park, and during later years, allowed people to drive right up to the station, watch the DJ and make requests in person!  (Today, the building has found new life as a lawyer's offices.)  Ownership of the station moved to Gordon Broadcasting in December of that same year, and this is when it's like it first began airing a Top 40 music format. 

Bartell Broadcasting acquired the station in 1957; under their ownership, the station became the first major Top 40 station for the city, as WYDE. 
Bartell was one of the leading propagators of this format, having highly successful Top 40's in such places as San Francisco (KYA), San Diego (KCBQ), Atlanta (WAKE) and Milwaukee (WOKY).  Marketing at the time paired the station with its Atlanta counterpart as the "WYDE-a-WAKE stations".  Ownership came to WYDE, Inc. in 1960, then Basic Communications in 1962.  In 1963, WYDE lost the Top 40 crown to crosstown rival WSGN… by 1969 the station had become a Country music outlet, and stayed that way for many years, until FM competition finally won out.  Studios moved off Red Mountain in 1966, the Suite 520 at 2101 Magnolia Avenue, across from Brother Bryan Park in Birmingham. 

The station got a big boost in power in 1970, when the daytime power was upgraded to 50 kW (directional).  The station installed a Gates VP-50 for daytime use and utilized a Gates BC-10B for nighttime duties.  In 1972, ownership of the station was sold to Screen Gems Radio Stations, Inc.  Screen Gems was known for producing television shows and movies in Hollywood, but had also gotten into the radio business and wound up owning several stations, including powerhouses like WWVA in Wheeling, West Virginia.  That company was later spun off and became Columbia Pictures Radio.

In 1982 or '83, the format changed from Country to Oldies.  American General Media bought the station for $740,000 in 1986 and flipped it to Christian music.  It may have also had short stints doing Nostalgia and Classic Country. 

Around 1995 the station likely dropped the 50 kW day power down to 9 kW in an effort to save money.  In October 1998 a company called Hibernia of Birmingham bought the station for $700,000; they flipped it to Radio Disney's children's format as WMKI (MicKey).  Kimtron, Inc. (Crawford Broadcasting) bough the station in November 1999.  Just over a year later, in December 1999, the classic WYDE calls came back to the station when it switched to a religious-tinged Talk format as "LifeTalk 850".  Power around this time went back up to the full 50 kW. 

The slogan changed to "Talk Radio 850" in mid-2000.  In 2002, Crawford bought the Cullman-licensed 101.1 MHz station with a big signal and flipped it WYDE-FM, simulcasting the talk programming from this station.  Around 2003 the AM migrated to a Gospel music format.  The calls changed to WDJC (AM) in July 2002.  Crawford bought (then-)WQOP in Dorea in May 2004, and began simulcasting this station's gospel music there.  The calls for both stations changed to WXJC in July 2004.  In the spring of 2006, the FM side of the simulcast flipped to a country music format; by summer, WXJC was going it alone with gospel, and began broadcasting in digital with the iBiquity HD system.  Interestingly, Crawford had cut the audio back to 5 kHz and killed the C-Quam AM stereo back in 2004, in preparation for the move to digital.

Crawford's FM talker (then-WYDE-FM) flipped to oldies in July 2007, displacing all the local talk hosts.  Some of them wound up integrating into WXJC's programming, creating a mix of gospel and conservative talk.  That same month, the Dora FM that had once been paired with this station returned to a simulcast, becoming WXJC-FM again.

In early November 2018, Crawford decided to once again end the talk radio format on WYDE-FM.  This time, they decided to move WXJC's programming (and calls) to that FM outlet.  It's unknown at this time if this station will change formats later, or stay in a simulcast with the big FM signal. One casualty of the changes is Mickey Bell's "Dixie Gospel Caravan".  The Southern Gospel show has had a presence on Birmingham radio since the late 60's, but will be ending at the start of November.  The format updated, and the simulcast with (now-)WXJC-FM in Cullman began at midnight on 5 November 2018.