AM Technical Profile: WXQW


Frequency:
660
Format:
Talk, News
Transmitter Location:
[map] [bird's eye] [street view] [street view #2] Just south of CR-64 in Baldwin County, near Friendship Road.
Power (ERP):
Day: 10 kW
Night: 850 watts
Night: 19 watts (CP)
Antenna:
Day: 1 tower, omnidirectional
Night: 2 towers
Night: 1 tower, omnidirectional
(CP)
Other Information:
0.5 mV/m Daytime Groundwave Service Contour from the FCC's Public Files
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[Image] A view of the station's towers.
[Studio] Street View imagery of the Cumulus Mobile studios.
Owned by Cumulus Broadcasting LLC
History:
Springhill Broadcasting (Johnnie K. Hill) was granted a construction permit for an AM station on 1550 kHz, with 50 kW days only, in August 1957.  The station went through numerous Construction Permit extension requests, and did not actually go on the air until 1964.  When it debuted, the station was using a Gates 50BC transmitter and a directional antenna system located one mile east of Daphne in Baldwin County.  (This is the same site that WXQW uses today.) 

The original format was Country music, but not too long into the station's life, it began selling brokered time blocks to religious programs and soon became wall-to-wall preaching.  The station flipped to a Rhythm and Blues format around 1967.  In 1969, the station was sold to Trio Broadcasting (a subsidiary of Beasley Broadcasting).  Under their ownership, they launched an FM companion, which became WBLX in 1973.  That station picked up the black-targeted format and this station returned to religion with a Gospel music format. 

Beasley sought nighttime service and reduced power bill, so in 1986 they sought a move to 660 kHz.  Before they moved to the new frequency, the station went through two call sign changes.  First to WLIT in the winter of 1988, then to WBLX a few months later to compliment the FM side.  The 660 kHz facility went on the air in 1988, with 22.5 kW days and 850 watts night, directional towards Mobile using a three tower array, allowing to remain Mobile's biggest AM signal.

April Broadcasting acquired WBLX AM and FM in July of 1990; they shortly thereafter flipped the format of the AM to Blues.  That didn't last, and soon they were back to Gospel and News programming.  The station took on a big format change in the second quarter of 1996 when they flipped to Children's Programming, carrying the fledgling Radio Aahs network.  The calls changed to WHOZ to compliment the network name.  The daytime power dropped from 22.5 kW to the current 10 kW in early 1997.  The children's format never really caught on, so the format changed back to gospel music in 1998.  The calls at that time changed to WDLT, as WDLT (FM) had been brought into the April Broadcasting fold by this time. 

This station came under the ownership of Cumulus Broadcasting in the fall of 1999.  The format flipped to CNN Headline News audio in 2001, another change that never really caught on with listeners, and it was back to the gospel music again by 2002.  As Cumulus already owned powerhouse gospel station WGOK (along with urban variants WDLT-FM, WBLX and WYOK), this station changed over to a Blues and R&B mix known as "Southern Soul 660" in June 2003 to complement the other formats. 
After four years of Southern Soul, Cumulus tried talk radio in the spring of 2007.  It only lasted the summer, because by the fall they were back to Gospel music with a simulcast of co-owned WGOK in Mobile.
During the years the station was in the simulcast, the call sign changed a few times as Cumulus used the facility to hold on to call signs from other stations in their portfolio.  The first change happened in August 2007, when the station became WWFF.  Those calls came from a rimshot station to the Huntsville market.  The calls changed to the current WXQW calls in December 2007; these calls also originated from a station in the Huntsville market.
In the spring of 2010, a truck damaged one of the station's three towers, rendering it unusable.  It was brought down, and the station operated at reduced power through recurring STAs (special temporary authorities) afterwards, with 180 watts at night, via the two remaining towers.
The station dropped its gospel simulcast on 12 October 2015 for a News/Talk format, with the gospel from WGOK still being simulcast on weekends. In late January 2016, the station received a construction permit to make its temporary nighttime pattern permanent, keeping just the two remaining towers for a directional signal over Mobile Bay, with 180 watts.  Roughly a year and a half after making that two tower night operation permanent, Cumulus opted to take down the second tower and reduce the station to class D status, with just 19 watts of nighttime service.  That permit was granted in early June 2017.