FM Technical Profile: WZEW

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Station Name:
92 the Zew
Adult Alternative
Transmitter Location:
[map] [street view] Near the intersection Dauphin Island Parkway and Claudia Lane, 12 miles south of downtown Mobile.
Power (ERP):
20.5 kW
Antenna HAAT:
363 feet.
Other Information:
60 dBu protected contour map, from the FCC.
PS-(song/artist) 92 Zew
Present with date
THE SOUND OF MOBILE (song/artist)
HD Increased power: 10%
HD-2: Classic Rock, Blues
"96.5 The Crab"
// W243CY Tillmans Corner
HD-3Classic R&B/Soul
"The Soul of Mobile"
// W223BX Saraland
More Information:
[Facebook] For 92 ZEW
[Twitter] For 92 ZEW
[Facebook] For 96.5 The Crab
[Twitter] For 96.5 The Crab
[Picture] Image of the RDS text display of an Insignia HD portable, showing the PI (call sign) and Radio Text fields.
[Picture] Image of the RDS text display from a Mazda's radio, showing the PS (station name), PTY (format) and Radio Text fields for WZEW.
[Picture] Image of the HD test display from a Mazda radio, showing the song, artist and album information of the HD1 channel, from December 2017.
[Picture] Image of the HD test display from a Mazda radio, showing the song, artist and album information of the HD2 channel, from December 2017.
[Picture] Image of the RDS text display from a Mazda's radio, showing the PS (station name), PTY (format) and Radio Text fields for W243CY Tillmans Corner.
[Picture] Image
of the RDS text display from a Mazda's radio, showing the PS (station name), PTY (format) and Radio Text fields for W223BX Saraland.
[Audio] Audio of the skit that aired at 7 am on 9 May 2018, right before "92.5 The Crab" launched its music format. (5'43", 6.15 MB, M4A format.)
[Video] Audio from a weekday commercial break during an afternoon broadcast.  Recorded with a SDRplay radio and SDR-Console software.
Began in early 60's as WABF FM, counterpart to WABF AM. Format was easy listening. About 10 years later, it was sold to Mobile R&B daytimer WGOK to provide night service as WGOK FM. Later in the 70's the AM and FM were sold separately and the FM because a religious outlet with the calls WHSP (With Holy Spirit Power). In the 80's it became album rocker WZEW, 92 Zoo. Critically acclaimed, it was never a ratings success mainly because of signal limitations. It's a class A signal transmitting from the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay. Station went into bankruptcy in 1989. A new owner boosted the station with a new tower in Mobile. Still not a ratings success with it's eclectic rock format, it changed to WGCX classic rock when those and format were given up by 104.1 FM. The demise of WZEW brewed furor by a small but vocal group of listeners. After a short period of time off the air, yet another licensee put up the WZEW calls and format back on the air. Station was, at one time, co-owned with WAVH.   The Zew's transmitter site was once atop the AmSouth Bank Building in downtown Mobile, but with the completion of the taller RSA tower, they moved about 12 miles south, which helped their coverage around Dauphin Island and the Gulf Shores area.  The station is now owned by Ken S. Johnson, who also owns WNSP.
During the early days of this station, it was an Eastern Shore-only broadcaster, with a short tower off Pollard Road in Daphne.  Around 1988 George O'Rear acquired the station and successfully sought an upgrade to a class C3 facility. This allowed them to move to the First National Bank building in downtown Mobile while still adequately covering Fairhope, the city of license.  Studios were also in the building, on the 32nd floor.  In the early 90's the station was in an LMA with WDLT and the two stations shared studio space.  After that LMA fell apart around 1992, WDLT left and WZEW moved to a lower floor to save money. In 2007, with the completion of the 200 foot taller RSA Battle House Tower nearby, the FNB building became a poor choice for broadcasting.  WZEW moved to a short tower south of Mobile along the Dauphin Island Parkway.    It was reported in the middle of January 2011 that the old transmitting "pole" atop the former FNB building was removed.

The station added HD digital broadcasting at the end of October 2017.  A second channel playing AAA-formatted Christmas music debuted in December, which gave way to a full-time channel for the "92 Blues" show at the end of the month.  That, in turn, gave way to what appears to be a loop of Emerson, Lake and Palmer's "Tarkus" with a promo mentioning something coming up from Mobile Bay soon.  The song(s) changed every few days, teasing a change to debut on May 9 2018.  On 9 May, the loop of "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin and "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd gave way to a classic rock and blues format as "92.5 The Crab" just after 7 am, with the HD2 feeding a translator located on the Shelton Beach Road tower that houses several other broadcasters.

Shortly after that translator debuted, the station began working to move a second translator to Mobile from the Tillmans Corner area.  The move for it to the Shelton Beach Road tower was approved at the end of June; a few weeks later the station increased the HD power to the maximum permissible, 10% of analog power.  In early August 2018 the station added a second HD subchannel, stunting with a loop of TV theme songs, which later morphed into a more AAA-type mix like their main channel, with lots of Alabama Shakes, and PAD text that said "A new sound of Mobile station is coming soon".  On 28 August 2018, the CRAB format moved to the 96.5 translator.  In early November 2018, the HD-3 and the translator it feeds debuted a Classic Soul format as "The Soul of Mobile".