AM Technical Profile: WZGX


Frequency:
1450
Format:
Regional Mexican
Transmitter Location:
[map] [bird's eye] [street view] Jay Bird Road in Bessemer, just off 18th Ave. exit of I-20/59.
Power (ERP):
Day and 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]
[Bhamwiki]
Silent
Owned by Red Mountain Ventures, LLC
History:
This radio station came on the air first in 1950 as WBCO (Bessemer Cut-Off), by then-mayor Jess Lanier via Bessemer Broadcasting Corporation.  It's always been on 1450 kHz, but launched with 250 watts of power.  It's not known what the format was in the earliest days, but within a year of debuting, it began catering to black audiences with an R&B format.  Whites joked that the calls then meant, "Became Colored Overnight". 
In 1960 the station was acquired by Trans-America Broadcasting (H. C. Young, president) and the format flipped to country & western music along with the WYAM calls.  Around this time the daytime power was bumped up to the current 1 kW, while nighttime power remained at 250 watts.  Ownership of the station transferred to WYAM, Inc. in 1969.  Brandon-Robison Broadcasting Corp. acquired the station in 1972.  The station was acquired again in 1976, this time by Mel Allen Broadcasting.  Around this time, the station began branching out from their usual country music, to include religious programming, gospel and then some top 40 music as well. 
The call sign changed to WSMQ in October 1980.  At this time the format was a mixture of country, black-oriented programming and farm information. The station was acquired in the fall of 1988 by Bessemer Radio, Inc.  Around that time, the studios moved from their home next to the Bright Star Restaurant in downtown Bessemer, on 3rd Avenue North, to their present location on Jaybird Road near I-20/59.  The country music stayed put until the mid-90's, when they began phasing in talk programming, and by about 1996 the station was all-talk radio, hosting the B- and C-level talk shows that didn't make it on WERC or WAPI's schedules.  They also filled time with local high school football programming. 
With the pool of willing talk radio listeners on AM dwindling in the mid-2000s, the station was sold off to Hispanic broadcasters at Bar Broadcasting, who flipped the format to their mix of tropical and Mexican top-40 music.  The station's format at this time was being simulcast on WJHX in Lexington, Alabama and later Jasper.  Along with the format and ownership changes came the current calls, WZGX.  The station began simulcasting with Alabaster AM WQCR, as part of the "La 10 Q" regional Mexican format, alongn with WJHX and Jasper's WIXI, in January 2009.  WQCR dropped out of the multicast in the fall of 2012.  Eventually the Jasper and Lexington stations left the simulcast, leaving WZGX alone as "La Jefa".  In June 2013, WZGX fell silent when the format migrated over to Birmingham's 1220 WAYE.  While silent, the format was supposed to have still been regional Mexican, but under the "El Patron" name; despite a banner hanging on the railing at the studios, it was not on the air, and the FCC deleted Bar Broadcast's licenses for both WZGX and WJHX in October 2014.
The license was re-instated a few months later, but it's unclear if the station immediately returned to the air.  It was only confirmed to be on air and airing the El Patron regional Mexican format in January 2017.

Red Mountain Ventures (Lee S. Reynolds) filed to acquire the station in June 2017.  As part of the deal, it's expected to be paired up with W256CD Fultondale, a translator that had been used to air a sports talk format via WDJC-HD3.  That deal was finalized a few months later, but proved to be a red herring with regards to the translator.  It wound up paired with an HD subchannel of another iHeart station, playing alternative music.  The station fell silent at the start of 2018, due to a fire in the transmitter plant and remains off the air as of early February 2018.