AM Technical Profile: WZGX
view] Jay Bird Road in Bessemer, just off 18th Ave.
exit of I-20/59.
- Power (ERP):
- Day and Night:
- 1 tower
0.5 mV/m Daytime
Groundwave Service Contour
from the FCC's Public Files
Owned by Red Mountain Ventures, LLC
- This radio station came
on the air first in 1950 as WBCO (Bessemer
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
- 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
- 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. The station finally returned to
the air in January 2019, around the time the STA to stay on was set to