AM Technical Profile: WZGX
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- Regional Mexican
view] Jay Bird Road in Bessemer, just off 18th Ave.
exit of I-20/59.
- Power (ERP):
- Day and Night: 1
- 1 tower
0.5 mV/m Daytime
Groundwave Service Contour
from the FCC's Public Files
Owned by Red Mountain Ventures
- A new construction permit
was issued in 1947 to Bessemer Broadcasting Company (led by former
Bessemer mayor Jess Lanier, along with Staff Sergeant Jack Warden (!),
Crawford Bass and Walter Petty, Jr.) for a 250 watt full time
operation on 1450 kHz. The station came on the air in early 1950
as WBCO (Bessemer Cut-Off) with a Raytheon
RA-250-A transmitter. It's not known what the format was at the
very beginning; within a year of signing on, the station began
catering to the area's black population with a Rhythm and Blues
format. Whites joked the calls meant, "Became Colored
Overnight". The studios were in downtown Bessemer at one point,
but later moved to the transmitter site on what is today's Jaybird
In 1956 the station received a permit to relocate to 1480 kHz and
boost power to 5 kW, but at the cost of becoming a daytime-only
broadcaster. The facility was never built out. Two years
later in 1958, the station was sold to Mississippi broadcaster John M.
McClendon & Associates. McClendon ran a chain of successful
black-oriented radio stations all with "OK" in the call signs,
including WOKJ in Jackson, Mississippi and KOKY in Little Rock.
Possibly due to Birmingham already having WVOK, the calls here became
WENN instead. WENN would later move to 1320 kHz and become one
of the more famous stations in town. After moving to 1320, the
old calls from there — WEZB — were briefly left here, until the next
owners came along and changed the format…
Trans-America Broadcasting (H. C. Young, president) bought the station
in 1960 and switched the format to Country & Western music as
WYAM. In 1961, the station boosted power during the day to 1 kW,
with an RCA BTA-1M transmitter. The studios likely moved back to
Jaybird Road at this time. The ownership became WYAM, Inc., in
Brandon-Robison Broadcasting Corporation acquired the station in
1972. Mel Allen Broadcasting, Inc. acquired the station in
1976. The format broadened out from just Country to Religious
programming, Gospel music and some occasional Top 40 music as well.
call sign changed to WSMQ in October 1980. At this time the
format was a mixture of Country, black-oriented programming and farm
information, with studios moved to a spot next to the famous Bright
Star Restaurant in downtown Bessemer. The station was acquired
in the fall of 1988 by Bessemer Radio, Inc. They moved the
studios back to their present location at the transmitter
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, along with WJHX and Jasper's WIXI, in January
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 was 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. That
translator wound up paired with an HD subchannel of another iHeart
station, playing alternative music. This station fell silent at
the start of 2018, due to a fire in the transmitter plant. The
station finally returned to the air in January 2019, around the time
the STA to stay on was set to expire.
Red Mountain Ventures sold the station to Pedro Zamora in January 2019
in exchange for paying off the $200,000 note to Bar Broadcasting.
Zamora is reported to own two other stations in the Midwest. The
station filed a Silent STA in April of 2019 and it appears the deal to
Zamora never went through.
The station filed a voluntary license transfer back to Bar
Broadcasting at the start of 2020. The station filed a
resumption of operations in August 2020. The station was noted to be
off the air in early October 2020. It has been sporadically on
the air, according to reports, in late 2020 and early 2021.
In June 2023, the FCC dismissed the license transfer back to Bar
Broadcasting due to a failure to complete the transaction.