FM Technical Profile: WZZK

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Station Name/Slogan:
104.7 WZZK, Today's New Country And Your Familiar Favorites
Frequency:
104.7
Format:
Contemporary Country
Transmitter Location:
[map] [street view] Off Golden Crest Drive, atop Red Mountain.
Power (ERP):
97.8 kW
ERP with beam tile: 100 kW
Antenna:
Omnidirectional
Antenna HAAT:
1299 feet.
Other Information:
60 dBu protected contour map, from the FCC.
:
PS-
104.7 WZZK song title/artist
Time-
[?]
Text-
WZZK Alabama's Best Country (song/artist)
PTY-
Country
PI-
WZZK-FM

HD-2
: Contemporary Christian "Air1"
// W271BN Birmingham
:
PS-Air1 (song) (artist)

Time-present
Text-
(artist) (song) Air1
PTY-
Top 40
PI-
WZZK-FM
More Information:
[FCC]
[FCCdata]
[Radio-Locator]
[Wikipedia]
[Bhamwiki]
[Facebook]
[Article] AL.com story on the Rick & Bubba Show's 20th Anniversary in 2014.

[Image] RDS display from an Insignia HD portable in the Florence area.
From May 2017.

[Image] Display from a Polk HD radio showing the HD-1 PAD data.
[Image] HD PAD data from a Mazda OEM car stereo, showing a station logo. From 2020.
[Image] HD PAD data from an Insignia HD portable for the HD-2 channel carrying the Air1 format.  From May 2017.

[Studio] Street View imagery of the building housing the SummitMedia studios off Highway 280 in Hoover.
Owner:
J. S. Kelly, LLC
History:
An original construction permit for this station was first issued all the way back in July of 1945, to Johnston Broadcasting Company (George Johnston and George Johnston, Jr.), owners of Bessemer-licensed 1400 WJLD.  The permit was for 44.3 MHz, with an RCA FM-10A 10 kW transmitter feeding an antenna located atop Red Mountain on the WBRC TV tower.  Before this facility could be built, the construction permit's completion date was delayed multiple times.  In the interim, the FM band moved up to the current 88-108 MHz slice of spectrum, and the FCC initially assigned 93.5 MHz to the station, along with the WJRD-FM call sign.  In 1948, the transmitter type was changed to an RCA BTF-3B, the frequency was switched to 104.7 MHz, the power was bumped up to 22.6 kW and the studio location was listed as Atop Red Mountain.  When it signed on in early 1949, it was assigned the WJLN call letters, and began simulcasting WJLD's Black oriented programming. 

In 1969, the station was granted a big increase in coverage by raising the antenna height to 641 feet HAAT, and boosting the power to 100 kW using a Collins 831-G1 transmitter, feeding a Collins 37CP-11 eleven bay antenna.  The studio moved from Atop Red Mountain to 101 North 19th Street in downtown Birmingham at this time, too.  The station also began utilizing a Secondary Communications Authorization (SCA) feed at 67 kHz.  That facility went on-air at the start of 1970.  In 1972, the studios moved to 1449 Spaulding-Ishkooda Road, where WJLD is currently located.  By 1973, the station had slowly begun adding unique programming; it simulcast the Black programming of WJLD part time and played Album Oriented Rock/Underground Rock the rest of the time.  "WJLN Plays The Albums" was the slogan, and it was meant literally they often played full albums in their entirety.  During the AOR years, the call sign changed to WZZK. The Broadcasting Yearbook notes that their change to Country (as "Country Sunshine on FM 105" happened in 1976, which means this is likely Birmingham's longest-lasted single music format on FM. 

The license was transferred from Johnston Broadcasting to Park City Communications of Alabama (Richard Ferguson, et al.) in 1980.  In 1981, the station boosted the antenna height again, this time to 1,103 feet HAAT, using a Harris FMH-5AC five bay antenna system.  The studios then relocated to 530 Beacon Parkway East, where they would remain for many years, along with many other big broadcasters in the city. That same year, The Katz Broadcasting Company assumed the license of the station.

The station moved off the WBRC TV tower in 2003 after American General built a multi-use tower near the WTTO TV studios further west on Red Mountain.  This boosted the antenna height to 1,325 feet, but required them to downgrade from a Class C to Class C0 signal.

Katz Broadcasting later became a part of Newcap Broadcasting; they in turn sold the station along with several others in the market to Cox Radio in 1997.

A long-time market leader, this station suffered in the ratings in the late 90's due to the fresh sound of the competition, who snagged the Patti and "Dollar" Bill Lawson morning show. WZZK debuted a revamped effort of new personalities the second week of January 2006, complete with billboards showing their traditional orange and black billboard ad, only upside-down, in an attempt to regain their spot as a leading country station in the market. 
WZZK has been the flagship station for the popular Rick & Bubba Show on radio since January, 2007.  The show had previously been heard on Citadel Broadcasting's WYSF ("Y 94.5") going back to 1999, when the show first moved to Birmingham from Gadsden.  At the time the show moved to this station, all three major broadcasting companies bid for the show, with Citadel offering $2.2 million a year to stay at WYSF, but the Cox offer was for more, and at the time the largest compensation package ever given to a radio program in the state of Alabama.  Prior to their move to Birmingham, Rick and Bubba's longtime home was "Q 104" WQEN in Gadsden, going back to 1992.  (Oddly, WQEN itself would also move to Birmingham in 2005.)  In 2013, Cox sold the Birmingham stations, including WZZK, to SummitMedia.
In October of 2015 it was reported that this station began HD digital broadcasts, with no sub-channels.  The HD-2 appears to have debuted in mid-March 2016, relaying 1320 WENN and the "Easy 102.1" soft AC format.  In early May 2017 that went away, replaced by Educational Media Foundation's Air1 contemporary Christian music format, which also began to air on the 102.1 MHz translator.