Yes, WFHK in Pell City has gone FM.
For the past 10 years, efforts have been made to get an FM radio station in the Pell City market.
All of the hard work and determination have finally paid off as WFHK now has that FM signal.
Adam Stocks, owner of Stocks Broadcasting Inc., said it has taken that long to, one, find a frequency that was available for the area, and, two, to get everything through the FCC.
“Luckily, we were able to make the right connection around the middle of last year,” Stocks said. “We were authorized last December to start the construction of the new FM station.”
Stocks said the biggest difference in AM and FM radio, is that FM towers have to be as high as they possibly can be.
“There are so many towers on top of Red Mountain and Bald Rock Mountain along I-20,” Stocks said. “We had to locate a good site to get our antenna as high as possible for our area. We were lucky enough to team up with Coosa Cable and Jeff Smith and get our FM antenna up on his tower, which is up on Water Tank Hill, across from Pell City High School.”
Stocks said the original plan was to put the new FM antenna on top of the 205-foot AM tower that was already in place behind the radio station.
“We had the FM antenna already placed 120-feet high on the tower,” Stocks said. “We found a weak spot, and called a tower company to come repair it.
In the process of repairing it, the company decided to tear the tower down.”
Stocks said that situation is in litigation.
“It was probably a blessing in disguise,” he said. “We were able to find a higher point to place the FM antenna.”
WFHK has been a mainstay in Pell City since 1956.
“For 57 years, it has basically been a country station,” Stocks said. “We changed formats on the AM when we brought on the FM. Our goal was to make it an ‘at work’ listening station. We want it to be a station you can listen to all day.”
Stocks Broadcasting bought WFHK in 2000 from Williamson Broadcasting.
Stocks has a sidekick for the morning shows, and he is John Simpson.
“Before I bought the station, I actually worked here at WFHK for about eight months,” Stocks said. “John actually started working here right before I did, and that was in 1997. I then worked at WJOX in Birmingham before buying the Pell City station in 2000.”
Simpson said the change is about keeping up with the times.
“A lot of folks may not like it, but it’s not outrageous,” Simpson said.
“There will be some 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and some of today’s music. It will be clear, and it will be clear at night. We broadcast all of the Pell City Panther football games, so that will come in loud and clear. We still will keep it local. We’re still going to be your buddies. Come by and visit.
Call in birthdays and anniversaries. Drop off some doughnuts. Just because it is FM, there is no wall up. Without local stuff, why would you listen to us?”
Stocks admits that it is the older audience who will have the toughest time adapting to the new format.
“It is strictly a business decision,” he said. “If you are in Pell City and turn the radio on, you can actually get six country radio stations.
Five of them are on FM, and one on AM. It was time for us to find a new format. For every one negative comment we have heard, we have received 25 positive comments. There is no doubt this is the right format, and the right fit for the market. The big thing is that we are still local. It is John and I in the mornings. Basically it is still the same, with the change of the type music we play.”
Stocks said the one thing that did rock the boat was they stopped the Swap Shop, a segment that had been on the airwaves since 1975.
“Because of Facebook and other things like Craig’s List, trade programs on the radio are a thing of the past,” Stocks said. “We don’t hear a whole of them anymore. Financially, it doesn’t make sense to do a trade program.”