Welcome to WCRT1260.Info.
The year was 1983, and radio station WCRT in Birmingham, Alabama was broadcasting its usual fare of easy listening and big band music, or "good music". A daytime-only station at 1260 kHz, WCRT was Birmingham's remaining voice for easy listening. A few months prior, WCRT, along with its FM sister station at the time, WQEZ, were sold to Capitol Broadcasting. Capitol announced that once the sale was complete, WQEZ would drop its "beautiful music" programming and become adult contemporary WMJJ. On December 27, 1982, WQEZ, "Stereo 96" gave way to "Magic 96", leaving Birmingham listeners nowhere to turn except WCRT to satisfy their tastes for easy listening music (For more info about WQEZ, please see our other site, QEZradio.com).
I remember WCRT well. As a young kid of about 14 years of age, I would come home from school and listen to AM 1260. Until WQEZ's demise, I never really had much of an interest in easy listening music, but once I began listening to WCRT, I was hooked. While other teens my age were listening to the likes of WAPI-FM ("95 Rock") and WKXX ("Kicks 106"), the radio station of choice for me was WCRT.
After WQEZ left the air, angry listeners who wanted their easy listening flocked to AM 1260. It was a dream come true for WCRT. After only a few months following the WQEZ switch, WCRT moved up in the ratings, placing in the top 10 Birmingham stations, a feat almost unheard of at the time for most daytime-only AM stations. WCRT was finally making headway, but the progress would be short-lived.
In February of 1983, Capitol Broadcasting announced that WCRT was being sold to a local Christian group, the Jireh Corporation. The new owners made its intentions clear that WCRT would move to a contemporary christian format once the station's sale gained FCC approval. However, on May 16, 1983, the Jireh Corporation's plans were interrupted. Sometime in the early morning hours, fire completely destroyed the station's studios and transmitter equipment. AM 1260 went silent, and so did easy listening for Birmingham.
I'm sure it was rather disheartening for the Jireh Corporation to see all its plans go up in smoke, literally. The sale of the station had not been completed, either. So, what would happen to WCRT? Would the prospective owners still continue with its plans of purchasing the station, or abandon them, leaving WCRT to possibly disappear forever?
Despite the extreme loss, the Jireh Corporation decided to continue with its plans to purchase the station, and on August 1, 1983 at 6 am, WCRT returned to the air once again, but this time as "Love 1260", programming contemporary christian music. WCRT radio was back on the Birmingham airwaves, albeit very different than it was prior to the fire.
Sometimes when it looks as though all hope is gone, there is still hope "on the horizon". The Jireh Corporation may have wanted to bail out, too, once they heard the news that the station they were about to purchase was completely gone. We all feel that way sometimes in life, when things aren't going our way, we just want to give up. I've been there many times. The good news is that God wants to help us in every facet of our lives, and if we come to Him, He will help give us strength to carry on. He can also change us, too. Although WCRT never returned to easy listening and was vastly different upon its return to the airwaves, its owners gave it a new life. God can give us new life, too, if we'll let Him.
For those of you reading this little bit of history about WCRT, it's quite possible you found your way here from one of the posts I've placed on radio-info.com. Although I don't work in radio, it has always been one of my favorite hobbies since I was a young boy. However, it has never been able to make me "whole". Only after I came to know the Lord was I able to say I became really content with life. So, this is the reason for this little article. I enjoy sharing with you about radio, but what I really want you to know is the fact that God loves you, He wants to be in your life (if He isn't already), and He wants to give you a new direction. If you want to know more about how God can change your life, please come visit our other site.
If you're not from Birmingham (or even Alabama) for that matter, you may wonder whatever happened to WCRT. WCRT changed to an adult contemporary format in 1986, playing "Today's Favorites and Yesterday’s Hits" after several months of a hybrid format of adult contemporary and contemporary christian music. The station changed to an oldies format in 1987. In 1991, WCRT became WCEO, switching to an all-business news format. In 1994, WCEO was sold to Crawford Broadcasting (owners of WDJC-FM), and became a Christian station once again as WDJC-AM, programming christian country and later black gospel. In 1999, the station became WLGS, "Legends 1260", programming adult standards similar to its former "good music" format, eventually morphing into oldies. The call letters were changed to WYDE in 2003 (taking the calls of Birmingham's AM 850, also owned by Crawford Broadcasting) and began simulcasting its FM sister station, talk WYDE-FM (101.1, "The Source"). In late 2006, history repeats itself as AM 1260 becomes WLGD, programming adult standards as "Legends 1260" once again, dropping its simulcast with WYDE-FM. On July 5, 2007, less than a year after the switch back to "Legends 1260", WLGD returns to its WYDE calls and resumes simulcasting its sister station WYDE-FM, now programming classic hits as the "new 101". In October, 2008, WYDE began offering a hybrid format of talk and classic hits with its sister station, WYDE-FM-101.1. In February, 2009, WYDE segued into a talk format once again with WYDE-FM, using "The Source" branding it employed two years earlier.
These are from the only recordings I have of WCRT. This was made during WCRT's days as an adult contemporary station, made during the mid-afternoon shift with Pete Richards. Although the station considered itself adult contemporary, WCRT's format was almost identical to the soft adult contemporary format ('85-'88) offered by Birmingham's WLTB "Lite 99 FM".
WCRT TOH ID (8/7/86)
WCRT Jingle #1 (8/7/86)
WCRT Jingle #2 (8/7/86)
WCRT Audio #1 (8/7/86)
WCRT Audio #2 (8/7/86)
WCRT Audio #3 (/8/7/86)
Below is a WCRT "Love 1260" bumper sticker during its life as a contemporary christian station. The WCRT calls live on today on two stations: WCRT 1160 in Nashville, Tennessee ("Christian Radio for Tennessee"), and WCRT-FM 88.5 in Terre Haute, Indiana ("Christian Radio for Terre Haute").