WMGA was a radio station broadcasting on 580 kHz in Moultrie, Georgia, United States. Last licensed to Radio Moultrie, Inc., it operated between 1939 and 2003 from a site on the town's northern edge.

WMGA
CityMoultrie, Georgia, US
Frequency580 kHz
Ownership
OwnerRadio Moultrie, Inc.
History
First air date
November 25, 1939 (1939-11-25)
Last air date
2003
Former frequencies
  • 1370 kHz (1939–1941)
  • 1400 kHz (1941–1969)
  • 1130 kHz (1969–1989)
Call sign meaning
Moultrie, GA
Technical information
Facility ID54680
Power900 watts day
250 watts night
Transmitter coordinates
31°12′7.87″N 83°47′2.03″W / 31.2021861°N 83.7838972°W / 31.2021861; -83.7838972

WMGA was the first radio station built in Colquitt County. However, it had its license revoked by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2003 due to a series of unauthorized transfers of control.

HistoryEdit

Frank R. Pidcock, Sr., a railroad executive and local businessman, was granted a construction permit to build a radio station with 250 watts day and 100 night (changed before launch to 250 watts) on 1370 kHz in Moultrie on July 12, 1939.[1] WMGA began its broadcasts on November 25,[2] and it remained on 1370 until March 29, 1941, when NARBA reallocation moved it to 1400 kHz.[1] Frank Pidcock sold the station to his son John in 1946,[1][3] and in 1948, it began a long-running association with ABC Radio.[3] Roy Zess, station manager, acquired a stake in the station in 1954, and it increased daytime power to 1,000 watts on the 1400 frequency in 1961.[1]

In 1964, WMGA applied for a second upgrade—to move to 1130 kHz and increase power to 10,000 watts day—which would make it the most powerful station between Macon and Jacksonville.[1][4] After four years of work with the FCC, approval was given in June 1968. The move to 1130 came on April 18, 1969, after the original 335-foot (102 m) tower was flanked by two new 217.5-foot (66.3 m) masts to produce a directional pattern.[3]

The Pidcock–Zess partnership continued to own WMGA until 1986, when Radio Moultrie, Inc. (RMI) acquired the station; the company was a partnership of two men from other cities in Southwest Georgia, Jim Hardy and Douglas Sutton.[5] A minority owner was 25-year-old Art Sutton, who also was the general manager and morning host and had saved money from his sales commissions at his previous job at WTIF in Tifton; the new ownership sought to revive the once-"atrocious" station where listeners had once been invited by announcers to donate their records.[6] The new ownership revamped the adult contemporary format and applied for a second change in frequency, this time to the lower frequency of 580 kHz, which would result in a nighttime signal covering all of Colquitt County.[7] WMGA made the move to 580 on December 11, 1989.[8] After a stock sale in 1990 (not reported to the FCC until the next year) in which Hardy sold all of his stake and new stock was issued to make Sutton a one-third partner with new owners James Elder Sr. and G. Christopher Elder, a dispute occurred that saw Sutton resign as general manager and be removed as an officer;[9] he then sold the remainder of his stake in 1992.[10]

In 1998, a sequence of events began that would lead to the station's ultimate downfall. That year, the Elders entered into a time brokerage agreement with Dixie Broadcasting, Inc., which would operate the station until the two parties could agree on a sale price. No sale application was ever filed, in part because Radio Moultrie, Inc., the licensee, refused to cooperate.[11] In 2000, Dixie then acquired a lien held by Hardy and agreed to sublease the station to Aubrey Smith and Sam and Grace Zamarron; Dixie represented to Smith and the Zamarrons that it owned the studios and equipment, even though it was not the licensee.[12] Under the Smith-Zamarrón management, the station rebroadcast Atlanta-area Spanish-language station WAOS "La Favorita".[13]

As a result, control of the station had been transferred two times without FCC consent, as an FCC field agent learned upon visiting Moultrie on April 21, 2001. The inspector not only found evidence that RMI had completely abdicated control over WMGA's affairs, but the station was in technical disarray: the towers had been left unlit at night and were in need of repainting, the station was not using the appropriate directional array during critical hours, and its Emergency Alert System equipment was not in service, among other violations.[12] An investigation followed, during which Radio Moultrie failed to respond to two letters of inquiry directed at the firm; as a result of RMI's lack of response and the unauthorized transfers of control, the FCC determined that Radio Moultrie "does not possess the requisite qualifications to be or remain a Commission licensee" and ordered the license revoked on November 4, 2003.[14]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e FCC History Cards for WMGA
  2. ^ "Station WMGA Opens Tomorrow". The Moultrie Observer. November 24, 1939. p. 2. Archived from the original on December 25, 2021. Retrieved December 25, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "WMGA Switches To 1130 On Dial—10,000 Watts". The Moultrie Observer. April 17, 1969. p. 7. Archived from the original on December 25, 2021. Retrieved December 25, 2021.
  4. ^ "'Clear-Channel' Status Granted Station WMGA". The Moultrie Observer. June 11, 1968. p. 2. Archived from the original on December 25, 2021. Retrieved December 25, 2021.
  5. ^ "WMGA being sold to Radio Moultrie". The Moultrie Observer. May 20, 1986. p. 2A. Archived from the original on December 25, 2021. Retrieved December 25, 2021.
  6. ^ Kinosian, Mike (July 3, 1987). "Erasing The Small-Market Stigma" (PDF). Radio & Records. p. 46. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 1, 2021. Retrieved December 25, 2021.
  7. ^ "WMGA requesting a new frequency". The Moultrie Observer. June 7, 1988. p. 4B. Archived from the original on December 25, 2021. Retrieved December 25, 2021.
  8. ^ "WMGA changes frequency from 1130 to 580 on dial". The Moultrie Observer. December 8, 1989. p. 4B. Archived from the original on December 25, 2021. Retrieved December 25, 2021.
  9. ^ "Transactions" (PDF). Radio & Records. April 19, 1991. p. 6. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 1, 2021. Retrieved December 25, 2021.
  10. ^ "Transactions" (PDF). Radio & Records. August 28, 1992. p. 6. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 1, 2021. Retrieved December 25, 2021.
  11. ^ "Capital Watch". Broadcasting & Cable. December 8, 2002. Archived from the original on May 12, 2021. Retrieved December 25, 2021.
  12. ^ a b "FCC Revokes License of Georgia AM" (PDF). Radio & Records. November 7, 2003. p. 12. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 1, 2021. Retrieved December 25, 2021.
  13. ^ "Format Changes & Updates" (PDF). M Street Journal. May 2, 2001. p. 5. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 30, 2021. Retrieved December 25, 2021.
  14. ^ Solomon, David H. (November 4, 2003). "Order of Revocation" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 7, 2021. Retrieved December 25, 2021.