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WGRA to rebroadcast programming on FM 95.9 later this year

Local radio listeners will soon have the opportunity to hear WGRA-AM content on the FM dial. The Federal Communications Commission has granted the local station an FM frequency of 95.9, according to station owner Jeff Lovett. “It won’t be a separate station,” Lovett explains. “We will rebroadcast our same programming on an FM frequency.”
WGRA-AM has a news/talk format that includes Rick & Bubba, Laura Ingraham and Clark Howard. Having permission to have an FM translator will mean more people will be able to hear the WGRA programs more clearly.
“Over the last 20 years our AM signal has been degraded by construction,” Lovett explains. The AM signal is transmitted over the ground, he says. So, over the years when U.S. 84 was four-laned, fiber optics installed, or other construction projects undertaken, the station’s ground system was damaged, weakening the original signal Lovett says.
“On the FM frequency we should be easily heard 30 miles from Cairo,” he says. The station is expected to begin simulcasting by football season, according to Lovett.
WGRA first went on the air in 1949 from a station built on land donated by W.B. Roddenbery. First broadcasting on 1300 khz, the station was moved down the dial to 790 khz during the late 1950s, Lovett says.
Although the original studio burned in the early 1970s, the antenna has stood the test of time. The solid steel angle iron construction is inspected routinely. Lovett says, “It is checked annually and is still in great shape, despite being nearly 70 years old. The antenna is 285 feet tall and is rated to withstand winds up to 250 mph.”
Original owners of the radio station were the W.C. Woodall family from Dawson who sold it to Wendell Lovett in 1980. Lovett had worked there as a teenager and returned to Cairo in the early 1970s to work as station manager. His son, Jeff, purchased the station from him in 1999. Wendell Lovett retired in 2002 after 53 years in broadcasting.
Jeff Lovett says, “The station has featured a wide variety of formats over the past years, from country, rock and Southern Gospel to today’s format of News/Talk. In 2004, the equipment at the station was updated to include a solid state digital transmitter and a state of the art computer automation system which allows remote control of broadcasts via the internet.”

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