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|City of license||Albany, Georgia|
|Broadcast area||Albany, GA and Vicinity|
|Branding||WALG News/Talk 1590|
|First air date||May 1941|
|Power||5,000 watts (day)
1,000 watts (Night)
|Callsign meaning||ALbany, Georgia|
(Cumulus Licensing, LLC)
|Sister stations||WEGC, WGPC, WJAD, WKAK, WNUQ, WQVE|
As of July 2014[update], notable weekday syndicated programming includes shows by John Batchelor, Herman Cain, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and Michael Savage plus Red Eye Radio and America's Morning News. Notable weekend programming includes the syndicated The Kim Komando Show hosted by Kim Komando, Smoke This! hosted by Cigar Dave, and Sporting News Radio, plus talk shows hosted by Clark Howard, Larry Kudlow, and Gary Sullivan.
This station was launched as WALB in May 1941 by the Albany Herald. In 1954, the Herald signed on a TV station with the callsign WALB-TV. The AM radio station has been assigned the WALG call letters by the Federal Communications Commission since it was sold by the Herald to Allen Woodall, Sr., in 1960.
From 1959 till about 1970 the station was known as "Johnny Reb Radio". A loud rebel yell was the station brand and a Confederate soldier was the logo. The rock and roll station was a reporting station for the Gavin Report during those years and had great influence in the southeast US. Known for its hard rock and obnoxious announcers this station was a legend in the southwest Georgia area.
The studios were located in an area north of the city of Albany near a swamp. The area surrounding the station was low country and covered with water most of the time. A raised walkway led you from the small parking lot to the studio. Many deejays were delayed in their air shifts because a fat cottonmouth snake would be sunning themselves on the walkway.
David Miller, AKA Brother Dave Miller, worked at WALG from 1976 until 1985, with a gap in 1977 and 1978.
WALG was the 'white' pop/rock station in Albany for decades, and was on the cutting edge of the ever-changing pop music scene for most of that period.There were radio alternatives in Albany such as WGPC, Albany's first station which signed on in 1933. It played beautiful music, and was a charter station for the Atlanta Braves when they moved to GA in 1966. For country fans, there was WJAZ at 960 AM, and WLYB went on the air in the 1960s, at 1250AM. Its studio was off Old Leesburg Road, a stone's throw from WALG's transmitter. The 'black' station was powerhouse WJIZ-FM. Its 100,000 Watt transmitter and big stick could put a listenable signal into Panama City, FL. It was THE voice of the black community in South GA. But there was nothing on the airwaves like Big Johnny Reb, WALG, the Mighty 1590.
Ownership invested in the highest quality jingles, a feature which separates the classy from the palookas in the radio biz. It also paid good wages for good air talent, though few DJs stayed long; Most of the ones who wanted to make a career in radio moved on to bigger markets from WALG. The station also had a local news department, with notable newsmen like Sam Pruitt, Tom Bryant, Rick Williams, Steve Robinson, Rick Segers, and others.
At one time, WALG even featured traffic reports from an airplane flying over the city, broadcast via 2-way radio piped through the radio console.WALG was also a social innovator. At a time when black voices were only heard on black radio stations, WALG News featured Eddie Grissom, the first black news voice on a 'white' Albany station.It began as a 1,000 Watt station, omni-directional unless I am mistaken, and then went to 5KW Day, and 1KW night, with a southerly directional signal that protected WTGA, also at 1590, in Thomaston, GA. You needed a "First Phone" license to operate the station until more modern equipment was installed in the '70s, because at power change, you also had to change the 'Phase Angle' of the signal as part of the FCC requirements.The studios were located in an area north of the city of Albany near a swamp.
The area surrounding the station was low country and covered with water most of the time. A raised walkway led you from the small parking lot to the studio. Many deejays were delayed in their air shifts because a fat cottonmouth snake would be sunning themselves on the walkway.As clarification of the paragraph above, the transmitter was and is located off Old Leesburg Road, at the end of Dunbar Lane, but the STUDIO was for many years located in the Holiday Inn, downtown. In fact, this fact was set to music in some WALG jingles that sang: "We're in a Holiday Inn!" Cumulus moved what WALG studio there is presently to the old First State Bank building on the corner of South Slappey Blvd. and Broad Avenue in the 1990s, and the old studio building on Dunbar is boarded up today. For a time that building was leased to a small FM station licensed to Camilla.
On-air personalities from the 1970s included Ron Mani, "Buzz One" (Ron Brown), Christopher Hayes, Rick Ledbetter, Jim King, Sonny Lofton, "Jane" (A rare female voice, ahead of her time), Bill Young, Skip Elliott, Kris Van Dyke, Dave Miller, Jack O'Brien, Mike Speers, Carol Ward, 'Spanky', Rick Stewart, Hal Edwards, Otis Ulm, and Steve Preston.
WALG was managed by many different people through the years, but perhaps its most memorable GM was Mark Shor. Mark was a New York Jew who sold radio ads in deepest South Georgia, and he was very good at it. Under Shor, WALG, and later with WKAK-FM in the mix, the station saw it highest billing. At its apogee, WALG-WKAK employed thirty people, was live 24/7, and was as sold-out commercially as could be.Shor mostly worked for the Woodalls, first Whitfield, then Alan. There was a period when Shor parted way with the Woodalls, circa 1973 - 1975, but he returned, and there were good times until the radio industry began its dark days of consolidation, automation, and Docket 80-90. But that's another story.
Big Johnny Reb' Origin
As told to Dave Miller by long time Engineer Bill Birchfield.
Bill worked for WALG for decades. Exactly how long, I am not sure. Knowing my interest in WALG, history, and radio in general, Bill related to me his memory of the identity. This runs a bit afoul of the history of ownership and the first use of the identity mentioned above. If Bill's version is true, and I suspect it is, "Big Johnny Reb" could not have been used for WALG in 1959, but only AFTER the Woodalls bought the station.Birchield said 'Big Johnny Reb' originated as an "in your face" reaction by Allen Woodall to WRBL's "Little Rebel" mascot in the very early 60's. As the civil rights movement grew stronger, and the white South looked for ways to tout its own identity, Confederate flags, and anything "rebel' was in vogue. Thus the Columbus radio station adopted the WRBL call sign, and the "Little Rebel" identity.Not to be outdone, the Woodalls decided that their WDAK in Columbus would go them one better, saying "Screw the "Little Rebel" radio, We will become "Big Johnny Reb!" And the rest is as they say.... History. WALG became "Big Johhny Reb" upon purchase by the Woodalls, or very soon thereafter.New Program Director Ron Mani, fresh from modern and progressive Sarasota, Florida, famously "retired" Johnny Reb in 1970.
- "AM Network-Affiliated Radio Stations, 1949". The Dumont Project.
- Miller, Dave (2006-02-03). "A brief history of WALB". WALB-TV website.
- "Station Information Profile". Arbitron.
- Fletcher, Carlton (February 7, 2009). "'Wake Up' says good night to the Good Life City". Albany Herald.
- Fletcher, Carlton (June 24, 2007). "New radio show in town". Albany Herald.
- "Directory of Standard Broadcasting Stations of the United States". 1944 Broadcasting-Telecasting Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Broadcasting Publications, Inc. 1944. p. 88.
- "Call Sign History". FCC Media Bureau CDBS Public Access Database. Retrieved 2008-07-10.
- "Obituaries: Birchfield, William P. (Bill)". Dougherty County GA Archives. 2002-10-24.
- "AM Technical Profile: WDAK". Alabama Broadcast Media Page. "WDAK was top 40 in the 60's, one of several in a chain of stations owned by Woodall Broadcasting Co. All of their stations called themselves "Big Johnny Reb Radio". Station logo included a rebel flag and caricature of a Confederate soldier."
- WALG News/Talk 1590 official website
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WALG
- Radio-Locator Information on WALG
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WALG