||This article possibly contains original research. (April 2008)|
|City of license||Dallas, North Carolina|
|Broadcast area||Charlotte area|
|Repeaters||W289BO 105.7 Pineville, North Carolina|
|First air date||1963-01-01|
|ERP||10,000 watts day
500 watts night
|Former callsigns||WAAK (1963-2002), WZRH (2002-2008)|
|Affiliations||Salem Radio Network|
|Owner||Truth Broadcasting Corporation|
The 960 frequency in Charlotte first went on the air with the call letters WAAK on January 1, 1963. As the station was initially applied for, it was to be licensed in Concord with 1000 watts daytime and nighttime.
In 1960. Fred Whitley, owner of WGTL in neighboring Kannapolis applied for the frequency as a daytime-only station in Dallas in order to keep new competition out of his market. He won the construction permit for the station in Dallas, took the call letters WAAK off the top of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) call letter list, refurbished WGTL's studio (bought the audio board from WSJS-TV) and put the old WGTL console in Dallas.
The WAAK years
William E. Rumple was the Chief Engineer of the station for the entire time that Fred Whitley owned it. Whitley ran the station on a break-even basis for about 25 years. In the mid-1980s he sold it to the Marlow Brothers from New Jersey.
The new ownership made sweeping changes to the station, changing it from the Easy-Listening format the station carried during the Whitley years to an Adult-Leaning Top-40 sound, and adding an additional tower to allow the station to broadcast at night.
The establishment of several Top-40 stations in the Charlotte market eroded the listenership of WAAK, and by 1990 the station was sold again and moved to a Religious format. Several ownership changes took place over the next decade.
Zybek Media and WZRH
In December 2002, WAAK was sold to The Zybek Media Group - who quickly changed the format to the Talk Radio format. They changed the legendary calls to WZRH with the moniker "The Z-Monster". The new owners immediately filed for a power increase in its attempt to place a stronger signal over the city of Charlotte. The initials ZRH of WZRH stand for Zachary Richard Howerton, Son of Rick and Beth Howerton, Owners. As Rick's on-going health problems continued to worsen - broadcast duties were given to Brian O'Brian, until the station was sold. Because of the success of the station and the increase in power, there was a great deal interest in the purchase of the station. The station was sold in mid-2004 to Truth Broadcasting (see below). Jim Huggins assumed general manager duties and broadcast the morning drivetime show for approximately a year until the format was changed from news/talk to Christian by Truth Broadcasting.
Truth Broadcasting and WCRU
Two years later, the station was sold yet again to Truth Broadcasting of Winston-Salem. The station continued its talk format until May 21, 2007, when the station began airing religious and talk format programs 24/7. In early 2008, the station's call letters were changed to WCRU to match the call letters and programming format of Truth Broadcasting's other AM stations, WTRU in the Piedmont Triad and WDRU in the Triangle. It is operated out of WTRU's studios in Winston-Salem.
The station now operates at 10,000 watts during the day, easily covering most of the Charlotte area. However, it must power down to 500 watts at night. To make up for this, the station operates a low-powered translator at 105.7 FM in Pineville, North Carolina.
- Official site
- Site with much historical information on Charlotte-area radio stations
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WCRU
- Radio-Locator Information on WCRU
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WCRU