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|Broadcast area||Central Alabama|
|Slogan||Birmingham's Real Talk|
|Frequency||1070 kHz (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||April 1922 as WSY|
|Power||50,000 watts (day)
5,000 watts (night)
|Callsign meaning||Alabama Polytechnic Institute (official name of Auburn University when the university acquired the station)|
|Former callsigns||WSY (1922-1925)|
|Affiliations||Westwood One Network
Westwood One News
(Radio License Holding CBC, LLC)
|Sister stations||WJQX, WJOX, WJOX-FM, WUHT, WZRR|
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WAPI (1070 kHz, "Talk 99-5, Birmingham's Real Talk") is an AM radio station licensed to Birmingham, Alabama. It carries a talk radio format, simulcast with FM sister station 99.5 WZRR. WAPI is one of several Birmingham-area radio stations owned by Cumulus Media. It is also Central Alabama's radio home of the Auburn Tigers.
WAPI and WZRR have local talk shows during the day, but at night they carry nationally syndicated shows from Cumulus subsidiary Westwood One Network including Mark Levin, Michael Savage, Red Eye Radio and First Light. Most hours begin with national news from Westwood One News. WAPI and WZRR are among three talk radio AM-FM simulcasts in the Birmingham media market, the others being 960 WERC and 105.5 WERC-FM, owned by iHeartMedia, and 1260 WYDE and 101.1 WYDE-FM, owned by Crawford Broadcasting.
WAPI broadcasts in HD. The station has studios in Homewood and its transmitter is in Forestdale. WAPI's daytime power is 50,000 watts, non-directional, the maximum power for AM stations permitted by the Federal Communications Commission. Because AM 1070 is a clear channel frequency reserved for Class A KNX Los Angeles, WAPI must reduce power at night to 5,000 watts, using a directional antenna, as a Class B station.
In April 1922, WSY radio signed on as the second radio station in Alabama, owned by Alabama Power Company. Some five months later, the fourth radio station in the state, WMAV, owned by the Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) began broadcasting from Auburn. WSY was not successful, and in 1925 its broadcast facilities were dismantled and donated to WMAV and Alabama Polytechnic. At that time, the station’s call letters were changed to WAPI, reflecting the ownership of the station.
In 1928, WAPI returned to Birmingham, in part due to NBC’s interest in affiliating with a station in Alabama’s largest city. In 1929, ownership of the station was split among Alabama Polytechnic, the University of Alabama, and the Alabama College for Women (now the University of Montevallo). The broadcast power was increased to 5,000 watts. In 1932, the colleges sold the station to a group of businessmen known as "The Voice of Alabama."
WAPI remained affiliated with NBC until 1940, when it became an affiliate of CBS. After sharing its dial position with KVOO in Tulsa, Oklahoma for several years, it moved to its present dial position in 1942. On December 1, 1947, it launched an FM sister station, WAFM (later called WAPI-FM and now 94.5 WJOX-FM). In 1949, WAPI launched the first television station in Alabama, WAFM-TV (now WVTM-TV).
The Birmingham News purchased WAPI and its FM and television sister stations in 1953, and in 1954. WAPI-AM re-affiliated with NBC. The Newhouse chain bought the News in 1956, and sold off the broadcast outlets to separate owners in 1980.
As network radio programming began to lose its importance due to television's popularity, WAPI 1070 evolved into a "middle-of-the-road" music station in the mid-1960s, featuring several local call-in shows at night. By the mid-1970s, it was the only Birmingham AM adult contemporary radio station, and didn't undergo a format change until 1985, when crosstown rival WSGN (now WAGG) dropped adult standards. WAPI immediately switched to its own standards format, and remained so until January 1, 1996 when it became an all-news radio station. Since that time, the station has evolved into a talk radio station.
On February 22, 2010, WWMM-FM (100.5) changed its calls to WAPI-FM and dropped its former adult album alternative music format. The two stations began simulcasting for most of the day, with the FM side branded as the main station. However, on July 24, 2013, WAPI-FM changed its calls to WJQX and flipped to ESPN Radio as a sister station to WJOX and WJOX-FM. This left the news/talk format solely on the AM side once again, until May 23, 2016, when sister WZRR dropped their country format and began simulcasting WAPI, with the stations now being branded as "Talk 99-5", without any references to the AM 1070 frequency (except for legally mandated station identification).
Although it boasts the most powerful daytime signal in Alabama, WAPI doesn't travel as far as most other 50,000-watt stations due to this area's poor ground conductivity. It does, however cover all of central Alabama during the day from a single tower, and can be heard as far as the Atlanta suburbs under the right conditions. Two towers are used at night to direct the signal away from Los Angeles, home of Class A 1070 KNX, and away from Philadelphia, home of adjacent Class A 1060 KYW, making WAPI difficult to hear much outside Birmingham and its close suburbs.
- Nelson, Bob (2008-10-18). "Call Letter Origins". The Broadcast Archive. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
- "WAFM Birmingham, Ala. Begins Operation Today" (PDF). Broadcasting. December 1, 1947. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
- WAPI official website
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WAPI
- Radio-Locator Information on WAPI
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WAPI