WHLX

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WHLX
WHLSfm1055.jpg
City Marine City, Michigan
Branding Rock 105.5
Slogan Port Huron's Alternative
Frequency 1590 kHz
First air date December 10, 1951
Format Active rock
Power 1,000 watts (daytime)
102 watts (nighttime)
Class D
Facility ID 56266
Callsign meaning Disambiguation of WHLS
Former callsigns WHYT (11/17/97-9/19/00)
WIFN (6/2/93-11/17/97)
WSMA (1967-6/2/93)
WDOG (1954-67)
WSDC (1950-54)
Affiliations Michigan IMG Sports Network
Owner Radio First
Website www.rock1055.com

WHLX is an American radio station, licensed to Marine City, Michigan at 1590 kHz on the AM dial, with a power output of 1,000 watts day, 102 watts night. Since 2000 WHLX has been a simulcast of 1450 WHLS in Port Huron.

The station broadcasts an active rock format branded as Rock 105.5, "Port Huron's Alternative". Rock 105.5 competes with CHKS-FM 106.3 MHz in Sarnia, Ontario.[1]

History[edit]

The station started as WSDC in 1951, then WDOG and later became WSMA with country music.

Early years[edit]

WHLX went on the air on December 10, 1951 with the call letters WSDC, operating from its transmitter facility at 5300 Marine City Highway, on the outskirts of Marine City. Doing business as Radio St. Clair, Inc., Jerry Coughlin served as the station's first president and general manager.

By 1954, Coughlin had turned the duties of general manager to sales director John Bell and renamed the station WDOG. Fred Cale assumed sales and management duties by 1960.

First sale[edit]

In February 1967, Coughlin sold WDOG to Sommerville Broadcasting Company, owned by Richard S. Sommerville. He renamed the station WSMA, and adopted a country music format. It maintained this format and call sign for the next 26 years.

A disadvantage that the station had for much of its history was its geographic separation from more profitable markets. Located about 12 miles from any kind of urban sprawl, it had difficulty attaching itself to another community for more profit potential, as retail business in tiny Marine City was unable to provide a steady source of revenue, even during AM's halcyon years. For a time, WSMA maintained a small sales office in Port Huron, across the street from competitors WHLS and WSAQ. Despite the challenges, WSMA produced a modest profit during its early years.

The Port Huron office closed when the station began to fail in the late 1980s, not long after coming under the control of a new owner.

Those failures arose out of an overall lack of dependability of the station, often shutting down operations at sunset (even after being granted nighttime power authorization), and sometimes not going on air at all during holidays and some weekends.

Second sale[edit]

On May 17, 1987, Richard S. Sommerville, who by this time owned WCEN-AM/FM in Mount Pleasant, sold WSMA to Frink, Inc., under a land contract agreement to pay for the station in monthly installments of $1,845. However, in a letter to the FCC dated November 7, 1990, Washington attorney Earl Stanley stated that Sommerville resumed control of WSMA after Frink Inc. failed to meet its financial obligations, prompting a foreclosure civil action in the Circuit Court of St. Clair County.

Frink Inc. was declared in default on May 7, 1990, and was given 180 days to bring its monetary obligations to Sommerville from that date. Frink was required to pay more than $30,000 in unpaid promissory note payments and real estate taxes, according to court papers, putting its total amount owed to more than $150,000. The debts were not satisfied, and as of November 3, 1990, the 181st day of the notice, Sommerville recaptured the license, and assumed the role of trustee.

Reborn: WIFN-AM[edit]

WIFN's two directional antenna broadcast towers, located at 5300 Marine City Highway in Marine City, in 1996. The unused WIFN station remote van sits next to the right tower.

Hoping to restore WSMA to its former glory, broadcasters David Barr and Rick Schremp formed Barr/Schremp Communications in 1993 and took control of WSMA that year. Coincidentally, Barr's father William was the former owner of WATC AM 900 & WZXM FM 95.3 (now 101.5 WMJZ) in Gaylord, 220 miles north of Detroit, before selling it in 1986.

Barr/Schremp Communications changed the station's call letters to WIFN, and began a gradual phase-out of the country music format in favor of personality talk. Under the new format, the station bore such talents such as G. Gordon Liddy, Larry King, Chuck Harder and Sports Byline USA. Ken Hawk and Dave Haze handled news duties, with Marty Simmonds serving as sports director. The station experienced an increase in revenue under the new format and owners.

Barr and Schremp dissolved their partnership two years after taking control of WIFN, with Schremp pursuing other interests. In 1997 Barr sold the station to Hanson Communications, then-licensee of WPHM-AM and WBTI-FM in Port Huron, one of WIFN's longtime competitors. Given multiple job offers after the sale, Barr then moved north to Traverse City, where he assumed a promotions and marketing role with country music powerhouse WTCM.

"Real Country"[edit]

Following completion of the sale in late 1997, country music returned with "Real Country" via satellite from the ABC/SMN radio network, after a brief period of simulcasting with CHR/Hot AC sister station WBTI 96.9 FM. WIFN became WHYT (picking up the calls dumped by Detroit's 96.3 FM, now WDVD) under the "Real Country" format. Hanson Communications also moved the station's on-air operations from its longtime location at 5300 Marine City Highway to its main base of operations at 2379 Military Street in Port Huron.

Most administrative functions were handled by the existing staff of Hanson Communications, and Hanson's sales force dedicated their same aggression to selling WHYT as they did their two other properties.

By 2000, Hanson Communications sold 1590 WHYT to Liggett Communications (now Radio First). Liggett, who was also in the process of acquiring Hanson's competitor, WHLS-AM and WSAQ-FM, decided to co-locate all five stations at 808 Huron Street, which was the main base of operations for WHLS and WSAQ, and had enough space for expansion, unlike the Military Street facility.

WHLS simulcast[edit]

Recognizing the opportunity to extend WHLS's signal to the southern Thumb area of Michigan, Liggett Communications abandoned the "Real Country" format and moniker, and simulcast WHLS's programming. WHYT changed its call letters to WHLX, to more closely match that of its sister station. The move allowed WHLS to be heard as far south as Warren, Michigan in Macomb County and as far north as Sandusky, Michigan in Sanilac County. Its directional covers most of Macomb County, eastern Lapeer County, and most of Lambton County Ontario.

For the remainder of the programming history from this point, see the WHLS article.

Technical[edit]

WHLX covers the southern portion of St. Clair County and much of Macomb County, Michigan. WHLX broadcasts with 1,000 watts during the day and 102 watts after sunset to protect other larger AM radio stations. WHLX has a two-tower directional pattern pointed towards the north from a transmitter site located along Marine City Highway.

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°43′42″N 82°31′15″W / 42.72833°N 82.52083°W / 42.72833; -82.52083