|Broadcast area||Mobile, Alabama|
|Frequency||92.1 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|Translator(s)||92.5 W223BX (Saraland, relays HD2)|
|First air date||August 28, 1966 (as WABF-FM)|
|Format||Adult album alternative
HD2: Classic rock, Blues "92.5 The Crab"
|Former callsigns||WABF-FM (1966-1973)
|Owner||Dot Com Plus, LLC|
WZEW (92. 1 FM) is an adult album alternative-formatted broadcast radio station licensed to Fairhope, Alabama, serving Mobile, Alabama metropolitan area. WZEW and sister station WNSP broadcast from the former Smith Bakery building in Mobile, Alabama, and WZEW's transmitter is south of Theodore, Alabama.
The station was launched as WABF-FM on August 28, 1966 as a simulcast of sister station WABF. In the 1970s, it became an urban dance-formatted station as WGOK, and then religious as WHSP. In the early 1980s, the station was renamed WZEW (on air as 92ZEW) and began broadcasting an eclectic mix of alternative and local music. A decade later, the station became a casualty of new FCC regulations and became a hard rock station—WGCX-FM. In the late 1990s, it was purchased again and returned as WZEW. It has broadcast alternative and local music ever since.
WZEW is owned and operated by Dot Com Plus, LLC, and is the only remaining locally owned music station based in Mobile.
Early years (1966–1981)
WABF-FM first began broadcasting on August 28, 1966, as a simulcast of sister station WABF. In December 1973, the station was purchased by WGOK Inc. and renamed WGOK-FM, broadcasting an urban dance format. It was acquired by Christ for the World Foundation in 1978 and renamed WHSP (for With Holy Spirit Power).
WZEW, debut, and demise (1982–1996)
In November 1982, the station was purchased by Shores BCSTG, and was assigned the call letters WZEW by the FCC on June 3, 1982. The following year, the station was sold to Sherri Brice and Don Keith, who "moved the antenna from a pecan grove in Fairhope (where the station was originally licensed)," to the top of the First Southern Tower in downtown Mobile. who enlisted Catt Sirten to helm its first broadcast. The station as familiar today began on September 1, 1984, when it began broadcasting album-oriented rock (AOR) with "Jungleland" by Bruce Springsteen. The station became known for its eclectic mix of alternative and local music. WZEW received its license to cover from the FCC on April 28, 1986.
On June 19, 1989, it was acquired by WZEW Inc. for $750,000. When the FCC placed limits on station ownership of FM and AM stations, WZEW was sold and renamed WGCX-FM. It began broadcasting a hard rock format, alongside such fare as the John Boy and Billy syndicated radio show. In 1995, WGCX switched from album rock to ABC classic rock, then to alternative rock a year later, as "92X".
Return to airwaves (1997–present)
In June 1997, the Baldwin Broadcasting Company reached an agreement to sell the station to American General Media through their AGM-Nevada, LLC, subsidiary. The deal was approved by the FCC on August 5, 1997. This change revived the album adult alternative format and the call letters WZEW. It was sold back to Baldwin Broadcasting Company on October 1, 1998 for $1.4 million. In 2000, Barry Wood, co-owner of Baldwin Broadcasting Company, filed for bankruptcy. An application was made to transfer control of WZEW to DotCom Plus, LLC. The transfer was approved by the FCC on February 21, 2007, and the transaction was consummated on May 22, 2007.
Notable former staff
The original staff of WZEW, from the early 1980s, included Catt Sirten, Phil Coulloudon, Wendy, Uncle Tim, and Terry James. In 2013, the station parted ways with Emily Hayes, best known as the host of 92NEW (a new music showcase), when a potential conflict of interest arose from her involvement with local entity Mod Mobilian.
In addition to its daily adult album alternative format, the station also broadcasts Radio Avalon, "an eclectic nightly musical blend that has included New Age, jazz, worldbeat and other styles." On Sundays, the station broadcasts Catt's Sunday Jazz Brunch, another jazz showcase. Both programs are hosted by station veteran Catt Sirten. Jazz Brunch debuted on WZEW in 1984, but later moved to WHIL-FM, where Avalon began. Both moved from WHIL to WZEW in 2008.
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- The Broadcasting Yearbook 1975 (PDF). Broadcasting Publications, Inc. 1975. p. C-4.
- Lynn Oldshue (September 1, 2014). "92 ZEW is Celebrating 30 Years as The Sound of Mobile". Press-Register. AL.com. Retrieved July 4, 2015.
- The Broadcasting Yearbook 1981 (PDF). Broadcasting Publications, Inc. 1981. p. C-4.
- The Broadcasting Yearbook 1984 (PDF). Broadcasting Publications, Inc. 1984. p. B-4.
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- Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook 1995 (PDF). Broadcasting Publications, Inc. 1995. p. B-7.
- Boehlert, Eric (September 16, 1995). "Vox Jox". Billboard. 107 (37): 81.
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- Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook 1998 (PDF). Broadcasting Publications, Inc. 1995. p. D-9.
- Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook 2003-04 (PDF). Broadcasting Publications, Inc. 1995. p. D-7.
- William H. Phillips v. Lew Dickey et al., 576 F.2d 14 (Supreme Court of Alabama 2009).
- "Application Search Details ( BALH-20060508AAK)". FCC Media Bureau. February 21, 2007.
- Lawrence Specker (July 3, 2013). "Radio station WZEW-FM 92.1, host Emily Hayes part ways". Press-Register. AL.com. Retrieved July 4, 2015.
- Mike Brantley (October 7, 2008). "Catt Sirten's popular jazz programs leaving WHIL for WZEW". Press-Register. AL.com. Retrieved July 4, 2015.
- "Catt Sertin Returns To WZEW; Emily Hayes Moves To Mornings". All Access Music Group. October 16, 2008. Retrieved July 4, 2015.