|City||Union Grove, Alabama|
|Broadcast area||Huntsville, Alabama|
|Branding||97.7 The Zone|
|Slogan||"The Rocket City's Sports Authority"|
|First air date||July 12, 1968 (as WKLD-FM)|
|HAAT||251 meters (823 ft)|
|Callsign meaning||ZZN = "Zone"|
|Former callsigns||WKLD-FM (1968-1981)
|Owner||Great South Wireless, LLC|
WZZN (97.7 MHz, "97.7 The Zone") is a commercial FM radio station licensed to Union Grove, Alabama, and serving the Huntsville media market. The station is owned by Great South Wireless LLC, and airs a sports radio format, affiliated with the ESPN Radio Network.
WZZN carries a mix of local sports programs and nationally syndicated shows from the ESPN Radio Network. Afternoon host Paul Finebaum is carried from studios in Charlotte, North Carolina, a program that is syndicated around the South. Program Director Steve Moulton was named the "Large Market Sportscaster of the Year" by the Alabama Broadcasters Association three times on March 26, 2011, March 23, 2013, and March 24, 2014. On-air personalities include former University of Alabama Football player Wes Neighbors. Play-by-play on the station includes Madison Academy football, Army Black Knights football, the Huntsville Times Classic (a local high school basketball tournament), UA Huntsville Chargers basketball, plus coverage of Auburn University and University of Alabama sports.
On July 12, 1968, the station first signed on as WKLD-FM in Oneonta, Alabama. It was simulcast with co-owned AM 1570 WCRL. Because the AM station was a daytime only station, the FM carried the AM programming around the clock. The "LD" in the original WKLD call letters stood for the station's founder, former owner and on-air host, Luther Daniel "L.D." Bentley. For the first few decades of its existence, the station was a multi-format station featuring a wide-ranging selection of music, talk and entertainment programs. In November 2002, control of Blount County Broadcasting Service legally passed from Luther Daniel Bentley Jr. to Luther Daniel Bentley III.
In April 2008, Blount County Broadcasting Service, Inc., reached an agreement to sell this station to Great South Wireless LLC for a reported sale price of $1.1 million. The deal was approved by the FCC on June 10, 2008, and the transaction was consummated on September 16, 2008. At the time of the sale, WKLD broadcast a country music format branded as "K97.7".
To serve the larger Huntsville media market, in 2008, the station received Federal Communications Commission (FCC) permission to move to its Union Grove site in December 2009. In 2009, the station switched its call sign to WZZN, and began an all-sports format branded as "97.7 The Zone" in July 2010.
Former on-air staff
One of the most popular WKLD programs was its early morning talk and music program Early Riser hosted by the brother and sister team of Danny Bentley and Terri (Bentley) Lowry. After the sale, they moved to former sister station WCRL.
On August 4, 2008, WKLD received an FCC construction permit to move the station's broadcast tower to a new city of license location of Union Grove, Alabama. The move means the station's signal can be heard around the Huntsville metropolitan area. The last song played on WKLD was reportedly "When Will I See You Again" by The Three Degrees.
WZZN began licensed operation with Union Grove as the city of license on December 24, 2009. Four days later, the station applied for a new special temporary authority to remain silent for technical reasons, citing their inability to "maintain an adequate studio/transmitter link". This authority was granted by the FCC on March 22, 2010, with a scheduled September 19, 2010, expiration. The station returned to the air in July 2010 with a sports talk format.
- WZZN website
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1977 page C-6
- "Application Search Details (BTC-20020725AAF)". FCC Media Bureau. Retrieved October 19, 2008.
- "Deals - 4/28/2008". Broadcasting & Cable. April 28, 2008.
- "Transactions for April 21, 2008". Radio & Records. April 21, 2008.
- "Application Search Details (BALH-20080417ABT)". FCC Media Bureau. September 16, 2008.
- Rice, Rob (November 5, 2008). "End of an era: WKLD off the air". The Blount Countian.
- "Station Information Profile". Arbitron.
- "Application Search Details (BPH-20080409ACP)". FCC Media Bureau. August 4, 2008.
- "Call Sign History". FCC Media Bureau CDBS Public Access Database. Retrieved September 1, 2009.