WGAA adding FM chan­nel

Long­time Cedar­town sta­tion to broad­cast

The Standard Journal - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Myrick [email protected]­stan­dard­jour­nal.net

The crackle and pop of the sig­nal for WGAA Ra­dio 1340 AM is one that lo­cal res­i­dents have long got­ten used to hear­ing. Cer­tain spots in the county will lose cov­er­age de­pend­ing on the spot on the road­way, or on the other side of a hill.

Static will soon be re­placed with a smooth sig­nal once the last pieces of equip­ment ar­rive and the sta­tion en­gi­neer can com­plete the in­stal­la­tion work to bring a new FM chan­nel on­line at WGAA Ra­dio. The hopes are that be­fore the Cedar­town Bull­dogs hit the grid­iron in full force lis­ten­ers can fol­low the ac­tion on 106.1 FM.

Lis­ten­ers who have pro­grammed the 1340 AM sta­tion into their di­als will con­tinue to be able to tune in if they choose. Both AM and FM chan­nels will play the same con­tent, along with the simul­cast on­line at WGAARa­dio.com.

CEO and Owner of Burgess Broad­cast­ing Com­pany Frank Burgess Jr. started the move to move to FM af­ter the Fed­eral Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion in­sti­tuted a pro­gram to get AM sta­tions to be­gin adding ad­di­tional cov­er­age to their of­fer­ings across the coun­try.

“What we carry on WGAA will be car­ried on both FM and AM,” Burgess said.

It is the lat­est ma­jor up­grade for the sta­tion since Burgess and Joe An­der­son bought the sta­tion in 1994.

Burgess said he’s ex­cited to get the move un­der­way.

“Phil Baker is our en­gi­neer, and he’s work­ing to get some­one to climb the tower and get our new an­tenna up there,” he said. “We’ve re­painted the tower about eight or nine years ago and Phil was in charge of that.”

Sta­tion man­ager An­drew Carter -and the voice be­hind many pro­grams on WGAA Ra­dio -- said the ad­di­tion of an FM chan­nel for ra­dio broad­cast has been in the works for more than a year and a half and is al­most near com­ple­tion. Most of that was due to the pa­per­work needed to get the sta­tion on­line, and to make the pur­chase of the spe­cific fre­quency they needed.

It’s been a long process, but one that is worth it, Carter said.

“A month ago put in the or­der with the com­pany to send in all the equip­ment we need,” he said. “Most of what we need is here now, but we’re still wait­ing on a few items to come be­fore the in­stal­la­tion can get un­der­way.”

There’s no firm timetable for the start of FM broad­cast­ing in Cedar­town, but he said they ex­pect to be on the air for the start of foot­ball sea­son in mid-Au­gust. Ad­di­tional brand­ing work is still left to com­plete as well, Carter said. Without any changes to the pro­gram­ming on AM and FM, re­ally it has been about get­ting peo­ple in-the-know about the forth­com­ing new ad­di­tional to the ra­dio dial.

WGAA Ra­dio has in re­cent years also ex­panded their cov­er­age on­line as well. Along with streaming broad­casts from their web­site, the sta­tion has also pro­vided Face­book Live video cov­er­age of base­ball and soft­ball games as well. For Carter, it pro­vides

ad­di­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties for ad­ver­tis­ers to reach cus­tomers, and show­case the com­mu­nity to a larger au­di­ence.

“Streaming on­line gives the kids we’re broad­cast­ing in sports the recog­ni­tion they de­serve, but it also pro­vides a bet­ter prod­uct for our ad­ver­tis­ers,” Carter said.

The Big Dou­ble A has been broad­cast­ing for the past 77 years in the Cedar­town area.

It opened the same day as West Cin­ema and for a time both were owned by The Lam En­ter­tain­ment Com­pany.

“He had ra­dio sta­tions and movie the­aters through­out North­west Ge­or­gia, but I think WGAA was his first ra­dio sta­tion,” Burgess said. “They were first lo­cated on West Avenue next where West Cin­ema is lo­cated, and the of­fices were above where David Bush has his in­sur­ance agency there now.”

The move to Lake­view Drive hap­pened in the 1950s, and when op­er­a­tions were con­sol­i­dated the an­tenna move off of Cave Spring Road. Burgess said when the an­tenna was moved, “they built a lit­tle house. It was ba­si­cally there to house the trans­mit­ter, and later on they moved the stu­dio out here too.”

Their cur­rent Dou­ble A struc­ture was put up in 1967 by Frank Proc­tor, who owned it then.

“We did some re­mod­el­ing to it about two and a half years ago, and it looks a lot bet­ter,” Burgess said.

They cel­e­brate their up­com­ing birth­day on Aug. 15.

Burgess Broad­cast­ing came to life when his fa­ther worked at the sta­tion for 40 years, and get­ting to re­tire­ment age in 1991 was ter­mi­nated months short of hit­ting 65. Burgess and Gam­mon and An­der­son co-founder Joe An­der­son of­fered $250,000 for the sta­tion at the time, and own­ers South­ern Broad­cast­ing re­fused.

The se­nior Burgess was a beloved mem­ber of the Cedar­town com­mu­nity and a fix­ture on WGAA, and af­ter many months of the sta­tion re­main­ing in cor­po­rate hands the ju­nior Burgess and An­der­son fi­nally got the chance to buy it up. His fa­ther re­turned to the air on Dec. 13, 1993 and re­mained there for more than 10 years un­til he re­tired full time.

The Cedar­town Bull­dogs hon­ored him in 2003 for the 40th an­niver­sary of their state cham­pi­onship win in 1963, the same year Burgess be­gan broad­cast­ing games on WGAA.

The com­pany is now fully fam­ily-owned af­ter An­der­son was bought out in 2006 by Burgess.

It re­mains the only sta­tion specif­i­cally in Cedar­town.

FM broad­cast­ing dif­fers from AM broad­cast­ing in sev­eral ways. Ed­win Arm­strong first in­vented FM broad­cast­ing af­ter he be­gan ex­per­i­ments in the 1920s to im­prove ra­dio sig­nals.

The broad­cast for fre­quency mod­u­la­tion, or FM, en­codes ra­dio sig­nals by vary­ing the in­stan­ta­neous fre­quency of the ra­dio wave to pro­vide a bet­ter sig­nal to re­ceivers, like the stereo in a car. AM broad­cast­ing on the other hand am­pli­fies the sig­nal to boost its strength so it can be picked up by a re­ceiver, which be­cause of at­mo­spheric in­ter­fer­ence can de­grade a sig­nal.

Carter said one of the ben­e­fits of adding the FM sig­nal to the sta­tion’s chan­nels means that lis­ten­ers will get the same con­tent with bet­ter qual­ity, and that it can reach the edges – or fringes – of the cov­er­age area without the static usu­ally heard when the sig­nal goes in and out.

/ Con­trib­uted

Chief Jamie New­some of the Cedar­town Po­lice De­part­ment joins Sta­tion Man­ager An­drew Carter on the air for most games cov­er­ing the Bull­dogs base­ball and Lady Bull­dogs soft­ball games.

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