WGAA adding FM channel
Longtime Cedartown station to broadcast
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.
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.