WGRX Launch (2001)

Listen to “WGRX Launch” on Spreaker.

Today’s Aircheck Of The Week and write-up is from Dave in Fredericksburg. If you have audio you’d like to share, please email me.

It’s not often in the modern era that a brand new radio station comes out of nowhere and is able to use an unused frequency on the mostly crowded FM band. But that’s exactly what Thunder 104.5 (WGRX-FM Falmouth, VA) did back in 2001.

The 104.5 MHz frequency was unused in the Fredericksburg area for many years. Looking at online archives, the frequency had been licensed to a station called WFAL that never made it to the air back in 1998.

But even before that, the frequency had been unused since I moved to the Fredericksburg area in 1991. So the frequency had been vacant either for a very long time or it never had been used at all in this town.

In 2001 things changed. Telemedia Broadcasting who owns co-owned/operated WGRQ (SuperHits 95.9) obtained the license in March 2001 and intended on building a country station to complete with then locally owned country powerhouse WFLS 93.3 by the local newspaper Free Lance Star (which subsequently was sold and the radio station cluster that they own is now owned and operated by Alpha Media).

Even though Telemedia’s studios are located in Spotsylvania county just outside the city limits of Fredericksburg, the WGRQ transmitter was at that time located way out in King George county with the City of License of Colonial Beach, VA.

That seemed a bit far for a new radio transmitter to serve the Falmouth, VA City of License for southern Stafford county. So instead, Telemedia leased space on the existing Spotsylvania County public safety tower out in eastern Spotsylvania county on county owned land at the Chancellorsville landfill.

Prior to the launch date of May 17, 2001 they did some testing of their transmitter by playing some rock music. So we thought it might be a rock station of some sort. But when they officially launched at 7 PM that day, we found out that it was to be a country station to compete head to head with WFLS.

WFLS at the time was more geared towards classic country, while WGRX’s approach was to be more modern country.

The first aircheck is a loop to show that the station was still “under construction” prior the launch later that day. The second aircheck was the actual launch at 7 PM.

I hope you enjoy this bit of Fredericksburg radio history.

A DCRTV reader sent in some more background of how the new 104.5 FM frequency started:

The frequency was not “unused- it wasn’t dormant”  in Fredericksburg. It was part of a docket 80-90 drop in and then several mutually exclusive applicants fought over the frequency for a number of years. (104.5 was for decades a Class B frequency. Docket 80-90 allowed Class A or lower powered stations to occupy Class B frequencies )I’m not certain if it ended with a merged application, some sort of buyout, or the results of an FCC administrative hearing. Hence the rather lengthy time from the application, in the mid 80s to the final air date.

Similar Posts