Two years after tower destroyed, local Christian radio station WOAK-FM has new antenna

Published 9:00 am Saturday, October 15, 2022

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As the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens. For Pastor Tim Tidwell of Oakside Baptist Church, that saying couldn’t have proven more true.

In late 2020, the church’s radio station (WOAK-FM) 325-foot broadcast tower was destroyed in a construction site accident forcing the church to find another way to stream content to their dedicated listeners.

Now, after two years, the church finally has a new antenna that allows it to reach listeners in LaGrange but also Hogansville, West Point, Pine Mountain, Roanoke and Valley, Alabama. 

“When we were down temporarily, we were only getting into the immediate LaGrange areas,” Tidwell said.

After the accident occurred, the station filed a claim with the construction company’s insurance carrier that ended with the construction company paying for most of the damages. 

“It wasn’t enough to get us back up where we were,” Tidwell said.

Tidwell said the station claimed to the insurance company that they had a tower up, broadcasting to their audience — all they wanted was to do that again. However, due to the depreciation of the equipment needed to run, they weren’t able to get enough in the insurance settlement to rebuild the tower or the facilities that were lost.

On their way to finding a new place to run the station, WOAK ended up getting in contact with Coleman Vice, the owner of Eagle Radio Station in downtown LaGrange.

“As we talked, he agreed to help us where we could buy a temporary antenna, put it on his tower, we will borrow a transmitter from somebody and we can at least get up temporarily,” Tidwell said. “We had to go through an attorney engineer and all the FCC regulations to get permission to do it temporarily.”

He said the station worked with Vice on getting back online temporarily. However, the station was down for about a month and lost some listeners.

“For the past two years, we’ve continued to broadcast, but it’s been probably less than half our typical audience that we had,” Tidwell said.

Tidwell said after dealing with the insurance company and seeing how much the costs were to rebuild the station, he decided to lease space permanently on the tower downtown.

“To order our own transmitter and new permanent antenna, we had to go through licensing again from the FCC to relocate our antenna,” Tidwell said.

To put out the word that WOAK 90.9 is back, Tidwell said the station is working on a public relations campaign that will include social media and possibly mailers.

Since coming back, the station has formed a new advisory board with roughly 15 people from the community involved in various churches and businesses that help counsel, guide the station and provide to the community, according to Tidwell.

“We want this to be a community station that’s not just the station of Oakside Baptist Church,” Tidwell said. “It’s a community station and always has been.”