THE HISTORY OF WATV-AM
WATV-AM 900 is a Class B AM radio station broadcasting from 3025 Ensley Avenue near Five
Points West. WATV signed on the air in 1946 as WRAX, changed to WLBS and became WATV in
1958 as a CBS affiliate programming soft-music and talk.
In 1976 the owner of WENN, the top rated urban formatted station in Birmingham died and the
General Manager Joe Lackey of WENN and members of his sales team, engineering and
announcers came up with a plan to buy the station. The local banks would not cooperate, but a
suggestion was made to approach Citizens Federal Bank owned by Millionaire Dr. A.G. Gaston.
Gaston and his financial advisors liked what they saw in the books and bought the station for
themselves. Each employee at that time Tall Paul White, Dr. Erskine Faush, Shelley the Playboy
Stewart, Maurice Thin Man King, Pat Williams and Weldon Clark walked out in protest.
Crescendo Broadcasting, investors out of Fort Worth Texas owned WATV broadcasting on the
20th floor of the Thomas Jefferson Hotel sought out Joe lackey to manage their station and do
whatever he could to make it profitable except go Black. Joe Lackey refused and countered their
offer, saying he would pay the employees out of his savings for 90 days and if it doesn’t get any
better they could do what they want. They finally agreed.
WATV changed formats with the former employees of WENN Radio and when the ratings came
out they came in first place. Because of their success they were forced to move from the hotel
and made a new home at 3025 Ensley Avenue.
During the 80’s the station format evolved from R&B Soul Music to today’s Urban Adult
contemporary format. In 1994 WATV dropped the Urban AC format and changed to syndicated
ABC Radio Networks Urban Gold. Around 1984 longtime radio announcers Rev. Dr. Erskine Faush
Joe Lackey and. Dr. Shelley Stewart purchased WATV From Crescendo Broadcasting. In 2002
station owners Dr. Shelley Stewart and The Rev. Dr. Erskine Faush sold WATV to Sheridan
Broadcasting for a whopping 1.5 million dollars. On September 14,2006, Sheridan restructured
its radio division and WATV was put under the control of MCL/MCN Alabama LLC.
On April 10, 2017 prominent Birmingham attorney. G. Courtney French purchased WATV from
MCL/MCM Alabama LLC- a subsidiary of Sheridan Broadcasting. Mr. French has invested
hundreds of thousands of dollars giving WATV a new look inside and out and upgrades in all the
A few months later February 1, 2018 WATV received authorization and began to broadcast on
W235BS 94.9 an FM translator and re branded itself as V94.9 #1 For Throwbacks &Today’s R&B.
It’s a new day at WATV starting with the new Morning Home Team of Homie J, Kim Phillips and
Bennie Mac, Chris Coleman and the Chris Coleman Radio network in the Afternoons and Curtis Bell closing out the workday. It’s a new day and a new sound for Birmingham, check it out V94.9 FM and V900, where the V really stands for variety.