WHIL-FM started broadcasting on a regular basis on Thursday, August 29th, 1974, from the basement of Murray Hall at Spring Hill College in Mobile. In the beginning the station was broadcasting from a transmitter with 10 watts of power, which limited its broadcast area to Spring Hill College and the immediate area, and its operators were students of the college.
In December 1975, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting chose Spring Hill College to be a recipient of a Phase I, Radio Coverage Expansion Project grant worth $25,000 to help them in their plan to transform WHIL-FM into a station offering full service supported by financial contributions from radio listeners rather than revenue from advertisers. In September 1978, William Kaufman, the president of Gulf Coast Public Broadcasting Incorporated, the operators of the station, announced the choice of Joseph A. Martin, Jr. for the position of general manager of the station (Joseph A. Martin, Jr. was the general manager of WSCI-FM in Charleston, South Carolina before WHIL-FM).
In March 1979, new transmission equipment for WHIL-FM was being unloaded as part of a plan to increase the broadcast area for the station. The unloading was supervised by Ferrell Blank, the director of maintenance at Spring Hill College. By then, Hiram Taylor Morrissette, Jr., the president of North American Sugar Industries, Incorporated, a division of Borden Industries, had accepted the position of general chairman for the public funding campaign of the station.
On Tuesday, June 26th, the Federal Communications Commission (the FCC) granted an application filed on behalf of Spring Hill College requesting permission to change the location for the station's transmitter to 4307 Old Shell Road, the location of Spring Hill College, to change the type of transmitter and antenna for the station, and to change the power output for the transmitter. On Thursday, August 30th, the FCC granted an application requesting the construction permit for the station be extended to Saturday, September 15th.
On Wednesday, September 5th, a ceremony was held at Spring Hill College around 10:00 a.m. for WHIL-FM to begin broadcasting with 100,000 watts from its new transmitter, which would make station's programming available to more residents in southwest Alabama along with residents in southeast Mississippi, northwest Florida, and southeast Louisiana. The new transmitter started functioning upon the flip of a switch by both William Kaufman and Paul S. Tipton, the president of Spring Hill College.
Some of the guests who attended the ceremony include Joseph A. Martin, Jr., Dale Outz, a senior vice president for National Public Radio (NPR), Bob Thomas, the manager of radio programming for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Bettie Hudgens, the chairman of the communications arts department at Spring Hill College. Bettie Hudgens was honored at the ceremony for her role as the director of the WHIL-FM project.
According to a news article the Mobile Press-Register published on the day after the ceremony, Paul S. Tipton called the day of the ceremony "historic" and said the station would bring Mobile and other areas along the coast by the Gulf of Mexico something they never had before. The article also quoted him as saying the development of the station was the vision of Bettie Hudgens and said the day of the ceremony was "her day to celebrate".
By the day of the ceremony, WHIL-FM was set to broadcast on a regular basis from 6:00 AM to 12:00 AM with plans to broadcast music performed by orchestras and opera companies from lands outside the United States, jazz and contemporary music, dramas, local news and weather, public affairs, and “All Things Considered”, a news program from National Public Radio. The staff for programming WHIL-FM by this time included Martin J. Schneider, the director of programming (before Martin J. Schneider joined WHIL-FM, he worked for WQED-FM in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), and Robert Calver, Jonathan Lebeau, and David McCray, all of whom served as the station's producers and announcers.
By Wednesday, September 12th, WHIL-FM stopped broadcasting after a tropical cyclone named “Frederic” twisted its broadcast tower. A short time later, the station started broadcasting again with less power in its transmitter after a section of the broadcast tower about 70 feet in length was savaged, according to Joseph A. Martin, Jr. Six weeks later, the station was broadcasting with 100,000 watts of power again after the broadcast tower was restored to its original height of 200 feet.
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