Spirit Broadcasting Group, Inc (SBG Inc) was formed by a group of South Carolina based investors in the spring of 2007 for the purpose of filing with the FCC for construction permits for non-commercial educational FM frequencies for stations in the Southeast. As stated in the SBG Inc corporate by-laws, “the tenet of this corporation is essentially to educate, entertain, and inspire.”
The investors have a broad range of broadcast experience with one investor beginning his radio career in 1956. SBG Inc was successful with winning other radio station construction permits but WKRI is the first FM non-commercial radio station to be taken to operational status by SBG Inc.
In the case of WKRI, the original city of license on the WKRI application was Cokesbury, SC. However, after attempts failed at finding a suitable location for the broadcast tower in the general Cokesbury, SC area, SBG Inc made the decision to file for a relocation of the transmitting facility to a proposed location just north of Lake Greenwood in Laurens County SC. The FCC approved that request for relocation to a site on Riverfork Road near Waterloo SC.
Land clearing for the site was completed in late February 2011. Next came the excavation for the main tower base and the six guy anchors for the 495 ft tall triangular tower with 4 ft wide faces along with the manual construction of the rebar cages. After completion of the excavation and installation of the rebar cages and tower anchors, high strength concrete was poured and the tower base and guy anchors were allowed to cure. In late April, the tower sections were unloaded from four tractor trailer trucks which brought the tower sections from the PIROD facility in Plymouth, Indiana. Installation of the tower grounding system was well underway at this point in time.
On June 9, a tower erection crew began the tower installation using a large hydraulic crane to place three 80ft sections (pre-assembled from 20 ft sections) weighing about 4000 lbs in place. The crane held each 80 ft section in place until it was secured to the three individual guy anchors. When that was confirmed, the crane was disconnected from the tower by a climber on the tower and the next 80 ft pre-assembled section was raised into place. Each 80 ft section was bolted to the lower section by three bolts and also secured to the three guy anchors before the crane hook was released. By approximately 1pm on June 9, 240 ft of the 495 ft tower section and a temporary lighting system was in place. The crane crew also placed a heavy weatherproof equipment shelter on a concrete pad at the base of the tower for housing the WKRI transmitter equipment. By mid July, the tower erection crew had completed the erection of the remaining sections of the tower by lifting the remaining 20 ft sections in place by using a jib crane and a winch system located near the base of the tower. The FM antenna array was also placed on the tower along with associated coaxial cables from the tower to the transmitter shelter below.
WKRI-FM received permission for and began Program Tests in August 2011 and received the Operating License in December 2011.
WKRI has a broad coverage area including Greenwood, Abbeville, McCormick, Anderson, Laurens, Newberry, and significant portions of Greenville, Spartanburg, Edgefield, Saluda, and Union counties.