AM Technical Profile: WABF


Frequency:
1480
Format:
Soft Pop/Standards
Transmitter Location:
[map] [bird's eye] [street view] [goKML aerial] Dumaine Road, off Conception Street Road, near I-165.
Power (ERP):
Day: 5 kW
Night: 4.4 kW
Antenna:
Day: 1 tower
Night: 4 towers, directional towards the Eastern Shore. [pattern - PDF]
Other Information:
0.5 mV/m Daytime Groundwave Service Contour from the FCC's Public Files
[FCC]
[FCCData.org]
[Radio-Locator]
[Wikipedia]
[Facebook]
[Article] Remembering Bernie Dittman, from RBR.com.
[Story] A ten-part history of WABB AM & FM radio from Alvin Williams of the News And Information About Television and Radio in Southwest Alabama site.
[Aerial View] From goKML, an aerial view of the old WABB AM site, which was destroyed by Hurricane Frederick. Remnants of the towers can still be seen!
Owned by Eternity Media Group LLC
History:
WABB was the radio station of the Mobile Register when it began in 1948, with ABC network affiliation. The book, "Alabama's First Broadcast Stations", by Harry Butler says WABB stood for "Alabama's Best Broadcasters".  It was the city's leading top 40 station from 1959 until FM competition eroded it's position in the late 70's. In a rare move for a station of the era, they had an FM companion (the original WABB-FM) from the very beginning, on 102.1 MHz with 50,000 watts of authorized power at one point.  That facility was a bit too early to catch on and disappeared in 1956.  The FM station which carried the pop music format and WABB-FM calls that were closely associated with the station's heyday was not bought by Dittman until 1973.  The station at one time broadcast from a four tower array off Whistler Street in Prichard.  In a bid for better coverage, the daytime transmissions began emanating from the site use today at Dumaine Road near I-165.  This was the former site of a defunct station.  The night transmission site remained off Whistler.  In 1979, the station's nighttime transmitter site off Whistler Street was severely damaged by Hurricane Frederic and was moved to the present location.  See "Other Information", above, for an overhead view of the site as it exists today, with crumpled towers still visible in the trees. 

In the station's glory days of top 40-dom, it had incredible ratings and some famous-name DJs worked there before going on the larger markets. Since the move of pop music to FM, it's flirted with nostalgia, oldies, black oldies and, later, all talk.
   
In the summer of 2010 the station was noted to be experiencing technical difficulties, often going off the air for varying periods of time.
 
In February 2012 it was announced that the Dittman family sold WABB-FM to EMF.  WABB-AM was not part of the deal and was to be locally ran (although usually with dead air instead of programming) until around 24 August 2012, when it flipped to become a repeater for the sports-formatted WTKE AM and FM stations in the Florida panhandle.  At the end of October 2012 the license was transferred to Omni Broadcasting.  In mid-November 2012 the historic WABB calls ceased to exist in Mobile, for the first time since the late 40s.  It became WTKD, in line with other Hale-owned sports stations (WTKE, WTKP, etc.)  The Hale/Omni deal fell through, and the license reverted back to the Dittman family and the station fell silent just a few months after the sports format debuted.  The station remained silent, except for brief periods of on air broadcasting to retain the license.  In May 2014 it was announced that the Dittman family sold the station to Mississippi-based Eternity Records, which records and sells gospel albums.  As of the summer of 2014, the company had three un-built FM construction permits scattered across Mississippi and Louisiana.  The station finally came back to life late in August 2014, with black gospel music and new calls, WERM (Eternity Records, Mobile).
The station's gospel format gave way to the standards and swap shop programming from sister station WABF in early February 2017.  WABF lost its transmitter site and ran into issues finding a new site, leading to that format migrating here.  It's reported to be a permanent solution.  WERM's gospel has migrated to the 1220 facility, which, as of mid-February 2017, is being temporarily diplexed onto the 1480 tower site.  The call sign finally changed to WABF officially in early January 2018.