TV Technical Profile: WABM


Channel:
36
20 (CP)
Programming:
68.1 - My Network TV HD
68.2 - ABC 33/40 (WBMA-LD) ABC HD
68.3 - James Spann 24/7 Weather
Transmitter Location:
[map] [street view] [bird's eye] Red Mountain on the newer American General multi-pronged tower.
Power (ERP):
885 kW
1000 kW
(CP)
Height Above Average Terrain (HAAT):
1,332 feet
1,316 feet
(CP)
Antenna:
Directional
Directional
(CP)
Other Information:
41 dBu protected contour map, from the FCC.
41 dBu protected contour map, from the FCC. (FCCdata Link) (CP)
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[Picture] Legal ID snapshot showing the various channels that ABC 33/40 is available on as of May, 2015.
[Studio] Street View of the station's studio as well as that for sister station WTTO.
Owned by Deerfield Media, LMA via Sinclair Broadcasting
History:
Originally a religious station that went by the calls WCAJ and was owned and operated by Samford University.  Some of the programming originated from cross-town Catholic network EWTN, as well as the Southern Baptists' ACTS Network.  Struggled along as Birmingham's second independent, against WTTO and the new Fox network, who served the area from WNAL in Gadsden and WDBB in Tuscasloosa.  After WTTO picked up the Fox affiliation for Birmingham (and began simulcasting on WDBB and WNAL) they began selling shows to the station, who by this time was bought by Krypton Broadcasting.  Krypton changed the calls to WABM in January 1991.  Due to financial troubles, the parent company put WABM into a LMA (local marketing agreement) with WTTO, who began selling ad time on channel 68.  In the 90's, they picked up affiliation with  PTEN - Prime Time Entertainment Television, a short lived attempt at a fifth broadcasting network.  The station picked up the fledgling UPN network in 1995 as a charter affiliate, and later started broadcasting in stereo around May 20th 2000. The station ran as an independent until UPN came along. After they merged with WB, they picked up Fox's My Network TV.   This means the station was affiliated with two now-defunct networks!
 
On February 17th 2009 the station discontinued analog broadcasts.  The analog transmission site was on a shorter tower on the western side of Red Mountain near Ishkooda Road, overlooking the Elmwood Cemetery area.  The digital transmissions have been co-located with WTTO and others on the new American General tower overlooking downtown.
 
In July 2009 it was announced that this station would be picking up the ESPN-created "SEC Network" for collegiate sporting events. When the SEC Network debuted, however, it wound up on WTTO instead.
 
In late September 2010 the My Network TV SD subchannel was replaced with The Cool TV, a music video network.  Station owner Sinclair Television Group signed a deal to put the new upstart on 34 of its 35 stations' subchannels.  This marks the return of music videos to Sinclair stations, as they had previously carried The Tube music video channel before its demise.  That lasted until the end of August 2012 when The Cool TV was taken off all the Sinclair stations without warning.
In mid-September 2014, as part of a massive purchase agreement with Allbritton Communications, Sinclair added a simulcast of WBMA-LD, Birmingham's official ABC affiliate, to subchannel 68.2, as part of a plan to shut down and turn in licenses for WCFT (Tuscaloosa) and WJSU (Anniston), the two stations that made up the "ABC 33/40" pair of stations.  A long term plan is to eventually swap subchannels between ABC and My Network Television.  The station added the James Spann weather loop channel to 68.3 shortly after adding ABC.

As part of the FCC spectrum repacking process, the station received a permit to move from RF channel 36 to 20 in mid-July 2017.