FM Technical Profile: WBHM
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- Station Name:
- Public Radio:
Classical, Jazz, NPR and PRI News, Talk.
view] Located on the WBRC-TV tower atop Red
Mountain. From the Vulcan statue, it's the second tower to
- Power (ERP):
- 32 kW
- Antenna HAAT:
- 1214 feet
- 60 dBu protected
map, from the FCC.
PS-GIVE ONLINE: A SERVICE OF UAB WBHM-FM
- SCA: Alabama Radio Reading Service
- // W291DC
- More Information:
30th Anniversary interview and aircheck from the station's first
year of broadcasting.
Coverage map of WBHM and WSGN (hosted on WBHM's website).
RDS display data as shown on a Mazda OEM stereo, from
RDS display from the station on a GMC Yukon's radio.
RDS display from an Insignia portable radio in northwest Alabama,
showing the Radio Text and PI (call sign) fields, updated June 2017.
RDS display from a GM vehicle's radio showing the RDS PS (station
slogan) field of the W291DC translator in Birmingham.
of Alabama at Birmingham
- The Board of
Trustees of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) applied
for a new noncommercial station in Birmingham on 90.3 MHz in
November of 1974. The original application was for 100 kW from
an antenna Height Above Average Terrain (HAAT) of 735 feet, from the
WBMG-TV 42 tower atop Red Mountain. The original studio
location was in the Education Building on the UAB campus.
Before the application was granted, Taft Broadcasting — owners of
WBRC-TV 6 — filed an objection to the application over possible
interference issues to their TV station. It appears that
Taft's objections had some merit, as the Board of Trustees filed in
1976 to move to a different transmitter site and lower the Effective
Radiated Power. It's worth noting that Taft had also objected
to the application for the Huntsville Library's public radio station
in that city, for the same reasons.
The updated application moved the transmitter location to its
current site atop Red Mountain, with an antenna height of 892 feet
HAAT. The power was lowered to 50 kW, fed by a Harris FM20-H3
transmitter. Ironically, this is the WBRC-TV tower, owned by
the people who objected to the initial application! A license
to cover for this operation was filed in November 1976; WLRH in
Huntsville had beaten it to the airwaves by only a few months.
The station debuted with a Subsidiary
Communications Authorization (SCA) on 67 kHz, for a radio
reading service for the blind.
The station was an early adopter of the Radio Data System (RDS)
standard in the mid-90's, but wound up abandoning it due to
issues with noise in the station's audio caused by the data.
In 2000, the station began being heard on 91.5 WSGN in Gadsden, as
part of a deal Gadsden State Community College struck to keep their
station on the air.
RDS was turned back on sometime in 2011, it appears. The
station has carried the Alabama Radio Reading Service for years, but
word on the street was the service was being cut in the fall of 2011
due to lack of support and budget restraints. As of 2016, it
was still reportedly active. The station had planned to add HD
digital in 2010 but that never materialized.
In 2012, the station began being heard on translator W284CA,
licensed to Fort Payne, by way of WSGN in Gadsden. When WSGN's
school owners sold the station to K-Love in 2018, WBHM was supposed
to feed the translator directly. It appears, however, that
this never happened, as records indicate the translator was actually
rebroadcasting Huntsville's WLRH instead.
In other translator-related information, the station began being
heard on W291DC in Birmingham in 2017. The translator was
originally intended to relay Atlanta's Christian CHR WVFJ-FM, but
that likely never materialized. The translator, which operates
from atop Red Mountain, offers a directional signal to the southern
suburbs to help fill in coverage in the mountainous terrain.