TV Technical Profile: WBRC


[ Home | Statewide: AM | FM | LPFM | Translators | TV | LPTV | LDTV ]
[ Metros: Birmingham | Mobile | Montgomery | Huntsville | Columbus, GA | Dothan | Tuscaloosa | The Shoals ]


Channel:
29
Programming:
6.1 - Fox HD
6.2 - Bounce TV
6.3 - Circle
6.4 - Oxygen True Crime
6.5 - Jewelry TV
6.6 - Quest

21.4 - TBD
Transmitter Location:
[map] [street view] "Atop Red Mountain". Looking at Vulcan from downtown, it's the second tower down. Also houses the antenna for NOAA weather radio and WBHM public radio.
Power (ERP):
700 kW
1 MW (AUX)
Height Above Average Terrain (HAAT):
1,378 feet
1,224 feet (AUX)
Antenna:
Omnidirectional
Other Information:
41 dBu protected contour map, from FCCdata.org.
41 dBu protected contour map, from the FCC.  (AUX)
[FCC]
[FCCdata]
[RabbitEars]
[Wikipedia]
[Bhamwiki]
[Facebook] WBRC News page
[Facebook] WBRC Weather page
[Article] WBRC keeps a list of all their social media pages, as well as those for their personalities at this page on their website
[Image] Google Photos image of the iconic red WBRC neon sign overlooking the city of Birmingham.
[Image] Screencap of the station advertising the addition of Circle.
[Image] Screencap of station identification on screen, showing simulcast with WBXA and WJMY.
[Image] Screencap of a news program announcing the addition of Telemundo to sister station WTBM.
[Image] Screencap of station identification on screen, showing WBRC's simulcast with WTBM and WJMY.
mDTV - active
Owned by Gray Television
Station History:
Birmingham's second oldest TV station came on the air July 1, 1949, on channel 4. They came on about a month after channel 13. The calls have always been WBRC (Bell Radio Company), but the format has changed a lot over the years.  Prior to their move to channel 6 around 1953, the station was an NBC affiliate, the same as WBRC-AM. They had some programs from ABC and DuMont, as did channel 13.  About the time Storer bought WBRC, they moved to CBS affiliation. WBRC pared down their ABC programming from a 50/50 mix to almost nothing. By 1960 WBRC carried little if any ABC programming. WBRC switched to ABC in 1961, about the time when it was bought out by Taft Broadcasting. (As a side note, the Taft company had a strong relationship with ABC's then-head Leonard Goldenson. Even channel 6's logo reflected that, as it was a giant "6" with a little ABC logo inside the circle of the 6. WBRC continued to carry occasional CBS programming until WBMG-TV 42 came on the air in 1965. From 1965 to the Fox buyout in 1996, channel 6 was strictly an ABC station.
 
The station originally had a small tower "atop Red Mountain", but it was replaced when it nearly came down in an ice storm in the mid 80's. WBRC is also noted to be one of two stations in our mid-sized market to be owned by a network (the other is WVTM, owned by NBC.)
 
This station elected to keep analog broadcasts on until the new June 12th deadline.  The station upgraded to HD newscasts in 2010.  WBRC's conversion to their current facility took an unusual path.  It ran for a long time under a Special Temporary Authority with lower power.   That likely ended in sometime in late 2009 as they debuted full power with 1 MW at a lower position on the tower.  The top of the tower was reclaimed for WBRC's use and the power dropped slightly.  They now reserve the old 1 megawatt facilities as an auxiliary.    An article and pictures of the new DTV antenna going up can be found on the My Fox AL website.
 
In May 2011 the station added a subchannel mirroring the main HD channel.  It's to make room this fall for the new Bounce TV network aimed at black Americans.  It debuted 26 September 2011.  A third subchannel was added in the summer of 2014 for a new man-oriented TV network, Grit TV.  A fourth subchannel was added in August 2018, for Laff.
As part of the spectrum repacking efforts by the FCC to free up space for more wireless broadband service, this station was granted a permit to relocate from channel 50 to channel 29 in July, 2017.  That new channel signed on in September 2019.

Raycom Media and Gray Television Inc. agreed to a merger in June 2016, for $3.6 billion.  The merger was approved in December 2018.

The station is scheduled to add the Circle network to the .3 subchannel in early 2020. After launching, Grit TV moved to a new .5 subchannel.  Shortly thereafter, the station added the Quest network to the .6 subchannel.

As part of the rollout of ATSC 3.0 in the Birmingham market on WTTO and WSES, this station will take on one of the WTTO subchannel networks that will be displaced by the launch.
Note that as of 02 June 2022, the information on which channels the station will host are speculative, and subject to change.

In July 2022 it was reported the station's channel lineup was being relayed on WBXA-CD in Birmingham and WJMY-CD in Tuscaloosa.  It's unclear if this is permanent or a placeholder for Gray Television while they launch Telemundo in the market.

As part of the rollout of ATSC 3.0 in the Birmingham market on WTTO and WSES, this station took on one of the WTTO subchannel networks that was displaced by the launch on 5 December 2022.

In early January 2023, the station dropped Laff on .4 and Grit on .5, replacing them with Oxygen True Crime and Jewelry TV, respectively.  This appears to be the first non-NBC or Telemundo station to pick up the formerly cable-only Oxygen network.  Both Laff and Grit TV continue to be available via WPHX-DT subchannels.