FM Technical Profile: WDXB

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Station Name:
The Bull
Frequency:
102.5
Format:
Country
Transmitter Location:
[map] Colocated with WMJJ atop Red Mountain.
Power (ERP):
90 kW
Antenna:
Omnidirectional
Antenna HAAT:
1027 feet
Other Information:
60 dBu protected contour map, from the FCC.
:
PS-The Bull
Time-
present
Text-
song title/artist info 102.5 The Bull
PTY-
Country
HD-TMC-
Metro Traffic
PS-
KFQX-FM

HD-2:
Alternative Rock - "Alt 99.1"
// W235BS Birmingham
RDS logo :
PS-ALT 99.1 (song/title)
Time-[?]
Text-ALT 99.1 (song/title)
PTY-
Rock
PI-

HD-3:
News, Talk
"Black Information Network"
// W224CK Vestavia Hills, AL

AUX: 32 kW @ 725 feet. 60 dBu protected contour map, from the FCC.
How's the Signal?
Signal is very good over the entire metro area.  They lost some coverage when they moved from their really tall tower in rural Tuscaloosa county, but most of it was south and west of Birmingham. (As a side note, back in the old days the signal reached from Tupelo to Anniston, Huntsville to Greenville AL... And I could often easily pick the station up on I-285 east of Atlanta! -Zach)
More Information:
[FCC]
[FCCdata]
[Radio-Locator]
[Wikipedia]
[Facebook]
[Studio] Street View imagery of the iHeartMedia studio space in Birmingham.

[Image] RDS data displayed on an Insignia HD portable located in northwest Alabama, showing the Radio Text and PI (call sign) fields.  From June 2017.
[Image] RDS data for W256CD, from a Mazda OEM car radio, May 2019.

[Image] HD PAD data for the HD-1 channel, displayed on a Mazda OEM car stereo. (From 2020.)
[Image] HD PAD data for the station's main HD broadcast, as displayed on an Insignia HD portable in northwest Alabama.
[Image] HD PAD data for the station's HD-2 broadcast, as displayed on an Insignia HD portable in northwest Alabama, when it was classic country "Foggy Mountain".
[Image] HD PAD data for the station's HD-2 broadcast when it was carrying the alt. rock "Alt 94.9" format.

Owner:
iHeartMedia
History:
Prior to the current incarnation of this station, the 102.5 MHz frequency was allocated to Birmingham, where the Bell Radio Corporation put on WBRC-FM on in 1947.  The station was authorized a whopping 500,000 watts of effective radiated power, but due to FM not being popular yet and the power bill being incredibly high, the company shut the station down and the frequency remained blank until it was reallocated to Jasper.

A construction permit for a new station in Jasper on 102.5 MHz was awarded to the Bankhead Broadcasting Company, Inc. in 1960.  Bankhead already had 1360 WWWB in town.  When it signed on in early 1962, it was known as WWWB-FM (for William W. Bankhead, owner) or "3 WB".  The station broadcast from a site off 1st Avenue, south of downtown, near Coke Oven Hill.  The studios were at Bankhead Highway and 20th Avenue.  They transmitted with a Gates 5C transmitter into an Andrew 1308-2 8-bay antenna that was 157 feet above average terrain, with 26.9 kW ERP.  The license was assigned to Tri-W Broadcasting in 1964; Bankhead relinquished control of the company in 1968 to Blossom B. Dill, Marion D. Grant and John H. Bankhead.

Early on, the station's format appears to have bounced between Country music and the AM's Middle of the Road (MOR) format.  In 1973, the station was granted a permit to move the transmitter site to the 1360 AM tower, in an area near Town Creek and the Southern Railroad tracks, off 1st Avenue South.  This facility would transmit with a CCA FMC-HP-8 antenna with 8 bays, from a height of 140 feet HAAT.  The transmitter power was bumped up to 39 kW. This facility signed on late 1974.

Tuscaloosa-based SIS Sound purchased the AM/FM combo in 1986 for $737,500.  The station's call sign changed to WZBQ, and it dropped the part-time simulcast of the AM for an Adult Contemporary music format.  Around this time, the station also began transmitting from the new "Tuscaloosa tall tower", south of Jasper in Tuscaloosa County, albeit with just about 12 kW ERP at 2,062 feet HAAT.  Still, it was enough power to reach Jasper, Tuscaloosa and most of Birmingham.

By 1990, the station had flipped to a Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) format as "Z-102".  One year later, the station was able to boost its power to 78 kW, giving a massive coverage area that reached from Tupelo to well south of Birmingham.  With the big signal and popular music format, the station proved successful, and SIS moved the format to 94.1 in Tuscaloosa after just a few years.  This station flipped to Oldies as "Cool 102", and had Coyote J. Calhoun as one of the notable personalities on air. 

With the big signal and increased reach, they flipped this station to a Hit Country format as WOWC "Wow 102" in 1994 to try to compete with stalwart country giant WZZK in Birmingham.  Clear Channel acquired the station in the spring of 1999, and in October of that year changed the branding to "Dixie 102.5" with the WDXB calls. 

Although the station had a huge coverage area, the terrain of central Alabama wasn't favorable for a distant transmitter trying to blanket the hilly Birmingham market, which had become the main target area for the station's advertising.  In 2001, Clear Channel received a permit to move off the tall power, onto one of the towers on Iskhooda Mountain in Birmingham that houses sister station WMJJ.  The station dropped the "Dixie" branding to be "Country 102.5" in the spring of 2002.  In preparation for the transmitter's move to Birmingham proper, the station launched a listener contest for a new name.  When they signed on from the Birmingham site in 2003, they re-launched as "The Bull".

In May 2008 the station changed city of license (but nothing else) to Pelham. A bit of trivia: the station's auxiliary permit is still licensed to Jasper, even though it's at the same coordinates as the main TX location.  Another bit of trivia: this is the second time "The Bull" moniker has been used on a Birmingham station.  The first was on AM 1220.  Before it became gospel outlet WAYE, it was urban-formatted WBUL, "The Bull".

The station began transmitting in the IBOC HD digital system as far back as 2005, with "Foggy Mountain" Classic Country debuting on the HD-2 subchannel.  That format likely lasted until about 2018 when it was replaced with a simulcast of the "Alt 99.1" Alternative Rock format that's heard on another iHeart station as well as a local translator.  They also added a third subchannel with Soft Adult Contemporary sometime later.  The station added the Black Information Network News and Talk format to the HD-3 subchannel in October 2020, feeding the La Promesa Foundation-owned translator on 92.7 MHz.