AM Technical Profile: WERC

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

Talk, News
Transmitter Location:
[map] [bird's eye] [street view] Intersection of Finley Blvd and US 78 in Birmingham. Twin tower just behind Alabama Department of Transportation buildings.
Power (ERP):
Day and Night: 5 kW
Day: 1 tower
Night: 2 towers, Directional to the south. [pattern - PDF]
Other Information:
0.5 mV/m Daytime Groundwave Service Contour from the FCC's Public Files
[Studio] Street View imagery of the iHeartMedia studio space in Birmingham.
Owned by iHeartMedia
// WERC-FM Hoover
(Early history skimmed from the WAAY-TV history page.)
The station was started by J. C. Bell. The calls were WBRC (Bell Radio Corporation). The station was on 950 kHz and ran with only 10 watts. Both studio and transmitter were in Bell's home in Fountain Heights. It was sold in 1928 to M. D. Smith, Jr. for $2,000. In 1929 the transmitter was moved to a location behind Birmingham Awning and Tent works at the corner of 12th Avenue and 27th Street North. Power was increased to 500 watts and the studios were moved to the Old Athletic Club. WBRC began operating 12 hours a day.
In 1931 WBRC increased power to 5 kW and the studios were relocated to the mezzanine floor at the Temple Theater. The all-glass studio was known as "The Crystal Studio". The transmitter was moved to a remote location in north Birmingham, known as "Kilocycle, Alabama". (!) The station was incorporated, with J. C. Bell and Glen Marshal getting 25% stock each and M. D. Smith Jr. and wife getting 50%. In 1932 the studios were moved to the Bankhead Hotel.

WBRC moved again in 1935 to 19th Street and 2nd Avenue North due to growth. The same year WBRC became affiliated with NBC. In 1937 M. D. Smith Jr. died, and his wife, Eloise Haney Smith, took control of Bell Radio Corporation. By 1939 Eloise Smith had bought out Glenn Marshal's stock. By 1940, Mr. Bell died and Eloise Smith (soon to be Eloise Hanna by marriage) bought Bell's stock.
In 1946 Mrs. Hanna received a construction permit for WBRC-FM (102.5 MHz). It came on the air with an amazing power of 500,000 watts, making it the most powerful FM station in the world. In 1947, the Smith's son, M. D. Smith III, became Vice President after being in sales for WBRC-FM and AM.  FM did not catch on as much as everyone thought it would and in June of 1948, WBRC-FM was taken off the air. Desipte this setback, Mrs. Smith borrowed $150,000 to put WBRC-TV on the air on July 4, 1949.  WBRC-FM later reappeared on 106.9 MHz.
Mrs. Hanna retired and sold WBRC-TV/AM-FM to Storer Broadcasting for $2.3 million. That ends the history provided by the WAAY-TV history page.  Radio Cincinnati bought the station in 1957; it was later acquired by Taft Broadcasting.  WBRC was basically a middle-of-the-road station with some network programming.

Mooney Broadcasting purchased the AM and FM stations from Taft in 1972, and it was at this time the calls changed to the "similar but different" WERC and WERC-FM.  The station went with an AC Pop format, and gave WSGN a battle in the 70's under PD David Gleason. Later it settled into the news-talk format where it has enjoyed longevity and success.
In 2005 (summer?) the station dropped their longtime news provider ABC for Fox News. They also dropped Paul Harvey's news program. Both Harvey and ABC were picked up by rival talk station WAPI.
On July 6th 2009 the station become the next in a long line of AM talkers to simulcast on FM,  replacing rock on WVVB Hoover.  In addition to that, much of WERC's programming has been carried in Tuscaloosa, on a separate simulcast between WACT and WRTR Brookwood.  That makes a total of four radio stations carrying some if not all the same programming! It should be noted, however, that the Tuscaloosa duo aren't doing a full-on simulcast of WERC's lineup.  Also, it was observed in late September 2009 that WERC has shut off its HD (digital) sidebands.
On January 6th 2011 the station ended its simulcast with WERC-FM and picked up the new rock format being broadcast on WQEN-HD2.  This is also being carried on a translator, and is being called "103.1 The Vulcan".  Just over a month later, on February 16th, 2011, the historic calls were replaced by WVVB.  On 23 June 2011 it was reported that WVVB (AM) was dropped from the simulcast, returning to simulcasting WERC-FM's talk format.  On 14 June 2011 the WERC calls returned to the frequency.