AM Technical Profile: WHBB

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Talk, News, Black Gospel
Transmitter Location:
[map] [street view] Behind Wal-Mart Supercenter in Selma, northeast of the intersection of AL-14 (E Highland Avenue) and Range Road.  Co-located with WDXX-FM.
Power (ERP):
Day: 1 kW
Night: 1 kW
1 tower
Other Information:
0.5 mV/m Daytime Groundwave Service Contour from the FCC's Public Files
[Street View] Of the studio building on Lauderdale Street in Selma.
Dr. William J. Reynolds and his son, William J. Reynolds, Jr., were granted a construction permit for a new broadcast station in Selma on 1500 kHz in August of 1935.  The station began testing its signal in November of that year, but did not become fully licensed until June 1936, when it officially signed on as WHBB (most likely for Heart of the Black Belt) running 100 watts, days-only.  Later their company name became Selma Broadcasting Company.

Originally, the station's transmitter site and studio were in a rural patch of land north of what was then 7th Avenue (Now US-80/Highland Avenue), east of Lapsley Street. Today, this land is occupied by houses, across from the Edgewood Elementary School on Montague Street.  Eventually the street was numbered and the studio and transmitter were listed as being at 2414 Montague.  In 1936, the studios were supposed to be moved to the YMCA building, but that was either short-lived or never materialized.  Instead, they moved to 209 Washington Street in 1938.  Around that same time, the station was granted the right to broadcast full time, with 100 watts day and night.

The station went through a frequency change to 1490 kHz in 1941 thanks to NARBA, which re-aligned virtually all broadcast stations onto new frequencies.  They remained as a 100 watt fulltimer. The station received a boost in power to 250 watts day and night, when they installed a Collins 300-G-E transmitter.

Through the mid- to late-50's, the station was known to have NBC and Keystone network affiliations, although by the mid-60's they'd switched to ABC.

The station's license was voluntarily transferred to Talton Broadcasting Company in April 1962.  Two years later, they applied to boost power again, this time to 1,000 watts during the day, keeping the existing 250 watts at night.  When this signed on, it was from a new Collins 20-V3 transmitter at 1326 10th Avenue. (Of interest, this street and block no longer exist, it's all woodland now.)  The studios also moved off Montague Avenue to new digs at 310 Broad Street.  A year after the transmitter move, the station spawned an FM companion in WHBB-FM on 100.1 MHz. 

By 1971 the station had a Contemporary music format, but also played some Black and Country music as well.   An informal complaint was filed against the station in 1973 by the Dallas County Progressive Movement for Human Rights, but it never amounted to anything actionable.  By the end of the 70's, the station moved to a more Middle of the Road (MOR) presentation. 

Starting around 1984 the station adopted an unusual mix of music, playing Country music during the day, and Hip-Hop/R&B music at night.  Later in the 80's it was mostly Country, with only a small block of black-oriented programming.  In 1985 the station upgraded to 1,000 watts fulltime operation.  The station was acquired by Holder Communications in 1987 along with several other properties for $1.45 million.  (Holder shortly thereafter became a subsidiary of GMX Communications.)

The station flipped to a Classic Rock/Oldies format in 1990.  Two years later, Broadsouth Communications bought WHBB and its FM sister station for $400,000.  They flipped the format to News/Talk, with local talk and local council meeting coverage, in either late 1995 or early 1996.  The station has also had some black gospel and jazz programming through the 90's and 2000's, but dropped the jazz programming in the summer of 2016. After that music was taken off, the jazz host moved his show to WJAM.

The jazz program was re-introduced to the lineup in 2020, from 4 to 6 PM on weekdays.

On 12 January 2023, the station fell silent after a tornado struck Selma, causing extensive damage. The station and its FM sister WDXX returned to the air just a few days afterwards.