FM Technical Profile: WHMA

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Station Name:
Big 95

Frequency:
95.3

Format:
Country

Transmitter Location:
[map] Located on Coldwater Mountain west of Hobson City, between AL-202 (Albert P Brewer Highway) and I-20.

Power (ERP):
400 watts
Antenna:
Directional 
Antenna HAAT:
1,089 feet

Other Information:
60 dBu protected contour map, from the FCC.

:PS-WHMA 955 [song title/artist] Time-[?] Text-[?] PTY-[?]

// W248CE Gadsden, AL
More Information:
[FCC]
[FCCdata.org]
[Radio-Locator]
[Wikipedia]

[Facebook]
Owner:
Hometown Radio, LLC

History:
WASZ:

This frequency came on the air in 1984 as WASZ, licensed to Ashland-Lineville.  It re-licensed to Hobson City and changed to WHMA (for Harry M. Ayers) after the orignal WHMA-FM at 100.5 MHz beat cheeks for Atlanta.  It was put on the air by Perry Communications, who may have owned Clay County's only other radio station, WZZX, at the time.

The original WHMA-FM:

Because the station that was originally WHMA-FM on 100.5 moved out of Alabama, let's take a look at the history for that station and these WHMA calls.  The Anniston Star, owners of 1390 WHMA in Anniston, applied for an FM station in September 1949 under their Anniston Broadcasting Company banner.  The original transmitter site is unknown, being only listed as "Calhoun County, Alabama" on FCC history cards.  It was originally assigned 103.9 MHz, with 24 kW of power at an antenna height of 730 feet.  The actual license was updated many times, but in 1947 the station began officially broadcasting on 100.5 MHz, with 250 watts from the studios at 1330 Noble Street in downtown Anniston, atop the Radio Building. 

By 1950, the station had a permit for 3.65 kW at 140 feet Height Above Average Terrain (HAAT) from the WHMA (1450 kHz) tower at 15th Street and Crawford Avenue. A license to cover for that facility was filed in March 1951, superseding the temporary authority from the late 40's.  In 1957, WHMA AM moved from 1450 kHz to 1390 kHz, taking over the former WSPC AM site.  The owners filed to move the FM to the (new-old) WHMA AM site off Post Oak Road in Saks, north of Anniston.  That was granted in July 1957 and a license to cover for that was filed in December 1958.

The station got its first big boost in power in 1969 when a permit was granted to move the transmitter to atop Blue Mountain, just east of Anniston.  The power was raised to 25.5 kW at a HAAT of 802.3 feet.  A license to cover for this was filed in March 1970.  In 1974, the station added a Subsidiary Communications Authorization (SCA) for 67 kHz.  By 1975, the station was listed in the Broadcasting Yearbook as having a "Good music" format, whatever that means.

In December 1980, the station was granted another big boost, this time to a full 100 kW at 772 feet HAAT, using a Collins G5CPS-8 eight section FM antenna from the Blue Mountain site.  That facility was on the air by 1983. At this time the format morphed to Easy Listening, but it only lasted a few years until they launched a Country format. The station was sold to Calhoun Broadcasting in 1984.  In 1987 they got a boost in height to 1,142 feet HAAT, giving the station a massive coverage area ranging from Birmingham to the Atlanta suburbs.  Around this time they moved towards a more Contemporary Country format.  The station and its AM sister was sold to Crown Broadcasting in 1989 for $7.5 million. 

The station was acquired by Bridge Capital Investments II in 1993.  The president of that company, Tom Gammon, was interested in moving the station into the large and lucrative Atlanta market.  In their application, the station would stay as a Class C with 100 kW, but move into Atlanta by re-licensing to the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs.  Despite getting approval from an upstate South Carolina broadcaster to make changes to their station, the FCC denied the application, citing the fact that Sandy Springs while one of Georgia's biggest "cities" by population, was at the time unincorporated and thus ineligible to be a "city of license". 

After the failure to move, the station was sold to Susquehanna Broadcasting, who owned several stations in the Atlanta market.  They took multiple attempts to get the station relocated; in one attempt it would have been 50 kW, but from a site near Peachtree City as a Class C2.  Another attempt was for 27 kW from a site near Ben Hill, still southwest of Atlanta.  Finally they landed on just 3 kW from atop the Omni Hotel tower in downtown.  After that was accepted by the FCC, the station moved to Atlanta and became "Q 100", doing CHR from atop the Omni Hotel in downtown.  As a consequence of this move, Alabama gained one new FM station and another was able to upgrade.  A 100.7 MHz allocation was opened up in east Alabama (now WCKF Ashland) and Tuscaloosa's then WLXY at 100.7 MHz was able to relocated to much more powerful facilities on 100.5 MHz and enter the Birmingham market as a modern rocker (WANZ, Northport). 

Today's WHMA-FM:
 
In the spring of 2012 it was revealed that WHMA has applied to lower power, move to 95.3 MHz and change from their current directional antenna to one that throws less signal to the east.  It's all part of a plan afoot in the Atlanta market to move news/talk WSB's FM counterpart (WSBB on 95.5 MHz) from the Lake Lanier area to a site inside the I-285 perimeter.  If built, it would have been the second time east Alabama's "WHMA" country station was affected by Atlanta-based shenanigans! That move apparently never came to fruition, as the application to change WHMA-FM was dropped in May of 2016.  One part that did change was the station was re-licensed from Hobson City to Alexandria. 

Approximately a year later, the application was reinstated upon review, and may be granted in June 2017.  The review sat in limbo for ages, and was finally approved in late March 2018.  A license to cover for the move to 95.3 MHz was filed in April 2019.

In mid-October 2023 it was announced that Williams Communications was selling all their stations for $250,000 to Hometown Radio, LLC. Hometown radio is led by broadcasting services company MaxxConnect's CEO, Josh Bohn. The FCC dismissed the application in late November 2023 for failure to pay a filing fee.