FM Technical Profile: WPYA

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Station Name:
Today's Hits 97.3


Contemporary Hit Radio

Transmitter Location:
[map] Co-located on the American General TV tower on Red Mountain.

Power (ERP):
6.2 kW
6.4 kW with beam tilt

Omnidirectional with beam tilt

Antenna HAAT:
1325 feet

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

Top 40

HD-2: Adult Album Alternative "Birmingham Mountain Radio"
// W222BK Birmingham
// W297BF Birmingham

RDS logo :
PS-(song) by (artist) on BMR
(song) by (artist) on BMR

More Information:
[Facebook] For Today's Hits 97.3
[Facebook] For Birmingham Mountain Radio

[Bhamwiki] Information on the station from the WNCB era

[Image] RDS display from the station on a GMC Yukon's radio from the sports talk WZNN era, showing the old RDS PTY from when it was Buck Country.
[Image] RDS display from an Insignia portable in northwest Alabama showing the Text and PI (call sign) fields from the station's Easy 97.3 era.
[Image] RDS display from an Insignia portable in northwest Alabama showing the Text and PI (call sign) fields from the station's 97.3 Play era.

[Image] Display showing the addition of an HD subchannel with no PAD data.
[Image] HD PAD data for the HD-1 channel, displayed on a Mazda OEM car stereo. (From 2020.)

[Article] article on Birmingham Mountain Radio's expansion into the Tuscaloosa market.
[Studio] Street View imagery of the building housing the SummitMedia studios off Highway 280 in Hoover.

J. S. Kelly, LLC (SummitMedia)
One of the newer additions to the Birmingham radio dial, debuting in November 1998 as WEDA, "Hot 97.3". The format was Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR). The original owners, Homewood Radio LLC, sold the station August 2, 1999 to Cox Radio for $5.5 million*, who had been programming it from the beginning. The call letters changed to WRLR mid-September, with an Active Rock format as "Rock 97.3". On October 17th , the rock went away and was replaced with the Oldies format from WODL, 106.9 FM in Birmingham. "Dollar" Bill Lawson from WZZK's old morning show did mornings for a while after the move. Montgomery legend from WBAM's heyday, Joe Cook, later got on board.
In July 2004 the station made its upgrade from a class A to C2, moving from 640 to 6,400 watts ERP. This boost allowed the station to have a larger, more solid coverage area but moved or re-allocated at least nine other stations around Alabama!  It started in west Alabama, where WLXY was re-allocated from Northport to Helena, and WTUG was re-allocated from Tuscaloosa to Northport.  In Birmingham, WODL was re-licensed from Homewood to Gardendale, and WBPT was re-licensed from Birmingham to Homewood.  Elsewhere in Alabama, Orrville's WJAM-FM moved from 97.3 to 107.9 at a new transmitter site closer to Selma; Talladega's WSSY-FM moved to Goodwater and employed a directional antenna; Thomaston's WAYI re-located to a new transmitter site north of town; Clanton's WEZZ moved and re-licensed to Jemison.  WZLM, licensed to Dadeville, was re-allocated from 97.3 to 100.3 MHz.   After these moves, the WODL transmitter site relocated from the short old tower used by WABM-TV's analog operations off Ishkooda Road to the new American General tower overlooking downtown. After the upgrade, the station ran ads mentioning they'd play the last song on 16 July, which turned out to be a song titled "The Last Song".  After that, they dropped the "Oldies 97.3" slogan and began running a more CHR-focused Oldies format, centered on 70's music.
Just two months after the big switch to 70's music, the station changed formats again. On September 24th they flipped to a Contemporary Country format with the slogan, "New Country 97-3". The calls have also changed to WNCB.
In March 2010 it was reported the station dropped its longtime "New Country" slogan for "The Buck".
The station dropped the perennially low-rated Buck country format for Sports as "The Zone" on 30 August 2011 and changed calls from WNCB to WZNN on 1 September 2011.  In August 2012 the station took over ESPN affiliation from WJOX.  As part of the deal WZNN will air ESPN during non-local programming times, and Cox stablemate WENN (AM) will air ESPN 24/7, including on a new translator not already linked to WENN.  Also at this time WZNN added a second HD channel to carry "Power 102.1".  Also around this time the entire Cox cluster in Birmingham was sold to upstart SummitMedia.
In the early summer of 2013 it became evident that the station would be unable to woo Paul Finebaum, who went with ESPN to start a southern/national show with syndication by that company.  In June 2013 it was announced that WZNN would not be getting the new show and would be shuttering the bottom-rated sports format.  On Friday 28 June 2013 the station began stunting with Hawai`ian music as "Hula 97.3".  Shortly after stunting the station dropped the Urban Classics "Power 102.1" from the HD2, replacing it with a relay of the popular online AAA station "Birmingham Mountain Radio", with a new format for the main channel to debut on the 5th.  On the 4th the station became "97-3 The Pledge" with all patriotic music. The station's next format from 5 July 2013 is Variety Hits as "Y'all FM", which appears to be, at least at the start, a four hour loop with the same promos, songs and commercials.  In mid-August 2013 the station added a third subchannel, airing Urban Music.  (Later, that second short-lived subchannel aired gospel 610 WAGG.)
In November 2013 it was announced that the variety hits "Y'all 97.3" format was moving to WENN and translator W271BN, replacing the classic urban "Power 102.1" previously heard there.  Strong rumors later hinted that this frequency would flip to Soft Adult Contemporary, as "Easy 97.3", and that happened on 21 November 2013.  The calls also changed to WEZZ-FM around the same time.  In a bid to siphon off some of Magic 96's annual Christmas goodwill, the station flipped to Christmas music within minutes of Magic's flip on 24 October 2014, making them some of the earliest stations in the country to go all-holiday music.
The station briefly stunted again with Christmas music on 25 September 2015, after teasing a big announcement that day.  They stayed with the format for just one hour before reverting to their regular Soft AC format, shuffling the Christmas music off to the WENN (AM) and 100.1 MHz translator combo.

Rumors of a format flip began circulation in March, 2016.  The station flipped from Soft AC to Hot Adult Contemporary on Pi Day, March 14th 2016, to try and slot in between iHeart Radio's WQEN and the more laid-back Magic 96.  The Soft AC moved to the translator at 102.1 MHz (fed by AM station WENN) that had been carrying gospel from 610 WAGG; the gospel in turn migrated to the 100.1 translator that was previously paired up with 1320 WENN.  The call sign changed to WPYA on 21 March 2016 and began marketing itself as "97-3 Play". 
In early May 2017, the Birmingham Mountain Radio feed picked up a second translator, W222BK, in Pelham.

The station picked up the long-running Ace & TJ syndicated show from WQEN in April 2021, and when that morning show debuted here, Summit flipped the branding to "Play 97.3".  Summit had previously killed off other Play-branded stations in other markets with this same moniker.

The station was noted to have made playlist tweaks in June 2023 that included heavier rotation of bit pop hits, along with dropping Ace & TJ for another syndicated show, Tino Cochino Radio in the mornings.  On 11 September 2023 the station flipped (back) to Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) as "Today's Hit 97.3".

In January 2023 the W222BK translator that is fed by Birmingham Mountain Radio filed a Silent STA (Special Temporarily Authority) citing technical issues.
* figure provided by the Birmingham News