FM Technical Profile: WQEN

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Station Name:
103-7 the Q
Contemporary Hit Radio
Transmitter Location:
[map] Red Mountain near Spaulding-Ishkooda Road; likely co-located on the WMJJ tower.
Power (ERP):
100 kW
Antenna HAAT:
935 feet
Other Information:
60 dBu protected contour map, from the FCC.
AUX: 25 kW @ 640 feet. 60 dBu protected contour map, from the FCC.

1037theQ Hit Music 1037 / 1037TheQ song title/artist info
Top 40

Metro Traffic

HD-2: Rock - "The Vulcan"

// W276BQ Birmingham
RDS logo :
PS-103.1 The Vulcan (song/title)
Text-103.1 The Vulcan Man Up
Top 40
PI-D267 (invalid code)

HD-3: Alternative Rock - "Alt Bham"

More Information:
[Bhamwiki] ** note: this entry contains erroneous information on WQEN.
[Q104 Tribute] Tribute site to the days when WQEN was "Super Q 104" and just a Gadsden station.
[YouTube] Promotional video for "Rock 94.9" that was briefly on the HD3/translator combo.

[Image] RDS display from the HD-2's FM translator on a GMC Yukon's radio, from January 2012.
[Image] RDS display from an Insignia portable radio, showing the Radio Text and PS (call sign) fields.  From June 2017.

[Image] RDS display data as shown on a Mazda OEM stereo for the HD's FM translator, from 2020.

[Image] HD PAD data for the HD-1 channel, displayed on a Mazda OEM car stereo. (From 2020.)
[Image] HD PAD data for the HD-2 subchannel, displayed on a Mazda OEM car stereo. (From 2020.)
[Image] HD PAD data for the HD-3 subchannel, displayed on a Mazda OEM car stereo. (From 2020.)
[Image] HD PAD data display on an Insignia HD radio for the HD1 channel.
HD PAD data display on an Insignia HD radio for the HD2 channel.

[Studio] Street View imagery of the iHeartMedia studio space in Birmingham.
This station was known in the 60's and early 70's as WLJM-FM, sister to WJBY-AM, owned by Charlie Bowman. The studios were located in the Life of Alabama building on Broad Street in downtown Gadsden, and the tower was on Lookout Mountain, off Scenic Highway near Mountainview Hospital. Around 1975, Bowman sold the station to Etowah Broadcasting, owners of WAAX-AM. The calls were changed to WQEN (QueEN city, which is what Gadsden was known as before becoming "The City of Champions".)
Automation equipment was installed for the beautiful music format, which lasted about nine months. The station then ventured into what was then AM-dominated territory by going Top 40 with the slogan "Q-104". It became a huge success, becoming at one time the highest rated FM station in Alabama.
Around late 1977 or early 1978, the transmitter was moved to a better location on Chandler Mountain near the community of Steele, in St. Clair county. The new location, with a boost to 100 kW of power, gave Q-104 quite a large coverage area. At some point in the mid? 80's the station tweaked the format a bit and changed their slogan to "The Q". That failed and they went back to "Q-104".  Want to hear what Super Q 104 sounded like in its heyday?  Check out this great tribute website.
Popular syndicated morning show Rick and Bubba started here in 1992 and got big on before moving off to greener pastures in Birmingham in 1999. Later that same year, the station also moved, relocating to a tower location near Springville and a little bit less power. The format went from straight up Top 40 and AC to a real hot AC/CHR mix.
In the summer of 2005 the station again made a transmitter move, this time to WMJJ's tower (most likely) on Red Mountain, with a power increase back up to 100kW. The station was also re-licensed from Gadsden to the Birmingham suburb of Trussville.
When Clear Channel installed HD digital transmitter facilities in Birmingham, WQEN picked up a subchannel, relaying iHeart Radio's Club Phusion top 40 format that was heavy on dance rotations.  In January 2011 they flipped the HD-2 to rock as "The Vulcan" to feed a newly acquired translator on 103.1 MHz, which broadcasts from the same tower on Red Mountain as WQEN.  At the same time this started, WERC-AM also flipped to rock.  Although a "vote" was held to determine the new format and the station stunted with a rotating cast of music genres, it was apparent from the beginning that the format would be rock.  In mid-August 2014, the station added an HD3 channel, with classic rock as "Rock 94.9", which is also being heard on a translator in town.  Near the start of September 2015, the HD-3 and translator combo flipped to alternative rock as "Alt 94.9".  This marks the first time Birmingham has had a full time alternative rock station in nearly 10 years.  The rock only lasted a little under two years, though, as the translator was sold by Red Mountain Broadcasting to Courtney French for use with WATV AM in Birmingham in late July 2017.  That deal took several months to finalize, but once the 94.9 translator changed to WATV, iHeart moved the alt. rock to W256CD licensed to Fultondale, on 99.1 MHz.

In June 2021, Way Media purchased the W256CD translator for $350,000. After the sale closed in November 2021, the translator went silent in preparation for the flip to the WAY-FM religious format.  The Alternative Rock format is slated to continue as "Alt Bham" on the HD3 subchannel and online.

The station was granted an auxiliary permit to operate at the same site as the current transmitter, but with 25 kW at 640 feet HAAT.