FM Technical Profile: WUHT

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Station Name:
Hot 107
Transmitter Location:
[map] Atop Red Mountain, on the newer multi-pronged tower.
Power (ERP):
43 kW
Antenna HAAT:
1345 feet.
Other Information:
60 dBu protected contour map, from the FCC.
PS-HOT 1077
Bham's Best Mix of R&B
Rhythm and Blues
AUX: 35 kW @ 803 feet. 60 dBu protected contour map, from the FCC.
More Information:
[Bhamwiki] History of WENN, including its time on 105.9 and now 101.9 FM.
[Image] RDS display from the station on a GMC Yukon's radio, showing the PS (station name), Radio Text and PTY (format) fields.  From January 2012.
[Image] RDS display from an Insignia portable radio in northwest Alabama, showing the Radio Text and PS (call sign) fields, from June 2017.
[Studio] Street View imagery of the Cumulus Birmingham studio facilities.
Cumulus Communications
An original construction permit was issued to John McClendon (as Jomac Birmingham Corporation) for a new FM signal on 107.7 Mhz, with 28.2 kW, from the transmitting site of WENN AM near Birmingham-Southern College.  McClendon had launched the AM about a decade earlier and it climbed to the top of the popularity pyramid of Birmingham's black radio audience.  When this station signed on in 1969 as WENN-FM, it would transmit from atop Red Mountain with a Gates FM-20H-2 feeding a 6-bay Gates FMC-6 antenna system.  The antenna was 568 feet HAAT and the station's power was listed as 58.1 kW.  The studios were at the old Tutwiler Hotel on 5th Avenue North in downtown Birmingham.  The AM and FM simulcast to some degree though much of the early years it was on the air, a practice that was common at the time.

McClendon died in 1969, and ownership of the station eventually was transferred to Hertz Broadcasting Company (still in control of McClendon's estate.) 

The station's transmitter tower collapsed in 1974, taking it off the air for several months.  The WENN stations were sold to A. G. Gaston in 1975; he famously fired the (white) General Manager, causing most of the airstaff to walk out and take up jobs at rival WATV.  That same year, the FM got a permit to boost power to 68.6 kW, utilizing a Gates FM-20H-3 transmitter, feeding a seven-bay Gates FMC-7 antenna system.  The transmitter site moved down the mountain a bit to the WZZK site one mile southwest of Vulcan.  The station moved down Red Mountain again in 1976, to a site just west of where WIAT and WTTO are located now, getting another boost in height (to 640 feet HAAT) and 100 kW of power. One year later, the station began broadcasting a SCA (Subsidiary Communications Authorization) subcarrier on 67 kHz.

Once WENN-FM became the absolutely dominant black-oriented broadcaster in Birmingham, A. G. Gaston (by now, operating as Booker T. Washington Broadcasting Services) spun the AM away to Gospel as WAGG, further entrenching WENN as the dominant signal for Rhythm and Blues and black community news in Birmingham.  The station managed to further expand their coverage area in the early 80's, when the transmitter site was relocated to rural northeast Jefferson County, near the Palmerdale community.  From this lofty perch, the big signal reached quite a bit of rural north and northeast Alabama.

WENN would remain dominant until Cox Radio from Atlanta began making inroads with their one-two punch of Adult R&B WBHK and Contemporary R&B WBHJ in the late 90's.  In 1997, North Carolina-based Dick Broadcasting purchased the station and flipped it to Alternative Rock as WRAX "107.7 The X".  The X format had previously been heard on a lower-powered regional signal on 105.9 MHz, covering mostly Center Point and Trussville.  WENN and its format moved to the marginal signal where it would basically be neglected. 

Dick Broadcasting, in an effort to consolidate their FM stations onto Red Mountain, took the station off its taller rural tower and relocated the transmitter to Red Mountain in 2007.  This lowered the power and coverage by a significant amount.

In March 2005 the Alternative Rock format began migrating to WANZ (formerly Z 100.5, The X's main rock competitor). On the last day of March 2005, WRAX flipped to
Hip-Hop as "Hot 107.7, Birmingham's home for hip hop and R&B", from their new transmitter site atop Red Mountain.  At one time, this station appeared on the HD Radio consortium's list of soon-to-be active HD broadcasters, with an old school hip-hop format slated for the HD-2.  It appears that never came to fruition and the listing was taken down in late 2014 or early 2015.