Logos for WERC-FM's primary and secondary channels.
Logo for WERC-FM's third HD subchannel.
|Broadcast area||Birmingham, Alabama|
|Branding||News Radio 105.5 WERC|
|Subchannels||HD2: Hallelujah 105.1 (Black gospel)|
HD3: B106.5 (Urban AC)
|Affiliations||Fox News Radio|
Premiere Radio Networks
|WDXB, WERC, WMJJ, WQEN|
First air date
|1993 (as WWIV at 105.9)|
Former call signs
|105.9 MHz (1993–2005)|
Call sign meaning
|derived from sister station WERC (AM)'s original WBRC call sign|
|HAAT||190 meters (620 ft)|
|Translator(s)||HD2: 105.1 W286BK (Birmingham)|
HD3: 106.5 W293CM (Graysville)
|Repeater(s)||WERC 960 Birmingham|
WERC-FM (105.5 FM) is a news/talk radio station licensed to Hoover, Alabama and serving the Birmingham market. It operates at an effective radiated power of 29.5 kilowatts. It is owned by San Antonio-based iHeartMedia. The station has studios at Beacon Ridge Tower in Birmingham and its transmitter is atop Red Mountain.
From 1997 until 2008, the 105.5 FM frequency was home to the WENN call letters, which for many years were synonymous to many listeners from Birmingham and most of Central and North Alabama as a legendary urban station with a wide reaching signal. The station's current format originated in 1982 at 960 AM, and is the oldest news/talk format in Birmingham; as a result, WERC-FM is an indirect descendant of Birmingham's first radio station, WBRC. After the talk format and WERC calls migrated to the 105.5 facility, the 960 facility adopted the WVVB call letters and "Vulcan" branding – which were both originally used at the 105.5 frequency between the discontinuation of WENN (of which "The Vulcan" was its last format before the call change to WVVB) and the conversion to WERC-FM. Later that year, however, 960 AM returned to its old news/talk format and switched its call sign back to WERC, though this time branding as a repeater of WERC-FM.
Like most iHeartMedia talk stations, WERC-FM airs several local programs, as well as nationally syndicated programs such as The Glenn Beck Program, The Rush Limbaugh Show and The Michael Berry Show. In addition, WERC simulcasts the audio feed of WBRC-TV's early morning and late night newscasts, along with breaking news/weather coverage (in effect continuing the linkage between WERC and its onetime sister TV station). Overnight, the station broadcasts the syndicated Coast to Coast AM hosted by George Noory. The station also broadcasts the syndicated Saturday night program Somewhere In Time, which consists of reruns of Art Bell-hosted editions of Coast to Coast AM.
The WERC-FM license debuted in 1993 as WWIV, and originally operated at 105.9 FM. The original city of license was Trussville, broadcasting at 3,000 watts power. For a brief time, WWIV served as a simulcast of then-co-owned WYDE (850 AM, now WXJC), which at the time was a news-talk station. That October, WWIV changed its call sign to WWBR and became album rock station "105.9 the Bear". Though the station filled a niche in the market, signal limitations and a less than desirable tower location prevented it from making a significant dent in the local ratings.
On January 22, 1996, the music focus was shifted to modern rock and alternative music. The station changed its on-air name to 106X and took on the new call sign WRAX. The station remained with this format until it swapped dial positions with WENN in December 1997.
WENN-FM came on the air at 107.7 FM in 1969 as the sister station of WENN (1320 AM). The station began as an FM simulcast of the AM's urban contemporary format, primarily playing R&B, soul, and gospel, but by the end of the 1970s its sister station migrated to a primarily gospel-oriented playlist. Both WENN-FM and AM were purchased in 1976 by Dr. A.G. Gaston, one of the leaders of the black business community in Birmingham. Throughout its time as an urban station, WENN created strong local ties to the community through on-air personalities such as Tall Paul, Shelly Stewart, Jimmy Lawson, Stan Granger, Michael Starr, Roe Bonner, Chris Talley, Dave Donnell and James Gavin. During this time, the station used the slogan "WENN's gonna make me a WENNER!"; soon afterward, it shot to number 1 in the Arbitron ratings and became one of the most popular stations of any format in the nation.
The late 1980s and early 1990s brought major changes to the on-air presentation of the station. WENN began to shift from a R&B/soul-based urban contemporary to a more mainstream Urban with the introduction of hip-hop and rap to its playlist, and moved the slower R&B and soul songs to its quiet storm program at night. It also adopted the station moniker and slogan 107.7 WENN, The People's Station, to reiterate that it still sought to be the station for the people, regardless of the shift in music focus. The station maintained a strong position in the Birmingham radio market in the top 5 in ratings throughout this time.
In 1997, the station owner, A.G. Gaston, died at age 101. Dr. Gaston's death brought a sense of uncertainty to WENN; the station's heirs' had lack of focus, and wanted to sell their media properties. At about the same time, WENN faced direct competition on FM for the first time, as both WBHJ (95.7 FM) and WBHK (98.7 FM) adopted formats that challenged WENN for listeners. The ratings for WENN faltered.
In the wake of the passing of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, WENN-FM and its AM sister station (which had become WAGG, now at 610 AM) were sold to Cox Radio, owner of WBHJ and WBHK. A few weeks later, the FM station was sold again, this time to Dick Broadcasting, who already owned and operated five other stations in Birmingham: WYSF (94.5 FM), WZRR (99.5 FM), WRAX (105.9 FM), WJOX (690 AM), and WAPI (1070 AM). The purchase of WENN by an out of town based company, as well as the sudden and steep decline in the station's ratings, furthered the uncertainty surrounding its future. In December 1997, Dick Broadcasting swapped the broadcast frequencies of WENN and WRAX because their belief was that the only alternative-rock formatted station in the market would be more profitable on the stronger signal than that of what had become the third choice for listeners of urban music. The switch occurred, and WENN became known as "Rhythm 105.9". However, the 105.9 signal remained a hindrance to ratings because of its lower power and tower location on the eastern side of Birmingham. By the end of 1998, the legendary WENN fell victim to the poor signal and the competition from WBHJ and WBHK, and briefly went off the air. Dick Broadcasting had no experience with urban formats and felt that it would bring down the value of its cluster. Although still profitable, its sale was planned well in advance.
In 1999, WENN was purchased by Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia), and came back on the air as an urban oldies station with the nickname "Jammin' Oldies 105.9." Meanwhile, WRAX, known as "107.7 the X", became a rating success after it moved to WENN's former signal. (Citadel Broadcasting, who later purchased the former Dick Broadcasting properties in Birmingham, would return urban adult contemporary music to the 107.7 frequency in 2005 with the launch of WUHT.)
"Jammin' Oldies 105.9" seemed to be only popular in areas where its less powerful signal could be received. In January 2000, WENN switched to an urban adult contemporary format with a new name, "V-105.9" (even though there was no "V" in the call letters: the "V" stood for "Variety"), attempting to compete against 98.7 Kiss FM. The station subsequently tweaked the format, adding more new rap and hip hop in an attempt to make it competitive with 95.7 Jamz, but met with limited success. In September 2002, it again changed its name, this time to "Power 105.9", focusing even more on hip hop, rap and R&B. None of these formats worked, so it switched to urban gospel, "Hallelujah 105.9 FM" on February 1, 2003, copying a format Clear Channel had introduced in Memphis the previous year. This format proved more successful, consistently ranking in the top 10 stations in Birmingham's Arbitron ratings.
In order to increase the station's broadcast power and improve its coverage area, WENN moved to 105.5 and changed the station's city of license from Trussville to Hoover, becoming "105.5 Hallelujah FM" on September 1, 2005, swapping dial positions with WRTR in Tuscaloosa.
On December 2, 2006, WENN surprised Birmingham area radio listeners by dropping gospel music for modern rock. This came less than one week after WRAX, by then at 100.5 FM, dropped modern rock to become the market's first FM sports radio station. The WENN call letters were retired on September 18, 2008 in favor of WVVB. WVVB's branding, "105.5 The Vulcan", was a tribute to a well-known landmark in Birmingham: The Vulcan Statue.
WVVB changed formats on July 6, 2009, dropping the rock music format to become a simulcast of the news-talk format of WERC, then at 960 AM. This is the second incarnation of WERC-FM in Birmingham; from 1972 until 1977, the WERC-FM call letters were assigned to 106.9 FM. The simulcast with 960 AM ended in January 2011, when that frequency changed formats and became an active rock station, reviving the "Vulcan" branding and, on February 15, the WVVB call letters; the talk format aired solely on WERC-FM. On June 23, 2011, WERC-FM resumed simulcasting on 960 AM. The AM station resumed the WERC call sign on July 14, 2011.
WERC-HD2 went on the air in June 2011 with a black gospel format, branded as "Hallelujah 105.1", relayed on FM translator W286BK 105.1 FM.
WERC-HD3 went on the air in December 2013 with EMF's K-LOVE contemporary Christian format, relayed on FM translator W241AI 96.1 FM. In 2015, WERC-HD3 and WMJJ-HD3 would swap formats, with WMJJ-HD3 adopting the K-LOVE format, while WERC-HD3 would adopt the Urban AC format and "B106.5" moniker (relayed by translator W293CM (106.5 FM)).
Jimbo Wood [...] one of the city's top rock radio voices, is taking a job as program director/on-air jock with the newest rock station in Birmingham, WENN-FM 105.5 The Vulcan, owned by Clear Channel. It replaced Hallelujah FM, a gospel station, and helps fill the alternative rock void left when WRAX-FM 100.5 The X went off the air in the summer of 2007.