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WERC
WERC-FM logo
CityBirmingham, Alabama
Broadcast areaGreater Birmingham
Frequency960 kHz (HD Radio)
BrandingNews Radio 960 WERC
Programming
FormatTalk radio
AffiliationsFox News Radio
Premiere Radio Networks
WBRC-TV
Ownership
OwneriHeartMedia, Inc.
(iHM Licenses, LLC)
WDXB, WERC-FM, WMJJ, WQEN
History
First air date
May 25, 1925
Former call signs
WBRC (1925–72)
WERC (1972–2011)
WVVB (2011)
Former frequencies
1210 kHz (1925–27)
1230 kHz (1927)
1240 kHz (1927–28)
990 kHz (1928)
930 kHz (1928–41)
Call sign meaning
Derived from original WBRC call sign
Technical information
Facility ID2112
ClassB
Power5,000 watts
Transmitter coordinates
33°32′02″N 86°51′07″W / 33.53389°N 86.85194°W / 33.53389; -86.85194
Repeater(s)105.5 WERC-FM (Hoover)
Links
WebcastListen live (via iHeartRadio)
Websitewercfm.iheart.com

WERC (960 AM) is a news/talk radio station licensed to Birmingham, Alabama, and serving the Birmingham market as a complete simulcast of sister station WERC-FM. It operates unlimited hours with 5,000 watts. The station has studios at Beacon Ridge Tower in Birmingham (near Red Mountain) and its transmitter is northwest of downtown Birmingham.

WERC originated the talk format currently heard on WERC-FM from 1982 until 2011, and was the first station in Birmingham to carry an all-talk format. The format - and the WERC calls - migrated to the 105.5 facility in 2010 before both returned to the AM station in July 2011.

WERC is owned by San Antonio–based iHeartMedia. Other stations in the Birmingham market owned by iHeartMedia include WMJJ (96.5 FM), WDXB (102.5 FM), WQEN (103.7 FM), and WERC-FM (105.5 FM). iHeartMedia also programs W276BQ (103.1), a translator owned by Red Mountain Broadcasting, LLC. W276BQ rebroadcasts the programming of the HD2 channel of WQEN, branded as "103.1 The Vulcan" (and was also relayed on this facility from January to June 2011 under the WVVB calls).

Programming

Like most iHeartMedia talk stations, WERC airs several local programs, as well as nationally syndicated programs such as The Glenn Beck Program, The Rush Limbaugh Show, The Schnitt Show, The Savage Nation and America Now with Andy Dean. 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.[1] 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.[1]

History

The forerunner of WERC was the first radio station in Birmingham, and the second station in Alabama. It signed on in May 1925 as WBRC, owned by Birmingham doctor J. C. Bell; the call letters stood for Bell Radio Corporation.[2] It broadcast with 50 watts power at 1210 AM from a transmitter in Bell's Fountain Heights home. In 1928, businessman M. D. Smith bought a controlling stake in the station from Bell for $2,000.

Throughout the 1920s the station increased its broadcast power several times as well as its broadcast frequency. It also moved its studios several times, eventually moving to the Bankhead Hotel in downtown Birmingham by 1932. By 1935, the station was affiliated with the NBC network. In 1947, it advertised that it "was the first radio station in the Deep South to subscribe to full day and night news wire service--INS."[3] Smith died in 1937, and his wife, Eloise, inherited the station. In 1940, she became full owner of WBRC.

In 1946, WBRC introduced the first FM station in Birmingham. Due to the lack of FM radios in Birmingham, WBRC-FM was not very successful, and was taken off the air two years later. Undaunted, in 1949, Hanna launched the WBRC-TV, Alabama's second television station, on channel 4. Hanna retired in 1953, and sold the stations to Storer Broadcasting in 1953. Four years later, the stations were sold to Taft Broadcasting.

The advent of television in the 1950s caused network radio programming to decline. By the early 1960s, WBRC was one of two "middle of the road" music stations in Birmingham. It continued in that format until 1972, when Taft Broadcasting sold WBRC and a revived WBRC-FM (106.9 FM) to Mooney Broadcasting. Taft retained ownership of WBRC-TV until 1987. As Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations at that time prohibited non-commonly owned stations from sharing call letters, Mooney changed the call letters of the radio stations to WERC and WERC-FM--a deliberate nod to the old call letters. WERC was christened "96-ERC", and launched an all-out assault on the market's leading top 40 station, WSGN (now WAGG).

For much of the 1970s, WERC and WSGN were two of the most listened-to stations in Birmingham. The beginning of WERC's demise as a top 40 powerhouse came in 1977, when its own FM sister station was relaunched as top 40 station WKXX, "Kicks 106" (now WBPT). By 1980, WERC modified its format to adult contemporary music and was known as "News Plus 960, WERC". An afternoon drive sports call-in show hosted by future University of Alabama football announcer Eli Gold was launched in 1981. Competing unsuccessfully against WSGN and WAPI as an adult contemporary station, WERC dropped music in May, 1982 and changed to a news-talk format, which it continued with until January 2011. The station was an early affiliate for Rush Limbaugh's radio network.

For much of the 1990s the WERC line-up featured TC and John Ed as morning hosts, Paul Finebaum in the afternoons, and Russ and Dee Fine hosting evenings.

During a 1993 snowstorm that paralyzed the Birmingham area, WERC became the primary source of information and assistance for hundreds of thousands of residents that were stranded by the weather without power (in some cases, for weeks).

WERC began to transition its format to the FM dial on July 6, 2009, when a new incarnation of WERC-FM replaced modern rock station WVVB ("The Vulcan") at 105.5 FM. 960 AM simulcast with 105.5 FM until January 7, 2011, when it began originating the programming being broadcast on a new FM translator, W276BQ, that began broadcasting on the 103.1 frequency. After stunting with several formats, ranging from oldies to classic country to adult album alternative to urban, the station settled on a permanent format on January 13, 2011, reviving the "Vulcan" branding with an active rock format. In addition to broadcasting on 960 AM and 103.1 FM, "The Vulcan" also broadcast on WQEN-HD2 103.7-2. The transition was completed on February 15, 2011, when the WERC call letters were replaced with 105.5's former WVVB call letters.

On June 23, 2011, WVVB returned to news/talk, though the FM side was now branded as the main station. On July 14, 2011 WVVB changed its call letters back to WERC. 103.1 continues to broadcast the active rock format from WQEN-HD2.

References

  1. ^ a b "Alabama Affiliates". Coast to Coast AM. Retrieved December 31, 2011.
  2. ^ Nelson, Bob (2008-10-18). "Call Letter Origins". The Broadcast Archive. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
  3. ^ "WBRC ad" (PDF). Broadcasting. August 25, 1947. Retrieved 6 October 2014.