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WBHM: Wikis


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WBHM logo.png
City of license Birmingham, Alabama
Broadcast area Birmingham area
Slogan "NPR News & Classical Music"
Frequency 90.3 MHz
Repeaters WSGN 91.5 MHz (Gadsden)
First air date December 5, 1976
Format News Talk Information
ERP 32,000 watts
HAAT 370.0 meters
Class C1
Facility ID 4240
Transmitter coordinates 33°29′19.00″N 86°47′58.00″W / 33.48861°N 86.79944°W / 33.48861; -86.79944
Callsign meaning BirmingHaM[1]
Affiliations American Public Media, National Public Radio, Public Radio International
Owner University of Alabama at Birmingham
(Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama)
Webcast Listen Live

WBHM (90.3 FM) is a radio station broadcasting a News Talk Information format during the daytime on weekdays and mostly classical music at other times. Licensed to Birmingham, Alabama, USA, the station serves the Birmingham area and through repeater WSGN also serves the Gadsden area. The station is licensed to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where it maintains its studios. WBHM features programing from American Public Media, National Public Radio and Public Radio International.[2]. The station is a National Public Radio affiliate. It also primarily features classical music programming, except for several weekly feature shows from NPR, Public Radio International, and American Public Media on weekends.

On a sub-carrier channel, WBHM operates the Alabama Radio Reading Service, which broadcasts readings from the Birmingham News and popular magazines for blind and visually-impaired residents of the Birmingham area. The other public radio stations in Alabama also offer the service, provided through a grant by the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services.



Even though Huntsville beat Birmingham, the state's largest city, in getting Alabama's first public radio station in October 1976 (the present WLRH), WBHM did not follow far behind, beginning operations on December 5. WBHM became Birmingham's first full-time classical station since the demise of a commercial FM outlet, WSFM, which gave way to the present WDJC-FM in 1967.

Except for the expansion of nationally-distributed weekend feature shows like Car Talk, A Prairie Home Companion, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, and This American Life, WBHM's schedule has largely remained constant over its three decades of broadcasting. As with most other markets in the country, the drive-time NPR newscasts have become the most-listened-to programs on the station's daily lineup. WBHM augments the national coverage with frequent local features from its news staff.

Some jazz and folk music programs aired on Saturday evenings during the 1980s, but only Echoes and Hearts of Space, both experimental music programs, represent non-classical genres these days. Central Alabama listeners can hear various types of music on Alabama Public Radio instead, whose Tuscaloosa signal can be received clearly in much of the Birmingham area.

Except for a half-hour Mondays through Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. currently hosted by Lissa LeGrand, WBHM no longer has local hosts for classical music. For most of the 2000s, it exclusively relied on the Classical Public Radio Network (a joint production of KUSC-FM in Los Angeles and Colorado Public Radio) to provide programming in the middle of the day, evenings, and overnight.

When CPRN shut down operations in 2008, WBHM switched to an all-news/discussion format in the daytime hours with programming from PRI and NPR, a move that several other previously classical-formatted NPR affiliates elsewhere have made in recent times in response to lister demand. Classical music is now heard on WBHM only overnights after 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays (12 Midnight on Sundays) and from Noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Perhaps the station's most accomplished alumnus is John Lemley, who hosted Afternoon Music and All Things Considered on WBHM from 1992 to 1997. He now serves as the All Things Considered host each weekday afternoon on Atlanta's WABE-FM, that city's main NPR outlet. Lemley was further known as an accomplished actor while residing in Birmingham.



WSGN-FM began operation as WEXP (for experiment) on February 11, 1975, primarily as a training facility for Gadsden State Community College's broadcasting department. The station was assembled using equipment donated from several Alabama radio stations and from Rick Maze of Birmingham, plus purchases from the State of Alabama Surplus Property warehouse. Construction was performed by broadcast instructors Don Smith and Bob Mayben with assistance from WBRC-TV personnel in Birmingham.

The station was operated by students and faculty for many years. When both Smith and Mayben left the school for other interests, new instructor Neil Mullen took over the station operation and a programming deal was struck with the University of Alabama in Birmingham to provide classical music programming.

The call letters of WSGN (for founder Birmingham News, the "South's Greatest Newspaper"[1]) date back to the beginning of radio broadcasting in the state, and were formerly located in Birmingham at 610 on the AM dial. In fact, there was a WSGN-FM in the 50's which today is known as WDJC in Birmingham. The call letters were changed under Mullens' leadership when WSGN 610 AM was sold to a company that did not want to use the call letters, but did not want another station in Birmingham to be able to use them, so another deal was struck to re-name WEXP as WSGN. As of 2010, the WEXP call letters are located in Brandon, Vermont.[3]

Weekly local programs

Tapestry--heard Thursday evenings at 6:30 p.m., the show spotlights aspects of Birmingham's local artistic and musical scene, with an emphasis on avant-garde and unusual expressions. Greg Bass is the host. The show is also rebroadcast Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. and available as a podcast.


  1. ^ a b Nelson, Bob (2008-10-18). "Call Letter Origins". The Broadcast Archive. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  2. ^ "WBHM Facility Record". United States Federal Communications Commission, audio division. 
  3. ^ Query the FCC's FM station database for WEXP. Retrieved on 2008-04-17.

External links


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