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City of license Hoover, Alabama
Broadcast area Birmingham, Alabama
Branding 105.5 WERC[1]
Slogan "Talk Radio WERC"
Frequency 105.5 (MHz)
First air date 1993
Format News/Talk
ERP 29,500 watts
HAAT 190 meters
Class C2
Facility ID 62278
Former callsigns WWIV (1992-1993)
WWBR (1993-1996)
WRAX (1996-1997)
WENN (1997-2008)
WVVB (2008-2009)
Owner Clear Channel Communications
Sister stations WDXB, WERC, WMJJ, WQEN
Webcast Listen Live

WERC-FM (105.5 FM, "Talk Radio 105.5 WERC") is a Clear Channel-owned talk radio formatted radio station that broadcasts at an effective radiated power of 29.5 kilowatts. It is licensed to Hoover, Alabama, and serves the Birmingham market. Until September 19, 2008, the callsign of the 105.5 frequency was WENN.[2]

The WENN call letters 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 "105.5 The Vulcan" branding was a tribute to a well-known landmark in Birmingham: The Vulcan Statue.


History of WENN-FM

WENN-FM came on the air at 107.7 FM in 1969 as the sister station of WENN-AM. The station began as FM simulcast of its AM urban contemporary sister station 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 and Dave Donnell. "WENN's gonna make me a WENNER!" The slogan that rocketed the station to number 1 in the Arbitron ratings made WENN 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 because of the station's heirs' lack of focus and wanted to sell its media properties. At about the same time, WENN faced direct competition on FM for the first time, as both WBHJ and WBHK 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 WAGG were sold to Cox broadcasting who also owned WBHK & WBHJ, then weeks later to Dick Broadcasting, who already owned and operated five other stations in Birmingham: WYSF-FM (94.5), WZRR-FM (99.5), WRAX-FM (105.9), WJOX-AM (690), and WAPI-AM (1070). The purchase of WENN by an out of town based company, as well as the sudden and steep decline in the station's ratings, brought uncertainty to its future. The 105.9 signal had always been a hindrance to ratings because of its lower power and tower location on the eastern side of Birmingham. In December 1997, Dick Broadcasting swapped the broadcast frequencies of WENN and alternative rock station, WRAX,"106X" 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". By the end of 1998, the legendary WENN fell victim to a poor signal and new competition from the Cox-owned duo, "95.7 Jamz" & "98.7 Kiss FM", 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 profitable, its sale was planned well in advance.

In 1999, WENN was purchased by Clear Channel and came back on the air as an urban oldies station with the nickname, "Jammin' Oldies 105.9". WRAX, known as "107.7 the X", became a rating success after it moved to the more powerful signal once occupied by WENN. (Ironically, in 2005, Citadel Broadcasting, the current owners of the former Dick Broadcasting properties in Birmingham, returned urban adult contemporary music to the 107.7 frequency with the launch of WUHT, Hot 107.7).

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. Tweaking with the format, adding more new rap and hip hop attempted to make it competitive with 95.7 Jamz, but 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 gospel, "Hallelujah 105.9 FM" on February 1, 2003, copying a format Clear Channel had introduced in Memphis, Tennessee the previous year. As a gospel music station, WENN consistently ranked 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, Alabama.

In December, 2006, WENN surprised Birmingham area radio listeners by dropping its gospel music for modern rock music. This came less than week after WRAX (The X @ 100.5) dropped modern rock to become the market's first FM sports radio station.[1] On September 18, 2008, the call letters of 105.5 were changed to WVVB. The station changed formats on July 6, 2009, dropping the rock music format to become a simulcast of WERC's news-talk format. This is the second incarnation of WERC-FM in Birmingham. From the 1972 until 1977, the WERC call letters were assigned to 106.9 FM.

History of 105.5 FM

In 1993, a new radio frequency debuted in the Birmingham market at 105.9 FM. The original city of license was Trussville, broadcasting at 3,000 watts power. The original call sign for this station was WWIV. For a brief time, WWIV served as a simulcast of then co-owned WYDE-AM (850), which at the time was a news-talk station. In the October 1993, WWIV changed its call sign to WWBR and called itself "105.9 the Bear". For the next two years the format of 105.9 the Bear was album rock. 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.

In February 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.


  1. ^ a b "Local FM voice taking position at new station". The Huntsville Times (Huntsville, Alabama). 2007-01-28. "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."  
  2. ^ "Call Sign History". FCC Media Bureau CDBS Public Access Database.  

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