|City of license||Montgomery, Alabama|
|Broadcast area||Montgomery Metropolitan Area|
|Branding||Bama Country 98.9|
|Slogan||"Montgomery's Most Country"|
|First air date||1953 AM 1978 FM|
|HAAT||299 meters (980 feet)|
|Affiliations||Fox News Radio|
|Owner||Bluewater Broadcasting Company, LLC
(Bluewater Broadcasting Company, LLC)
|Sister stations||WACV, WGMP, WJWZ, WQKS-FM|
WBAM, also known as Bama Country 98.9, is a country music formatted radio station that serves the Montgomery Metropolitan Area, broadcasting on the FM band at a frequency of 98.9 MHz and licensed to Montgomery, Alabama. The station is locally owned and operated by Bluewater Broadcasting Company, LLC. The station's transmitter is located in the town of Grady, Alabama. The station's studios are located on Wall St. in Midtown Montgomery.
Because of the 60 year history and large coverage area, the WBAM call letters are well known throughout the deep south. They stand for AlaBAMa.
The Big Bam
WBAM signed on in 1953 as AM 740. WBAM was a powerhouse at 50,000 watts, covering much of Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. From its earliest days, WBAM put on concerts for the Montgomery area. One of its earliest Big BAM Shows featured Elvis Presley as he ascended to fame, on the same bill with Roy Acuff. Hank Williams was another frequent live on-air performer.
WBAM became known as "The Big BAM" or "The Voice of the Deep South", and is legendary. Disc jockeys associated with WBAM's Top 40 heyday include Bill J. Moody, now the sales manager for WDJR in Dothan, Bobby Brennan, Dan Brennan (Dan's Dusty Discs), Coby Shubert and Joe Cook. Big BAM Shows of the late 1960s and early 1970s featured all the biggest artists of the day, including Paul Revere and the Raiders, Lou Christie, Iron Butterfly, The Carpenters, The Monkees (as a group and individually), Tommy Joyce and Bobby Heart, The Grass Roots, and many more. Ticket prices were never more expensive than $4.00.
In 1973, WBAM-AM 740 adopted a country music format. In 1978, WBAM-FM 98.9 signed on with a Top 40 format. AM 740 was sold to Colonial Broadcasting in 1985, and an era ended when the call letters changed to WMSP for sports radio programming.
On September 15, 2009 the building the original 740 AM studios were located in was demolished.
Former programming and personalities
In the mid-1950s, the station was home to the "WBAM Deep South Jamboree" featuring live country and bluegrass acts such as Shorty Sullivan and his Green Valley Boys, Rebe Gosdin and his Sunny Valley Gang, Judy Jenkins, Jack Turner, and other rotating regulars.
Radio personality Johnny Gilbert began his broadcasting career at WBAM. Gilbert was killed in a helicopter accident while working as an airborne traffic reporter at KULF in Houston, Texas, on March 15, 1974. He was posthumously awarded the Steve Pieringer Award by the Texas Association of Broadcasters in 1974.
In the 1960s and early 1970s, the station sponsored a series of pop/rock concerts known as "Big BAM Shows" featuring acts ranging from Paul Revere and the Raiders, Lou Christie, and The Beach Boys to comedian Pat Paulsen.
Other notable former personalities included Bill J. Moody, Paul Simpkins, Mark Robbins, Gene Hocutt and Joe Cook.
Poster of a Big BAM Fall Show featuring The Beach Boys
Poster of a Big BAM Spring Show featuring The Turtles
Notable TV and Radio personality Jimmy Carter (from Montgomery, Alabama) has assembled a few videos featuring some photos, jingles, and air checks of WBAM in its heyday.
WBAM was also known as "Oldies 98" and then "Star 98.9" an Top 40 formatted station in the late 90's and early 2000s.
The birth of Bama Country
In April, 2004 John Garrett announced on air, "he wanted to play an Alan Jackson record instead". That's when Bama Country was born. WBAM has held on to its heritage call letters while returning to its roots as a country music formatted radio station. In the grand tradition of those legendary call letters; it's still imaged on air (although not exclusively) as "The Big BAM in Montgomery".
During the first three years as "Bama Country" the station put on a series of concerts known as "The Bama Country Birthday Bash" with many of today's top country music artists. Ticket prices were a modest $9.89.
Bama Country Today
Since 2004, WBAM has broadcast a mainstream country format. The majority of the music played on WBAM tends to be newer and from more recent artists. Core artists include: Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Toby Keith, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, and more. Legendary artists and songs are reserved for a weekly show titled: Legends Saturday Night which is hosted by JR "Bubba" Cullpepper.
Current Staff and Programming
Notable local programming on WBAM includes: John Garrett, Dr. Sam Faulk, and JR "Bubba" Culpepper. Other programs include: Legends Saturday Night, American Country Countdown with Kix Brooks, Bob Kingsley's Country Top 40 and Rise up Country. WBAM-FM is also a Fox News Radio affiliate.
For several years WBAM transmitter broadcast from the 1,100-foot (340 m) Montgomery Tower Partnership behind the Eastdale Mall in Montgomery, Alabama. The antenna is a shared panel which still broadcasts several other local FM radio stations.
In the late 1990s Cox Communications wanted to move a station into the Birmingham, Alabama radio market. In order to meet Minimum Distance Separation Requirements set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), WBAM had to first be re-located. The re-location was funded by Cox Communications and the new 1,049-foot (320 m) tower is located a few miles from the WSFA-TV tower in Grady, Alabama.
Because WBAM's antenna is nearly 1,400-foot (430 m) above sea level, it blankets Central and Southeast Alabama. WBAM can be heard in the Columbus, Georgia-Auburn, Alabama Combined Statistical Area, Alexander City Micropolitan Statistical Area, Dothan, Alabama metropolitan area and parts of the Florida Panhandle. WBAM is often received by many DXing enthusiasts, some as far away as Toms River New Jersey!
In March 2004, Deep South Broadcasting Co. (Bob Brennen, owner) reached an agreement to sell this station to Bluewater Broadcasting Company, LLC. The sale was part of a multi-company four-station deal valued at a reported $15.3 million. The deal was approved by the FCC on April 21, 2004, and the transaction was consummated on June 21, 2004. At the time of the sale, WBAM-FM was broadcasting a Top 40 format.
Awards and honors
Paul Simpkins, an original WBAM on-air personality from the time of the station's launch in 1953 until the sale in 1984, received a number of honors during his more than three decades with the station. These include being named Sterling Magazine Personality of the Month and TV Radio Mirror Personality of the Month in 1967, 1968 and 1972. Simpkins was inducted into the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame in 1998.
Alabama author Paul Hemphill included references to WBAM in his 1979 novel Long Gone as the preferred radio station of the protagonist, Jamie Weeks. In 1987, Long Gone was made into a movie starring Dermot Mulroney by HBO Films.
- Nelson, Bob (2008-10-18). "Call Letter Origins". The Broadcast Archive. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
- "Turner, Jack". RCS Artist Discography. Retrieved January 14, 2009.[dead link]
- "WBAM Deep South Jamboree". Hillbilly-Music.com. Retrieved January 14, 2009.
- "KEWB Channel 91, Oakland: Johnny G, Wednesday, January 19, 1966". Bay Area Radio Museum. Retrieved January 14, 2009.
- "WPOP Personalities". Man From Mars Productions. January 1, 2009.
- "Paul Simpkins". Country Music DJ and Radio Hall of Fame. Country Radio Broadcasters. Retrieved January 14, 2009.[dead link]
- "Lou Christie in Alabama: WBAM and WVOK". Archived from the original on 2009-08-06. Retrieved January 14, 2009.
- "Changing Hands - 2004-03-07". Broadcasting & Cable. March 7, 2004.
- "Application Search Details (BAL-20040302ABH)". FCC Media Bureau. June 21, 2004.
- "News and notes". Broadcast Engineering: The Technical Journal of the Broadcast-Communications Industry 19 (Intertec Publishing Corp.). 1977. p. 77.
- Allen, Paul (1997). "Pickup". American Crawl: Poems. University of North Texas Press. ISBN 1-57441-027-X. Retrieved January 14, 2009.
- Hemphill, Paul (1979). Long Gone: A Novel. Viking Press. p. 26. "Jamie turned the dial of his portable radio to WBAM in Montgomery, with its endless wailing of Fats Domino and Elvis Presley, and the Platters, in an attempt to drown out the noise."
- WBAM official website
- WBAM coverage map
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WBAM
- Radio-Locator information on WBAM
- Query Arbitron's FM station database for WBAM
- Bluewater Broadcasting Company, LLC