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WYDE-FM

WYDE-FM

WYDE-FM (101.1 FM, "The New 101.1 FM") is a radio station that serves Birmingham and nearly all of north-central Alabama. The station is licensed to Cullman, Alabama. Because of the location of the station's broadcast tower and its strong signal, WYDE serves the Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, Gadsden and Florence markets as well. The station is owned by Crawford Broadcasting Company. The transmitter for WYDE-FM is located near the border between Cullman County and Blount County, approximately 40 miles north of downtown Birmingham. WYDE serves as the broadcast home for the Birmingham Barons baseball team.

Except for a brief period in the late 1990s, the WYDE call letters have been a part of the radio landscape in Birmingham for nearly 50 years. The history of WYDE (850 AM) is closely intertwined with the current WYDE-FM.

History

The station signed on in Cullman in 1950 as WFMH-FM. Before it began targeting the Birmingham market, WFMH-FM had several different formats, including classic country music and adult standards. In 1998 Eddins Broadcasting Co., a group of businessmen in Birmingham, purchased the station with the intent of launching a second contemporary Christian music station in Birmingham. Competing against WDJC-FM, the station was rebranded as Reality 101.1 with the new call letters WRRS.

Initially, Reality 101.1 proved to be moderately successful, but the location of the station's broadcast tower hindered the signal from adequately reaching the southern suburbs of Birmingham. Also, in reaction to the presence of WRRS in the market, WDJC dropped all of its Christian teaching programming as well as its nighttime Southern gospel music program and became a full-time contemporary Christian music station. Faced with bankruptcy, the station was sold for $9 million to STG Media LLC, an ownership group that held several stations in the Huntsville market, and the station changed music formats, becoming a modern rock/adult contemporary hybrid station known on the air as "101.1 the Spot". "The Spot" was no more successful in the Birmingham market than its predecessor, and the ownership of the station began looking for an opportunity to sell the station.

Crawford Broadcasting purchased Radio Disney affiliate WMKI (850 AM) in 1999 and re-launched the station as a talk radio station. The station reacquired its heritage call letters, WYDE. The new WYDE established itself as a leader in conservative talk, becoming one of the more listened-to talk stations in Birmingham. However, the station's reduced nighttime signal limited its coverage area. In 2002, Crawford, who was looking to expand the listening area of WYDE, purchased WRRS-FM for $8.5 million and temporarily took the station off the air in order to upgrade its transmitter. In August of that year, 101.1 FM returned to the air as Birmingham's first FM talk station as WYDE-FM. At first, both WYDE-FM and AM were full-time simulcast partners, but by the fall, the AM station changed its call letters to WDJC-AM. The call letters of AM 850 were changed once again, this time to WXJC-AM, when Crawford Broadcasting acquired an FM station that it used to simulcast the AM station's programming. It became a full-time Christian programming station, featuring syndicated Bible studies and teaching and Southern gospel music.

In 2003, WYDE-FM began simulcasting its programming on co-owned WLGS-AM (1260), which formerly had been an oldies/adult standards station. The call letters of the AM station were changed to WYDE-AM. That simulcast continued until September 2006, when the AM station was taken off the air in preparation for its relaunch as an adult standards station. The new call letters of the AM station were WLGD.

On Wednesday, June 27, 2007, weekend paid programming host David Billings of the "Home 101 Program" announced on his website that the station would be dropping the FM Talk format.

On July 2, 2007, WYDE-FM dropped the news/talk format, and began stunting with Christmas music, in a "Christmas in July" format, simulcasting with WLGD. At 12:00 A.M. on July 5, the station debuted "The New WYDE 101.1." As part of the format switch, the AM station WLGD once again changed its call letters to WYDE (AM).

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