|City of license||Birmingham, Alabama|
|Broadcast area||Greater Birmingham|
|Slogan||Birmingham's Best Gospel|
|Translator(s)||98.1 W251BG (Tarrant)|
|First air date||1926 (as WKBC, on 1310 AM)|
|Power||5,000 watts (day)
1,000 watts (night)
|Former callsigns||WKBC (1926-32)
|Owner||Summit Media LLC
|Sister stations||WBHJ, WBHK, WBPT, WENN, WEZZ-FM, WZZK, W297BF|
WAGG (610 AM) is a radio station licensed to Birmingham, Alabama. It broadcasts at a daytime power 5,000 watts, and at nighttime, it broadcasts at 1,000 watts from a transmitter in the city's westside. WAGG is a gospel music station that targets Birmingham's African-American population. It is owned by Summit Media, which also owns six other stations in the market, and all share studios in the Cahaba neighborhood in far southeast Birmingham. The station was assigned the WAGG call letters by the Federal Communications Commission on January 15, 1999.
History of AM 610
Some generations ago, the 610 AM frequency was home to Birmingham’s second oldest radio station. That station began in 1926 as WKBC, broadcasting at 1310 AM. The original owner of the station was a local furniture company. In 1932, the station was sold to The Birmingham News, and the callsign was changed to WSGN. That callsign stood for "South’s Greatest Newspaper," an obvious tribute to The Chicago Tribune’s WGN, whose callsign stands for "World’s Greatest Newspaper."
Throughout the 1940s, WSGN was an affiliate of the NBC Blue Network, the forerunner of the current ABC Network. Late in 1955, WSGN became the first station in Birmingham to adopt a Top 40 format. In the early days it did battle with WYDE-AM 850 and WVOK-AM 690 to lead the pack in the current hits category.
Many legendary personalities worked at WSGN over the years. Perhaps the most famous alumnus of WSGN was Rick Dees, who hosted morning drive-time from 1973-1974.
The dominance of WSGN was challenged when in 1972 when longtime middle of the road station WBRC (the former sister television station has kept the same callsign to this present day) was sold. Its callsign was changed to WERC, and for the first time since 1965, WSGN had a serious Top 40 challenger in the market. For much of the mid-1970s, the battle between “The Big 610, WSGN” and “96-ERC” gave Birmingham and central Alabama listeners two strong choices for Top 40 music.
Prior to 1977, Top 40 could be heard on two FM stations: the automated WAPI-FM 94.5 and the daytime simulcasts of WERC on WERC-FM 106.9. In 1977, Birmingham got its first live, freestanding top-40 FM when WKXX (now WBPT) made its debut, replacing the WERC-FM calls. The ratings of WSGN began to decline, and by 1981, the station had moved away from its longtime Top 40 format and began targeting adult listeners. “The Big 610” gave way to “Music 610, The Station That Grew Up with You”, and the format became adult contemporary with a heavy mix of oldies.
The debut of a second FM challenger, adult contemporary-formatted WMJJ, in late 1982 signaled the beginning of the end of current hit music on WSGN. In February 1984, the station made a format switch and became known as “Real Music 610”, playing adult standards and big band music. This continued until April 26, 1985, when the owners sold the station and it became the AM simulcast partner of country station WZZK-FM (104.7). After 53 years, the call letters of WSGN were changed to WZZK-AM. This simulcast continued until 1998, when 610 AM returned to big band and adult standards with the new callsign WEZN.
Originally assigned to 1320 AM, WAGG has been an Urban Gospel station since 1982. Before then, the call letters were WENN-AM. Throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, WENN was Birmingham's most popular station targeting African-American listeners, although it broadcast only during daylight hours with a relatively weak signal. The growing popularity of its FM sister station led station ownership to adopt the gospel format, which proved to be successful. By the end of the 1980s, WAGG was one of the highest-rated AM stations in Birmingham.
In 1998, Cox Radio, who already owned WZZK-FM, WODL-FM (now WBPT) and WEZN, bought WAGG, WBHJ and WBHK. One year later, WEZN and WAGG swapped dial positions in order for WAGG to take advantage of the superior signal on 610 AM.
In early 2013, Cox Radio, Inc. sold WAGG and 22 other stations to Summit Media LLC for $66.25 million. The sale was consummated on May 3, 2013.
- "Call Sign History". FCC Media Bureau CDBS Public Access Database.
- WAGG official website
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WAGG
- Radio-Locator Information on WAGG
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WAGG
- Query the FCC's FM station database for W251BG
- Radio-Locator information on W251BG
- Radio/TV page of Birmingham Rewound