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|City of license||Birmingham, Alabama|
|Broadcast area||Birmingham area|
|Slogan||Your NPR News Station|
|Repeaters||WSGN 91.5 MHz (Gadsden)|
|First air date||December 5, 1976|
|Format||News Talk Information|
|Callsign meaning||W BirmingHaM|
|Affiliations||American Public Media, National Public Radio, Public Radio International|
|Owner||University of Alabama at Birmingham
(Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama)
WBHM (90.3 FM) is a radio station broadcasting a News Talk Information format during the daytime and mostly classical music overnight. 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.
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 population), 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.
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 listener demand. Classical music is now heard on WBHM only overnights after 10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays (Midnight on Saturdays and Sundays). Monday through Saturday evenings are now devoted to jazz and the eclectic NPR music show World Cafe. On Sunday nights, two long-running atmospheric music programs, Echoes and Hearts of Space, air on WBHM.
Probably 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 early afternoon host on Atlanta's WABE-FM, that city's main NPR outlet. Lemley was further known as an accomplished actor while residing in Birmingham.
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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 WBHM to provide classical music programming.
The call letters of WSGN (for founder Birmingham News, the "South's Greatest Newspaper") 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 rename WEXP as WSGN. As of 2013, the WEXP call letters are located in Brandon, Vermont.
Tapestry--Originally a weekly 30-minute program, the show spotlights aspects of Birmingham's local artistic and musical scene, as well as features interviews with artists coming through the Birmingham region. From July 2009 to 2013, the program was reduced in frequency to an 60-minute monthly broadcast; it is now only available as a podcast, updated occasionally, and is no longer broadcast over the air. Greg Bass is the host.
- WBHM official website
- Alabama Radio Reading Service
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WBHM
- Radio-Locator information on WBHM
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WBHM
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WSGN
- Radio-Locator information on WSGN
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WSGN