|City of license||Montgomery, Alabama|
|Branding||Sports Radio 740|
|Translator(s)||96.5 W244CN (Enterprise)|
|First air date||1953|
|Power||10,000 watts (day)
233 watts (night)
|Callsign meaning||W Montgomery SPorts|
|Former callsigns||WBAM (1952-1985)
|Affiliations||CBS Sports Radio|
(Cumulus Licensing LLC)
|Sister stations||WHHY-FM, WLWI, WLWI-FM, WMXS, WNZZ, WXFX|
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WMSP (740 AM, "Sports Radio 740") is a radio station licensed to serve Montgomery, Alabama, USA. The station is owned by Cumulus Media and the broadcast license is held by Cumulus Licensing LLC. Originally licensed in 1953 as WBAM, the station broadcast contemporary and country music before turning to sports talk under the WMSP callsign in 1995. The WMSP studios are located on the 3rd floor of The Colonial Financial Center in downtown Montgomery, and the transmitter tower is in Montgomery's northeast side.
WMSP broadcasts a sports-talk format. Notable local programming includes Sportsline with John Longshore and Barry McKnight on weekday mornings and The MAX Roundtable on weekday afternoons. On Sunday mornings, WMSP airs both the traditional service and the contemporary service of Frazer United Methodist Church.
Regional syndicated programming includes Paul Finebaum's afternoon drive-time show. The station is an affiliate of CBS Sports Radio. Network programming on WMSP includes assorted CBS Sports Radio shows on nights and overnights.
In addition to sports talk programming, WMSP airs both Alabama Crimson Tide football games and Auburn Tigers football games as well as select daytime baseball games of the Southern League's Montgomery Biscuits.
The Big BAM
This station first began licensed operations in 1953 as a daytime-only 50,000 watt AM station broadcasting on 740 kHz as WBAM. Owned and operated by the Deep South Broadcasting Company, WBAM broadcast area covered most of Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. "The Big BAM" aired a variety of music formats over the years, including Top 40 during the late-1960s and early-1970s, but by 1973 had settled on a country music format. As a daytimer, WBAM had to cease broadcasting each night at sunset and the station played "Dixie" as a sign-off.
After more than 30 years of ownership by the Brennan family, Deep South Broadcasting Company reached an agreement in October 1984 to sell this station to Colonial Broadcasting Company, Inc. The deal was approved by the FCC on November 30, 1984, and the transaction was consummated on March 5, 1985.
The WLWI years
In September 1994, Colonial Company, Inc., which owned station licensee Colonial Broadcasting Company, agreed to transfer control of the licensee to Robert E. Lowder. The deal was approved by the FCC on December 8, 1994, and the transaction was consummated on March 8, 1995. Less than one week later, Robert E. Lowder applied to the FCC to transfer control of the licensee company to Republic Corporation. The transfer was approved by the FCC on April 14, 1995, but the transaction was never consummated.
In February 1995, after more than 40 years as a 50,000 watt regional "blowtorch", WLWI applied to the FCC to decrease its daytime broadcast power to 10,000 watts.  On a positive note however, the station would now be able to broadcast 24 hours a day for the first time. The station was granted a construction permit on April 20, 1995, and began licensed operation at the lower power on November 15, 1996.
The WMSP era
In January 1998, Robert E. Lowder reached an agreement to sell WMSP license holder Colonial Broadcasting Company, Inc., to Cumulus Holdings, Inc. The deal was approved by the FCC on March 10, 1998. In December 1998, after a number of internal ownership transfers of Colonial Broadcasting Company, the broadcast license for WMSP was transferred to Cumulus Licensing Corporation. The transfer was approved by the FCC on December 12, 1998, and the transaction was consummated on December 31, 1998.
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.
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.
Cliff Ellis, award-winning college basketball coach and currently the head coach at Coastal Carolina University, was a musician in the late-1960s and his group, The Villagers, had several regional hits in the Southeastern U.S. The group got their first big break when Ellis convinced WBAM disc jockey Bill Moody to play their first self-financed record, "Laugh It Off", on the air. The airplay led the band to a record deal with FAME Studios.
In popular culture
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.
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- Ellis, Cliff; Phillip Marshall (2000). Cliff Ellis: The Winning Edge. Sports Publishing LLC. pp. 36–38. ISBN 1-58261-200-5.
- 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.
- WMSP official website
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WMSP
- Radio-Locator Information on WMSP
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WMSP
- Query the FCC's FM station database for W244CN
- Radio-Locator information on W244CN