Dre\’s Ramblings

The Radio Carousel: Latino station hits Birmingham airwaves again

The People’s Station logo“Oye Como Va” on “The People’s Station”? It appears to have been the case for several days, at least since January 29, as WPSB 1320 AM has decided to change formats again and see if one serving the city’s Latino community can survive on the Magic City’s airwaves again. The station will be providing music, news and information in Spanish. Due to the powering down of the frequency at night, it is not known if they will attempt to broadcast 24 hours a day or not as of yet.

The station has served a similar demographic before; in 2002 as “La Favorita”, the station geared its programming to serve the growing Mexican community in Birmingham, Alabama. The format was short lived as it switched one year later to being the AM simulcast for country music station WZZK. It had only been operating under its current talk format for the past year, something that could make people wonder just how long this format change will last.

It does however fill a need in the community, one that has seen several changes in recent months and one that may see many more as terrestrial radio continues to make adjustments across the country. It will be interesting to see how a community that has not been extremely vocal about a lack of representation on either side of the radio dial will receive this new format.

Click here to learn the history of the frequency in question. I’d also check back here (UPDATE: 2/9/2007 the website is currently down) every once in a while as the station’s website is sure to undergo changes in the near future to reflect the change in format.

Enjoy the day!



The Radio Carousel: “The Vulcan” gets a Program Director

There have been many people, myself included, that wondered if our new rock station would ever have actual people manning the station. Initial announcements on “The Vulcan” stated that on-air talent would begin shortly after the 1st of the year. Now, something may have changed in the last few days, but a check of the station before I left for DC let me know that it was still unmanned.

Jimbo Wood - courtesy of rocket951.comAccording to FMQB.com, an industry site for radio professionals, the first steps have been taken to finally address the issue. Jimbo Wood from WRTT in Huntsville has been announced as the program director for 105.5 beginning February 7. Wood had been with Rocket 95.1 for seven years as their PD. According to his bio this would be a return home to Birmingham, Alabama for Wood where he got his start in Birmingham working for WERC-AM and getting on the air in 1979 for WKXX-FM. He’s also worked in Montgomery, New Orleans, Memphis and San Jose and lived in the Bahamas.

Welcome home! Things may be starting to settle down, at least a little. I’d be interested in those from Huntsville that normally listen to Rocket 95.1 commenting and letting some of us know what to expect.

That’s all for now. I’m finishing up reviewing for the first of two tests this week up here; by the time this actually posts I should be at that frustrated phase of the exam 🙂 It is three hours long after all. It’s about 6:39 a.m. local time, and this is the last real break before the exam.

Enjoy the day,


The Ramble: What’s next for local radio?


This past Thursday, 15 people gathered at Nabeel’s in Homewood to discuss what options exist to bring a community radio station to the Birmingham, Alabama market. Those in attendance realized that this action will be harder than it sounds.

Philip Jordan’s story in a recent Birmingham Weekly hits the nail on the head with regards to local concerns about the recent changes to the terrestrial radio landscape. We’ve had people from all over the place share their thoughts about what they like, don’t like, who they blame and whether hell, fire and brimstone are going to strike the city. You can find most of the comments here, though there are some here and here.

During their 1+ hour discussion, many of the common concerns shared by those following the demise of terrestrial radio as we knew it were brought up. These include the fact that it’s become a market dominated by conglommerates, reducing the need or ability to take risks with programming. Many people also argue that the current segmentation of the radio dial has led to extreme narrowing of target audiences, sometimes preventing exposure to new types of music. Many pointed to the need to secure a low frequency FM signal to start and then use the success of that signal to encourage corporate stations to make the switch from piped in format to one focusing on the local scene. Potential solutions for the issue include creating additional internet radio stations or convincing WBHM to diversify its current offerings. Those in attendance were more inclined to support the latter as they see it as the local public station that should be serving the public’s requests. They are willing to create CDs providing people with a taste of what local independent radio stations would sound like, lists showing what stations already exist; anything to help with thier goal of having a diverse broadcasting home serving the needs of the metro community.

One issue I brought up in the conversation was the need for those “minorities” to have additional choices. Many corporate stations apparently believe that those communities are served very well. This is despite the fact that most Latinos living in the area are regulated to 2 hours of Spanish broacasting on AM per week; we haven’t even really looked at the services provided to Caribbean expatriates or to those that long to hear the blues, traditional jazz, or a clearer signal on local issues that affect all people.

People will definitely want to see a station like Fried Green Radio (http://friedgreenradio.com), having recently started transmission this month succeed. The arhument in res The ultimate goal of an AM signal would do more for the concerns than the humble beginnings in the station’s plans. It would be foolish to not at least admit that one of the problems facing the digital stations is the availability of computers to those that could enjoy radio free of the trappings of the car or home audio system, namely commercial overkill.

There are many that only enjoy computer access at school or at home, despite the falling costs of desktops and laptops. It may be less expensive for those that have the financial means to do so. For those of us living paycheck to paycheck or worse, the ability to find and support new voices and avenues become complicated. You can name the reason: education, wages, mass transit… we could go on and on. Those who have the tools to assist in changing the area’s landscape should take advantage of every opportunity to do so.

Despite my current love affair with my old standby, mvyradio.com, I’m also always willing to give Fried Green Radio and any of the other numerous internet stations a try. One idea that was not brought up during the meeting, but in other conversations I’ve had about the topic is to boycott those stations that do not provide a service to you. The one thing that probably protects terrestrial radio from a complete boycott in this area is the reliance that the residents have on it as a source of information about local emergencies. You can’t necessarily listen to the weather report online if there’s no power to run the computer during a storm. Those stations that made changes to their format to address the needs of all of their listeners would receive more support. This would be a veriation of the idea to encourage public radio station members to earmark their contributions for new programming when they renew rather than support that which they do not listen to.

We can always hope that the community presents a viable alternative, whether it means encouraging the continued expansion of music venues in the city such as The Bottletree, The Nick, Cave 9 or Marty’s. We could also hope that those supporters of this project are successful in their efforts. Time will tell.

For Those interested in becoming invovled in this project are encouraged to contact Ken Harrelson @ kharrelson505[at]charter[dot]net. Later on today we’ll post a list handed out at the meeting to provide examples of independent radio stations.


The Ticker: A day of flip flops and promises in Alabama

You never know what’s going to happen in your world on a given day. This morning several things have occured that will no doubt continue to feed my belief that 2007 will be an incredibly interesting year.

The Crimson Tide get their man

sabanforweb.jpgThe biggest flip flop of the day award goes to Nick Saban, who according to reports posted on ESPN.com, will be accepting the coaching position at the University of Alabama after spending much of the last month denying interest.

After repeated denials, Saban takes Bama job, ESPN.com, 1.3.2007

Many will say that Saban is returning for the money; the contract is rumored to be in the neighborhood of $35 – $40 million over 8-10 years. I would argue that he’s probably returning for the love of the college game more. For all of the media hype and focus on the games and the millions of dollars spent on the programs, there is still a draw of teaching individuals skills and methods that will always be more of a pull than anything else possible. The extra money doesn’t hurt though.

The Radio Carousel: The “inventor of pizza in a cup” and partner go country

rbforweb.jpgComing in second are Rick and Bubba, who decided to leave Citadel Broadcasting Corporation’s local soft rock station Y94.5 for Cox Radio’s country station WZZK 104.7 FM.

Rick and Bubba morning show moves to WZZK, The Birmingham News, 1.3.2007

The station switch is the latest in what can only be described as a carousel of periodic moves among the major players in the business here in Birmingham, Alabama. It is unique in this case since Y94.5 had basically retooled their format in the last year to center around the nationally syndicated show, calling itself “The Rick and Bubba Station.” The jump appears to have caused little if no setbacks for Citadel while it determines what to do about the station format. Rick and Bubba’s press release (in PDF format) referred to the main issue that links all of these changes together, all the way back to the first “shot” fired; money. There were no hard feelings from the hosts towards the station, only a desire to do right by their employees and their families by providing more.

The idea that all of these changes are tied to the likes and dislikes of listeners is only partially true. The listeners must still be able to provide revenue generating opportunities for the station.

The Junction may jump yet again, and sooner than some thought

logo_topforweb.jpgSome of the biggest news from yesterday was the promise from U.S. Steel that they would develop an industrial park on the old Ensley Works site as part of a deal that allows for the de-annexation of property from city limits on the city’s east side.

U.S. Steel partners with city, The Birmingham News, 1.3.2007

The Ensley area has recently warranted a great deal of interest from several parties and several business owners are willing to be pioneers out in the area. Hopefully in the next week we’ll be able to take a look at some of those businesses. The infusion of potential customers on either side of the commercial area only strengthens the resolve of those already investing and encourages other to take that leap with them. As we’ve recently suggested, people will have to be patient with this development, knowing that the long term benefits will be incredible.

We’ll have more later this evening. Enjoy the day.


The Music of the Magic City takes center stage as 2007 begins

We ended 2006’s normal posts talking in part about music over the airwaves. It only seems fitting that we begin 2007 taking a look at Birmingham’s music scene past and present. Considering that I also made a prediction that this would be the year of culture for the city, I figured I should make sure that I do my part in making this a reality.

Attendees of this year’s Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting were treated to a double shot of what Birmingham means to the music industry; a performance by Ruben Studdard and his old band Just a Few Cats, and to a unique music sampler showcasing musicians, past and present, that have a connection to Birmingham, Alabama.

The liner notes included with the 2-disc collection, entitled “A Magic City Music Samploer,” focus on the city’s reputation as a “shed town,” the influence that City Stages has brought to the scene, and the continued influence of many of our local musical venues, including the Bottletree, The Nick and Zydeco. The playlist that follows has no links to the actual songs. They do link to whatever information we could find about the artist that was most comprehensive. Hopefully you’ll want to learn more about these artists and hear more of their music.


The Temptations – The Way You Do the Things You Do
Emmylou Harris – Boulder to Birmingham
Hotel (featuring Marc Phillips) – You’ll Love Again
Birmingham Heritage Band – Tuxedo Junction
Claire Lynch and the Front Porch String Band – I Found You
Eric Essix – Rainy Night in Georgia
Brother Cane – Got No Shame
Azure Ray – For No One
Chuck Leavell – Tomato Jam
The Birmingham Sunlights – Jesus Have Me Water
Anthony Crawford – Glory Bound
Dorothy Love Coates – You Better Run
Wayne Perkins – Mendo Hotel
Karen Bentley Pollick – Jesse’s Joy
Wayne – Whisper
Odetta Holmes – Yonder Comes The Blues
Lola’s – I Can’t Stand It
Roszetta Johnson – Summertime
Diana Ross – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
Eliot Morris – Balancing the World
Eddie Steele – Groove Me Mama
Bobby Horton – Pristine
Birmingham J Featuring Venus – Move Back
The Primitons – Seeing is Believing
Robert Moore – Sweet Birmingham
Baker Knight and the Knightmares – I Want My Cadillac Back
After Class – Johnny Has Gone For a Soldier
The Distortions – Thank You John
Verbena – Junk for Fashion
Backwater – 14th Avenue South
Topper Price – Wade in the Water
Lolly Lee – Perfect World
Larry & the Loafers – Panama City Blues
Mots Roden and Don Tinsley – The Way I Did
Jason Bailey – Butterfly Breakdown
Birmingham Heritage Band – Birmingham is My Home


As the Chamber suggests in the liner notes, this should only want to have us want to learn more about the musical heritage of Birmingham and not to limit the search to the those listed here. Support our local music scene and the cultural offerings of the city in general as we begin the New Year. We’ll see what we can do to help out the cause. You could also always contact the Chamber and make sure that they send that CD to someone that’s on the fence about coming to town. It’s not a slam dunk, but it will get them thinking.

Enjoy the day!


The Year in Review: December 2006

It’s been an eventful year to say the least; it seemed to save it’s most unlikely storyline for the end of the year…

The Radio Carousel continued

After the loss of the alternative radio station for a sports talk station, we lost the area’s gospel station as a conglomerate felt that the best way to answer the hopes and dreams of one listener group was to shun another. When it was all said and done, the main issue here is not race, religion, or doing what could be called morally correct in providing a true local voice for music, no matter what the genre. If that were the case, many of these changes (save maybe the initial loss of the X) would not have happened. Instead, it was largely about money. We’ve already mentioned what could be the immediate future of this situation here. Here are some more links about the issue from December:

Reflections on the fan’s reflections on the radio carousel
The Ticker: The latest on “The Vulcan”…
Lift every voice: FM gospel supporters gather…
The Ticker: Help our youth, “Yea, Reg!”…

The situation at Sidewalk got heated. We shared our thoughts on turning up the fire too much on something that serves as an asset.

The post (to me) of 2006

This post meant more to me this year than any other, and it only occurred this month. I only wish that we all felt the calling to do this more often. It also reminded me how much fun carrying a camera has been this past year as I can save these images for a lifetime.

We’re through (until the next time we post)

I’m sure that many of you are heading out for the New Year, (if you haven’t already celebrated where you are). Sometime in the next 24 hours, we’ll share some thoughts for the coming year. I hope that all of you get to enjoy the end of this year comfortably and safely.

Happy New Year!


See also: 

The Year in Review: January and a little December ‘05 too
The Year in Review: February 2006
The Year in Review: March 2006
The Year in Review: April 2006
The Year in Review: May 2006
The Year in Review: June 2006
The Year in Review: July 2006
The Year in Review: August 2006
The Year in Review: September 2006
The Year in Review: October 2006
The Year in Review: November 2006