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WNCB (97.3 FM, "New Country 97.3") is a radio station licensed to Gardendalemarker, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabamamarker, USA. It is co-owned by Cox Radio. WNCB is the Birmingham home of the "second helping" of the Rick and Bubba radio show, a repeat of their morning broadcast.

History

As of 2006, 97.3 is the newest station to sign on in the Birmingham market. WEDA, then licensed to Homewoodmarker, signed on with a CHR format in 1998, calling itself Hot 97.3. Birmingham had not had a CHR station since WAPI-FM (now WYSF) changed formats in 1994, and the owners were hoping to fill that niche. However, WQEN, a CHR station licensed to Gadsden, began broadcasting from a tower closer to Birmingham earlier in the year and was more successful than WEDA.

In 1999, Cox Radio purchased WEDA from the local investors who owned the station, changed the call letters to WRLR, and changed the format to active rock. The new on-air name of the station was Real Rock 97.3. Initially, the station was moderately successful. However, a weak signal (initially, the station broadcast at 640 watts ERP) and competition from modern rock/alternative station WRAX caused WRLR to become one of the lowest rated FM stations in Birmingham.

In October 2001, WODL (Oldies 106.9) unexpectedly changed its format to all 1980s music and became known as WBPTmarker, "106-9 the Point". Cox moved the oldies format and call letters to 97.3, and the station became known as Oldies 97.3. Once again, the weak signal of 97.3 proved to be a hindrance to the station’s success. Also, the popularity of oldies stations focusing on music from the 1960’s began to decline. In June 2004, the power of the station increased from 640 watts to 6,400 watts. In July of that year, the station changed its emphasis from 1960s oldies to music from the 1970’s. Core artists of the station known as "70s Hit Radio, 97-3 WODL" included Chicago, the Doobie Brothers, Alice Cooper, Grand Funk Railroad and James Taylor.

After less than three months as a 1970s oldies station, the station once again changed formats to hot country in September 2004, placing it in competition with co-owned country station WZZK-FM and cross-town rival WDXB. The station was assigned the WNCB call letters by the Federal Communications Commission on October 19, 2004.

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