The Story of WABB AM and FM in Mobile, Alabama


Part One

On the night of Wednesday, May 5th, 1948 and the next morning, the radio facilities of the Mobile Press-Register were used to disseminate election results to other radio stations across Alabama while the facility was not ready for local broadcasting. Teleprinters from the Associated Press operating at high speed and a Morse code system were used along with the facilities to send the election results gathered by 50 newspaper reporters for the Mobile Press-Register and election workers at voting precincts in Mobile County.

On Saturday, June 19th, 1948, the Mobile Press-Register commenced broadcasting at 6:00 AM with an amplitude modulation (AM) station broadcasting at 1480 kilocycles and a frequency modulation (FM) station broadcasting at 107.9 megacycles. Both stations were broadcast under the call letters of WABB, with the last three letters standing for "Alabama's Best Broadcasters".

WABB-AM’s broadcast tower was located at the intersection of Shelton Beach Road and Old Whistler Road in Eight Mile, Alabama (northwest of Mobile). WABB-AM was broadcasting with 5000 watts of power and WABB-FM was broadcasting at 50,000 watts of power.

WABB had plans to broadcast a formal celebration of their first broadcast day under the title “WABB Preview" at 7:00 PM. There were plans for the AM station to broadcast network programming at 8:00 PM while the FM station would broadcast programming about a baseball game with the Mobile Bears until about 11:00 PM.

On Tuesday, July 20th, 1948, the Mobile Press-Register promoted the benefits of FM radio by publishing the following promotional advertisement in their newspaper: “Have you ever tried to enjoy a fine musical program, only to have lightning static crash in your speaker so continually that you could hardly hear the music? When you have this trouble, FM, Frequency Modulation... is your answer. In FM the full range of tone is brought to you... and nothing else! No interference or static! Tone so clear, so distinct... as if the radio studio itself were brought into your very room... and this, even in a lightning storm! Listen to FM, as broadcast by WABB-FM. You'll find that FM does mean Far More listening pleasure! Clearly … the Best in Radio. On the air daily, 6 a.m. to midnight. Studios at Radio Center, 304 Government Street, corner Claiborne. WABB-FM, 107.9 on your FM Dial, owned and operated by The Mobile Press Register”.

WABB was affiliated with the Mutual Broadcasting System for network programming originally. WKRG-AM (710) was a network affiliate of Mutual previously until the folks at the station decided to be independent of network affiliations before affiliating with the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) later.

Local programs broadcast by WABB in the beginning included “The Funnies,” which included an announcer named “Uncle Jack” reading the cartoon section of the Mobile Press-Register. "The program was scheduled for broadcast at 5:00 PM Monday though Friday at 5:00 PM, 6:00 PM on Saturday, and 8:30 AM on Sunday. By November 1948, the station’s weekday programming schedule included “Queen for a Day” with Jack Bailey at 1:00 PM, the dramatic radio program “The Adventures of Superman” with Bud Collyer at 5:15 PM, and “Sports Page” with Jack Bitterman at 6:15 PM.

By August 1948, WABB was broadcasting at 102.1 megacycles. By 1956, the FM signal was discontinued after its transmitter burned up.


Part Two

In 1959, WABB had a format of country music programming and was for sale by the Mobile Press-Register. According to them, the station was not reaching its full potential. On Monday, September 14th, 1959, Julian (J. W.) Dittman and his son Bernard (Bernie) Sidney Dittman purchased WABB from the Mobile Press-Register.

Bernard Dittman was an employee of the sales and marketing department employee for his family's appliance store in Cleveland, Ohio and a recent graduate from the University of St. Louis with a degree in engineering. He was interested in buying a radio station with the help of a broker he instructed in finding one for sale. In 1960, Bernard Dittman moved to Mobile and by then WABB had switched from strictly country music to a format of contemporary music (also called "Top-40" or "contemporary hit radio"), including rock ‘n’ roll.

By the early 1960s, WABB had begun broadcasting from a building on 962 Government Street in downtown Mobile. By then the building was called "The Royal McBee Building" after its physical changes in 1960 (Royal McBee was the name of Royal Consumer Information Products, Incorporated from 1954 to 1964).

In 1962, Jim Taber, a former resident of Dallas, Texas and a former employee of KOSI-AM 1430 (it became KEZW-AM on Saturday, March 21st, 1981) in Aurora, Colorado, was hired for the position of program director at WABB (he was the first program director since the Dittmans took ownership). He became a radio announcer for the afternoon shift at the station, too.
According to an article for the Mobile Press-Register, Bernard Dittman said Jim Taber was "very, very talented" and "an all-around wonderful young man" during his time at WABB. Jim Taber left WABB in 1965.

One day in 1969, Tim Camp, an announcer for WABB, started playing a record formatted at 45 revolutions per minute at about 2:00 AM before quickly leaving the station’s building on Government Street for the corner of Spring Hill Avenue and Catherine Street in the midtown area, where WABB had a new broadcast facility ready for use (the new address for the station was 1551 Spring Hill Avenue). Tim Camp got into the new studio before the end of the last recording he played at the old building and began playing the next record.


Part Three

On Monday, February 5th, 1973, WABB began broadcasting at 97.5 megahertz with the song “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” by Bob Dylan. Since not many automobile drivers had FM radio receivers installed in 1973, WABB broadcast a series of advertisements promoting their installation.

In 1975, Robert Scott Griffith was hired by WABB for the position of radio announcer. He went by the pseudonym (nickname) of "Scott O'Brien" for his radio listeners.

Robert Griffith had been involved in radio since he was an adolescent child working for his papa Don Griffith before working for WXIT-AM 1490 in Charleston, West Virginia, followed by WGAF-AM 910 in Valdosta, Georgia, where he was a director of programming, and WRBQ-FM 104.7 in Tampa Bay, Florida since December 1973, when he had an announcing shift from 10:00 PM to 2:00 AM (WXIT-AM became WCZR-AM on Thursday, May 10th, 1990 and WSWW-AM on Friday, August 22nd, 1997).

In 1976, Robert Griffith recommended his brother Dave Griffith to Bernard Dittman for a open position at WABB in which he could be a radio announcer full time. After Dave Griffith was approved for the position, Barry Silverman, another announcer for WABB, hired him for an announcing shift after noon. Barry Silverman went by the pseudonym of "Gary Mitchell" while Dave Griffith went by the pseudonym of "Dave the Race!".

Shortly after Dave Griffith was hired, Robert Griffith recommended his brother John Griffith for another announcer position. Bernard Dittman was unsure about having three brothers on his staff before approving John Griffith, who chose to be called “Uncle Bob” on the radio. All three Griffith brothers took shifts on WABB-AM between 12:00 PM and 12:00 AM for years.

In 1980, Robert Griffith left WABB for WKRG-FM, which was using the contemporary hit music format just like WABB (WKRG-FM became WKRD-FM on Monday, September 12th, 1994, and WMXC-FM on Monday, October 3rd, 1994). Dave Griffith left Mobile for San Antonio, Texas, and John Griffith left Mobile for Jacksonville, Florida.


Part Four

In the 1980s, Dennis Wayne Stacy and Leslie Fram together began hosting a program for WABB-FM titled “Leslie and the Hound Dawg", which was usually scheduled for broadcast after noon.

According to an interview with Leslie Fram for the Mobile Press-Register, they had broadcasts from locations outside of the WABB AM and FM building such as a cherry picker above a street in downtown Mobile during Carnival and other special times and the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama as part of the WABB "Beach Patrol".

In the spring of 1985, Kris Michaels, an announcer for programming after noon for WABB-AM, became its new director of programming. By that time, WABB-AM was broadcasting "solid gold rock and roll" music. She continued to broadcast after noons for WABB-AM after broadcasts of “Two Goofy White Boys”, a morning program presented by Paul Fuller and Bill Evans, by both the AM station and the FM station. By the summer of 1985, Chip Mapoles, a weekend announcer for WABB-AM, was given the weekday shift for WABB-FM programming after noon after Bill Baker replaced him.

According to John Bowler, a former employee of WABB, he told Bernard Dittman in 1988 the future of AM radio was non-music programming. Shortly after, WABB-AM began broadcasting discussion programs and sports programs at night Monday through Friday and weekends. By 1990, WABB-AM had a full schedule of news and discussion programs.

In 1990, Scott Innes was one of the morning announcers for WABB-FM. When he was not broadcasting on the radio, he would imitate famous persons over the intercommunications system in the WABB AM and FM building. According to an interview with the Mobile Press-Register, Bernard Dittman remembered Scott Innes having a lot of fun with other employees of WABB and giving them the idea a star was the building. He later fired Scott Innes so he could move forward and expand upon his vocal abilities.

In 1997, Scott Innes became an afternoon announcer for WYNK-FM 101.5 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and later in September he was hired to be the new voice actor for Scooby-Doo, an animated cartoon dog (a Great Dane), after Don Messick, the original voice actor since the TV series “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?” in 1969, retired in 1996 due to a stroke (he died at the on Friday, October 24th, 1997). Scott Innes remembered doing the voice of Scooby-Doo at the age of four between 1970 and 1971 and telling his schoolteacher he was going to be the voice of Scooby-Doo some day.

His first professional performance as Scooby-Doo was part of the movie “Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island,” which was released onto home video in 1998. He later did the voice of Norville (Shaggy) Rogers, the owner of Scooby-Doo, for the movie “Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost”, which was released onto home video in 1999, and Scrappy-Doo, Scooby-Doo’s nephew, for the live-action theatrical movie “Scooby-Doo” in 2002 (the voice of Scooby-Doo in the theatrical movies was provided by Neil Fanning. Both Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo in the theatrical movies were animated creatures generated by computers).

On Thursday, October 9th, 2000, Scott Innes was at the Wal-Mart store in Daphne, Alabama (east of Mobile and Mobile Bay) signing copies of the movie “Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders” on video for about three hours. He was scheduled to be there at 6:00 PM. Shortly before that visit, Bernard Dittman told the Mobile Press-Register he considered the work of Scott Innes as a voice actor unprecedented.

The last movie released in which Scott Innes provides the voice of Scooby-Doo was "Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase", which was released onto home video in 2001, and his last TV roles with his voices for Scooby-Doo and Norville Rogers were for the animated TV series "Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law". Since then, the voice of Scooby-Doo has been provided by Franklin (Frank) Welker and the voice of Norville Rogers has been provided by Kemal Amin (Casey) Kasem (he had the role of Norvilel Rogers originally) and later Matthew Lillard, who played Norville Rogers as a live-action person in the theatrical Scooby-Doo movies.


Part Five

In 1992, M. G. (Dan) Daniels, a former resident of Gulfport, Mississippi and his birthplace of Pineville, Mississippi, began hosting a local discussion program for WABB-AM. It was scheduled for broadcast on Saturdays originally before it was scheduled for broadcast Monday through Friday in 1994.

By February 1994, WABB-AM had begun broadcasting syndicated discussion programs such as “The Morton Downey, Jr. Show,” “The Gil Gross Show,” and “The Larry King Show”. By this time, M. G. Daniels had plans to dedicate his program every Thursday to positive topics. "He would call Thursday editions of the program “Positive Thursdays.” All though he believed talking about negatives was needed in order solve problems, M. G. Daniels told a reporter for the Mobile Press Register everything discussed on his program was not so bad.

In the middle of October 1994, Lillian Jackson, an activist for citizens of Mobile, began hosting a local discussion program for WABB-AM between 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM Monday through Friday voluntarily. Her earliest programs included interviews with candidates who campaigned for public offices.

In December 1994, W. C. Helveston, an administrator for Mobile County, filed a complaint with the Alabama Ethics Commission accusing Lillian Jackson of being a paid lobbyist who should register her status in Montgomery, Alabama. He accused her also of using her radio program to raise money for her Right of Referendum campaign.

Lillian Jackson hosted the final edition of her radio program on Friday, December 30th, 1994. She did not realize this would be her last program due to a decision by the management of WABB to change programming for the AM station at the beginning of 1995. Bernard Dittman told an reporter for the Mobile Press-Register the audience of her program was not much in size and he always considered the program temporary. He said the politics of Lillian Jackson had nothing to do with the cancellation, but admitted he was unsure if Lillian Jackson was a broadcaster and said he was looking for a niche nobody else was filling. He said the idea of replacing Lillian Jackson with a syndicated cooking show was considered.

Lillian Jackson told a reporter for the Mobile Press-Register she wondered if she had unintentionally upset Bernard Dittman’s stomach just like W. C. Helveston, who accused her of making him irritable, have mood swings, insomnia, and bleeding in his stomach before she accused him of having mental problems and wanted him fired. Lillian Jackson told a reporter for the Mobile Press-Register once the dust settles in (metaphorically speaking), she would make a complete story of what had happened to her program.


Part Six

Chris Smith, a morning news presenter for WKRG-AM, used to call Will Pendarvis, an evening programming announcer for WABB-FM ("Your Old Pal Will" was his pseudonym in radio), to comment on the music selections for the FM station. He spoke in southern drawl he used to imitate listeners of programming from WKRG-AM who spoke to him during his radio broadcasts (WKRG-AM became WNTM-AM on Wednesday, October 12th, 1994, followed by WPMI-AM on Thursday, August 12th, 2004, and WNTM-AM again on Sunday, October 28th, 2007).

Chris Smith was later offered a position at WABB to do editorial comments on subjects such as Satanism. After the offer, he left WKRG-AM to become a news reporter for WABB.

After joining WABB, he admitted to being the caller who criticized music selections for WABB-FM. After the admission, he was given a job hosting a discussion program for WABB-AM under the pseudonym and identity of "Uncle Henry" beginning in 1988.

Shortly after Chris Smith was hired for WABB, he was invited to participate in a local wrestling TV program in the role of Uncle Henry. He came to the program with a bag over his head to keep his true identity a secret.

In 1989, Ron Gollick of BAY-TV, a producer of public access TV program in Mobile, offered Chris Smith a job to host a new local TV talk show. The program would be broadcast on Friday nights by Comcast Cablevision of Mobile through their public access channel (cable TV channel 13) and feature interviews with local politicians and local broadcasters in front of a studio audience.

Chris Smith's wardrobe for portraying Uncle Henry in public included a curly wig, a jacket with a wide lapel, and over 200 neckties. Makeup was applied onto Chris Smith to make him appear older (the makeup sessions used to last close to two hours).

From 1990 to 1991, BAY-TV produced another program with Chris Smith in the role of Uncle Henry. The program was called “Uncle Henry on the Road,” which featured places such as Saraland, Alabama (north of Mobile) and events such as the annual Senior Bowl college football game in Mobile. WALA-TV broadcast another program featuring Chris Smith playing Uncle Henry titled “Uncle Henry’s Sunday Funnies,” which featured “The Little Rascals” theatrical movies with Uncle Henry making comments between segments (ten editions of the program were produced).

From 1991 to 1995, Chris Smith hosted a morning program for WABB-FM as himself with Trey Matthews. He continued to host "The Uncle Henry Show" for WABB-AM during the same time period (by July 1993, "The Uncle Henry Show" was scheduled for broadcast between 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM Monday through Friday). After Chris Smith and Trey Matthews left WABB in October 1995, Wayne Coy and Justin (Jay) Hasting became the new morning programming announcers for WABB-FM. Both of them came from Columbus, Missouri, where they worked as a team and held positions as directors of radio programming .

During the morning programs broadcast by WABB-FM on Monday, October 16th and Tuesday, October 17th of 1995, Wayne Coy and Justin Hasting expressed frustration over getting a new telephone system to function by using rough language on the radio. Bernard Dittman intended to counsel with the announcers, according to the Mobile Press-Register, since such language was not in the style of WABB.

On Thursday, November 2nd, 1995, the announcers presented a comedy feature which included a phrase having something to do with the anatomy of a male human, according to the Mobile Press-Register. Wayne Coy and Justin Hasting were suspended without compensation until the following Monday (November 6th) after WABB received telephone calls objecting to the comedy feature.
On the day after the announcers were suspended, WABB-FM broadcast a recorded message from Bernard Dittman apologizing on behalf of Wayne Coy and Justin Hasting for using offensive language during their radio program. The message was played in intervals throughout the day.


Part Seven

In 1996, WABB-AM started broadcasting “The Don and Mike Show,” a syndicated discussion program, after WGCX-FM (92.1) stopped broadcasting the program locally (WGCX-FM became WZEW-FM on Monday, July 21st, 1997; it had those call letters prior to Friday, October 14th, 1994, when it became WGCX-FM). The program was scheduled for broadcast between 2:00 PM and 6:00 PM Monday through Friday with “The G. Gordon Liddy Show”, another syndicated discussion program, proceeding it between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Shortly after the addition of "The Don and Mike Show", Bernard Dittman checked whether or not WABB-AM could broadcast “Imus in the Morning”, a syndicated discussion program hosted by Don Imus, but according to the Mobile Press-Register he could not afford "Imus in the Morning".

According to the Mobile Press-Register, Kathy Richardson, the news director for WABB, liked hearing the hosts of "The Don and Mike Show" (Don Geronimo and Mike O'Meara) talk about anything in general and did not find them offensive, even when she found them immature, outrageous, and prone to letting certain words go by. While comparing "The Don and Mike Show" to “The John Boy and Billy Big Show”, another syndicated radio program, she did not find the former racist or sexist. Her recommendation for local radio listeners who were offended by “The Don and Mike Show” was to switch stations before coming back to WABB-AM to enjoy the program, since she said WABB weathered protests for broadcasting the program.

Bernard Dittman admitted to the Mobile Press-Register he had some problems with the content and profanity of “The Don and Mike Show” and registered complaints with the distributor of the program. By April 1996, WABB had received some positive responses to the program and no complaints over the course of several weeks. According to the Mobile Press-Register, some folks approached Kathy Richardson and told her to thank the management of WABB for bringing "The Don and Mike Show" back to the area again. Some of those folks who approached her worked in local communications just like herself.

The program replaced by "The Don and Mike Show" was "For the People", a syndicated program hosted by Chuck Harder. According to the Mobile Press-Register, "For the People" was replaced not because of its content, but because the folks at the station wanted to attention of radio listeners between the ages of 18 and 49, which was the main audience for "The Don and Mike Show". As for the content of "For the People", Kathy Richardson did not like it due to the attitude of its host (she said his attitude was hateful) and his conspiracy theories about the federal government of the United States government targeting citizens. Bernard Dittman said Chuck Harder riled up people and disliked his positions, as he considered them anti-American. Bernard Dittman could not accept what he said was Chuck Harder’s idea that he and other folks should stock up on food and go into bomb shelters because the world was coming to an end.

Chuck Harder responded to the news of WABB-AM replacing his program with "The Don and Mike Show" and Kathy Richardson and Bernard Dittman criticizing him by writing a letter to the editor of the Mobile Press-Register. The letter was titled “Show wasn’t dumped, it simply got a better deal” and published on Saturday, May 11th, 1996. The title of the letter referred to the program being moved to WMCA-AM (1110), another local station (WBCA-AM became WTOF-AM on Tuesday, November 28th, 2006).

On the week of Monday, June 30th, 2003, “The Don and Mike Show” was replaced by “The Sean Hannity Show,” another syndicated discussion program. According to the Mobile Press-Register, Jo Valentine, the director of programming for WABB-AM, had looked into a ratings book for the station and realized the program had lost about three quarters of its ratings from 2002. According to the Mobile Press-Register, Bernard Dittman felt recent editions of “The Don and Mike Show” before it was replaced were not good for WABB-AM and they did not compare to the quality of other programs added to the station recently. In spite of the content, WABB-AM continued to “The Don and Mike Show” because it attracted male radio listeners and helped the ratings of the station overall, but soon after the trend ended, listeners began calling the station more often with objections toward the program. Bernard Dittman and Jo Valentine also thought Westwood One was distributing past programs of “The Don and Mike Show” too often due to the hosts taking a lot of vacation time and their disagreements with Westwood One broadcast on their radio program. According to the Mobile Press-Register, Jo Valentine found the topics of the program dull shortly before the decision to replace the program.


Part Eight

In 1996, WABB-AM began broadcasting “The Bay Today and the World Beyond", a local discussion program hosted by David Underhill. The program featured segments such as “Substance of the Week”, which featured news regarding industrial hazards and chemical issues, “Dense Fog Advisory”, which featured poll results and messages announcing or justifying destruction to the environment, “Fort Morgan Survivor”, a series of taunts about over-development on coastal areas and water pollution, poetry about beach mice, “Lost Forest Lament", and “The Reverend Dave", which featured David Underhill preaching against environmental outrage. The program featured songs such as a parody of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” inspired by changes to local wetland in order to build a stadium, “The ADEM Anthem", which was made to honor unfinished business by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, and “Phenolchemie Had a Tank Farm", which referred to a company with a chemical plant in Theodore, Alabama (southwest of Mobile).

David Underhill’s guests for "The Bay Today and the World Beyond" included representatives of the Mobile County Emergency Management Agency, folks without permanent homes, Neil Milligan, the chairman of the Alabama Sierra Club, Tom Hodges, the chairman of the Alabama Coast Sierra Club, Margie Welch and Bill Patterson of the group People Opposing Pollution, Suzanne Marshall, an activist from north Alabama, Casi Calloway of Mobile Bay Watch (it became Mobile Baykeeper in 2005), Bob Haskins of Keep Mobile Beautiful, Dana Smith, Paul Orum, E. O. Wilson, a retired teacher of biology from Harvard University and a former resident of Mobile, and Ralph Nader, an activist who was was scheduled to speak during the program for only 10 minutes, but he stayed for almost an hour after being impressed by the knowledge of David Underhill and the quality of the discussion with him and radio listeners who joined the program by telephone.

In 2002, Ron Fraiser, a former announcer of music programming for WABB, was rehired by the station and given the position of co-host for “The Bay Today and the World Beyond”. The program was renamed “The Ron and Dave Show” afterwards. By the end of March 2004, David Underhill was fired from WABB and replaced by Kathy Richardson, the news director for WABB (the radio program was renamed "The Ron and Kathy Show". Shortly before David Underhill was fired, Stephen (Steve) Nodine, a member of the City Council of Mobile, had participated in the program on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2004 and said David Underhill should be fired.

By February 2006, Kathy Richardson had left the radio program so she could be with her mother more often. She remained employed with WABB after leaving the radio program before ending her employment by the end of the year. By March 2006, Ron Fraiser had hosted the program with guest hosts such as Randy Patrick Setterstrom, a sports reporter for WKRG-TV with previous experience hosting a radio discussion program for WKRG-AM, and Daniel Shane McBryde, a former announcer for WABB-FM, a former host of a discussion program for WNTM-AM, and a former public information officer for the Mobile County Sheriff’s Department. By the end of the month, Ron Fraiser chose Daniel Shane McBryde to be his new partner for the radio program and the program was renamed "The Ron and Shane Show".

Thursday, September 7th, 2006 was the last day Daniel Shane McBryde worked with Ron Fraiser at WABB-AM. According to Lagnaippe, Ron Fraiser remembered Daniel Shane McBryde near the end of the program behaving in a way described as funny and asked, “You’re going to quit today, aren’t you?” Daniel Shane McBryde responded by saying, “Yep, I’m out of here".

After Daniel Shane McBryde left the program, Ron Fraiser began hosting it with guest hosts again. His guest hosts included Gina Gregory, a member of the City Council of Mobile and a former reporter for WKRG-TV, and Mike Dean, a commissioner for Mobile County. Ron Fraiser never found another regular partner for the program, which had been called "The Ron Fraiser Show" in radio advertisements broadcast by WABB-AM. By 2007, the program was renamed "Morning Time with Ron Fraiser", according to a local newsletter titled, "Legally Speaking", which advertised a bi-weekly segment of the radio program broadcast on Fridays between 7:30 AM and 8:00 AM.
On Friday, April 6th, 2007, Ron Fraiser was fired from WABB due to plans to replace his program and "First Light", a syndicated newscast, with simulcasts of morning news programming from WALA-TV and segments from the first hour of “The Neal Boortz Show", a syndicated discussion program. The news programming from WALA-TV was scheduled for broadcast between 5:00 AM and 8:00 AM and the segments of "The Neal Boortz Show" were scheduled for broadcast between 8:00 AM and 9:00 AM Monday through Friday. The simulcasts with WALA-TV were called "FOX 10 News on the Go" in advertisements broadcast by WABB-AM.

According to Lagniappe, Tom (Jammer) Naylor, the program director for WABB-AM and WABB-FM, said the decision to end “The Ron Fraiser Show” was based on ratings and advertising revenue amounting close to zero. According to Lagniappe also, Ron Fraiser had expected the changes and had hoped to host another discussion program from a radio station in Mobile.

On Monday, April 9th, 2007, WABB-AM broadcast the sounds of construction machines and workers between 6:00 AM and 9:00 AM as a temporary replacement before the first simulcast of WALA-TV’s morning newscast scheduled for Wednesday, April 11th as part of an agreement set to last until 2009. By July 2009, WABB had replaced the morning newscast from WALA-TV with “Doug Stephan’s Good Day", a syndicated program scheduled for broadcast between 5:00 AM and 8:00 AM Monday through Friday. Newscasts from the Information Radio Network/USA Radio Network were broadcast in between segments of "Doug Stephan's Good Day" in addition to radio newscasts from CNN Radio, which was the primary national news service for WABB.

On Monday, November 30th, 2009, Doug Stephan visited the WABB building in Mobile to host his radio program and meet local guests for the program. The guests scheduled to meet him were Steve Cape of Springdale Travel, Leslie Schraeder of Bellingrath Gardens, Chris Morgan of the Senior Bowl, and Chris Tipton of Windcreek Casino in Atmore, Alabama.

Local radio listeners were invited to visit WABB as early as 8:00 AM on the day Doug Stephan visited Mobile and encouraged to meet him after the end of the program. Even though WABB-AM normally did not segments of "Doug Stephan's Good Day" produced between 8:00 AM and 9:00 AM, the segments hosted from the WABB building in that time period were the first exceptions to the rule.


Part Nine

In 2001, WABB-AM began broadcasting the Mobile BayBears, a professional baseball team of the Minor League, on a regular basis. The broadcasts were presented by Tom Nichols, who had announced plays by the Mobile BayBears since their first exhibition game in 1997.

On Thursday, April 10th, 2003, WABB-AM began broadcasting “Sports Show Live,” a discussion program hosted by Aaron McCreight, the director of media relations with the Mobile BayBears and the assistant director of media relations with the Greenville Braves, another professional baseball team of the Minor League. The subjects discussed on "Sports Show Live" during its broadcast run included Mobile BayBears, Major League Baseball, and interviews with persons representing other sports .

The first edition of "Sports Show Live" was scheduled to take place at Dreamland Bar-B-Que in Mobile between 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM. The program was normally broadcast between those times on days when the Mobile BayBears were not playing anywhere. On days when they were playing somewhere in the Central time zone, the program was scheduled for broadcast between 6:00 PM and 7:00 PM only, and on days when they were playing against a team somewhere in the Eastern time zone, the program was not broadcast at all.

On days when the Mobile BayBears were playing at Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile, the program was broadcast from the concourse of the stadium in front of its entrance. On days when the team was playing against teams outside of Mobile, the program was broadcast from various locations in Mobile.

Children who were members of local sports teams were given chances to have one of their Saturday games broadcast on WABB-AM by visiting a broadcast location for “Sports Show Live” and registering for the drawing to help determine which team to broadcast. Only one registered team per month was broadcast.

On Fridays during the baseball season of 2004, WABB-AM broadcast "pre-game shows" about the Mobile BayBears before before broadcasting their games. The program featured interviews with players, coaches, scouts, and other folks involved in professional baseball, along with a weekly update on former Mobile BayBears players involved in Minor League Baseball or Major League Broadcast.

After the baseball team of 2004, Tom Nichols stopped broadcasting Mobile BayBears for WABB-AM so he could move back to his former state of Indiana to become the executive director of the Victory Sports Group, the owners of the Gary SouthShore RailCats, another professional baseball team of the Minor League. Tim Hagerty became the new announcer for the Mobile BayBears in December 2004.

From 2007 until 2009, WABB-AM did not broadcast any games with the Mobile BayBears. In 2009, the station had plans to broadcast 22 games scheduled for Saturday in addition to their game of the season scheduled for Thursday, April 9th and the first home game of the season on Tuesday, April 14th. Wayne Randazzo would announce the games for WABB-AM in 2009.

The team’s first home again of the year was not broadcast by WABB-AM, but some cable TV customers of Comcast Cablevision of Mobile were able to hear audio of the game provided by “The BayBears Broadcast Network” on cable TV with information on screen about the Mobile BayBears and scores updated as the games occurred.

On Wednesday, April 7th, 2010, the Mobile BayBears announced a deal with Clear Channel Radio of Mobile to have WRGV-FM in Pensacola, Florida (southeast of Mobile) broadcast all 140 of the team’s games during the regular season on 107.3-2, an HD Radio channel. The games would also be available to visitors of BayBears Radio on the World Wide Web and cable TV customers of Comcast Cablevision of Mobile. WABB-AM could no longer broadcast any games with the Mobile BayBears after the deal.


Part Ten

On Wednesday, October 25th, 2006, Bernard Dittman died at the age of 79 after having a stroke during the previous week and being admitted to Springhill Memorial, a hospital in Mobile. After he died, his daughter Betsy Dittman moved from Chicago, Illinois to Mobile to succeed him as general manager.

Betsy Dittman first worked at WABB when she was 12 years of age. After she became an adult, she visited WABB often for several years in order to become familiar with its operation. According to Lagniappe, the succession plan for Betsy Dittman was set years earlier in preparation of either Bernard Dittman retiring or circumstances preventing him from operating the station (Betsy Dittman left her position at WABB by 2010; her successor was Cathy Kaufman, the general sales manager of WABB).

On Tuesday, December 26th, 2006, the Federal Communications Commission (the FCC) accepted an application to transfer control of WABB-AM from Bernard Dittman, who was listed as deceased, to his wife Judith Dittman, who was listed as the personal representative of his estate. The application was granted on Tuesday, January 16th, 2007 and its requested action took effect on the next day. On Tuesday, August 5th, 2008, the FCC accepted an application to transfer control of WABB-AM from Judith Dittman to her testamentary family trust (she was listed as a trustee). The application was granted on Wednesday, October 29th (no applications similar to the aforementioned were filed for WABB-FM, according to the FCC).

On Friday, February 17th, 2012, news of an agreement to sell WABB-FM to the Educational Media Foundation of Rocklin, California was announced in a message on the World Wide Web site of WABB-FM. The agreement included plans for the foundation to take control of the station on Thursday, March 1st (all though WABB-AM was not part of the sale, the family had plans to sell it later).

According to the announcement, one reason for the sale of WABB-FM was due to members of the family of Judith Dittman considered "the next generation" not residing in Mobile anymore. The announcement also included statements by Judith Dittman admitting the decision to sell WABB-FM was very difficult and emotional for her family. She also admitted the time had come for members of the family to move to another phase of life and spend more time together.

On Wednesday, February 29th, WABB-FM broadcast special programming from 9:00 AM until 12:00 AM before the operation of the FM station was transferred to the Educational Media Foundation on the next day. Before the special programming began, WABB-FM broadcast the final edition of "The Morning Guys", their local morning program, between 5:00 AM and 9:00 AM with Glenn (Q-tip) Johnson, Nicholas (Nick) Fox, and Rachel (Blondie) Jones announcing.

During the final segment of "The Morning Guys", Julian Dittman, the grandson of Bernard Dittman and namesake of his great grandpapa, and Barry Silverman, a former employee of WABB, spoke with the announcers in the studio (Barry Silverman was an employee of WABB when the FM station began in 1973). After the guests spoke, a recording of Julian Dittman introducing himself and thanking listeners of the station's programming for their support was broadcast (the recording was broadcast several times during the day).

The special programming proceeding the final edition of "The Morning Guys" included popular songs from the present day to the 1950s, recordings of past announcers at work, past station identification segments, and recordings of recent interviews with former employees of WABB. One of the songs was the personal favorite of Bernard Dittman: "Strawberry Fields" by the Beatles. As the day progressed, the music programming became more retroactive.

The last song broadcast before 12:00 AM was "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" by Bob Dylan, since it was the first song broadcast by WABB-FM when it began broadcasting at 97.5 megacycles on Monday, February 5th, 1973. After the end of the song, an unidentified employee of WABB told radio listeners good night on behalf of his fellow employees and Bernard Dittman, whom he said never left the building in spirit. He signed off by doing a station identification announcement before the station started broadcasting a song all ready in progress from K-LOVE, a programming service of the Educational Media Foundation specialized in music based in Christianity and educational programming. The new call letters for the station (WLVM) were announced during a station identification segment broadcast after the first song from K-LOVE. The new call letters became effective on Friday, March 2nd.

By August, Omni Broadcasting in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, had plans to use WABB-AM to simulcast sports programming broadcast by WTKE-FM (100.3; licensed to Niceville, Florida) as part of the Ticket Sports Network, which by then consisted of only WTKE-FM and its simulcaster WTKP-FM (93.5; licensed to Port Saint Joe, Florida). WABB-AM would start simulcasting WTKE-FM's programming on Friday, August 24th. By then, WABB-AM could no longer follow its previous programming schedule because it was expected to broadcast all programming from WTKE-FM.

On Wednesday, October 24th, the Federal Communications Commission granted the sale of WABB-AM to Omni Broadcasting. On Friday, November 9th, the call letters of the station were changed to WTKD in accordance with the agreement made on Tuesday, August 14th to buy the station from the family of Judith Dittman. On the same day the new call letters took effect, Big Fish Broadcasting of Lexington, South Carolina reserved the former call letters for their silent AM radio station in Belton, South Carolina formerly known as WROP-AM.

2 comments:

  1. what happened to Gary Mitchell's sidekick- David Page ?

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    1. According to a World Wide Web site named Mobile Bay Times, the owner of WABB at the time he was was there (Bernard Dittman) had sent him away for another radio job in another location.

      http://www.mobilebaytimes.com/dittman.html

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