End Of A Era: The Last Day For WABB 97.5

February 29, 2012

Today marks the end of an era as the last day as a Top 40 station for WABB 97.5 FM.

(This is an archive story from Feb. 29, 2012)

WABB 97.5 — one of the oldest Top 40 radio stations in the country — was sold to not-for-profit  EMF (Educational Media Foundation) of Rocklin, CA. EMF will take over all programming and the format for the station on Thursday, switching to the Christian K-Love format.

We asked our Facebook fans what they thought of the end of WABB 97.5, and here’s what some had to say:

  • “I grew up listening to WABB and my kids have grown up listening. It’s just the end of an era!” — Chandra Rigby, Molino
  • “That was the first cool station I listened to and now my kids listen to it. Sad. — Jennifer Beck, Cantonment
  • “I love Qtip and have always listened to WABB! I don’t live there anymore but I have always loved them since the 70’s.” — Debbie Lewis, Stafford, VA
  • “I loved the five o’clock whistle on Fridays! The official start of the weekend on the Gulf Coast.” –  Tina Nabors, Montgomery
  • “QTip has always been my favorite part of the show– he needs to go country since that is where his heart is.” –  Wendy Ward, Molino
  • “So said….grew up with them and got my kids listening to it.” — Teresa Andress, Molino
  • “I will miss the history…I spent many a day blaring The Beastie Boys, with my dad yelling “Turn it DOWN!!!” over the noise, great times! LOVED WABB!!” — Janice Parham, Molino

WABB has been a family owned station for 52 years. Bernie Dittman bought WABB-AM in 1959 and put WABB-FM on the air in 1973 with a Top 40 format.  A legendary icon in the broadcasting industry, Dittman was devoted throughout his career to maintaining WABB as an independent, family owned station.  The family continued to operate the station after his death in 2006.

Despite the station’s success, the next generation of the family no longer resides in the Mobile area and, as a result, the family viewed the sale as a logical transition.

“This was a very difficult and emotional decision for our family,” said Judith Dittman, Bernie’s wife. “WABB-FM has enjoyed decades of success and being an integral part of the Mobile-Pensacola communities. But the time has come for us to move into another phase of life and spend more time together as a family.”

Comments

26 Responses to “End Of A Era: The Last Day For WABB 97.5”

  1. DR. BELLE on December 6th, 2016 12:51 pm

    I WORKED FOR THE KING ON THE AM SIDE OF WABB AND SOMETIMES I WOULD SIMULTANEOUS ON THIS FM ALSO,MR.DITTMAN WAS A GREAT
    RADIO OWNER HE ALWAYS PICK UP RED PHONE AND CALL IF HE HEARD
    SOMETHING A LITTLE OUT OF ORDER,SOMETIME I WOUNDERED IF HE EVER
    GOT ANY SLEEP.I DID 7-TO- NIDNIGHTS M-F AND CASEY KASEM ON SUN
    SITTING AT MY DESK ON 12-06-16 AND WABB CAME ACROSS MY MIND.
    IM DR. BELLE,PAUL FULLER I SAW IN DC SOME YEARS AGO ON A TOP 40 STAT.

  2. Charles L. on March 1st, 2012 7:37 pm

    I worked at WABB in the mid late 1980’s. I was there when the original Goofy White Boys (Paul Fuller and Bill Evans) had the morning market beat. Bernie was WABB. He invested HEAVILY in developing his audience. You were not merely listening to WABB, you were a LISTENER OF WABB and becuase of this, you were cooler than other radio staion listeners. I learned alot about promotion under this the tutelage of this legend.

  3. Steve on March 1st, 2012 7:53 am

    I lived in Mobile from 1973 thru 1977. During this time WABB FM’s format of playing free form, album oriented cuts was incredible. In the span of an hour one could hear Led Zeppelin, Willie Nelson, John Prine, Todd Rundgren, War, Matthew Fisher, Randy Newman, Stevie Wonder, etc…., played. To this day I have not heard such an array of music played. I remember Peter frampton being in the studio a few years before Frampton Comes Alive hit. WABB was playing his early stuff as well as early music by the likes of Fleetwood Mac(Albatross, Bare Trees, Sail Away come to mind)years before they became mainstream hit bands. I remember a DJ stating on the air that they would be playing the entire Stevie Wonder “Fulfillingness’ First Finale” album that night and to be sure to have your tape recorders ready. I got to listen to the premiere of many albums at night. Who else would play the entire Loggins and Messina “Motherlode” album?

  4. Jimbo on March 1st, 2012 7:02 am

    I began listening to WABB around 1977 when I’d grab a friend and drive down to the Mississippi Coast. We could pick it up just south of Hattiesburg. It was my favorite station till about 1998. I miss those days, but I don’t miss the WABB of the last few years. The radio was ALWAYS on WABB when attending MGCJC. Go Bulldogs!

  5. Jason on March 1st, 2012 12:24 am

    Terrible news. I used to listen to rock wars as well. I won the first and only contest i ever won in my life calling in to the morning show. Joke of the day. It was a terrible joke but I won. Two tickets to a movie of my choice. I went to see Red Dawn. I loved it. WABB was the good and always will be a part of me. Funny the things you remember as you grow older and reflect.
    :

    Godspeed.

  6. Alisa on February 29th, 2012 10:36 pm

    Many Fri & Sat nights spent circling Hardee’s in Flomaton in the 80’s listening to them!!!!

  7. Veronica Portella on February 29th, 2012 7:39 pm

    I listened as child to the very last day. My girls are big fans now too. This a sad day along the gulf coast. From the voices and personalities we grew to love to the great music over the years you will be missed. BTW, The lineup today has been great. Oh the memories this station brought back today. Thank you and wish you all the best
    Veronica Portella

  8. John Root on February 29th, 2012 6:11 pm

    I was in a Junior Achievement company sponsored by WABB in 1977-1978.
    The station was great and the DJ’s were really cool.
    We had our own radio show on WABB Sunday nights for an hour. It was called Sneeker Street.
    The DJ’s were Lee Stamp, Paul Fuller, Maya. Lee Moore, and then later Leslie Fram.

  9. Adam R Jacobson on February 29th, 2012 2:59 pm

    An end of an era is always bittersweet, and the Gulf Coast should appreciate all that Bernie Dittman and his family did in a 53-year timespan to make Mobile matter. As an editor at trade publication Radio & Records from 1995 until its sale to Nielsen in August 2006, I learned of the greats in radio. When it came to individuals, there was Cecil Heftel, Stan Kaplan, Jerry Lee … and Bernie Dittman. WABB was a powerhouse because of his willingness to let his employees learn and lead.
    From 1480 AM and Scott Shannon at night in 1970 to the debut on FM 97.5 in February 1973 WABB became reknown across the mid-South. In the next decade WABB would gain a national reputation as a springboard for talent that includes Randy Lane, Mike McVay, Leslie Fram, Ramondo and many many others.
    As WABB signs off we may not like the pop music it played over the last few years, but we must appreciate the Dittman family’s efforts and how the station was a part of Mobile.
    Like the famed WAVA in Washington DC in February 1992, Christian programming is on the way. In Mobile K-Love will likely be warmly received. But the Gulf Coast is left with a large loss, as Cumulus and Clear Channel can never be as local and vibrant as WABB. Cherish the memories and remember Julian’s grandfather.

  10. DJC on February 29th, 2012 2:28 pm

    When I was young, my parents would let my brother and I stay up and listen to the 9 o’clock rock wars. The winning song would continue to face challengers until it got knocked of by another great song. The listeners would call in and vote on their favorite to select a winner. That was somewhere around 1981 or 82. We loved the rock wars!

  11. Oak Grove Bud on February 29th, 2012 12:22 pm

    I remember listening to Chip Nelson and John Stewart as the ” Breakfast Flakes ” on TK 101.5 back in the day. They were just as good as John Boy and Billy on 96.1. Chip has been at 96.1 the rocket for a while now. Love his afternoon show on the drive home, especially Friday at 5:00 P.M. when he plays ” Weekend ” by Wet Willie. Hey Chip if you read this, how about a little more selections on those classic rock songs? WABB use to be all rock years ago.

  12. becky on February 29th, 2012 11:00 am

    i am going to miss wabb because when me and my husband goes on long time we listent to them its going be a sad day today when they live the air tonight my best wish to the wabb family and fans

  13. Art on February 29th, 2012 10:53 am

    Im not going to miss it. I havnt listened in 7 years. It’s all mainstream garbage music.

  14. AC on February 29th, 2012 10:40 am

    I remember listening to WABB back when it was an album rock station as Chris Bryan pointed out. They used to have a “Battleof the Bands” in which they would play entire albums, uninterupted, by different bands and callers would vote which was the best. Albums like Boston vs. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Street Survivors. It was GREAT! But then they got kinda “poppy” and I switched to TK101.

  15. Ray lanzer on February 29th, 2012 9:57 am

    I grew up listening to this station.I sure going miss it. I still listened up til the end.i grew in skate rink i was a a dj and wabb was how i made my playlist.i would listen and write song i need play that play the top 8 requestof that day

  16. Heather on February 29th, 2012 9:46 am

    WABB and TK101 was the stations to listen to when we were in highschool and for years after. WABB will be missed, even though I too have switched back over to mostly country radio.

  17. William on February 29th, 2012 9:27 am

    Bernie Dittman was the heart and soul of WABB. He took me, this young guy that had dreams of moving on up in radio and hired me to setup and run his Pensacola sales office. And gave me the chance to voiceover spots.

    It was an amazing time. I had gone from small market radio to running a sales office for one of the big boys in the Mobile/Pcola market — one of the top 50 or so in the country. All those young boy dreams listening to the boombox and pretending to be a DJ had become a surreal reality.

    If you’ve listened to WABB the past couple of days, you’ve learned that Bernie was WABB. Once you got past the spray on hair in a can (remember that stuff?) he was the man that could find the best in everyone.

    I got married on his dime — actually on the clock. It was unfortunate that getting married cause me to look beyond my dreams and led to a decision to leave WABB for a Pensacola station. I felt like I betrayed Bernie and his trust, but in retrospect he was a man that wanted the best for those he knew.

    In my short time at WABB, I learned a lot from the man and learned things about the media business that are in practice here at NorthEscambia.com and have led to our successes.

    I am proud to have had a small, albeit short lived and insignificant part, of WABB.

    – William
    NorthEscambia.com

  18. farewell on February 29th, 2012 9:10 am

    100.7 and 96.5 are going to be my replacements…well, as far as music anyway. Hoping the D.J.s will find one of those stations.

  19. Ramona Bell on February 29th, 2012 9:02 am

    Can’t wait. I LOVE K-Love!!!!!!

  20. Chris Bryan on February 29th, 2012 8:56 am

    I was Program Director of 97 ROCK in the late 70’s. I worked for Bernie, knew Judith his wife, and all of their girls. I remember one of my main job responsibilities was to pick the girls up from school in the afternoons:-) After Bernie death, Betsy (His oldest daughter) became station owner and manager.

    I know this story reported that WABB FM was originally a Top 40 station, well it was, and it wasn’t. From 6am to 3pm it simulcast the Top 40 signal with 1480 WABB AM, then from 3pm to 3am it was an Album Rock format, manned by two radio personalities, Lee Stamp and Raymond Bannister. Lee went on to be a very successful attorney, while Raymond went on to Los Angeles and became a successful radio personality at KROQ-FM. “Ramondo in the Morning”

    The station was legendary, and although it is now taking a different direction, we can all savor the memories it gave us growing-up along the Gulf Coast.

    Love live 97.5FM!

    Chris Bryan

  21. sad, sad, sad! on February 29th, 2012 8:55 am

    grew up listening to WABB and still do….tomorrow will be the real sad day, won’t have WABB to wake up and drive to work to with Nick, Q-tip and Blonde! Great memeories and fun times!!! ROCK ON!!!

  22. RJ on February 29th, 2012 8:30 am

    So sad. Haven’t listened in years but grew up listening to that station.

  23. DJC on February 29th, 2012 8:26 am

    WABB hasn’t been the WABB that I enjoyed for years. I guess they have to keep up with whats popular to remain successful. I just feel like there is better modern music out there that is not getting enough exposure. Maybe because their not sellouts.

  24. melissa on February 29th, 2012 7:28 am

    Now that they are taking the only best mix radio station away what are we going to listen to now? Where are the radio host going? Are they still going to be part of our day? We are going to miss you all

  25. me on February 29th, 2012 7:27 am

    i’ll be changing my station….this is not a good thing for music fans. WABB was HUGE when we were teens…always coming to Atmore to Pizza Hut for live broadcasting, throwing out t shirts and cups etc….kids LOVED them…now they have to move on to something else. 94.1 is great, 99.9, and 102.7 are my favs!

  26. 429SCJ on February 29th, 2012 5:35 am

    Long Live ROCK!





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