Update 8/25: Cox has announced that 97.3 WNCB will flip to Sports as “97.3 The Zone” on Tuesday, August 30.
The station’s lineup will feature University of Alabama play-by-play man Eli Gold and Auburn University analyst Stan White in mornings from 6 to 9am. The syndicated Tim Brando show will follow from 9am to 12pm and former WJOX host Matt Coulter from 12pm to 3pm. No official word on afternoon drive, although BlazerTalk suggests the station will retain the replay of the Rick & Bubba show currently airing on the station. Yahoo Sports Radio will fill nights and weekends along with high school and Atlanta Falcons play-by-play. Cox has submitted a request for the WZNN calls earlier today.
The afternoon drive hole could become clearer once the reasons for Paul Finebaum’s lawsuit against Citadel are unsealed. The Birmingham News has further details on the case.
Original Report 8/21: With rumors and legal filings running rampant about 94.5 WJOX Birmingham and regionally syndicated afternoon host Paul Finebaum attempting to jump ship to a crosstown station, Cox Radio has just added domain fuel to the fire.
With or without the college football centric host, Cox has registered 973TheZone.com for its struggling Country “97.3 The Buck” WNCB. Cox does also own AC “97.3 The Coast” WFLC Miami, but that station is in no danger of flipping.
Birmingham has already become one of the most FM centric markets for spoken word programming, with three News/Talkers and WJOX already entrenched on FM. Citadel has the two major programs in Alabama locked up with the University of Alabama on WJOX and Auburn University on sister News/Talk 100.5 WAPI, and a third University of Alabama-Birmingham on Urban AC “Hot 107.7” WUHT.
With the college football season starting on September 3, if this move were to happen it would make sense to happen sooner rather than later.