WCGS (105.9 FM) is a radio station licensed to Little Valley, New York. The station, with its tower on Fourth Street in the village of Little Valley, broadcasts at 7,000 watts, effective radiated power (ERP).
|Broadcast area||Southwestern New York/Southtowns|
|Branding||Family Life Network|
First air date
|February 1, 2010|
Former call signs
Call sign meaning
|"Where Christ Grants Salvation"|
|HAAT||191 meters (627 ft)|
From 2010 to 2021, the Seneca Nation of New York operated the station as WGWE, carrying a locally originated classic hits format targeting the western Southern Tier; the station's signal gave strong coverage to both of the Seneca Nation's populated reservations as well as the cities of Dunkirk, Jamestown, Olean and Bradford, all within a 30-mile radius of Little Valley (such that the previous inhabitant of 105.9 in Jamestown, WOGM-LP, had to change frequencies to 104.7 to accommodate the new signal). It was this 11-year run that is most associated with the WGWE history. Pandemic-related disruptions and consolidation of the other radio stations in Cattaraugus County under one company prompted the Seneca Nation to abandon the station, in which it had previously invested heavily, in 2021.
A brief effort was made to repurpose the signal as a rimshot covering the southern suburbs of Buffalo, New York, when Paul Izard purchased the signal to simulcast his electronic dance music webcast. Izard shut down the station after six weeks and surrendered the license to the FCC.
The station's license was acquired by the Family Life Network effective September 8, 2022; on September 15, 2022, the station changed its call letters to WCGS.
The Seneca Nation had been attempting to enter the radio business for several years prior to WGWE's founding. In the immediate years before acquiring the station, it was applying for noncommercial licenses to operate from the Seneca Nation's capital of Irving. Mutual exclusivity conflicts with out-of-town religious broadcasters prevented these proposals from reaching the air.
The Seneca nation purchased WGWE's construction permit from Randy Michaels's holding company Radioactive, LLC in early 2009 and signed on February 1, 2010. The first song played on WGWE was "As Long as the Grass Shall Grow," a song by Peter La Farge about the Senecas' opposition to the Kinzua Dam that was performed by Johnny Cash on Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian; it would continue to be played every Friday at noon through its entire existence. Originally a locally originated automated station for its first several months, the station began broadcasting what was then Citadel Media's Classic Hits Radio satellite format in late June 2010 in all shifts except weekday mornings and noon; the station disaffiliated from Classic Hits Radio in 2016. Mike "Smitty" Smith, former disc jockey at WPIG, was the station's first manager, hosting the morning drive time show and noon call-in request hours from studios inside the former Uni-Mart in Salamanca. Additional local hosts were added several months later.
Casey Hill and Jesse Garon, both of whom had previously worked with Smitty at WPIG, also held shifts at WGWE for several years before leaving Western New York. Former KFXM disc jockey "Double-D" Danny Dare also worked at the station for short stints in fall 2014 and in 2015. After Hill's and Garon's departures, for a brief time in the mid-2010s, dayparts outside of morning drive and noon were held by younger disc jockeys, including Erika J, JB's Jukebox, and the Austin Hill Show, whom Smith gave loose rein to experiment on-air (JB's Jukebox, for example, would frequently play two copies of the same record simultaneously, with JB using his finger to slightly slow down the CD speed and create a flange effect). Engineer Ace Boogie also held an afternoon drive airshift. Under Smith, the station used minimal jingles and an open-ended playlist ranging from the 1930s to the 1990s.
Smith retired from radio in 2016 to pursue the office of (and eventually serve four years as) mayor of Salamanca. Chris Russell, who had been program director at the cluster of WQRS and WGGO, took over as manager and morning drive host. Russell overhauled and streamlined the station's format into a more professionally styled presentation and more narrowly defined (but still slightly eclectic) playlist, also adding a roster of syndicated programming (much of it brought over from WGGO) on weekends, including reruns of Wolfman Jack and That Thing with Rich Appel. Under Russell's five-year tenure, the station's on-air lineup added market veteran Cindy Scott and held over Brett Maybee and Miss B from the Smitty era.
Throughout its existence, a portion of its programming was set aside for Native American content, including daily airings of National Native News and a local show devoted to native music, "Gae:no'." The station was also a partner for the Native American Music Awards, airing several ceremonies. The station also carried a roster of mostly local sports that included Buffalo Bandits indoor lacrosse, St. Bonaventure Bonnies women's basketball (the station was also slated to carry the college's men's lacrosse team but shut down before that team began play), high school athletics, Southern Tier Diesel adult amateur football, Olean Oilers collegiate summer baseball, and youth football and lacrosse. As recently as 2020, the Seneca Nation—which abolished Seneca Holdings and took over operations of the station directly under its Seneca Media and Communications Center arm after Russell's arrival—had planned on maintaining and expanding the station, including the eventual addition of FM 96.7 as a simulcast, an agreement that ultimately lasted only three days.
With Seven Mountains Media buying out all three of WGWE's privately held competitors—Community Broadcasters, Andrulonis Media and Sound Communications; the Seneca Nation announced on March 1, 2021 that it would be shutting down WGWE on March 31, a decision made directly by the Seneca Nation council. In its filing with the FCC, the Seneca Nation noted that it had sustained "long-term losses" operating the station, which had escalated into "financial distress" during the COVID-19 pandemic. The filing requested a suspension of operations, which would allow up to one year for the Seneca Nation to either relaunch or sell the station. WGWE ended programming at 10:09 p.m., with a farewell statement from Russell, a montage of end-themed songs, a final playing of "As Long as the Grass Shall Grow," and ending programming with Van Halen's cover of "Happy Trails."
"Gae:no'" was later picked up for syndication through Native Voice One. Russell and Scott, being  nationally syndicated on air personalities, had their shows picked up by WXMT-FM in Bradford, PA  The former studios were sold off to a neighboring restaurant. Seven Mountains Media established a translator in Salamanca on the nearby 105.5 frequency to simulcast WOLY, its own classic hits station.
Ownership by Paul IzardEdit
In September 2021, the Seneca Nation sold the WGWE license to Paul Izard for $25,000. Izard operates Energy Radio Buffalo, an electronic dance music webcaster. Izard's efforts targeted the Buffalo market 40 miles away; WGWE's signal in theory covered much of the southern portion of the area but faced adjacent-channel interference from a Family Life Network translator in Buffalo on 106.1 and cross-border interference from CHRE-FM in St. Catharines, Ontario on 105.7, as well as WJZR to the northeast on 105.9, limiting the northern reach of the signal. The sale was consummated on December 23, 2021; WGWE began simulcasting Energy Radio Buffalo on March 2.
The format lasted only six weeks on-air; on April 14, Izard surrendered the WGWE license to the FCC and shut down both the station and the webcast, with the FCC cancelling the station's license four days later. Izard blamed the failure on undisclosed physical problems with the WGWE transmitter that he, having no background in radio engineering, had no knowledge of how to fix, as well as a lease agreement on the WGWE broadcast tower with terms that Izard did not comprehend when agreeing to buy the license. Izard's short-lived tenure as WGWE owner was the subject of a cautionary tale, "How Not to Buy a Radio Station," on the radio trade industry Web site Radio Insight, which documented the opaque and obscure method in which most radio stations are bought and sold in the United States.
Sale to Family Life Network and transformation into WCGSEdit
On April 29, 2022, Family Life—owner of the 106.1 translator that interfered with WGWE—offered to purchase the WGWE license for $1 and assumption of debts on the condition that Izard request a reversal of his cancellation request. The FCC granted the request and reactivated the license that month. FLN already has four full-service signals in the Olean market—WCOP, WCOQ, WCOR and WCOV—meaning it would have to divest or surrender one of those licenses to acquire WGWE. In anticipation of the sale, Izard resumed operating the station on May 30, carrying Memorial Day special programming live from Buffalo. The sale was filed with the FCC in early June, with the sale price increased to a nominal $10. Izard transferred control of WGWE to Family Life on July 15 under a local marketing agreement while officially maintaining ownership until the sale was consummated on September 8, 2022; he has continued to operate Energy Radio Buffalo as an online-only Webcast with all programming intact. On September 15, 2022, the station changed its call letters to WCGS.
Family Life already held, and still holds, a construction permit for WCOI, a station with nearly identical coverage to WCGS on 91.9, which would be licensed to Ellicottville. In January 2023, Family Life tacitly abandoned efforts to launch that station.
- ^ "WCGS-FM 92.7 MHz - Sweet Briar, VA". Radio-locator.com. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
- ^ a b c d Jacobson, Adam (March 24, 2021). "A Western NY FM Calls It Quits". Radio+Television Business Report. Retrieved September 30, 2021.
- ^ a b c d "How Not To Buy A Radio Station" by Lance Venta, May 18, 2022 (radioinsight.com)
- ^ ReporterJan. 21, 2010, Rich Place City. "Don't touch that dial …". Salamancapress.com. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
- ^ "WGWE celebrates 10 years! • SNI Official Newsletter". Sninews.org. 13 March 2020. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
- ^ "NERW Extra: Family Life, Seven Mountains, Sound Strike Twin Tiers Deal". 5 February 2021.
- ^ "WGWE 105.9 FM Closing". Thevillagerny.com. 4 March 2021. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
- ^ "WGWE To Suspend Operations". Radioinsight.com. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
- ^ "Gaënö'". Gaenomusic.fm. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
- ^ "Home". cloudcastradio.com.
- ^ "Air Staff". Mountain1063radio.com. 31 August 2020. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
- ^ Deb Everts. "Salamanca businessman expands food service with new diner". Olean Times Herald. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
- ^ Station sales: week of 9/24. Radio Insight. Retrieved September 24, 2021.
- ^ "From acquisition to license surrender in 102 days" by Lance Venta, April 17, 2022. Radio Insight. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
- ^ The previously announced $10 sale of 105.9 WGWE Little Valley NY from Paul Izard Communications to Family Life Ministries was filed with the FCC.
- ^ List of Family Life radio stations, retrieved October 9, 2022
- WCGS in the FCC FM station database
- WCGS on Radio-Locator
- WCGS in Nielsen Audio's FM station database