WUFO (1080 AM; "Power 96.5") is a radio station licensed to Amherst, New York, and serves the Buffalo metropolitan area. It currently airs a hybrid Urban AC/Classic hip hop format. Its studios are located on Broadway Avenue in Buffalo, while its transmitter is located on Genesee Street in Cheektowaga. WUFO simulcasts on FM translator W243DX (96.5 FM), with its transmitter located atop One Seneca Tower in the southern area of Downtown Buffalo.
|City||Amherst, New York|
|Broadcast area||Buffalo, New York|
|Slogan||A Blend of R&B and Your Favorite Throwbacks|
|Translator(s)||96.5 W243DX (Buffalo)|
|First air date||1948|
|Format||Urban AC/Classic hip hop|
|Power||1,000 watts (daytime)|
|Callsign meaning||WUFO (close rhyming scheme to "Buffalo")|
|Owner||Sheila L. Brown |
(Visions Multi Media Group – WUFO Radio LLC)
Pre-WUFO: WXRA, WINE and WYSLEdit
The roots of today's WUFO can actually be traced back to 1927, with the founding of WKEN in Kenmore, New York, a Buffalo suburb. General Order 40 proposed that WKEN share airtime with WKBW, which was moving to the 1470 frequency WKEN was using at the time. WKEN objected and proposed to move down the dial to 1040 and operate as a daytime-only station, then a novel concept. In 1930, WKEN became WMAK, taking on the intellectual property of a station that was displaced when The Buffalo News purchased its frequency (the other station became, and remains known as, WBEN). The second incarnation of WMAK ceased operations in 1932, amid the Great Depression and antitrust pressures on the Buffalo Broadcasting Company that owned WGR, WMAK and WKEN at the time. The FCC ordered the station off the air, ostensibly due to "an unsatisfactory showing of public interest."
The Kenmore allocation would remain silent for the next 14 years. In the interim, the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement, implemented in 1941, pushed all stations broadcasting on 1040 up the dial to 1080. In 1946, Thaddeus Podbielniak and Edwin R. Sanders (d/b/a Western New York Broadcasting Company) applied to the FCC to construct a 1,000-watt AM radio station on the 1080 allocation in Kenmore. A construction permit was granted in April 1947. The original calls for the construction permit were WNYB, but when the station signed on in January 1948, it had the new calls WXRA. The city of license was changed from Kenmore to Buffalo in 1952, although its studios and facilities remained in Kenmore. For the first decade or so of its existence, WXRA was a little-noticed full-service radio station offering a wide variety of music and local news.
George "Hound Dog" Lorenz, who later became a Buffalo radio legend on WKBW and started up WBLK in 1964, had a show on WXRA during its early years, but was eventually fired for playing too much "race music" (the term used for R&B music in those days). After WKBW adopted a Top 40 playlist approach in the late 1950s and took away Lorenz' privilege of playing what he wanted, Lorenz would return to 1080 AM and would eventually attempt to purchase the station, but was outbid by Gordon McLendon.
In 1957, Podbielniak and Sanders sold WXRA to John Kluge, who would go on to found Metromedia (owners of WNEW-TV in New York City). Kluge changed the station's calls to WINE and debuted a Top 40 music format on 1080 on October 15, 1957. WINE's mascot was a caricature of an inebriated Frenchman, and the station's slogan was "It goes to your head!" WINE's city of license was changed from Buffalo to Amherst in 1959, although by then the station's studio and transmitter were located on LaSalle Avenue, in Buffalo itself.
Acclaimed broadcaster Gordon McLendon purchased WINE in 1960. In April, McLendon changed the calls to WYSL (for "Whistle") and dropped the Top 40 format in favor of Beautiful Music. Toward the end of 1961, however, McLendon moved the WYSL calls and easy listening format to the 1400 spot on the AM dial (formerly WBNY). He sold the 1080 frequency to Dynamic Broadcasting, who instituted the WUFO call sign and recrafted the station as the first radio broadcaster programmed for Buffalo's Black community.
Donald C. Mullins, Sr. started out doing the news and eventually worked his way up to become WUFO's General Manager from 1968 until 1981. He received numerous accolades while holding the position at WUFO. He was very well known not only in Buffalo, but all over the radio world. Gary Byrd began his radio career at WUFO in the 1960s.
Today's WEDG was originally the FM side of WXRA (as WXRC) and then of WINE (as WILY and then WINE-FM) in the 1950s. However, Gordon McLendon retained control of the FM station after selling off 1080 to Dynamic and moving the intellectual property of WYSL and its beautiful music format to 1400.
Western New York's first radio station programming to the African-American community, began in 1961 when famed station owner Gordon McLendon moved WYSL from 1080 to 1400 AM. McLendon sold the 1080 frequency to Leonard Walk, who owned a group of Black formatted stations (such as WAMO Pittsburgh and WILD Boston). When Walk bought the 1080 frequency in 1961, the original desired call letters were "WJOE" for "W-JOE in Buffalo". Since the WJOE calls were unavailable, the owner instead chose the "WUFO" call letters and named the station "WU-FO in Buffalo.” These call letters provided the rhyming and identification with Buffalo that the owners desired. WUFO's new format began on November 2, 1962 with famed Cleveland Disc Jockey Eddie O'Jay as the first on the air.
WUFO has provided the nation with some of the most popular Black announcers. Some of the announcers that worked at WUFO over the years include Frankie Crocker, Gary Byrd, Herb Hamlett, Jerry Bledsoe, Thelka McCall and her son Dwayne Dancer Donovan, Don Allen, Jerry Young (Youngblood), Don Mullins, Sunny Jim Kelsey, Mansfield Manns Jr, III., Al Brisbane, Jimmy Lyons, H.F. Stone, Chucky T, Al Parker, Gary Lanier, Kelly Carson, Darcel Howell, Mouzon, David Wilson, Byron Pitts, Mark Vann, "The Discotizer" Keith Pollard and Jheri-Lynn. Jimmie Raye hosted the morning show from 1969-1971. Raye moved to LA to record music and later produced a TV Special known as "The Soul Thing,” in 1976.
In 1973, the Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation purchased Dynamic Broadcasting making WUFO the only Black owned station in Western New York. Today, the station plays Gospel music with community-oriented talk and Soul Oldies on the weekends.
Today, WUFO is the only AM gospel station in Western New York; a competing gospel station was operated by the Totally Gospel Radio Network on WBBF from 1997 to 2006 and on WHLD from 2006 to 2010, is currently now broadcasting on WFWO.
In 2013, WUFO 1080 was purchased by Vision Multi Media Group co-owned by Sheila Brown and Council Member Darius Pridgen, an historic move that makes Brown the first African American female owner of a radio station in Western New York. WUFO's vision is expected to include expansion into television and print, as well as the introduction of new programming.
"A Busload of Buffalo Broadcast History" by Shannon Huniwell ("Shannon's Broadcast Classics"), Popular Communications, October 2006 (pp. 72–76. Donna Mullins-Prince (Daughter of Donald C. Mullins, Sr.)
- Fybush, Scott (February 26, 2018). "Remembering Buffalo's BBC". Tower Site of the Week. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
- "Two More Stations Ordered Deleted" (PDF). Broadcasting. January 1, 1932. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
- "FCC Construction Permit". United States Federal Communications Commission, audio division.
- WUFO to Relaunch as Power 96.5