WUFO began in 1961 when famed station owner Gordon McLendon moved his then 1080 AM WYSL to 1400 AM. McLendon sold the 1080 frequency to Leonard Walk, a man with a group of Black formatted stations (WAMO Pittsburgh, WILD Boston). When Leonard 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 1080 am began broadcasting on November 2, 1962 with famed Cleveland Disc Jockey Eddie O’Jay as the first on the air with the rhythm and blues format. 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, Jerry Bledsoe, Thelka McCall and her son Dwayne Dancer Donovan, Don Allen, Don Mullins, ‘Sunny’ Jim Kelsey, Al Brisbane, Jimmy Lyons, H.F. Stone, Chucky T, Al Parker, Gary Lanier, Kelly Carson, Darcel Howell, Mouzon, David Wilson, Byron Pitts, Mark Vann, and “The Discotizer” Keith Pollard. Jimmie Raye 1969-1971 morning show 6AM-10AM was number one for the time slot. He moved to LA to record music and produce his TV Special for NBC in 1976, “The Soul Thing.”
In 1973 the Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation bought Dynamic Broadcasting, making WUFO the onlyBlack owned station in Western New York. Today the station plays Gospel music with community oriented talk and Soul Oldies on the weekends. To this day, Sheridan still owns the station.
The roots of today’s WUFO can actually be traced back to 1946, when 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 Kenmore, a Buffalo suburb. 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 in1952, 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 WBLK-FM in 1964, had a show on WXRA during its early years, but was eventually fired for playing too much “race music” (the terminology used for R&B music in those days). After WKBW adopted a Top 40playlist 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 byGordon McLendon.
In 1957, Podbielniak and Sanders sold WXRA to John W. Kluge, who would go on to foundMetromedia (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. 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 1400 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.
Today’s WEDG, 103.3 FM, 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.
Article provided by Steve Mitchell