Gospel finally has its own 24-hour spot on the AM radio dial in Buffalo.
WHLD-AM 1270, formerly home to a progressive talk format, has been converted into an "urban inspirational" station.
Gospel music, "sermonettes" from local and national preachers, and other faith-based programming are featured on the station, which premiered Dec. 18.
"It's clean music, faith-based, with a little flair," said Ray Parker, operations manager for Totally Gospel radio network. "It's a format that's family-oriented, and it's going to keep people's spirits up."
Gospel and urban inspirational have had a home at WBBF-AM 1120 and at WUFO-AM 1080 for more than a decade, but those stations have only daytime signals.
Pastor John H. Young Sr., president of Excel Radio Networks and senior pastor of the Fellowship Christian Center, said he has been trying for years to get a round-the-clock spot for his gospel network.
"We've been turned down quite a few times," he said.
The new urban inspirational format is targeted at the faith community but won't be entirely religious, said Brian Brown-Cashdollar, president of Niagara Independent Media, which owns the leasing rights to program WHLD and WBBF.
In addition to inspirational music, WHLD eventually will have news programming, news talk shows and possibly even sports, he said.
"We want to be a full-service station," said Brown-Cashdollar.
Young said he believes that there is a large, untapped market for the format -- especially as an alternative to urban hip-hop stations.
Churchgoing African-Americans, he said, tend to be a "very stable, loyal portion of the community."
Only recently, however, have media owners begun to recognize that, he said. The financial success of other faith-based, African-American efforts, such as Tyler Perry's dramatic performances, movies, books and television shows, has led the way, according to Young.
"That opened the door for a lot of us," Young said.
Young estimated that WBBF-AM 1120 has 30,000 daytime listeners, and he expects the audience to grow significantly with an expanded format at WHLD-AM 1270, which has a 5,000-watt signal.
Known as "The Word 1270," WHLD-AM includes "The Morning Worship Club," a talk show with Young as host, from 6 to 10 a.m. weekdays.
A mix of programming airs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., depending on the day. Mondays, for example, feature mostly music, while Wednesdays include more Scripture readings. A Catholic Mass is broadcast live at noon Sundays from St. Stanislaus Church in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood of Buffalo.
The station, owned by Citadel Broadcasting Corp., also continues to air the progressive talk show "Democracy Now." WBBF, also owned by Citadel, is changing over to a different format next week.