Anita West is no longer on the air at WBFO-FM.
The longtime Buffalo DJ who has been hosting a blues show on the public radio station for several years said she was “terminated.” Don Boswell, president of WNED-TV, WBFO-FM 88.7, and Western New York Public Broadcasting Association called the decision a “personal matter,” while saying that “(WBFO’s) commitment to the blues is stronger than ever.”
West, a longtime 97 Rock personality, has been a visible presence at blues clubs around the region and has become known as a champion of the form through her work as an MC and event organizer for various blues nights at clubs like the Central Park Grill, the Armor Inn Tap Room, the Tudor Lounge, and Mohawk Place.
“I was terminated on Thursday at 1 p.m.,” West said, describing her state of mind at the time as “shell-shocked and somewhat dazed.”
“I didn’t see it coming,” she said. “I was a deer in headlights.”
Megan Wagner, director of communications for WNED-TV and WBFO-FM 88.7, offered an official statement on West’s termination: “Due to a change in personnel, Anita West will no longer serve as the host of Sunday Blues on WBFO. WBFO remains committed to bringing listeners the very best of the blues. The weekend blues programming will remain unchanged and will continue on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to midnight.”
The station will also present its previously scheduled WBFO Blues Bash concert in April, Boswell said.
WBFO’s decision has drawn criticism on social media since the news became public. By Monday afternoon, a Facebook page beneath the heading “Bring Anita West Back to WBFO’s Sunday Blues Show” had been created.
A post on WBFO’s Facebook page that said Saturday and Sunday’s blues programming would continue, minus West, led many listeners to voice their disappointment in the company’s decision through posts of their own. Many said they would no longer support the station.
“I feel strongly that the Western New York Public Broadcasting Association is treating WBFO as a commodity rather than as a public service,” longtime listener Adam Wolf, who posted an open letter to Boswell on Facebook, told The News. “If you remember the old station, as UB operated it, you understand what a shame that is.”
In the letter, Wolf said: “Let me be perfectly clear: I do not advocate against support of WNYPB because I’m upset about the loss of Anita West. I do so because you have decided to run WBFO like a business, rather than as a non-profit organization in the public trust.”