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WUFO plans to broaden reach with an FM channel

WUFO-AM celebrated its 56th year with a party Sunday and news that the radio station will add an FM channel, improving sound quality and broadening its audience.

The station, at 1080 on the AM dial, will simulcast at 100.7 FM. The station currently broadcasts an assortment of local and nationally syndicated African-American radio personalities from sun up to sun down on AM. The FM channel will operate 24 hours a day with additional music programming.

WUFO, a fixture in the city's radio community, focuses mainly on gospel, R&B, blues, jazz and reggae, plus political, sports  and community affairs talk shows, with a reach throughout Western New York and Southern Ontario.

“Every sales person and announcer who’s been here has wished for this,” Sheila Brown, majority owner of the station, said of the new FM channel. “For us, history is being made.”

Brown, who started at WUFO in 1986 as an account executive, owns 84 percent of the station at 143 Broadway, in the African-American cultural heritage district.  True Bethel Community Development Corp., which is headed by Common Council President Darius G. Pridgen, owns 16 percent.

Brown, who bought the station in 2013, said she expects the change to occur within about 45 days, following clearance by the Federal Communications Commission. The station will use the WNED tower to broadcast on FM.

“The addition of FM puts us on a level playing field with everyone else,” said Brown, who noted the national trend in radio over the decades toward FM.

In the U.S., there are 4,671 AM radio stations and 10,837 FM stations, of which 4,100 are educational FM channels, according to a September 2016 Federal Communications Commission report.

Leander Roberson, the host of the Western New York Gospel Connection, which airs Sundays on WUFO, sees the potential for reaching a larger audience with a better-quality sound as instrumental to furthering the station’s success.

“It’s a game-changer,” he said.

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