|City||Buffalo, New York|
|Broadcast area||Buffalo, New York|
|Slogan||"Classic Rock, Classic Jocks"|
|Frequency||96.9 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||September 14, 1959|
|Callsign meaning||WGRFM (former owner's initials; F added to distinguish it from former sister station WGR)|
|Former callsigns||WGR-FM (1959–1973)|
|Owner||Cumulus Media |
(Radio License Holding CBC, LLC)
|Sister stations||WEDG, WHTT, WHLD|
WGRF is a radio station in Buffalo, New York, United States. The station's on air branding is "97 Rock". The station mostly plays Classic rock from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. WGRF broadcasts at 96.9 MHz from a transmitter north of downtown Buffalo, and studios are in the city's eastside.
WGRF is owned by Cumulus Media. Previous owners included the Taft Television and Radio Company, Rich Communications, Mercury Radio Communications (who separated the longtime combination with WGR in 1995 when it bought WGRF from Rich Communications, who in turn retained WGR until selling it to the Sinclair Broadcast Group two years later), and Citadel Broadcasting (which merged with Cumulus on September 14, 2011).
WGRF streamed its programming on the Internet until 2002, when it became economically unfeasible for some stations to continue their streams given changes in licensing and royalty agreements. In March 2006, Citadel launched an initiative that provided for the streaming of many of Citadel's stations. WGRF was among the first commercial stations in Buffalo to resume streaming after the earlier changes.
WGRF currently competes with cross-border rival CIXL-FM.
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WGRF started as the FM sister station to WGR. It signed on September 14, 1959 as WGR-FM. Like most of Western New York's other FM stations, WGR-FM carried a MOR or easy listening format, along with a partial simulcast of the AM station.
In 1973, the station became WGRQ with a Top 40 format known as "Super Q", which was rare at the time for an FM station. In 1975, the station began a run in the format it has held for most of its existence, initially as an AOR station, rebranding as "Q-FM 97", and then as "The New 97 Rock WGRQ-FM". The original 97 Rock era featured Program Director and DJ John McGhan. By the early 1980s, the station had largely entrenched itself into a styling and format that came to be associated with the nascent classic rock format.
On January 4, 1985, WGRQ dumped its rock format and shifted to an adult contemporary ("AC") format as WRLT, firing all but two of the WGRQ airstaff. With the other rock station in Buffalo, 103.3 WPHD and its simulcast partner on 1400, maintaining a more modern focus (as it still does), a domino effect soon followed to fill the void for classic rock: WHTT would flip to a "classic hits" format, and rimshot signal 107.7 would adopt a classic rock format of their own as The Bear, WBYR.
On September 20, 1988, WRLT changed its call letters back to WGR-FM, switched back to classic rock and rehired virtually all its former air staff under their legendary name "97 Rock". (By the end of the year, WHTT and AM 1400 would both change to oldies; WBYR to beautiful music.) Three years later, its call letters were changed to the current WGRF. The station staff and format have largely been unchanged ever since.
In December 2015, iconic 97 Rock morning host Larry Norton retired from broadcasting to pursue endeavors in charity and ministry.
- "FCC History Cards for WGRF".
- "Cumulus now owns Citadel Broadcasting". Atlanta Business Journal. September 16, 2011. Retrieved September 16, 2011.
- Larry Norton, radio staple at 97 Rock, announces his retirement on-air. WIVB-TV. Retrieved September 17, 2015.