WBFO 88.7 FM to Expand Its Community Reach

By Kelli Bocock-Natale

Release Date: January 15, 2008

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- WBFO 88.7 FM, a public service of the University at Buffalo, has received a $223,500 grant from the federal Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP) to install a new tower and antenna that will increase and improve service to its Western New York audience. This is the largest single competitive grant ever received by the station.

The tower and antenna will allow the station to deliver a significantly stronger signal to more than 1.15 million people within WBFO's broadcast area, and add 50,000 additional listeners to its broadcast reach. The work is expected to be completed this spring.

Carole Smith Petro, UB associate vice president and general manager of WBFO, noted that WBFO was one of only two radio stations in New York State to receive a PTFP equipment grant this year. These grants are awarded by the Department of Commerce to non-commercial TV and radio stations throughout the United States.

"These types of federal grants are challenging to obtain, and require at least a dollar-for-dollar match," she said. "To complete the proposed project, WBFO must secure approximately $575,000 in private funding to cover the total cost."

The new tower will stand 45 percent higher than WBFO's current tower, and will allow the station to deliver a significantly stronger signal within its broadcast area. In particular, this upgrade will greatly improve WBFO's transmission within the urban environment (downtown Buffalo), and also will provide a clearer signal to WBFO's repeater stations in Jamestown and Olean. In addition, it will extend full public radio service to an additional 50,000 Western New York residents -- one-quarter of whom currently have no access to National Public Radio programming.

The new tower and antenna installation represents the culmination of several critical technology upgrades at WBFO, including conversion from analog to digital studio equipment (2003); conversion to an HD signal (2007); and installation of a new audio server and MediaTouch automation operational system (also in 2007). These advances were made possible through a total investment of $565,000 provided by state and federal sources ($187,000), as well as foundation grants, membership contributions, and underwriting dollars ($378,000).

WBFO 88.7 FM currently reaches an audience of approximately 100,000 people per week through its main signal in Buffalo and through repeater stations WUBJ 88. 1FM in Jamestown and WOLN 91.3FM in Olean. The WBFO news department offers comprehensive coverage of regional and worldwide news.  The station also offers a depth of programming not available elsewhere in the community, including NPR/PRI news and entertainment programs, public and cultural affairs programming and jazz and blues.  WBFO has been voted "Best Radio Station in Buffalo" for six years in a row by the readers of Artvoice.

For more information regarding WBFO visit the station's Web site at http://www.wbfo.org.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.