|City of license||Wethersfield, New York|
|Broadcast area||Western New York|
|Branding||Alternative Buffalo 107.7
107.7 HD2 The Lake (HD2)
|Frequency||107.7 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|Translator(s)||107.3 W297AB (Williamsville)|
|First air date||June 6, 1948 (as WFNF)|
|Callsign meaning||W Lake K (former branding now on HD2)|
|Former callsigns||WFNF (1948-1953)
|Sister stations||WGR, WBEN, WWWS, WWKB, WTSS, WKSE, WBEE, WBZA, WCMF-FM, WPXY, WROC|
|Webcast||Alternative Buffalo Webstream
The Lake (HD2) Webstream
WLKK (107.7 FM) is an American radio station located in Wethersfield, New York. Broadcasting on the frequency of 107.7 MHz, the station is currently owned by Entercom Communications and is operated out of the company's studios in Amherst, New York, a suburb of Buffalo. Perhaps at least partly because of the station's unique ability to cover both the Buffalo and the Rochester radio markets with one (relatively weak) signal, WLKK is known for its frequent format changes. Since the early 1980s, the station has changed formats approximately once every four to seven years. Its current format is alternative rock, branded as "Alternative Buffalo 107.7".
Earliest days: Rural Radio Network
After Robertson sold off the network, the station had become a part of the Buffalo, New York market (despite its position about halfway between Buffalo and Rochester). As a result of its distance from Buffalo, it struggled to gain ratings with multiple formats.
"The Sound Future." New wave and jazz music. 1982-86. Notable only for an offbeat promotional campaign that featured the images and sounds of cows that grazed near the rural transmitter site, and a stunt that involved a "renegade program director" locked himself at the transmitter site and refused to play the music that the management demanded. This was suspiciously similar to the plot of a film that was popular at the time.
"The Bear -- High Quality Rock and Roll." Classic rock. 1986-88. WBYR had a brief moment of great success in the classic rock format; the heritage album-oriented rock station, WGR-FM, was at the time an adult contemporary music station known as "WRLT," and as such, WBYR was able to make inroads into the Buffalo market. This, however, ended when WRLT changed back to classic rock as WGRQ (currently WGRF).
WBMW and WEZQ
Beautiful music. 1988 to August 1992. This format was already out of fashion by the time 107.7 adopted it in the late 1980s; most rural beautiful music stations were switching to country music, and 107.7 followed suit after four years.
"New Country;" "The Bullet" in its last years. Country music, intended to compete with WYRK (and indirectly WBEE, WPIG and many others). One of its longest-running formats, country on WNUC ran from August 1992 to October 2000, when the station was sold to Adelphia Communications for $5,600,000.
"The Sports Authority/Sports Paradise" – sports radio. October 2000 to May 2004. This station was a relatively rare monaural FM station, unlike its stereophonic counterparts; this was in part to increase the station's coverage area.
Between October 2000 and April 2004, Empire Sports Network, under VP/GM Bob Koshinski, operated the radio station, aimed at fans from Western New York into the Finger Lakes. The purpose of WNSA's existence was to challenge WGR, Buffalo's often antagonistic sports talk station. Howard Simon was recruited to host morning drive, longtime Buffalo sports talker Art Wander hosted during lunch, and radio newcomer Mike Schopp launched "Sports Talk for Smart People" during the afternoon drive. Later additions would include Jim Brinson, Doug Young (who defected from WGR and is widely credited as the person who landed the interviews and guests that made WNSA so popular), and Zig Fracassi, who had been a nationally syndicated host until the dissolution of the Sports Fan Radio Network. Jim Kelley, Mike Robitaille and Schopp (later replaced by Simon) hosted a two-hour show known as The Sharpshooters prior to Buffalo Sabres games. The station affiliated with Sporting News Radio and was among the first to carry the Sports USA Radio Network's NFL coverage. WNSA carried many of the same sporting events as Empire, including Sabres and Destroyers games, and WNSA consistently outperformed WGR in the ratings for most of its run.
WNSA also held several unique promotions such as the Western New York Sports Symposium, which was a yearly, two-day event held at an event center which included participation by the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo Bisons and most of the Buffalo area colleges. The symposium featured two days of sports talk from the event location and numerous round table discussions with dozens of notable Buffalo sports team players, coaches, alumni, announcers, and newspaper columnists.
WNSA also created a fictitious radio fantasy hockey game called Sabres Showdown that pitted the Buffalo Sabres 1975 Stanley Cup finalists against the 1999 Sabres finalist squad. The game featured actual Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret and analyst Mike Robitaille calling the action as well as staged and archival interviews with Sabres players and management from both eras. The taped broadcast was a hit and sounded incredibly real.
The station's fortunes would collapse when the Rigas/Adelphia Communications scandal was exposed. After filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the new Adelphia management decided to sell off WNSA despite its solid performance. That resulted in the retirement of Art Wander, the defection of Mike Schopp to WGR and part-time work at ESPN Radio.Adelphia Communications, began to slash WNSA's budget to prepare it for sale. Howard Simon's show was moved to afternoon drive time, began simulcasting on Empire, and was dubbed The SimonCast, and the other personalities, none of whom seemed to be interested in the morning drive slot, rotated the AM shift (WNSA insisted on a local morning show because the Sporting News offering, Murray in the Morning, was deemed too inappropriate for its as-stated "PG-rated" listening audience). Ratings fell below those of WGR toward the end. The end of WNSA came when the station was sold to WGR's owner, Entercom Communications, in May 2004 for $10.5 million, and announced an immediate format change. Simon's show, however, would continue on WLVL in Lockport until November 2004, when he was recruited to host WGR's morning show.
Many WNSA staffers found jobs at WGR, while others (particularly those who had worked at both WNSA and WNUC) ended up at WYRK. Several hundred hours of WNSA's programming, including several unique specials, were archived by producer Steve Cichon and are available for purchase.
"The Lake." May 2004 to April 2011. WLKK maintained and exceeded the number of listeners that the station had during the peak of WNSA's run. The station indirectly took aim at the classic rock market and sought to create a more laid-back, relaxed atmosphere. The playlist of WLKK contained a large portion of hit songs from the 1970s and 1980s (broad enough that the station boasted it never repeated a song throughout an entire 24-hour day), less focused on hard rock and metal than most classic rock stations, but also containing the occasional deep track. In this sense, the station's format was adult album alternative. In addition, the station used a series of bumpers with flowing water, chirping birds, and a deep voice reading the station slogan.
Disc jockeys, which included Hank Dole and Lorne Hunter, occasionally told the story behind the song (sometimes from CD liner notes). They also played WNY musicians on a regular basis and offered a local music show on Monday nights, hosted by Robbie Takac, a local music promoter and member of The Goo Goo Dolls, a band who hails from Buffalo.
After the 2011 format change, the "Lake" format continues on WLKK, but only on the HD2 digital subchannel, and without any jocks; all of WLKK's staff was laid off in the change. "The Lake" will also continue to maintain its Internet stream, without commercials.
WBEN (AM) simulcast
On April 4, 2011, Entercom announced that WLKK would become a complete simulcast of sister station WBEN (AM), effective at Midnight on April 5, 2011. For the first year and a half of the simulcast, WLKK was the only station carrying Limbaugh live in the Rochester metropolitan area (Rochester affiliate WHAM carried Limbaugh on a two-hour delay at the time, and WLKK's signal is listenable in many portions of the Rochester metropolitan area); WHAM responded to WLKK's switch to talk by moving its delayed broadcast of Limbaugh up an hour, then eventually to a live slot. Despite an initial announcement that WLKK would not carry the Sabres Hockey Network, WBEN later reversed that decision and announced that Sabres playoff games would be heard on WBEN and WLKK in addition to their flagship station, WGR.
On September 25, 2013, Entercom announced that WLKK will drop the WBEN simulcast. This was due to the low audience on the FM; in fact, according to an Arbitron study, 90% of WBEN's audience continued to listen on the AM side. At Noon the following day, WLKK changed their format to alternative rock, branded as "Alternative Buffalo 107.7". The first song on "Alternative Buffalo" was "Ho Hey" by The Lumineers. This brings the format back to the market for the first time since 2005, when WEDG shifted to a harder-edged active rock format.
- Scott Fybush Tracking the old Rural Radio Network
- WBEN to air on FM and AM dial. Business First. Retrieved 2011-04-05.
- "WBEN/Buffalo Adds FM Simulcast On 107.7" From All Access (April 4, 2011)
- WLKK official website
- WLKK-HD2 official website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WLKK
- Radio-Locator information on WLKK
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WLKK
- Query the FCC's FM station database for W297AB
- Radio-Locator information on W297AB
- WLKK format and jock history to 2000, via BillDulmage.com
- WNUC Web site, from 1997
- WNSA Web site, from 2002