The station began operations in 1951 as WJEF-FM, simulcasting the programming of WJEF/1230 (now WTKG). In 1960, the station broke away from the simulcast and went to playing classical music. That year, the station increased its power to 500,000 watts. This was under the ownership of John Fetzer, who also previously owned WKZO-TV (now WWMT), WWTV-FM (now WJZQ) in Cadillac, Michigan, and the Detroit Tigers. WJEF also owned and operated a Muzak franchise on a subcarrier.
In the mid-1960s, the station, now known as WJFM, switched to a MOR/news/talk/sports format, and in 1967 became more music-intensive, adopting the moniker "The Modern Sound," which Fetzer reportedly soon did away with because he felt the station played too much "rock and roll." From then on and through much of the 1970s, apart from an automated country format in 1971-1972, WJFM was primarily a Beautiful Music station. Despite its strong signal, the station usually hovered near the bottom of the ratings during this time.
WJFM changed to an automated Top 40 format in 1977 and then adult contemporary the following year as "Mellow 93", picking up the format that had been abandoned by WMLW in its switch to WFFX earlier that year. "Mellow 93" proved a moderate ratings success, with the station usually around fifth or sixth place.
The AC format lasted until the station called in a consultant, who attempted a Contemporary hit radio (CHR) format change in 1984. The change on the airwaves not only included the play selection, but most of the staff either quit or was let go. With the Grand Rapids area flooded with CHR stations at the time, with WGRD, WSNX and WKLQ all playing Top 40 music, WJFM's CHR format lasted only two years before the station went back to Soft AC as "The New Joy FM." The "Joy" format also proved a failure, and in 1988 WJFM became a Classic Hits station. Ratings for the Classic Hits format were initially very good but soon dropped off, and in 1990 the station evolved to Classic rock.
In 1992, John Fetzer sold the station. In June 1992, Billboard magazine reported that a number of key WJFM staffers, including general manager Joel Schaaf, program director and midday host Sean Stevens, and morning man Jeff France, had left the station, and rumors began swirling to the effect that the classic-rock station would go country to take on incumbent country powerhouse WCUZ. Sure enough, on July 24, 1992 the classic rock format was dropped for country and WJFM became WBCT as "B93". Lee Cory was the original program director, and Neal Dionne and Reese Rickards were the original B-93 morning show hosts. B-93 became a consistently top five-ranked station in the Grand Rapids market. Despite recent competition in the format from Cumulus's "Thunder Country" WTNR, B93 remains consistently one of the top-rated stations in West Michigan.
Grand Rapids Winter 2011 Arbitron Ratings: #1 (7.9) Kalamazoo Spring 2011 Ratings: #4 (5.7)