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CityBangor, Maine
Broadcast areaPenobscot County, Maine
Branding97.1 The Bear
SloganMaine's New Country Leader
Frequency97.1 MHz
First air dateMarch 15, 1961
ERP6,500 watts
HAAT375 meters
Facility ID3671
Transmitter coordinates44°42′12″N 69°4′47″W / 44.70333°N 69.07972°W / 44.70333; -69.07972 (WBFB)
Callsign meaningBelFast Bear
(format originally started on 104.7 FM, licensed to Belfast)
Former callsignsWABI-FM (1961–1973)
WBGW (1973–1986)
WYOU-FM (1986–1995)
WWBX (1995–2008)
WAEI (2008–2009)
WAEI-FM (2009–2011)
AffiliationsMotor Racing Network
OwnerBlueberry Broadcasting
(Blueberry Broadcasting, LLC)
Sister stationsWABK, WBAK, WBFE, WKSQ, WVOM-FM

WBFB (97.1 FM; "97-1 The Bear") is a radio station licensed to and operating from studios in Bangor, Maine. The station is owned by Blueberry Broadcasting and is a country formatted radio station simulcasting on co-owned WMCM and WBFE.


97.1 license[edit]

The 97.1 frequency has a long history in Bangor, signing on March 15, 1961[1] as WABI-FM, owned by the Community Broadcasting Service along with WABI (now WABK) and WABI-TV.[2] Initially a simulcast of WABI,[2] on March 1, 1973 the station became WBGW, a country music station.[3][4]

Community Broadcasting Service merged with Journal Publications in 1971 to form Diversified Communications;[5] the company's broadcasting division retained the Community Broadcasting Service name until 1982, when WBGW was transferred to Diversified directly.[6] The call letters were changed to WYOU-FM in 1986.[7]

Diversified announced in 1993 that it would put most of its broadcasting properties, including WYOU and WABI, up for sale;[8] while it would retain WABI-TV following the collapse of a deal to sell it to Vision Communications,[9] the radio stations were sold to Bangor Radio Corporation.[8][10] Two years later, the station adopted a modern rock format under the WWBX calls. The station eventually changed to a hot adult contemporary format. WWBX and WABI were sold to Gopher Hill Broadcasting in 1997.[11]

WWBX was instrumental in storm coverage during the North American ice storm of 1998. It was Michael W. Hale who made the decision to suspend the music format and allow open phones and dialogue to help those with no power and to provide home-based entertainment. The station allowed listeners from all over central and eastern Maine to call in and share stories of prior storms, survival tips, and even just to let people know they were still waiting for power. Michael W. Hale (the morning host at the time) was so inundated with calls, the station effectively became a talk station for a time. The announcers, Les Newsome, Cindy Michaels (who later worked at WVII-TV), Ted Wallace, Dave Glidden and Rob "On The Radio" Rosewall kept people all over eastern and central Maine informed. Inbound calls for help and assistance were so many, volunteers came to the station to take calls and nearby states. The station than returned to its regular format after the power was restored.

In September 1998, the format was again changed to top 40, with an on-air slogan of "B97". The station was an overnight success, giving cross-town rival WBZN the competition needed to spice the small market. Although the ratings were often close, jocks from both stations demonstrated the skills to provide Bangor with large market sounds.

Clear Channel Communications signed a local marketing agreement with Gopher Hill in early 2001;[12] a few weeks later, it bought WWBX and WABI.[13] The company announced on November 16, 2006 that it would sell its Bangor stations after being bought by private equity firms,[14] resulting in a sale to Blueberry Broadcasting to 2008.[15] On September 1, 2008, WWBX dropped the top 40 format in favor of sports talk provided by Boston's WEEI, in a simulcast with WABI; the call letters were changed to WAEI.[16] The call letters were modified to WAEI-FM in February 2009[7] in order to install the WAEI call letters on WABI.[17] Though WAEI carried WEEI's talk shows, most game broadcasts were not aired on the station. However, it was the flagship of the Maine Black Bears from 2008 until 2011, when it was replaced by sister station WKSQ (WAEI's AM frequency remained a co-flagship).[18]

Blueberry Broadcasting ended WAEI's affiliation with WEEI on January 11, 2010,[19][20] replacing it with Fox Sports Radio, Imus in the Morning, and The Jim Rome Show;[20][21] Blueberry cited a breach of contract.[20] The station swapped formats and call letters with 104.7 FM on September 1, 2011 and became country music station WBFB, in effect returning the format to the frequency after a sixteen-year absence (104.7 became classic hits station WBAK the following February, leaving the sports format exclusively on WAEI's 910 AM frequency).[22]

WBFB intellectual property[edit]

The "Bear" country format originated on the 104.7 FM frequency (now WBAK) on September 20, 1996, replacing top 40 station WWFX ("Fox 104.7");[23][24] the first song was "Gone Country" by Alan Jackson. The change, which gave rival WQCB its first competition since WYOU-FM became WWBX a year earlier,[23] came soon after WWFX was sold by Group H Radio to Star Broadcasting, a company owned by Mark Osborne and Natalie Knox (current owners of WNSX) that already owned WKSQ and WLKE;[25] the format change was intended to minimize overlap with WKSQ's playlist.[26] The WWFX call letters were replaced with WBFB on April 25, 1997 after the station attempted to obtain the WEBR call sign.[27] Osborne and Knox sold WBFB, WKSQ, and WLKE to Communications Capital Managers in February 2000;[28] that July, CCM announced that it would sell the group (which through other purchases also included WBYA, WGUY, and WVOM) to Clear Channel.[29] Blueberry Broadcasting bought the station along with the other Clear Channel stations in Maine in 2008;[15] on September 28, 2009, WBFB began simulcasting on WLKE and WMCM, replacing their separate country formats. (WLKE would change its call letters to WBFE in 2013.) WBFB moved to 97.1 FM, swapping with WAEI-FM, on September 1, 2011.[22]


  1. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1981 (PDF). 1981. p. C-103. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-10-08. Retrieved March 13, 2010.
  2. ^ a b Broadcasting Yearbook 1963 (PDF). 1963. p. B-81. Retrieved March 13, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1974 (PDF). 1974. p. B-93. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 8, 2010. Retrieved March 13, 2010.
  4. ^ "Country-Western FM To Start March 1". Bangor Daily News. January 29, 1973. Retrieved June 7, 2010.
  5. ^ "Publication Firm, TV Unit Merge". Bangor Daily News. January 21, 1971. Retrieved June 3, 2010.
  6. ^ "Application Search Details (1)". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved June 7, 2010.
  7. ^ a b "(WAEI-FM) Call Sign History". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved February 24, 2009.
  8. ^ a b Kekacs, Andrew (December 15, 1993). "Upheaval in Bangor Radio, TV". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved June 3, 2010.
  9. ^ "Hildreth heirs to keep WABI-TV". Bangor Daily News. May 28, 1994. Retrieved June 3, 2010.
  10. ^ "Application Search Details (2)". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved March 13, 2010.
  11. ^ Fybush, Scott (July 10, 1997). "On and Off the Air". North East RadioWatch. Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  12. ^ Fybush, Scott (April 4, 2001). "Take Me Out to the Ban Game". New England RadioWatch. Archived from the original on June 20, 2010. Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  13. ^ Fybush, Scott (April 16, 2001). "Clear Channel Buys Two in Maine". North East RadioWatch. Retrieved March 13, 2010.
  14. ^ Fybush, Scott (November 20, 2006). "Dark Days All Around". NorthEast Radio Watch. Retrieved June 3, 2010.
  15. ^ a b Fybush, Scott (May 5, 2008). "The Sales Market Heats Up". NorthEast Radio Watch. Retrieved March 13, 2010.
  16. ^ "WEEI Sports Radio Network Expands to Portland, Bangor & Keene" (PDF) (Press release). Entercom Communications. August 20, 2008. Retrieved August 20, 2008.
  17. ^ "(WAEI) Call Sign History". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved February 24, 2009.
  18. ^ Mahoney, Larry (June 14, 2011). "KISS 94.5 FM to join WAEI in broadcasting Maine games". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
  19. ^ Heslam, Jessica (January 14, 2010). "Lawrence pastor 'proud' of Conan O'Brien". Boston Herald. Retrieved January 14, 2010. “Unfortunately, our affiliate in Bangor chose to end its contract with us (Tuesday),” said WEEI program director Jason Wolfe.
  20. ^ a b c Neff, Andrew (January 16, 2010). "Bangor stations drop WEEI". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved January 17, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "Bangor Affiliates Drop WEEI Programming". All Access. January 14, 2010. Retrieved January 14, 2010.
  22. ^ a b Venta, Lance (August 18, 2011). "Bangor, ME Bear Moves". RadioInsight. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
  23. ^ a b Fybush, Scott (October 9, 1996). "Meet the New 'FNX..." New England RadioWatch. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
  24. ^ Fybush, Scott (October 18, 1996). "Kidstar Débuts!". New England RadioWatch. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
  25. ^ Fybush, Scott (October 18, 1996). "WAAF (back) on the tube". New England RadioWatch. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
  26. ^ Nessell, Doug (September 19, 1996). "Kiss 94.5 a winner in Fox hunt". Bangor Daily News. p. A4. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
  27. ^ Fybush, Scott (May 15, 1997). "Changes in the Morning". North East RadioWatch. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
  28. ^ Fybush, Scott (February 18, 2000). "Consolidating in Bangor". North East RadioWatch. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
  29. ^ Fybush, Scott (July 21, 2000). "An End to Jukebox's Legal Troubles". North East RadioWatch. Retrieved February 6, 2012.

External links[edit]