|City||Grand Rapids, Michigan|
|Broadcast area||Grand Rapids, Michigan|
|Branding||101.3 The Brew|
|Slogan||The Brew Rocks|
|Frequency||101.3 MHz(also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||1965 (as WMAX-FM)|
|Callsign meaning||W Brew (current branding) The FoX (former branding)|
|Former callsigns||WCUZ-FM (7/9/80-9/27/00)
|Affiliations||Western Michigan Broncos Radio Network|
(CC Licenses, LLC)
|Sister stations||WBCT, WMAX-FM, WOOD, WSNX-FM, WSRW-FM, WTKG|
WBFX (101.3 FM, "The Brew") is a radio station broadcasting a classic rock format, serving the Grand Rapids, Michigan market and owned and operated by iHeartMedia. Its signal is heard as far east as Owosso, Michigan, as far north as Reed City, Michigan, and as far south as Portage, Michigan. WBFX is also an affiliate of the Western Michigan Broncos Radio Network.
The station first began broadcasting in 1965 as WMAX-FM, then later became WYON as a sister station to WION in Ionia, Michigan around 1965. In 1976, the station was purchased by the owners of WCUZ 1230 and became WMLW ("Mellow 101"), a soft rock/adult contemporary station. WMLW switched to album oriented rock as WFFX "The Fox" in 1978, and then to country music in 1980 as WCUZ-FM ('CUZ-FM 101.3...more of the music you like... on CUZ-FM." For most of the 1980s, country WCUZ was a market leader in Grand Rapids, but the station saw its market share erode after the 1992 debut of "B93," WBCT-FM, on 93.7.
By 1998, WCUZ was co-owned with its rival station, WBCT, under the umbrella of Clear Channel Communications, and had moved to a classic country format, identifying as "Country Gold WCUZ." Clear Channel (which would become iHeartMedia in 2014) dropped the "Country Gold" format on September 24, 2000, and debuted classic rock "101.3 The Fox" that afternoon following coverage of the MBNA.com 400 NASCAR Winston Cup event. They changed call letters to the current WBFX on September 27, 2000.
The lineup at the debut was Bob and Tom (with Big Richard), Ranger Bob, Aris Hampers and Otto Mation and Alison Harte. Others jocks over the decade would include Matt Hendricks (AKA Big Richard), Jack Lawson, Mark Fuerie, Andy O'Riley, Shafee and Joe Daugherty. The station also featured Nights With Alice Cooper for several years in the evenings.
Since its inception, WBFX has changed its music style multiple times, although all remained loosely in the classic rock genre. In late June 2009, the station adjusted its format towards mainstream rock, with a mix of harder classic rock songs as well as recent rock music from the 1990s and 2000s. This adjustment was in response to the local active rock station WKLQ changing formats to sports talk. By 2010, however, Townsquare Media's WGRD-FM adjusted its format to active rock from alternative rock, and saw a decent rise in the ratings, while WBFX remained roughly the same. After this, WBFX rebranded as "The Next Generation of Classic Rock", and adjusted their playlist back towards having a more traditional classic rock feel, taking on WLAV-FM.
On February 21, 2013, WBFX began running liners advising listeners that "The Fox dies Friday". At Noon the next day, after playing "The Breakup Song" by the Greg Kihn Band and "The Final Countdown" by Europe, the station rebranded as "101.3 The Brew", with an acknowledgement of Grand Rapids being voted as 2012's "Beer City USA" according to a poll conducted on Examiner.com and the noteworthy rise of the popularity and economic impact of microbreweries in the region. The station launched with "Enter Sandman" by Metallica. Musically, the station was tweaked with more rock titles from the 1980s and 1990s added into the playlist. The presentation and formatics are similar to other stations called "The Brew" that Clear Channel has deployed in places such as Portland, OR, Columbus, OH and Wichita, KS. With sister station WMAX-FM having taken the ESPN Radio affiliation in recent years, WBFX continues to air NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, as they have for over a decade.
On July 6, 2015, WBFX tweaked their format towards an active rock-leaning mainstream rock presentation. While titles going back to the 1960s were occasionally played, the emphasis was strongly on rock music of the 1990s and 2000s.
The ratings slid heavily a few months after this prior tweak in the format. On February 16, 2016, WBFX shifted the format back to classic rock, with emphasis on 1970s and 1980s rock music. They also changed the lineup of announcers to prefer locally-based ones instead.
- Michiguide.com - WBFX History
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WBFX
- Radio-Locator information on WBFX
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WBFX