|City||Depew, New York|
|Branding||"Power 93.7 WBLK"|
|Slogan||The People's Station|
|Frequency||93.7 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||December 10, 1964|
|Callsign meaning||W Benjamin L. Kulick|
We're B LacK
|Owner||Townsquare Media |
(Townsquare Media of Buffalo, Inc.)
|Sister stations||WBUF, WMSX, WYRK|
WBLK is an Urban contemporary FM radio station licensed to Depew that serves Buffalo, New York, Western New York and the Niagara Region (as well as a portion of the Greater Toronto Area) of Ontario, Canada. WBLK plays the musical genres of hip hop, R&B, urban contemporary gospel, and soul.
WBLK can be classified as a "heritage" station; it has held its same format and call letters since its debut, and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014, making WBLK the oldest urban FM radio station in the United States of America. The station also regularly ranks in the top 5 radio stations in Buffalo's Arbitron ratings.
WBLK is currently owned by Townsquare Media. It is the Buffalo area's radio home for The Steve Harvey Morning Show. It originally carried the Tom Joyner Morning Show (now on crosstown urban gospel WUFO) from January 2005 to February 2016.
WBLK's legacy began in December 1964 as an urban contemporary station that primarily played R&B and soul. The station was founded by legendary Buffalo radio personality George "Hound Dog" Lorenz, who had earlier championed rhythm-and-blues music on other area stations such as WXRA, WINE (both of these stations were predecessors of today's WUFO/1080 AM), WJJL, and WKBW. Lorenz's voice was heard on the station from its inception until his death in 1972. Some on air personalities include Ernie "Mr. Blues" Jones, Roosevelt Tucker, Bradley J. Cool, Chuckie T., James Burns, Mansfield Manns, Jerry Young, Gary Lanier, Ron Baskin, Don Allen Sr. and his son Don Allen Jr., David Stafford, Lee Pettigrew, Don Robinson, Freddie Patrick, Rodney "Rockin" Lee, with Doug Blakely, Jason Denis, and Debbie Sims. WBLK went from a mono signal to a stereo signal in 1974. With a playlist called the "Funky Forty", at 3 p.m. that Monday in July of that year, when Don Robinson flipped the switch and the stereo light flickered on, the first song was "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye. Earlier brands and slogans of the station included "FM Stereo 94", "Soul Brother Radio", "Soul Sister Radio", "Rockin' Soul BLK", "Rockin' Soul 'N' Stereo", "Soul 'N' Stereo", "Rockin' Soul 94 FM", "WBLK Rockin' Soul", "K94 FM", "The BLK Style", and "Power 94" (as it would rebrand using the "Power" name again in July 2017 as "Power 93.7 WBLK").
Contrary to popular belief, despite WBLK's format and target audience, its call letters do not stand for the word "We're BLacK" per se; rather, they are a tribute to Benjamin L. Kulick, who was a major financial backer of the station when it first went on the air.
In August 1995, D&R Radio, WBLK's original owners and founders, sold the station to Boston-based American Radio Systems. In September 1997, Infinity Broadcasting would purchase WBLK and all of ARS' stations for $2.6 billion. Infinity would become CBS Radio in December 2005.
For all of its existence, WBLK's playlist has been very diverse, as the station follows a full-service musical approach and incorporates virtually every genre of urban music. This was partially due to the lack of direct competitors in the market; in 2017, long-time daytime-only station WUFO launched an FM translator, tweaked their format to a classic R&B/hip-hop direction, and rebranded as "Power 96.5", giving WBLK formidable FM competition for the first time ever. (Their other closest competitor is WWWS, which has an urban oldies approach.) Since the early 2000s, the station has "day-parted" its playlist. On weekdays, from 5 a.m. until 3 p.m., the station takes more of an urban AC direction, while more hip-hop content is played between after 3 p.m. and 5 a.m. (with a 4-hour exemption between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. for "The Quiet Storm").
WBLK began streaming its programming on the Internet on November 13, 2006, and was sold by CBS Radio to Regent Communications (now Townsquare Media) in December 2006.
Audience in Southern Ontario
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, WBLK also had a significant listenership among fans of urban music in Toronto, which did not yet have an urban-formatted radio station. As a result, many commercials heard on WBLK during this time were geared towards listeners in Southern Ontario. The Southern Ontario audience's reliance on an American station with no Canadian content requirements, in turn, significantly impacted the commercial development of Canadian hip hop and R&B.
In 1997, the station even began broadcasting live-to-air Fridays from Toronto's Industry nightclub. Promoted as 'Wreckshop Radio', the club night featuring R&B and hip-hop gained immediate popularity and would go on for years.
However, after the February 2001 launch of Toronto-based Flow 93.5 on the adjacent 93.5 MHz frequency, WBLK became a bit harder to find on some radio receivers with weaker tuners, and thus lost much of its prominence in the Toronto market.
In popular culture
- historymuseumstuff.com History of WBLK
- Boles, Benjamin (23 June 2016). "An Oral History of the Toronto Nightclub That Brought Gays, Straights, House Heads, and Ravers Together". Vice.com. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
- "Drake gives some 'BuffaLove' to local radio station on new album". WGRZ. TEGNA. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
- Official WBLK Website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WBLK
- Radio-Locator information on WBLK
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WBLK