|City||Buffalo, New York|
|Broadcast area||Buffalo, New York|
|Slogan||Classic Rock, Classic Jocks; The Voice of the Bills; 96.9--The Mighty 97 Rock; Local Radio Made in Buffalo|
|Frequency||96.9 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||September 14, 1959|
|Callsign meaning||WGRFM (former owner's initials; F added to distinguish it from former sister station WGR-AM)|
(Radio License Holding CBC, LLC)
|Sister stations||WEDG, WHTT, WHLD|
WGRF is a radio station in Buffalo, New York, USA. The station's on air branding is "97 Rock". The station mostly plays Classic rock from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Since 2006, the station has also aired numerous rock-leaning oldies, such as songs from The Beatles, displaced by the format change at sister station WHTT. WGRF broadcasts at 96.9 MHz from a transmitter north of downtown Buffalo, and studios are in the city's eastside.
The WGRF morning show consists of Rich "Bull" Gaenzler, Rob Lederman, Chris Klein and their Producer Steve Tripi. Other local disc jockeys include Johnny "JP" Piccillo Carl Russo, John Hager, Tommy "Slick Tom" Tiberi, Anita West, Jeff Gordon, Cindy Chan, Megan Davis, Jim McGee, and Rick Walters. WGRF's significant local presence and history has made the station nearly as much of the Buffalo culture as chicken wings.
WGRF is owned by Cumulus Media. Previous owners included the Taft Television and Radio Company, Rich Communications, Mercury Radio Communications (who separated the longtime combination with WGR in 1995 when it bought WGRF from Rich Communications, who in turn retained WGR until selling it to the Sinclair Broadcast Group two years later), and Citadel Broadcasting (which merged with Cumulus on September 14, 2011). Its transmitter is in Buffalo.
WGRF streamed its programming on the Internet until 2002, when it became economically unfeasible for some stations to continue their streams given changes in licensing and royalty agreements. In March 2006, Citadel launched an initiative that provided for the streaming of many of Citadel's stations. WGRF was among the first commercial stations in Buffalo to resume streaming after the earlier changes.
- Get the Lead out (Sunday 9-10pm)
- Flashback with Matt Pinfield
- Breakfast with the Beatles, a local version (Sunday 7-9am)
- Little Steven's Underground Garage (Sunday 10pm-12am)
- Nights with Alice Cooper (Saturday nights only)
- The Grateful Dead Hour (Monday 12am-1am)
WGRF started as the FM sister station to WGR. It signed on September 14, 1959 as WGR-FM. Like most of the Western New York's other FM stations, WGR-FM carried a MOR or easy listening format, along with a partial simulcast of the AM station. In 1973, the station became WGRQ with a top 40 format known as "Super Q," which was rare at the time for an FM station. In 1975, the station began its best-known run as an AOR station, rebranding as QFM 97. On air staff during the QFM 97 era included Program Director and afternoon jock John McGhan, John Rivers, Jim Santella, Hank Ball, Bob Macrae, Steve Mitchell, Mark Henning, Matt Riedy, Jeff Jensen, George Hawras, with Skip Edmunds, and Irv Goldfarb. On January 5, 1985, however, WGRQ dumped its rock format and shifted to adult contemporary music as "Lite" WRLT, firing all but two of the WGRQ airstaff, which included the 97 Rock's Morning Sickness featuring Bruce Barber, JC Corcoran, Lauri Githens, Carl Russo, Cindy Chan, Tommy "Slick Tom" Tiberi, with Larry "Snortin" Norton, and Production Director Jim Patrick, who with Lauri was retained to work on the new FM and at WGR-AM. The loss of rock music in Buffalo led to stations WHTT adopting the format in 1987, as well as the brief success of distant station WBYR in 1986. In 1988, however, WRLT changed its call letters back to WGRQ-FM, switched back to classic rock and rehired virtually all its former air staff under the familiar name "97 Rock." (By the end of the year, WHTT would change to oldies; WBYR to beautiful music.) Three years later, its call letters were changed to the current WGRF. The station staff and format have largely been unchanged ever since.
In December 2015, longtime 97 Rock morning host Larry "Snortin" Norton retired from broadcasting in December 2015 to pursue endeavors in charity and ministry.
- "Cumulus now owns Citadel Broadcasting". Atlanta Business Journal. September 16, 2011. Retrieved September 16, 2011.
- Larry Norton, radio staple at 97 Rock, announces his retirement on-air. WIVB-TV. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
- Official WGRF website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for WGRF
- Radio-Locator information on WGRF
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WGRF
- 1970s Photos of 97 Rock jocks from Steve Cichon's staffannouncer.com