|Broadcast area||Greater Boston|
|Branding||The New 97.7|
|Slogan||Boston's #1 for R&B|
|Frequency||97.7 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||July 21, 1948|
|Format||FM/HD1: Urban AC
HD2: WAAF simulcast
HD3: WRKO simulcast
|Callsign meaning||similar to WAAF (former simulcast partner)|
|Former callsigns||WBET-FM (1948–1976)
(Entercom License, LLC)
|Sister stations||WAAF, WEEI, WEEI-FM, WRKO|
WKAF is a radio station in the Boston, Massachusetts market licensed to Brockton, Massachusetts, airing an urban adult contemporary format branded as "The New 97.7." It broadcasts on 97.7 MHz, and serves the Metro Boston and South Shore areas of Massachusetts. The station's studios are located in Boston's Allston district and the transmitter site is atop Great Blue Hill.
WKAF first went on the air in 1948 as WBET-FM, the sister AM station of WBET/990 (now WATD/1460) in Brockton (WBET would buy WBKA/1450 and WBKA-FM/107.1 and shut down 990 and 107.1 and move from 1450 to 1460). The two stations almost always simulcast programming for the next 28 years. On November 1, 1976, WBET-FM went stereo and broke away from the AM to broadcast a Top-40 format. On January 1, 1977, the call letters were changed to WCAV. In July 1982, the station switched to country music and targeted the South Shore of Massachusetts. This format continued until 1999. For some of that time, WCAV was the only country-music station on the FM dial in the Boston area.
In 1999, WCAV was purchased by Radio One, a company that owns and operates radio stations which target African American communities. Radio One made many transmitter improvements and established new studios in Roxbury, a largely African American section of Boston. After weeks of dead air and a week-long stunt of a loop of Tone Lōc's "Wild Thing", the station was relaunched on December 6, 1999 as WBOT, "Hot 97.7", targeting the Greater Boston area with a Mainstream Urban format.
From the very beginning, WBET-FM/WCAV/WBOT had been plagued by a poor signal in Boston and points north. However, after the relocation of the transmitter to Great Blue Hill in Milton, Massachusetts in summer 2005, the station's signal improved dramatically.
WBOT had never made any significant strides against its main competitor, WJMN "Jam'n 94.5", a station which had no signal problem and depended chiefly on the region's large Caucasian population for success. At the same time, Radio One had been experiencing great success with the Urban Adult Contemporary/Urban Oldies format of WILD 1090, a weak AM radio station that was prohibited by FCC regulations from operating at night.
On October 20, 2005, Radio One moved the format and intellectual property of WILD to WBOT's FM signal. This move eliminated WBOT from the Boston radio dial, and created the new "97.7 WILD FM". WILD-FM had retained the Urban Adult Contemporary programming of the old WILD/1090 during the day, and aired the old WBOT's Mainstream Urban format during the late afternoon and early evening hours. The station officially changed call letters to WILD-FM on October 26.
There was speculation that the format of the old WBOT would be reborn if Radio One acquired a second FM station in the Boston area, but there was nothing to suggest that such a move would occur. The former "Hot 97.7" format was now airing on 97.5, before moving to 87.7 as a pirate radio station, until it was shut down in 2010. The group now maintains a web-only presence.
Entercom buys WILD-FM
On August 20, 2006, radio industry website All Access reported that Entercom had agreed to purchase WILD-FM from Radio One; by the next day, Entercom had assumed control of the station via an LMA, and WILD-FM signed off with "Wild Thing" by Tone-Loc at about 7 p.m., as the station began a stunt of a computerized voice counting down to 5:30 p.m. the following day, August 22. At that time, 97.7 began simulcasting WAAF, with the first song under the simulcast being "For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)" by AC/DC. The station changed its calls to WKAF on August 30, 2006, to reflect the new simulcast.
The move has expanded the signal reach of WAAF to more of the urban areas of Boston and the South Shore cities and towns of Massachusetts. However, both WAAF and WKAF still have signal issues in the South Coast and Taunton areas.
During December 2016, rumors were circulating that Entercom was planning to split the WAAF simulcast and flip WKAF to an Urban format in January 2017; the Twitter profiles for the new afternoon hosts of AAF only mention 107.3, and a simulcast for the station was also added onto the HD2 channel of WKAF and the HD3 channel of WEEI-FM, which, as HD radio does not have signal interference, could cover the areas of Boston 107.3 doesn't cover, eliminating the need for a simulcast and making room for such a move; those rumors were confirmed on the 3rd, as WKAF began running liners redirecting listeners to WAAF, the aforementioned HD channels, or AAF's online stream. On January 5, 2017, at 10:50 a.m., in the middle of playing "You've Got Another Thing Coming" by Judas Priest, WKAF split from the simulcast and flipped back to Urban AC, branded as "The New 97.7." The first song was "Cool It Now" by none other than Boston's own New Edition.
- Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook 1999 (PDF). 1999. p. D-209. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
- City's 'Hot' new sound, Boston Globe, December 23, 1999
- A 'WILD' change of format, Boston Globe, October 20, 2005
- WAAF Sets New Lineup in 2017
- Entercom Debuts Urban AC 'The New 97.7' Boston
- WKAF Becomes The New 97.7