Cameron and Jane Baird Foundation Gives $40,000 to WBFO Tower Project

By Mary Cochrane

Release Date: January 27, 2009

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Cameron and Jane Baird Foundation has given an additional $40,000 to WBFO 88.7 FM, a major public service of the University at Buffalo and the region's most-listened-to NPR station, to support installation of the station's new tower and antenna from which it already has begun broadcasting.

The gift follows the foundation's $20,000 contribution in 2008, and also will be used toward the cost of the tower, designed to improve the quality of WBFO's signal in Western New York, the Southern Tier and Southern Ontario; to strengthen its signal in downtown Buffalo; and to extend the station's reach to an additional 50,000 people to the northeast, east and southeast of the station's current broadcast area.

"We remain committed to furthering the goals of WBFO, an outstanding community resource," said Barbara Price Baird. "The station has proven itself a highly capable leader in the news, music and entertainment industry. It continues to challenge itself by incorporating the newest technologies in order to continue delivering the finest programming to its ever-growing public radio audience."

At 443 feet high, the new tower stands 45 percent higher than WBFO's former tower, and allows the station to deliver a significantly stronger signal to more than 1.2 million people now within its broadcast area, according to Carole Smith Petro, associate vice president and WBFO general manager. She added that the station is working to secure additional private funding to supplement the grant that was given by the U.S. Department of Commerce for the project.

The gift comes during the station's 50th anniversary celebration month: WBFO began broadcasting on Jan. 6, 1959, as a teaching tool for UB's engineering school. During its first three years, the student-run station was on air a few hours each weeknight, later expanding into a full-fledged campus radio station.

Today, with the tower in place and already contributing to the station's expanded broadcasts, "we anticipate that the tower will serve our listeners for at least another half-century," Petro said.

"The Cameron and Jane Baird Foundation has once again demonstrated its confidence in WBFO, and we are grateful for its years of solid support of our efforts to deliver the highest quality public radio programs," Petro said.

Petro noted that while the station is "now broadcasting from the new tower, during this period of fine-tuning, we will occasionally need to revert to our back-up transmitter."

WBFO 88.7 FM broadcasts from its main signal in Buffalo and two repeater stations: WUBJ 88.1 FM in Jamestown and WOLN 91.3 FM in Olean. WBFO's news department offers comprehensive coverage of regional and worldwide news. The station also offers a depth of programming not available elsewhere in the community, including NPR/PRI news and entertainment programs, public and cultural affairs programming and jazz and blues. The station has garnered numerous awards, including the top news department award from the New York State Associated Press in 2007.

For more information regarding the tower and antenna, contact WBFO Program Director David Benders at 716-829-6000, ext. 502, or dbenders@wbfo.org. To participate in funding the new tower, contact Petro at petro@buffalo.edu.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.