Wendt Foundation Gives WBFO Its Largest-Ever Gift of $300,000

By Mary Cochrane

Release Date: September 19, 2008 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- WBFO 88.7 FM, a major public service of the University at Buffalo and the region's most-listened-to NPR station, has received its largest single grant in the station's 50-year history: $300,000 from the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation to support installation of the station's new tower and antenna from which it already has begun broadcasting.

The gift -- to be matched up to $275,000 in additional funds, including gifts and grants from individual donors and other foundations -- 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 are excited to support such a worthy initiative," the foundation trustees said in a statement. "WBFO's outstanding news and music programming enriches our daily lives, elevates the civic life of the region and connects people across a broad geographic area in the western parts of New York State."

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.

The gift comes at an exciting time in the station's history: WBFO will mark its 50th anniversary in January 2009. 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.

"WBFO was a founding member station of National Public Radio and from the start has built a legacy of developing talent in the public radio field," Petro said. "We are grateful to the Wendt Foundation for this tremendous demonstration of confidence in us. We have begun actively seeking matching funds from other foundations and donors who value the role of high-quality public radio in our community."

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.

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.