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A Short Look Back At The Development of FM Radio

As the radio landscape continues to change and is forcing stations to establish a digital footprint, FM radio is beginning to struggle for survival. This is similar to what happened to AM when FM took over as the primary way to listen to music.

Today we are going to look back and provide you with a little history of FM radio in Buffalo, NY. Enjoy the following article provided by

By the mid 1960's, cutting edge rock music responded by appearing on the newly created FM radio band, which was considered an "underground" means of airing music that favored longer songs, more controversial material and less restrictive programming styles. These DJ's began a revolution by eliminating the loudmouth hype between "Top 40" songs and adopting a cool, understated attitude, while playing music that previously never made it to the airwaves.

The mid 1960's witnessed the Vietnam war, political protests and racial riots that brought about social unrest, tumultuous times and extremely passive radio broadcasting. The counterculture revolution, the "children of the 60's" who later became the working class and yuppies of the 1970's, ultimately "killed" the movement (when the fringe culture became big business).

Regardless, this was an era of unknown bands and rare recordings of "far out" garage and psychedelic music. The years of 1965 through 1973 were the most experimental days of Rock and Roll, still reflected in todays music.

" anyone who has ever listened to true underground radio knows, it has never been simply about format. Underground radio is, and has always been, about an outlaw mentality. Listening to true underground radio should give you a sense of something forbidden. That you have somehow accidentally stumbled across something a little off the beaten path that you weren't supposed to find at all. Something that could be dangerous. Something that, at the very least, is probably really pissing off somebody, somewhere, in a position of authority."

Cal Brady (WYSL, WPHD, WBUF) was one of a few DJ's

to influence the early Buffalo "FM" underground scene.

WYSL-FM (Buffalo, NY) went on the air January 9, 1969. During the first year, the station aired from 7:00 pm until 5:00 am, at which time, WYSL-AM would simulcast their "Top 40" plan. In the early 1970's, WPHD-FM mutated from what WYSL-FM was all about, becoming too refined and predictable. The success of WPHD-FM spawned Buffalo's WGRQ-FM, which ended quality radio in the area. The station started to research and focus on specific groups with tight playlists and were generally afraid to play music that might cause a "tune out" factor. This belief pretty much destroyed the progressive rock radio mode around the country. See timeline below.

  • 1969-1970 WYSL-FM on the air (10 hours daily from 7:00pm - 5:00am)

  • 1970 Call letters changed to WPHD-FM (24 hour broadcast)

  • 1970-1974 WPHD-FM establishes strong reputation

  • 1974 WPHD-FM sold (format changes)

  • 1975 WGRQ-FM goes on the air with WPHD DJ's

  • 1975 WBUF-FM airs with progressive rock format

The 1960's was a decade full of cultural and political revolution. A decade that witnessed the Civil Rights movement, political riots, groundbreaking music, landing on the moon and the Vietnam War. The decade was filled with dramatic emotions and changes. A period based on serenity, love, brutality, protests, war, racism, liberation and revolutionary ideas. By 1969, the decade culminated with "Woodstock" as a symbol of peace, love and music.

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