BUFFALO, N.Y. — Every community needs a local voice. For the city of Buffalo, and as far as the signal will carry, that's WUFO AM and Power 96.5 FM radio.
"Always keeping our community engaged and informed on what's going on," said Sheila Brown, the station owner.
Brown joined the staff in the 80s, but left for a few years.
I promised the station when I left, 'don't worry baby. I'm gonna come back and buy you one day.' And I was able to come back to the station in 1996," Brown said.
She pays tribute to the station’s legacy with the Black Radio Collective.
"What that's going to do is preserve 60 years of WUFO's rich history," said Brown.
It's a self-contained tour highlighting the big moments over the years, including helping launch Rick James’ career. It's history, from the beginning to today, that's now housed in a location on the African American Heritage Corridor.
Buffalo may not be the biggest market in New York, but the station and the area were enough to bring in or develop big talent.
"I'm from Harlem, right?" said Gail Vanita Wells, a broadcaster at the station. "She said 'you don't have to go to Florida. You don't have to go to City College. But you got to stay in New York state.' And she said 'what about the University of Buffalo? It's like Buffalo, right?' "
That’s how local talent like Wells have thrived in communities like these.
"I found out that my favorite DJ, the number one DJ in New York City, was from Buffalo, New York, and that's all I needed to know," said Wells.
And while the radio waves aren’t quite what they used to be, radio continues to be a platform for so many.
"You would listen to Malcolm X, you would hear Martin Luther King, you know, radio was the way that we use Twitter," said Wells.
"They come in here, they knew they weren't gonna make money," said Brown. "They will go to the Colored Musicians Club, use their stage and before they would go to a bigger city. You're absolutely right."
The station is bigger than the personalities or the studios they communicate from.
"I think sometimes it gets lost that you can have self-determination, which is also known as kujichaguilia, without having a voice in the politics, in the policymaking and in the promotion of the arts and culture and daily living in your community," said Wells.
It goes by many names, from the microphone to the airwaves.
"They call it umoja; unity is the foundation and base for which all other things are built," Wells said.