History of WLVL

(Photos courtesy WUSJ-WLVL Lockport Radio Facebook page)


The very first radio broadcasting station in Lockport was born October 19, 1922. It was WMAK, one of the few radio stations in the country and was built on Mill Street by Norton Laboratories engineer I. R. Lounsberry. It operated at 360 meters and it was only on the air a few hours a week, but the powerful signal could be heard hundreds of miles away. Eventually, the studios were moved from the Mill Street location to the second floor of the former Rialto Theater which was on the southeast corner of Walnut and Pine Streets.


From there, the studios ended up at Buffalo’s Hotel Lafayette downtown and in 1927 the towers and transmitter were moved to Shawnee Road in the Town of Wheatfield. Later studio locations included both the Rand Building and the Liberty Bank Building in Buffalo. Then early in the 30s the Federal Communications Commission awarded the frequency to the Buffalo Evening News and WBEN went on the air. WMAK then ceased to exist.


On August 14, 1940, the Corson family of Lockport, owners of the Lockport Union Sun and Journal newspaper sent a letter to the FCC requesting an FM frequency for Lockport. The OK was given the summer of 1946, and even with the aftermath of World War II and the shortage of manpower and materials, construction began and the 320 Michigan Street studios were ready to go by October, 1948, and sign-on and full programming began on Halloween of that year.


(Courtesy WUSJ-WLVL Lockport Radio Facebook page)


WUSJ (call letters obviously standing for Union Sun & Journal) operated at 99.3 on the FM band, but there were very few receivers to listen to the broadcasts, so the Corsons applied for an AM license and WUSJ AM went on the air in May of 1949.



The station was owned and operated by the Lockport newspaper until 1970 when the FCC forced newspapers to sell other media outlets they may own in the same market areas.


Hall Communications bought the facility in 1970, and on October 2, 1975, the call letters were changed to WLVL (for Love Lockport).


In September of 1981, Culver Communications under the direction of Richard Greene brought WLVL back to local ownership once again. Mr. Greene remained the owner and General Manager until January of 2023, when the station was acquired by Bill Yuhnke's Kenmore Broadcasting Inc. 


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