Original Call Letters: WRUF

Originally Licensed: Oct 1928

Original City of License: Gainesville

Original Frequency: 1480-1928, 830-1941, 850-1941

Origin of Call Letters: Radio University of Florida

Original Power: 5,000 watts day/100 watts night

Original Location: University of Florida Campus 

Original Format: Variety

FM Translator:  98.1-Gainesville-2016

Network Affiliation(s):

NBC Red Network
Mutual Broadcasting System


1928-State of Florida-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida
2012-Entercom assumes control of WRUF-AM through an LMA with University of Florida

History Of Call Letters and Formats:

WRUF-1928-on 1480 AM-NBC Red Radio Network Programming
WRUF-1941-Moved to 830 AM, then to 850 AM
WRUF-1948-NBC Network Programming  "Voice of Florida"
WRUF-1955-MOR/NBC Network Programming
WRUF-1968-MOR/News/NBC Programming
WRUF-1976-MOR/Rock/NBC News “Music Radio Eighty-Five, WRUF”
WRUF-1977-Top 40/NBC News  “Music Radio Eighty-Five, WRUF”
WRUF-1982-Big Bands/Adult Standards “Unforgettable 850, WRUF”
WRUF-1988-Classic Rock   “Gator Rock AM 850”
WRUF-1993-News-Talk/Sports   “News Radio AM 850, WRUF”
WRUF-2010-Sports   "Sports Radio 850"

History of WRUF
As a part of the College of Journalism and Communications, WRUF-AM/FM both share the special characteristic of offering an educational opportunity at a commercial radio station in a university environment. Unlike the vast majority of campus radio stations in the United States, WRUF-AM/FM operates with a commercial license.

Thanks to Marc Tyll for this history of this heritage station.
The time was the roaring twenties, the Charleston was the craze, college boys were wearing raccoon coats and a new advanced technology made its way for the first time to North Central Florida. The year was 1928 when the area’s first radio station, WRUF-AM, began beaming out a radio signal from the University of Florida campus, situated in the heart of Gainesville. The original technology would be considered primitive by today’s standards, but in 1928 the technology was well advance and the new medium was welcomed and embraced by all. WRUF-AM began broadcasting to the area with a modest 100 watts on its 850 Kilocycles (KC) dial position (referred to today as Kilohertz or KHz). The original antenna system was very simple consisting of a wire mesh combination connected between two metal poles. The original antenna site was actually on the UF campus in an area now occupied by Shands Hospital, part of UF’s medical sciences research facility. In 1928, the only other Florida radio stations on the air  were WDAE-AM 1250 Tampa, WJAX-AM 930 Jacksonville, WQAM-AM 560 Miami and WDBO-AM 580 Orlando. Other than these four Florida radio stations, the next nearest radio station was WSB-AM 750 ("Welcome South Brother"),  Atlanta,  the 50,000 watt clear channel powerhouse of the Southeast. WRUF-AM was conceived, planned and implemented by the University of Florida and has remained licensed to UF ever since the first day in 1928 when the station first signed on the air. Initially, UF wanted the call letters WUFR (for University of Florida Radio), but the still infant Federal Radio Commission would not assign those call letters to the new AM radio station as those calls were already assigned to the United States Coast Guard.  A second choice was made, and the call letters WRUF (Radio University of Florida) were assigned. Shortly after signing on the air, WRUF increased it’s power to 500 watts, giving WRUF’s clear, open 850 KC frequency greater coverage over Gainesville, and could also be heard as far North as Lake City and Southern Georgia, and down into Ocala to the South with a very strong signal Throughout the end of the twenties and during the depression era, WRUF remained true to the area by providing national  and world news from the NBC Red Network as well as local news, information, entertainment to the area residents and educational programming for local UF students. WRUF carried presidential debates, State of the Union addresses and was also there providing major war coverage when World War II broke out in 1941.
Due to the area’s growth and the need for WRUF to provide coverage over the new growth areas, a decision was made to increase the power to 5,000 watts. Because the station would need a rather sophisticated new four tower antenna system with a critical directional pattern for nighttime operation requiring several acres of land, and available land on campus was becoming ever increasingly scarce, the decision was made to move the tower site to West Gainesville in an area now known as Northwest 75Th Street which runs North and South interconnecting Newberry and Archer roads. This location was chosen because, at the time, nothing was there; just open fields, woods, trees and a few critters. It was an isolated area just off a “no name” dirt road which quickly earned the name “Tower Road” because the four WRUF-AM towers were the only man made structures for miles in any given direction. The University also added the area’s first FM station, educational and classical formatted WRUF-FM 103.7 around this same time period. After the Federal Radio Commission evolved into the Federal Communications Commission, the newly formed FCC  required NBC to split the NBC Blue and Red networks, forming NBC Radio from the Red network, and ABC Radio from the Blue network. WRUF remained an NBC affiliate bringing top of the hour national and world news along with the weekend NBC “Monitor” programming every Saturday and Sunday to the area. Bill Daily, Arlene Francis, and former game show host Gene Rayburn are just a few of the big names that appeared each weekend on WRUF through the “Monitor”. There were also a series of program adjustments over the years, but the main focus remained musically a middle of the road station playing the hits from Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Perry Como, Doris Day, Bing Crosby and a host of other big name talent.
By the 1960s most of the network drama programming was gone from WRUF. However, the NBC News Network and the weekend “Monitor” remained for a while longer. The majority of the programming had shifted to mostly music playing a variety of “watered down” top 40 hits although management still publicly proclaimed WRUF as a Middle of the Road station “catering to the whole family”.
By the early 1970s, the new station moniker was “Music Radio Eighty-Five, WRUF”. Heavier rock tunes were quickly added to the existing MOR play-list, leveling out as a full top 40 station by 1976. Robert W. Leach was the general manager and Harry Guscott was the program director and afternoon drive jock, holding down the 2PM to 5PM air shift. And although many other radio stations were on the air by now, and the WRUF air staff consisting of mostly students majoring in Mass Communications, WRUF-AM was gaining market share as a top 40 powerhouse in North Central Florida.
In 1981 the University’s Dean of Broadcasting along with a few other key decision makers determined that 100,000 watt sister station WRUF-FM 103.7 would be more profitable for the University as a rock station. The university had completed  the construction of non commercial 100,000 watt WUFT-FM 89.1 “Classic 89” so all cultural, classical, public affairs, arts and educational programming would have a place to go. Once WUFT-FM was on the air, WRUF-FM flipped to album rock. Because the university did not want WRUF-AM and WRUF-FM competing head to head for the same audience, WRUF-AM was flipped to Toby Arnold’s “Unforgettable” big bands and adult standards targeting a more mature listening audience. Additionally, after 54 years as an NBC Radio affiliate, WRUF dropped NBC, replacing the network with CBS News Radio that had previously been broadcast of WRUF-FM. NBC’s “The Source” replaced CBS on the new “Rock 104” as WRUF-FM was fast becoming known.
By 1988, due to a loss in listeners, the “Unforgettable” programming was replaced with classic rock known as “Gator Rock 850” with a target demographic appealing to a younger audience, but still somewhat older than the average Rock 104 listener. Unfortunately the classic rock programming didn’t produce the ratings nor the revenue management  thought WRUF-AM would generate. By 1993 all music programming was dropped from WRUF-AM and replaced with News-Talk-Sports (www.am850.com) billing itself as “News Radio AM 850 WRUF” later simply becoming “AM 850“. Complete with CBS News Radio, CNN Radio, the Florida Radio Network, WCJB-TV 20 6PM News simulcast (www.wcjb.com) and the largest local news department of any radio station in the state, comprised entirely of Journalism and Mass Communications students, WRUF-AM is THE source for local, state, national and world news. Sports is another integral part of today’s overall WRUF success story. WRUF serves as the flagship radio station for the Gator Radio Network, originating all network broadcast for the Florida Gators football, basketball and baseball games which are broadcast via the Florida Radio Network to over 300 Florida radio stations.
Since 1928, WRUF-AM has been there through better or worse, keeping North Central Florida informed and entertained.

From Don Smith an alumnus of WRUF-AM/FM from 1950-1954.
"The management of WRUF -- which operated well beyond the 1950s as a separate component of the University of Florida and with no academic function whatsoever -- used the new FM facility mostly as a training ground for on-air talent who hoped to "graduate" to the AM side.  Typically, it separated its daily duplication each afternoon and broadcast its own schedule of mainly sustaining programs.  Some of these were parts of the MBS (Mutual Broadcasting System) schedule disdained by AM; most were locally originated music shows that tilted toward an easy listening format.  And, from time to time, WRUF-FM aired University of Florida sporting events (baseball, basketball, track) as yet another means of giving young talent an opportunity to develop those skills." 

More WRUF history;
From Tony Simon
"...but one thing a lot of people don't know is that WRUF's correct sign on date was "not" 1928...That is true, but only partially true...1928 is the date the station signed on from Gainesville, as WRUF, however, the original year it ever signed on was 1926, and the calls were WHBN, and it was from a Methodist Church in St. Petersburg.  The State purchased it and moved it north shortly thereafter.  There were also a few frequencies, at least from Gainesville it started on 1480, later 1470, then 830, and NARBA finally put it on 850 in the 40s....As WHBN I have a history of the station that says it used 1260 and 1010.  And the original WRUF building is still very much in existence today, and is currently the University Police department.  One of the two poles/towers that was part of the original antenna still stands and is very visible on campus!! The original call letters the University and the state actually wanted were not WUFR.  They were "KVOF" (yes, a "K" call in Florida, the rest for "Voice of Florida" which would be the station's slogan in the early days).  Not exactly sure why the  Commission did not grant it but they gave them WRUF instead."

In 2010 WRUF flipped to an all sports format. 
WRUF Announces ESPN Affiliation    6-29-12 WRUF-AM 850 and ESPN Radio will join forces to broadcast local sports talk, ESPN programming, and Gator and high school sports to north central Florida. In addition, WRUF Sportsradio 850 announces a new partnership with SportsTalk LLC in Ocala that creates a single ESPN affiliate for the Gainesville-Ocala market. The affiliation and partnership will begin on Friday, June 29.

WRUF-AM Launches FM Simulcast     8-20-15   
The University of Florida launched an FM simulcast of WRUF-AM 850 on a translator at 95.3, W237EJ Gainesville.

Names In WRUF-AM History

Andrew M. Edwards-While serving in the legislature during the late 1920's, Mr. Edwards was Instrumental In having radio station WRUF established at the University of Florida In Memory
Major Garland Powell-1928-Station Manager/Director-State of Florida-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida
Robert "Bob" Leach-1954-Program Director/1956-Program Director/News Director/General Manager-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida
Paul Acosta-1928-Commercial Manager-State of Florida-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida
John Sever-1928-Production Manager-State of Florida-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida
Toulmin Gaines-1928-Chief Announcer-State of Florida-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida
Helen Edwards-1928-Musical Director-State of Florida-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida
Duane F. McConnell-1928-Chief Operator-State of Florida-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida
Clyde Beale-1928-Farm Editor-State of Florida-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida

Red Barber
-1930-1934-Red began his career in the late 1920’s while studying English education at the University of Florida. That year he filled in for a reporter with the university’s radio station, which lead him to realize that broadcasting was the profession he wanted to pursue. In 1930 Barber left the University to accept a full-time position with WRUF, where he stayed for the next four years.  
In Memory

microphone_used by Red_Barber.jpg (25524 bytes)

Click the microphone to hear Red Barber call Joe DiMaggio's at bat in 1937

Toby Dowdy-1939-1954-Host of “Orange Blossom Special” and the “Toby Dowdy Show” -State of Florida

Otis Boggs-1939-Sports Director/1940-1982-The “Voice of the Gators”/1990-Named to the Florida Sports Hall of Fame Boggs teamed with  (“The Bob and Otis Show”) and later  (“The OJ Show”), for popular morning talk shows on WRUF-AM-State of Florida-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida.   
In Memory
Raymond Dantzler-1951-Program Director-State of Florida-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida
James Montgomery-1951-Program Manager-State of Florida-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida
John Dunnavant-1951-Commercial Manager-State of Florida-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida

Garvin Combs-1951-Chief Engineer-State of Florida-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida

Norman Davis-1951-News Director-State of Florida-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida

Clyde Bealc-1951-Farm Director-State of Florida-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida

Patricia Eriksen-1951-Women's Director-State of Florida-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida

Gary "Dutch" Schaeffer-1959-State of Florida-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida   In Memory

Jim Philips
student Program Director-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida     Biography
Robert W. Leach-1970-Program Director-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida 
Kenneth F. Small-1973-Station Director-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida
E. A. Slimak-1973-Chief Engineer-The Board of Trustees for The University of Florida

Larry Vettel-1981-2015-Sports Director/“The Larry Vettel Show”-4PM-6PM-University of Florida
Robert Clarke-1985-General Manager-University of Florida 
Kenn Tomasch-1985-1986-University of Florida  

Forest Smith-1986-News Director-University of Florida 

Frank Boros aka "Frank"-1986-1989-Member of  the morning "OJ Show"-University of Florida
Tony Tyler (Tony Simon)1996-1998-Various day parts/second to last host of the "Seventies At Seven" on Saturday mornings before the show was cancelled/1997-1998-Assistant Program Director- University of Florida 

Steve Russell-2010-Morning co-host with  Renee Gork/2012-“Sportscene with Steve Russell” -Noon -2PM-University of Florida

Renee Gork
-2010-Morning co-host with Steve Russell-University of Florida-Morning co-host with Steve Russell-University of Florida

Ron Brooks-2010-Program Director-University of Florida

JJ Thomas (Jerry Butler)-2011-2014-Program Director/Operations Director-University of Florida

Mike Greenberg-2012-6AM-10AM-“Mike and Mike in the Morning” (ESPN)-University of Florida

Mike Golic-2012-“Mike and Mike in the Morning” (ESPN)-University of Florida

Adam Reardon-2012-10AM-Noon-University of Florida

Scott Van Pelt-2012-“The Scott Van Pelt Show”(ESPN)2PM-4PM--University of Florida  

Mike Hill-2012-"Hill & Schlereth” (ESPN)-7PM-10PM-University of Florida 

Mark Schlereth-2012-"Hill & Schlereth” (ESPN)-7PM-10PM-University of Florida  

Brett Holcomb-2015-2018-Operations Coordinator
-University of Florida  

Peter Rothfuss-2016-General Sales Manager-Entecom
Claudia Menegus-2020-Regional President-Entercom Communications Corp. 
Jim Finch-University of Florida  
Don Smith-University of Florida  
S. Lehr Miller-Commercial Manager-University of Florida   WRUF_studio_bldg.gif (129803 bytes)

The WRUF  studio building   
Marion Morris-Program Director-University of Florida
Rem James-Promotions Manager-University of Florida
Dr. Palmer Craig-Chief Engineer-University of Florida
Dick Freeze-General Sales Manager-University of Florida
Harry Guscott-Program Director/2PM-5PM-University of Florida
Steve Street-University of Florida
Kenneth Small-Station Director-University of Florida
Bill Harmon-University of Florida

Steve Padgett
-University of Florida  Biography

Whitey McMullen-Sales Manager-University of Florida

Robert Leach-Program Director-University of Florida

E. A. Slimack-Chief Engineer-University of Florida

R. M. Chamberlain-President/General Manager/Chief Engineer-University of Florida

Phil Gaines-University of Florida

Mike Konstan-University of Florida

Don Elliot (Heald)-University of Florida In Memory

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