History

WBFH, also known as The Biff, is a community radio station that has operated out of Bloomfield Hills High School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan since October 1, 1976. The school district has merged their two high schools into one and has built a new high school on the site of what was Andover High School. The new school opened in September 2015. WBFH now has new studios in a highly visible area off the Commons and Main Street. The new studios have one on air room (Studio A), three production studios (Studios B, C and D), a work room and a storage room. WBFH broadcasts with 360 watts of power at 88.1 MHz on the FM dial. The signal is directional and can be heard throughout mid-Oakland County. The station can also be heard on 89.5 FM, WAHS, owned by the Avondale School District.

WBFH is licensed to the Bloomfield Hills School District and is open to all high school students. Students who want to be on the radio station must first take the prerequisite class entitled Exploring Electronic Media which is a one-semester class. After that, they can apply to be on the WBFH Staff. Due to time and space limitations, not all applicants are selected to be on the Staff. WBFH is run by General Manager/Electronic Media Teacher Pete Bowers who has been supervising the station and teaching the electronic media/radio classes since its inception in 1976. The other management team member is Assistant Manager/Technical Director Ron Wittebols who took over that position in January, 2013 but has a long relationship with the station. WBFH is on the air with live shows from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. school calendar days and 24/7/365 via the DADPro 32 automation system. The students use Adobe Audition for audio editing. Listeners can listen to WBFH online on the station’s website www.wbfh.fm, on the Biff Radio app, the High School Radio app and the TuneIn app. WBFH is one of only a few high school radio stations with their own app.

WBFH has won more state and national awards than any other high school radio station in the State of Michigan. They won 1st Place, Best High School Radio Station in the nation in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2014 and 2015 at the national competition entitled the John Drury High School Radio Awards. They were second place in 2009 and 2012 and third place in 2005.

WBFH has been named the High School Station of the Year in the State of Michigan by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Foundation nine times: 2003, 2004*, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011*, 2013 and 2015.

Biff radio students and faculty won a total of 21 national high school radio awards at the 76th Annual International Radio and Webcasting Conference sponsored by the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) held in the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City March 4-6, 2016. WBFH was named a Finalist in the Best High School Radio Station category, putting the Biff as one of the top four high school stations in this national competition.

In addition, the Michigan Association of Educational Broadcasters named WBFH its High School Station of the Year in 1990, 1995 and 2003, the last year the award was given.

The station has a Facebook fan page (search WBFH 88.1 FM, The Biff), a Twitter account (@TheBiff881) and a YouTube channel (TheBiff881).

WBFH is the host station for a national event entitled High School Radio Day (HSRD). HSRD was founded by Pete Bowers in 2012 with the inaugural event held on May 16, 2012. HSRD was created to bring awareness to high school radio stations around the country. The 5th Annual High School Radio Day is scheduled for April 20, 2016. Details about HSRD can be found on the website www.highschoolradioday.com. With his 39 years of experience with high school radio, Bowers has been asked to be a featured speaker at electronic media conferences in New York, Las Vegas, Chicago, Orlando, Atlanta, San Antonio, Seattle, Lansing and Grand Rapids.

* denotes a tie

 

WBFH Timeline

WBFH has been on the air, serving the Bloomfield Hills area for 40 years. What follows is a timeline of how WBFH came to become what it is today.

1971

Bloomfield Hills (Mich.) Lahser high school teacher Rick Spriska made proposal for radio station.

1973

Idea brought up at Bloomfield Hills School Board meeting by Dr. Charles Bowers. He and Larry Howard, a Bloomfield Hills School Board member, visited Detroit-area educational stations.

1974

The Bloomfield Hills School Board commissions a study by John F.X. Browne and Associates.

1975

License application completed by Browne. District Deputy Superintendent Dr. David Spencer and Athletic Director Norm Quinn work on proposal for facilities.

1975

Federal Communications Commission Elements I, II and IX rules taught to aspiring broadcasters during summer school by Spriska.

1976

Construction of studios and equipment installation completed by Audio Services. Studios build at both Lahser and Andover high schools.

1976

Summer school taught by Ray Previ, Bloomfield Hills Junior High audio/visual instructor.

August, 1976

Hired Peter S. Bowers (Central Michigan University ’75) as station manager.

October 1, 1976

First day on the air, broadcasting at 88.1 Mhz with 10 watts of power. Brain McRae and Eric Burch are the first disc jockeys. On the air from 3 PM until 9 PM. Stuart Best is named WBFH’s first Operations Manager.

January, 1977

On the air from 10 AM until 6 PM.

April, 1977

First March of Dimes (now “Spring Celebration”) Marathon broadcast.

September, 1977

On the air from 10 AM until 10 PM. Hired first assistant station manager, Bill Ryan.
Other Assistant Station Managers:

  • Dave Sheehan (1978-1980)
  • Mark Brooky (1980-1981)
  • Jim Styke (1981)
  • Joan Dodge (1981-1982)
  • Tom Klopocinski (1982-1987)
  • Ron Wittebols (1987-1995)
  • Paul L. Gaba (1995-1999)
  • Randy Carr (1999- 2013)
  • Ron Wittebols (2013- )

October, 1977

Saturday morning “Be A DJ” program (now “Saturday Jamz”) begins.

November, 1977

On the air from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m.

January, 1979

On the air from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m.

May, 1979

On the air from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m.

1985

Switched on-air and production studios. Also switched from United Press International (UPI) to Associated Press (AP) newswire.

January, 1985

Bowers is elected Michigan Association of Educational Broadcasters (MAEB) President.

Summer, 1986

Close Lahser studios and begin transportation of Lahser staff to Andover.

November, 1986

WBFH becomes audio portion of Bloomfield School cable channel.

March, 1987

Bowers hires first remote supervisor, Matt Jenkins.
Other Remote Supervisors:

  • Dan Lippitt (1988 – 1992)
  • Martin Pieroni (1992 – 1998)
  • Jeff Falcon (1998 – 2001)
  • Ron Wittebols (2001 – Present)

December, 1987

Munn and Associates hired to begin a frequency search for a possible power increase.

May, 1988

WBFH begins its first Family Fun Day remote.

October, 1988

Official application is filed with the Federal Communications Commission to increase power to 360 watts. First Pontiac Silverdome football broadcast, Andover vs. Lahser.

December, 1988

Production studio is renovated.

March, 1989

WBFH staff members win first MAEB awards.

January, 1990

First annual Parents Week.

March, 1990

WBFH is named MAEB “Station Of The Year”.

October, 1990

Bowers and staff receives notice of construction permit.

Summer, 1991

New antenna and transmitter are installed.

August, 1991

WBFH begins broadcasting with 360 watts.

September, 1992

Digital Audio Tape (DAT) machines purchased. AP machine connected to satellite dish.

September 1992

“Somewhere In Time,” an hour-long nostalgia program (Big Band, 1940s and 1950s music) hosted by former Bloomfield Hills School Board member C. Thomas Wilson, debuts. The daily show, whose title comes from the Christopher Reeve/Jane Seymour movie of the same name, is currently syndicated to 41 other radio stations across the United States.

August, 1993

New audio console installed in Control Room and production room. New computer runs AP newsdesk.

August, 1994

DigiLink II automated computer system installed.

April, 1995

WBFH named MAEB “Station Of The Year” for the second time.

May, 1995

“Biff’s World,” the WBFH World Wide Web site, makes its debut.

October, 1995

New morning show airs, from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. WBFH now on the air 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. weekdays.

November 11, 1995

WBFH begins “unattended operations” broadcasting with DigiLink computer system. WBFH, metro Detroit’s most powerful high school radio station, is the first high school station in Michigan to broadcast every day of the year, including 24 hours a day on weekends, school breaks and summer vacation.

February, 1996

TrakStar III digital audio editing workstation added to WBFH production room.

March, 1996

Second AP machine hooked up in Studio A, giving air talent instant access to breaking news and sports stories.

April 19, 1996

WBFH’s renovated World Wide Web page debuts, complete with an on-line graphical evolution of its bumper stickers, comprehensive Midwest concert calendar and alumni list.

June 17, 1996

WBFH begins its first summer on the air. Broadcasting is live from 6 to 10 p.m. Mondays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays.

September, 1996

Upgraded DigiLink III system installed, replacing prior computer automated system. Also, Gemini Command Center automated “cart wall” installed in Studio A, giving DJs more freedom to personalize their shows via computer technology, and “touch screen” monitor added to DigiLink operation.

October 1, 1996

WBFH celebrates its 20th year of serving the Bloomfield Hills community.

October 12, 1996

The WBFH 20th Anniversary Reunion Celebration takes place in Farmington Hills. More than 70 alumni attend the festivities.

November, 1996

Charles Luftig creates the station’s Technology Department, designed to coordinate student and staff use of the station’s DigiLink, Trak-Star and Gemini 6 systems, as well as its new PowerMac and Pentium personal computers.

February 21, 1997

WBFH airs a three-hour DigiLink-automated edition of “The Biff Rock Cafe,” with pre-recorded talksets and sound effects. A new era of automated broadcasting begins.

May, 1997

A “virtual tour” is added to the WBFH web page.

August, 1997

Air conditioning units are installed in WBFH’s studios and office areas.

September, 1997

WBFH discontinues its use of the Associated Press news wire service, choosing instead to gather news and information from the Internet.

October 9, 1998

“Biff Jr.” a portable broadcast unit for use at sports and special events, makes its debut for the Andover homecoming football contest against Ferndale.

February, 1999

Installation of Marantz CD burner, allowing WBFH to add to its music library with recordable CDs.

March 13, 1999

Ethernet installed in WBFH studios.

March 20, 1999

WBFH gets new home address on the Internet.

April 6, 1999

WBFH web page switches to frames format.

November, 1999

WBFH becomes the first high school radio station in Michigan to broadcast live audio over the Internet.

January, 2000

DAD Pro 32 automated broadcast system is installed in WBFH on-air and production studios, replacing Arrakis DigiLink and Trak-Star systems.

August 20, 2005

WBFH broadcasts from the Woodward Dream Cruise.

October 8, 2005

WBFH Students win nine John Drury High School Radio Awards. WBFH wins 1st Place, Best High School Radio Station in this national competition. Mr. Bowers wins 1st Place, Best Radio Station Advisor. Mr. Bowers, Ryan Fishman, and Eric Bowers travel to Naperville, Illinois to collect the awards.

December 5, 2005

WBFH is featured in an article in the Detroit News: “Andover Rises to Top On The Air”. “The Bloomfield Hills high school station is No. 1 in the nation, with the staff and students netting awards”.

December 7, 2005

WBFH students and staff host an Open House to show visitors the new Logitek digital board and new Optimod Audio Processor.

January 8-13, 2006

WBFH students Ryan Fishman and Wade Fink cover the North American International Auto Show, the first time the Biff has ever received media passes. They interview Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Motown Legend Aretha Franklin, and Miss Michigan. Even Mr. Bowers in his Mickey Mouse tuxedo uses his pass to attend the Charity Preview January 13.

February 3, 2006

Ryan Fishman, Wade Fink, and Mr. Bowers represent the Biff at the Legends for Charity luncheon as part of Super Bowl festivities at the Marriott Detroit Renaissance Center. They get interviews with Broadcaster James Brown, Coach Tony Dungy, Broadcasters Pat Summerall and Chris Collinsworth.

March 3, 2010

Eight Biffers win 14 awards at the Michigan Association of Broadcasters High School and College Awards Luncheon. WBFH is named the 2010 MAB High School Station of the Year!

August, 2015

WBFH moves into brand new studios at the site formally known as Andover High School, now known as Bloomfield Hills High School.

March 5, 2016

WBFH Students win 21 Intercollegiate Broadcasting System Radio Awards. WBFH wins four 1st Place Awards, including Best Public Affairs Event/Promotion, Best Sports Play-By-Play, Best Sports Talk Program, and Best Use of Social Media. Mr. Bowers, Greg Margosian, Andrew Brown, Harrison Parker, Foster Stubbs, and Evan Sacksner travel to New York to collect the awards.
Subject to Change Comedian (2nd Place Promo) // Evan Sacksner - 2015 John Drury Award Winners
  1. Subject to Change Comedian (2nd Place Promo) // Evan Sacksner - 2015 John Drury Award Winners
  2. Selective Service (Honorable Mention PSA) // Jason Silverstone, Evan Sacksner, Mitchell Salhaney - 2015 John Drury Award Winners
  3. Parental Sportsmanship (3rd Place PSA) // Kent Davis - 2015 John Drury Award Winners
  4. Music Program Cuts (3rd Place Newscast) // Jaron Kirshenbaum - 2015 John Drury Award Winners
  5. Internet (3rd Place Promo) // Kent Davis - 2015 John Drury Award Winners
  6. High School Radio Day (Honorable Mention PSA) // Jonah Lopas, Foster Stubbs - 2015 John Drury Award Winners
  7. Congress Gets an “F” on Climate Change (3rd Place News Feature) // Evan Brook - 2015 John Drury Award Winners