BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)– In 1998 after 14 years of working at WUFO, Shelia Brown decided it was time to go when new management came in and started making changes. Eight years later, she came back and bought the place.
“I looked at the building and I waved and said don’t worry baby I’ll be back.”
The road to ownership wasn’t an easy one but Brown wouldn’t stop until she achieved her dream.
“I went through everything, we had banks say no like three times before they said yes, credit unions said no your business plan needs to be updated, but True Bethel and Bishop Darius Pridgen they had faith in me.”
Growing up in the Hamlin Park area the youngest of three siblings, Brown knew she was destined for great things. She credits her success to her strong support system, her husband and family.
“My uncles coming to see us would go hey here comes our super star. Not saying it to boost me but just positive affirmation, so I never was afraid of anything I was going to do.”
That positivity gave her the courage to add an F.M. channel to the WUFO brand with Power 96.5.
“I was able to take an A.M. band, move it from off LaSalle Avenue which was a residential street, no one knew we were there, to downtown Buffalo where we have millions of cars passing by every day.”
With the station’s long-standing success, Brown paved the way for many well-known DJs and had many notable guests, including having Mayor Byron Brown’s weekly Talk of The Town. Brown also has the WUFO history collective where she’s preserving 56 years of memorabilia.
“Since we’ve been F.M, we were able to get morning shows, syndicated shows and it gave us a real footprint in the industry.”
But with success comes struggles. At the beginning of February, a former employee was awarded a nearly $500,000 judgment in a discrimination lawsuit against the station. While not addressing the case specifically, Brown says she doesn’t really have time for employees that “want to bring confusion to the team.”
“You do the best you can, wipe it off. You can’t let nothing get you down because you know what God has promised you and you know what you promised yourself.”
Instead, Brown chooses to look toward the future. Continuing to grow her brand as a published author and self-made entrepreneur and more importantly paving the way for those who come after her.
“It feels good but it’s sad in 2021 we’re still talking about the first if anything but I’m just proud that the lord used me to be the first woman of color to own a radio station. The Vice President she said she might be the first, but not the last so my goal is to prep other people.”
Kelly Khatib is a digital reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.