WBAB first went on the air in 1958. It simulcasted with WNYG (1440 AM), then called WBAB-AM, until 102.3 FM was sold.
WBAB is best known for playing an album-oriented rock format and is considered one of the pioneering stations in the country to champion the format. Heritage bands like Pink Floyd, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin and Van Halen are heard on a regular basis, along with newer bands like Nickelback, Daughtry, Green Day, and Bon Jovi. This music receives a fair amount of play as the station does not limit itself to a strict classic rock format. This can classify it as an active rock format, similar to WXRK (before its switch to a Top 40 format) and northern New Jersey's WDHA.
The radio station is the most listened to rock station on Long Island and scores in the Top 5 with Adults 25–54 years old. As of early 2012 WBAB's morning show of Roger and JP is #1 with Men 25–54 years old and #2 or 3 in Mornings with people 25-54. The afternoon show hosted by legendary jock Fingers is continually #1 or #2 with people 25-54.
WHFM 95.3 Southampton, New York 5,000 watts
On Wednesday, May 17, 2006, WBAB's microwave studio-to-transmitter link (STL) was jammed for about 90 seconds while the signal jammers aired a song called "Nigger Hatin' Me" by the 1960s-era white supremacist country singer Johnny Rebel. Roger Luce, the station's morning host, said at the time "Whatever that was - it was very racist... 22 years at this radio station - I've never seen anything like this." The station apologized that same day in a news conference outside the station. The investigation of this matter is ongoing.
The incident made all the local newscasts that night. The next morning, it made the front page on Newsday with the headline "JACKED FM". The station's new general manager, John Shea, said, "I've only been here a week and we get hijacked." Former program director John Olsen said, "This was not some child's prank, this was a federal offense." The FCC's New York field manager Dan Noel made a visit to the Cox Radio Long Island building on May 20 to investigate the matter, which has never been solved.
The same incident had occurred a couple of weeks earlier when the same song aired on sister station WBLI on a Sunday night.
Problems with pirate radio stations
A pirate radio station identifying itself as "Red Hot Radio" broadcasts on 102.3 FM out of Flatbush, Brooklyn, many hours a day (especially after 5pm and all weekend), This plagues WBAB's signal in the western end of its market.
On November 6, 2007, the FCC, accompanied by U.S. Marshals, made a visit to the Red Hot Studios, based in an apartment complex on East 35th street and Avenue H, and seized equipment. However, the station returned to the air less than a month later from a new location, where it continues to broadcast from today. There are about 30 pirate radio stations on the air in Brooklyn interfering with radio stations on Long Island and the Hudson Valley daily. The investigation and follow up from the FCC continues.
Cox Radio Long Island has warned that it will go after any pirate broadcasters interfering with the WBAB signal on 102.3 or 95.3 FM and sister 106.1 WBLI. In early 2012, new laws took effect that Cox hopes will help to put an end to pirate broadcasting on commercial FM frequencies that interfere with its signal.