Until 2008, WBGO was, with smooth jazz station WQCD/101.9 FM, one of two major FM jazz stations in the New York City metropolitan area. That changed when Emmis Communications decided to change WQCD's format to rock and its call letters to WRXP, leaving WBGO as the New York area's only jazz station. While WBGO's base of operations remains in the New Jersey city of Newark, the station's broadcast antenna and transmission system moved to New York City's Midtown Manhattan on December 30, 2011.
The station was originally owned by the Newark Board of Education and had studios in Central High School. Studios and offices are now located at 54 Park Place in downtown Newark, and its transmitter is atop of Conde Nast Building in Times Square in New York City. It is also available as a web radio station, with both a live stream and on-demand replay of shows.
New Jersey Public Radio simulcasts WBGO during the late night hours; until June 30, 2011, the simulcast was heard on New Jersey Network's radio network.
WBGO also broadcasts in the HD Radio format.
WBGO is a publicly supported cultural institution that champions jazz and presents news to a worldwide audience through radio, other technologies and events.