The station traces its origin to an experimental Apex band radio station, W2XWF on 42.18 MHz, which was authorized in 1940 and licensed to radio engineer William G. H. Finch. In 1941 the station was authorized to convert to a commercial FM station, W55NY transmitting on 45.5 MHz. In 1943 the call letters were changed to WFGG, which were changed to WGHF in 1945. One of the uses of the station was to test Finch's broadcast facsimile system. By 1946, the station was broadcasting on 99.7 MHz, moving to 101.9 in 1947. In late 1948, it became the New York City affiliate of the farm-oriented Rural Radio Network based in Ithaca, New York, which owned a group of upstate stations that would later associate with WQXR. In 1955, its then-owner, Muzak, changed the call letters to WBFM, reflecting its parent owner. The station aired a mostly-instrumental beautiful music radio format.