This was originally published in Forever Young Magazine
One of the original superstars of Buffalo Radio in the 20s and 30s for the Buffalo Broadcasting Corporation on WGR and WKBW, Baker was the Queen City’s first definitive sportscaster.
Those who remember him in the sports booth remember the ultimate professional– no focus on personality, so much as the product on the air. Calling Bisons games in the 30s from Offermann Stadium, he was straight, and by the book.
After being tapped by Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to call the 1933 World Series to a nationwide audience on CBS, Baker landed a job in Cincinnati calling the National League Reds on WLW.
After the war, Baker returned to Buffalo, reading news on WKBW Radio, but eventually moving into the General Manager’s office at the short-lived Buffalo UHF pioneer WBES-TV–where he also read news.
Along with Bill Mazer, Baker was also an original member of the WGR-TV sports team when the station signed-on in 1954. Baker moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico for health reasons, continuing his broadcast at KOB for several more years.
John entered his first TV studio as a boy with his grandma in Philly to watch a taping of the Mike Douglas Show. It was the most fun he’d seen adults have, ever, and he was hooked. A decade later, his early mentor Dave Thomas (A TV icon in both Buffalo and Philly), sent the fresh out of college DiSciullo up to his hometown for an interview at his old stopping grounds, Channel 7. That was 1982.
Save a few weeks since then when he tried his hand at producing TV in New York in 1988, he’s been at 7 Broadcast Plaza as a driving force behind AM Buffalo and The Variety Club Telethon, while keeping busy with everything from news, to promotions, to programming. In an age where telethons and locally originated TV talk shows might seem like a vestige of the past for some, DiSciullo points to his two pet projects as examples of how, with plenty of pure passion and a lot of fighting and kicking along the way, doing the right thing on television can continue to have a positive impact on the community.
The Goodyear Award is named in honor of George Goodyear, the Buffalo philanthropist who co-founded WGR-TV, and is awarded each year to those in Broadcasting’s front office who have made a career of advancing the ideals of the Buffalo Broadcasters
The name would leave most wondering, but the smooth, consistent voice is one you’re unable to escape in Buffalo. From Channel 2’s promo pieces to Valu Home Centers and Paddock Chevrolet, on on-hold messages, to the national Time/Life commercials, for a quarter century, Pat Feldballe has been Western New York’s go-to independent voice-over king.
In 1970s we all heard him at WBUF, WGR, WGRQ, and WUWU playing rock ’n’ roll and hosting a magazine program (and working with Terry Gross) at WBFO. He eventually got the point when he’d show up for his jock shift and find a handful of production orders taped to the console for him to do.
Figuring it was his destiny, he did a stint as a radio production director, but quickly decided, in 1982, that he could do production on his own. He hasn’t looked back.
In an industry where many production guys will try to sell clients on the latest and greatest gadget, Feldballe has used the same microphone since 1986. It’s a part of all his success.
“I’m the most consistent guy I know. I always sound the same, and I take pride in making sure reads time out,” says Feldballe. He’s the best at showing up and doing the work, doing it well, and making it easy for whoever is using his work. “I just hung out the shingle 27 years ago, and here I am.”
His fate at the man who’d become the “The Polish Rifle” was sealed just before his senior year at Lackawanna High School. Drafted to play baseball at 17, he wanted to forget college to have a shot to play with Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals. But two weeks of a real Buffalo summer job of bending rods in a steel mill was enough motivation to get an education.
A standout at Youngstown State, Jaws played 17 years in the NFL for 4 teams, including the Philadelphia Eagles, where he was he 1980 NFL MVP. He also backed up Dan Marino for 2 seasons with the Miami Dolphins. But no matter where he played, and now, no matter from which city he analyzes Monday Night Football, Ron hasn’t forgotten his years as a season ticket holder at the Rock Pile, and certainly hasn’t forgotten his friends and family in Lackawanna.
His compatriots on the ESPN MNF staff are just glad he hasn’t forgotten where the good wing joints are.
Named after one of Buffalo’s most famous sons, the Buffalo Bob Smith Award is given to broadcasters with local roots who made his or her mark away from the Niagara Frontier, but is still a Buffalonian at heart.
Always wearing a smile like no other, Barry’s best known for his 20 years (1976-96) in front of WGRZ-TV weather maps. But that earnest grin, and the personality that went along with it, also made Barry a natural as the local host for annual the MDA telethon, and well as the Kids Escaping Drugs Campaign, which Barry himself named in 1987.
Just before Barry left the air in 1994, he was ordained an Orthodox Catholic Priest. To this day, much of his ministry involves counseling those battling drug and alcohol dependence. Its a challenging and rewarding vocation, which is often helped along by those thousands of weather forecasts where Barry made it feel like he was trying to make just you smile.
Often someone will say they remember the time he wore a t-shirt promoting their scout troop’s soup dinner on TV. People love to share memories of Barry’s zany overnight presentation of poorly lipsynched movies on Barry’s Cats Pajamas. But for Fr. Barry, it means so much more; maybe opening a door to help someone else along in life. It makes his career in broadcasting one of Buffalo’s most special ever.
Bill’s love of electronics growing up led him to broadcasting in college, where he was the college station’s chief engineer. That, he thought, was the end of radio business for him, which he lived and breathed as a kid. He started a business that did use his engineering background, however, selling and installing two-way and CB radio equipment for companies around WNY.
His voyage back into radio started with a tour of WPHD in 1979, where PD Harv Moore decided he was the right fit to fill an open engineering job. Since taking that job, Bill’s run his own broadcast engineering firm, building studios and performing maintenance all over New York state and all over the country, often explaining to someone hundreds of miles away over the phone how to fix what’s wrong.
Its a story made more incredible when you find out he did all of that without sight. Bill is blind. “I realize I have limitations, but made my mind up to live like everyone else. I was scared when all the sudden I was responsible for two stations (in 1979), but I rely on memory a lot, and I’ve had the help of a lot of great people over the years.” And a lot of people have relied on, and rarely been disappointed with Bill.
The Behind the Scenes Award celebrates the many people who make any broadcast possible, but don’t usually get the credit: The directors, producers, photographers, writers, engineers and office staff.
Those of you who know the him as “Artie Baby Boo-Boo, The Tiny Tot of the Kilowatt,” as Art might say: Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute! As a kid growing up on Buffalo’s East Side, Art would ditch school to watch Foster Brooks and Buffalo Bob Smith do their WGR show live from Grant’s Department Store.
After a stint in the Navy, Art was the Radio Director for the VA Hospital, before landing at WKBW in 1956, where he eventually joined the news staff as a Pulsebeat Newsman under the direction of Irv Weinstein. By the late 1960’s, Art had programmed radio stations all around the country, including WOR-FM in New York, where he met the Beatles and became close with their manager Brian Epstein. Its this work done in music radio where Art feels more accomplished.
He’d return to Buffalo in the early 80s, first to program, but then to talk sports on 1400-AM. After Bills General Manager Bill Polian told Art to “get out of town,” he was picked up by WGR and later Empire Sports Network to talk sports. He always pictured his show as guys in a barroom. And opinions could be right, wrong, or indifferent, so long as they were entertaining.