AHK- Alfred Kirchhofer & around the Buffalo radio dial

       By Steve Cichon
       steve@buffalostories.com
       @stevebuffalo


Excerpt from 100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting 


Starting in 1927, Alfred H. Kirchhofer spent 39 years at The Buffalo Evening News as the Managing Editor then Editor. He was also Vice President, then President of WBEN from 1930-67.

AHK (as he referred to himself) or Mr. Kirchhofer (as everyone else referred to him) was the man in charge of WBEN Radio before there was a WBEN Radio.

His influence was key in the News’ purchase of the station in 1930. From 1927 until his retirement in 1967, Kirchhofer ran and expanded a News Empire that included The Buffalo Evening News and added WBEN Radio in 1930, in 1936 added WEBR Radio (then a News property), WBEN-FM in 1946, and WBEN-TV in 1948.

Despite his founding of four broadcast outlets, Kirchhofer was first and foremost a newspaper man. After joining the Buffalo Evening News in 1915, he opened the News’ Washington Bureau, and became a familiar figure to Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, all the while being Buffalo’s eyes and ears in the nation’s capital.

Realizing the potential for radio beyond selling newspapers, Kirchhofer developed a staff of radio writers and newsmen for WBEN and put the station on top to stay for decades.

The FM and television stations developed under Kirchhofer were not only Buffalo’s first, but among the first in the nation.

Even as much of the broadcasting world reflected the changes in society through the 50s, 60s, and 70s, the staunch conservative content and dry delivery at the News Stations was a direct result of Kirchhofer’s editorial approach.

His News style book included a section titled, “avoid mentioning hideous creatures.” Rats and snakes became rodents and reptiles. Women weren’t “pregnant” but with child on the pages of The News, and “motherhood is not treated as a situation comedy.”

The approach made the News Stations “The Stations of Record” for generations.

Another famous Kirchhofer story involves the chair next to his desk, which was notoriously bolted to the floor, nominally as a way to keep “boozy salesmen and politicians from getting too close,” but in practice, it was an intimidation tactic for anyone speaking with him.

Elda Lucente broadcast the Italian Hour on WXRA in 1949. The station was founded in Kenmore in 1947, and sold to become WINE in 1957.
The 1947 WGR announcing staff consisted of chief Allen Lewis (seated), and David Getman, Bernard Ryan, Robert Sherry, and Don Gill.
Bob Glacy joined the WGR/WKBW staff in 1938. In the early 40s, he hosted WKBW’s “Headlines on Parade” morning news program. He was the long-time host of “Glacy’s Basement” on WKBW and through the 50s, was one of the stable of hosts and disc jockeys at WGR.

Over the more than 15 years Bob Glacy spent at WGR Radio and later WGR-TV, he did just about everything from newscasts to disc jockey to hosting Ch.2’s TV Dance Party.

Later on WEBR, he hosted “Coffee Break” between 10 and noon from the fourth floor Civic Room of the downtown Sample Shop at 554 Main Street.

“Glacy will be seated in a glass studio shaped like a coffee-maker. Shoppers will be able to watch the broadcast and have coffee and rolls. Relaxed music will be geared to the housewife and home-bound office worker.”

CHVC signed on from a studio next to the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls, Ontario in 1947. The station offered some of the first programming created by Black Western New Yorkers meant to be listened to by Black Western New Yorkers. Johnny Thomas and Flora Henderson produced programs on CHVC created for an audience in Buffalo.
“The Quiz of Two Cities” on WBEN pitted the people of Buffalo vs the people of Rochester, with Wally Nehrling, quizmaster.


This page is an excerpt from  100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting by Steve Cichon

The full text of the book is now online.

The original 436-page book is available along with Steve’s other books online at The Buffalo Stories Bookstore and from fine booksellers around Western New York. 

©2020, 2021 Buffalo Stories LLC, staffannouncer.com, and Steve Cichon

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.