By Steve Cichon
“Buffalo Anchorman” is a tribute to Buffalo television in the 70s and early 80s as inspired by the recent hit movie The Anchorman. Big hair, flashy suits, and plenty of loud colors makes for a decade we all wish we could forget.
In a picture that looks like it could have been taken on the set of Anchorman, Carol Crissey (later Jasen) poses with the suave Channel 4 anchorman John Beard. Beard joined Channel 4 in 1977, as the station began to move away from it’s ultra-conservative WBEN-TV/ Buffalo Evening News roots.
The dominant news staff of the 70s was the Eyewitness News Team…. Irv, Rick, and Tom. Don Postles rode shotgun at the anchordesk with Irv starting around 1978, and was there throughout the 80s.
Though perpetually at the bottom of the ratings wars, a smarmy anchor with balls of steel brought WGR-TV to the top of the heap for a time in the mid 70s… Ron Hunter. Hunter moved from Buffalo to Chicago, where some say its possible that his cheesy and insecure demeanor could have been part of the basis for Anchorman (one of the writers grew up in Chicagoland.)
WKBW’s Investigative Reporter John Pauly makes an urgent call. Pauly later worked for WGRZ-TV as well in the same role.
The man who perfected Weather with a Beat, Kevin O’Connell, is seen here tending a fire in a Channel 4 pub shot. He was Channel 4’s weatherman in the late 70s before leaving for Los Angeles. He returned to Buffalo in 1990 as a news anchor at Channel 4. He eventually made his way to Channel 2, where he remains as Chief Weather Anchor.
Don Paul and Mike Cejka are still your News 4 Weather team. Both were at Channel 4 by the early 80s. By the time they arrived, innovations like “Weather with a Beat” had gone by the wayside.
A popular Disc Jockey in Buffalo since the 50s, Danny moved fannies to Channel 7 as the noon Weather Outside man.
Mothers hide your tubas. He did weather, He did sports, he worked an inordinate number of puns and plays on words into both. His name: Warren “Clip” Smith.
While WBEN Radio’s Bill Lacy and Tom Kelly weren’t regular TV personalities per se, they were right down the hall from the Channel 4 Studios and pitched in quite a bit. Lacy was the promotional voice of Channel 4 for more 15 years, and Tom Kelly hosted movies, as well as on-air giveaways sponsored by a supermarket during CBS’s mid-morning game shows.
Jon Summers also made the leap from the WBEN Radio hallways to TV. At the time of this early 80s photo, he was the morning jock at Rock 102 (WBEN-FM). After years as the announcer on AM Buffalo, he was recently made an official co-host.
The precursor to AM Buffalo was Dialing for Dollars, in the 70s hosted by Dave Thomas and Nolan Johannes, with, of course, “Johnny & Jimmy”– Johnny Banaszak and Jimmy Edwin— providing musical accompaniment.
Susan Banks came to Channel 7 in 1977. After a short time in Boston, and a few years at News Center 2, she returned to Eyewitness News in 1990. She is now a lead co-anchor at 7-News.
For a time in the mid 70s, Stan Roberts hosted the morning show on WGR55, as well as the weather on WGR-TV.
Stephen Rowan, left, was a part of several failed re-births for Channel 4 in the 70s. He came to WBEN-TV from CBS, replacing Chuck Healy at the news desk. The station was feeling the heat from 7 and 2, and changed the names and faces, but not the monotonous news delivery. Mike Mombrea, Sr, is the cameraman in the photo, and a member of the Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
Irv & Don, c.1980.
Look at the jacket/hair/tie combo on Uncle Van. The classic leisure suit was probably from Kleinhans, for whom Van was a spokesperson for many years.
Bob Koop brought his cool, professional delivery and incredible writing skill to Buffalo from Salt Lake City in 1981. He co-anchored with Carol Jasen on Channel 4 until he was stricken with the effects of Leukemia in 1992. After several brief comebacks, Koop died New Years Day 1995.
Wadi Sawabini was a working man’s reporter, and got to the soul of every story during his days at News 4.
AM Buffalo with Cindy Abbott and Brian Kahle. Are co-hosts these days allowed to be so close… Ever?. Note Kahle is sans the ‘stache.
A later shot of a mustachioed Kahle.
Ted Darling called Sabres Games on WGR-TV and WKBW-TV for the entire decade of the 1970s.
When Ted was on TV, Rick Jeanneret was calling the games on WGR Radio. For the 2004-05 season, Rick is once again calling the games on WGR Radio, as well as on the Empire Sports Network.
Television stations felt the need to tackle “difficult issues” with special reports in the 1970s. Here is an ad for one on Channel 4. The name of the show? VD.
Maria Genero, Rich Newberg, and Brian Blessing were the News 4 Weekend Staff for a good part of the 80s.
The NewsCenter 2 Team of Molly McCoy, Rich Kellman, Ed Kilgore, and Barry Lillis
The News Four Team of the late 70’s. Top row: Gary Gunther, Larry Hunter, Marie Rice, Allen Costantini. Middle Row: Kevin O’Connell, Carol Crissey (Jasen), John Beard, Van Miller. Bottom Row: Brian Blessing, Sandy White, Rich Newberg, Suzi Makai (Thanks to many friends on the net for the IDs, including Mike Cunningham, who took the pic in the first place!)
The Eyewitness News Team was always well promoted, and never afraid to take shots at themselves.. Take, for example, these “fan letters” to Irv Weinstein.
Breaker, breaker… Ken Philips was the main weather anchor on WBEN in the late 60’s and early 70’s.
Frank Benny was Channel 2’s weatherman in the 60’s and 70’s.
Clean Dan Neaverth with not so clean Don Rickles.
Van Miller, seen here in at the Aud, was not only Channel 4’s lead sports anchor, he also called NBA Braves games, NFL Bills games, NCAA Niagara Basketball games, and hosted Its Academic. After Chuck Healy retired, he also took over Beat the Champ.
As he was so busy, Van was rarely at his desk. Here is a rare shot of him there, no doubt making a call to Liberty Cab to make sure he gets the winning puck for the 11 o’clock Big Board Sports.
Don Polec, the King of the Kicker, was a Burger King manager when he sent a tape to Channel 7. Since leaving Buffalo, he’s been in Philadelphia TV.
After being a contributor to a local PM Magazine show in Connecticut, Mike Randall landed the job of The Eyewitness Jester in the mid 80’s. He’s now the main weather anchor at Channel 7.
No fluff here, Dunkirk Native Allen Costantini is a newsman’s news man, and was so at Channel 4 in the late 70’s.
This is Election 71 on WBEN-TV Channel 4. Grim faces, NPR-like delivery. Both John Corbett, second from right, and Steve Rowan, right, were from the old school. Also, Ray Finch, seated, left; and Larry Hunter, standing.
By 1977, WBEN-TV had been sold off by the Buffalo Evening News, and the call letters were changed to WIVB-TV, and the grim faces had turned to smiles.
John Beard was a part of the News 4 team from 1977 through 1981. He is now at Fox News in Los Angeles.
The constant in Buffalo TV News from the mid 60’s to the late 80’s was IRV, RICK & TOM.
Irv, c. 1980
Dave Thomas was the Host of Rocketship 7, Dialing for Dollars, and filled various news capacities over the years at Channel 7. Now going by the airname Dave Roberts, he’s been giving Philadelphians their weather for the past quarter century.
Commander Tom Jolls was the last of Channel 7’s “big three” to retire. He left WKBW-TV in 2001.
Rick Azar, Eyewitness Sports. Retired from WKBW-TV in 1989. He was the announcer who signed the station on the air in 1958.
Don Postles has spent time at all three stations in the Buffalo market, the first anchor/reporter to hold that honor. For the past 10 years, he has been at Channel 4.