Danny Neaverth’s 25th Anniversary at KB

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

It was one of the great events in radio history. As WKBW Radio was sold off by Capital Cities and was sliding into the abyss, the station threw one hell of a party to celebrate Dan Neaverth’s 25th anniversary at the station.

coverage in Radio & Records magazine... I think they meant Rod Roddy.
Coverage in Radio & Records magazine… I think they meant Rod Roddy.

In many ways, it was the last hurrah for KB, which would soon spend most of the next two decades mired in satellite “formats of the day” and little or no direction.

But for one winter weekend in 1986, the old KB was back.

kbreunionsheasmarquee

The weekend started with reception at Shea’s Buffalo on Friday, an oldies Saturday morning on KB, and then Saturday evening– a Free-For-All Round table discussion with many of the jocks, newsmen, and KB alums who were in town.

Then-KB News Director John Zach was instrumental in putting the reunion together. He shared a four-hour video that was shot at the reunion– the images on this page are from that video.

 

Buffalo Broadcasters 9th Annual Hall of Fame Inductions

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Originally appeared in Living Prime Time Magazine

Sep-Cover copyBelieve it or not, a job in broadcasting is not too much different that any other job. We all punch a clock, putting in our 8 or 9 hours a day… and hope we’ve accomplished something at the end of it all. Most of us talk into a camera or microphone without much recognition or many accolades; many never fully comprehending the impact that we’ve had on so many. That’s where the Buffalo Broadcasters come in.

The Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame event is not only a chance to mark for history the great achievements and pop cultural impact of some the Queen City’s favorite Radio and TV contributors… It’s also a chance to let the best of the best know how much they are appreciated by both their industry and the public.

I was once in the home of the late Jack Mahl, who spent 50 years on Buffalo Radio and Television. The only sign of that incredible run as a broadcaster was his proudly displayed Hall of Fame Award, an award the 6-foot-eight Mahl nearly broke down in tears accepting. One of this year’s honorees wrote, “Buffalo Bob Smith, Irv Weinstein, Joey Reynolds, and now me. Pinch me, I must be dreaming.” Not dreaming, only taking your rightful place among Buffalo’s Greatest.

After nearly a decade honoring nearly 60 people with induction into our Hall of Fame, we relish that we’re able to celebrate the history of Radio and Television, and at the same time, say Job Well Done to those who richly deserve it… Those who have told us the news that has impacted our lives, told us what the score was, told us whether to grab an umbrella, and even played a little music to make that long car trip to Auntie’s house a little more enjoyable.

Rich Kellman
Rich Kellman

For 31 years (and ticking), Rich Kellman has maintained the bar for not only journalistic excellence, but also for humanity, sensitivity, and empathy in reporting.

Kellman’s long list of professional awards includes Emmys, the Edward R. Murrow Award, and Associated Press Awards in Individual, Investigative, and Feature Reporting. He’s also met Popes and Presidents. While those professional milestones alone would likely make Rich a candidate worthy of the Hall of Fame, it’s his knack to connect with people, and his sheer joy in telling their stories that makes him that much more special.

Since 1974, Rich has been the constant Channel 2, and no matter the cast around him, has always left viewers with the feeling “Someone in that little box really cares for me.” And the best part about Rich Kellman is… That he really does.

The Buffalo Broadcast Pioneers was founded in 1995, and we still have a lot of catching up to do. The Golden Age Award is reserved for the pioneers in the truest sense of the word: Those who did it first, the people who had no pattern to follow, no lead blocker. These folks blazed the trail, and set an example for future generations to follow.

Billy & Reggie Keaton  2005 Golden Age Award
Billy & Reggie Keaton
2005 Golden Age Award

Like many of radio’s pioneers, Billy Keaton‘s foray into the medium came in the pre-war days when he adapted his Vaudeville routine into the highly popular “Stuff and Nonsense” program on WGR Radio. His success turned a temporary Buffalo assignment permanent. After the war, Billy’s wife Reggie joined the act, and the two hosted the “Mr. and Mrs. Show” for a decade.

While the Keatons’ voices were familiar throughout the ’40s and ’50s, their faces were soon popular as well. As a long time WGR Radio fan favorite, Billy was the natural choice to welcome the first viewers to WGR-TV in 1954. Billy and Reggie also hosted several Cable TV talk shows through the years, leaving a legacy of 55 years of entertaining Western New York. Billy Keaton passed away in 1976, Reggie 19 years later in 1995.

It takes more than just a pretty face or golden voice to put on a radio or television program, and with the Behind the Scenes Award, the BBP celebrates the folks who are the guts of any broadcast: The directors, producers, photographers, writers, engineers… All the often nameless, faceless people on “the other side of the glass.”

Al Lafler 2005 Behind the Scenes Award
Al Lafler
2005 Behind the Scenes Award

Several generations of Buffalonians grew up with the rock’n roll music and fun of WKBW Radio. From 1958 to 1988, one man had his hand on the rudder of the production sound that allowed KB to stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Al Lafler‘s interest in radio began when he served in World War II as a Navy sonar man. After a few years around the dial, Al knocked on the door at KB and was hired on the spot. He spent then next thirty years as an engineer and production man at the station.

It was partially his credo, “Good enough isn’t good enough,” that gave KB such a great sound over the years… But it was also his warmth and kindness that allowed him to enforce that credo without ruffling the sometimes delicate sensibilities of some of Buffalo’s biggest radio stars. It all made for a backbone that allowed the stations personalities shine even brighter.

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 BBP.

Bill McKibben  2005 Goodyear Award
Bill McKibben
2005 Goodyear Award

Bill McKibben spent a career as a trailblazer. As General Manager at WGR Radio in the mid 60’s, he helped develop the city’s first news/talk format, a quarter century before talk would revolutionize AM Radio. When he and some investors purchased WEBR Radio in the 70s, they put Buffalo’s First Oldies Format on the air… Again a decade before a full-time Oldies became widely accepted.

Between assignments at WGR and WEBR, McKibben modernized the WBEN properties… Both Radio and Channel 4. While the Buffalo Evening News had been a pioneer in putting the stations on the air, they hadn’t done much by the mid-60’s to compete in the market. McKibben brought in viewer and listener research, and helped turn around a franchise that was on the precipice of abyss. It was Bill’s idea, for example, to move Chuck Healy to the news desk from sports, which helped ratings soar.

Known as a tough management negotiator despite having grown up in a union home, most who worked with Bill agree that he always made every attempt to hire the best, and then let them do their job unfettered.

Buffalo Bob Smith began his broadcasting career in his hometown of Buffalo, but of course gained worldwide fame as the human friend of America’s favorite puppet, Howdy Doody. Despite his international celebrity, Bob never forgot his hometown, and even adopted it as a part of his name. Each year The Buffalo Broadcast Pioneers honor a broadcaster who has made his or her mark away from the Niagara Frontier, but is a Buffalonian at heart.

Paul Maguire  2005 Buffalo Bob Smith Award
Paul Maguire
2005 Buffalo Bob Smith Award

Since 1964, when he was traded to the Bills, Paul Maguire has been a Buffalonian. Since his retirement from football in 1970, Maguire has used his suburban Buffalo home as the home base for a sports broadcasting career that is incredible if only based on its 35 year longevity.

The fact that he never softens the edges, added to his feistiness and humor have always meant that his Color Commentary has certainly offers more “color” than any other Analyst in football. A “lunch bucket” player and a “lunch bucket” broadcaster has made “lunch bucket” Buffalo proud to call him “One of us” for over 40 years.

Jim Santella
Jim Santella

A smart, interesting friend on the radio. In that regard, Jim Santella is like many other great disc jockeys over the years… He’s someone who has transcended the microphone and speaker to make the listener feel like they were having a real conversation.

What continues to set Jim apart is his soft-spoken approach mixed with a strong, yet somehow universally appealing, sense of social awareness. As the voice and leader of Progressive radio in Buffalo for parts of three decades at stations like WYSL-FM, WPHD-FM, WGRQ-FM, WZIR-FM, and WUWU-FM, Santella lead the rebellion against playlist conformity and management meddling. It more than once forced him up or down the dial, but people followed.

Agree with him or not; like the music or not, a certain magnetism draws you in to a Santella broadcast. It was a style that helped shape, and continues to shape, the sound of FM radio in Buffalo.

We always welcome new members to the Buffalo Broadcasters. It’s our mission to preserve and promote Western New York’s rich TV and radio history, and to salute and bring attention to quality broadcasting of today. Membership is $30, and anyone with a passion for broadcasting can join as a member. It’s just as easy to join us in celebrating this year’s honorees.

Tickets to our Hall of Fame event are available to general public at $50 per person, and $40 for members. Send your ticket order or membership request with payment to:
The Buffalo Broadcast Pioneers
5672 Main Street
Williamsville, NY 14221

Steve Cichon is a Past President of the Buffalo Broadcasters, and currently serves on the group’s Board of Directors. He’s also a news anchor and reporter for WBEN Radio, and is webmaster at staffannouncer.com, a website celebrating broadcasting history.

Christmas in Buffalo 1954: Department Stores

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY- Christmas in 1954 Buffalo… As seen in the Pages of the Courier-Express!

Courier Express

As Buffalonians opened up the pages of the Courier-Express and The Evening News, they saw plenty of choices for Christmas shopping around WNY back in 1954.

Included on these pages are a cross-section of the places Buffalonians would have shopped for clothing, toys, food, cars, and appliances in December, 1954.

I’ve also included this page detailing what folks would have been watching on TV (if they had one!) and listening to on radio during that month.

Okay, this is cool…. but WHY?!?!

A few years ago, I was junk shopping at the Salvation Army store on Seneca Street in South Buffalo.

My love for weird records always takes me to that part of the store,
and that’s where I found the mother-lode– boxes and boxes of old 78rpm records, sitting just as they were packed in in 1955.

But it wasn’t the records that caught my eye…– It was the NEWSPAPER the records were wrapped in!

Dozens of sheets of Buffalo Evening News and Courier-Express, all from December 1954. Well, I took the papers, left the records, and this is the result.

am&as am&as-crowd

Adam, Meldrum & Anderson
Otherwise known as AM&A’s
Three locations for these beautiful gifts…Your Christmas Store since 1867!

Bergers
Mom… Petticoats are on sale at Bergers! Shop til 8 on Main Street.

Bergers
Try LL Bergers Downtown and Thruway Mall locations!

flint-&-kent

Flint & Kent
Since 1832. Mens’ Ware in Downtown Buffalo

Grants
Shop Grants at Main and Huron

Hengerers
Open Til 9 four nights this week… Look for the sweaters in “Luscious Orlon.” Hengerers
One of many things no longer in Downtown Buffalo.

hens&kellyHens & Kelly
I like the guy with the pipe! JN Adam’s..
Not to be confused with Adam, Meldrum & Anderson.
J.N. Adam was Buffalo Mayor 1906-1909.

Kleinhans
Take until May, 1955 to pay at Kleinhans Mens Store!

Kleinhans
Kleinhans Thrift Basement is the place for ties!

Kobackers
Downtown, Broadway, Riverside

Kolipinski’s
A Fire sale at the East Side Store… Just in time for Christmas!

Kresges
Kresges is included here….not because it was a local Buffalo store, but because it was soon to become K-Mart!

Sattler’s
Buy a Crosley TV… only $1.07 a week!

Sattlers
Shop 998 Broadway for Men’s Suits!

Sattlers
Sattlers Toyland… Across the Street from 998! Check out the toy train for sale.

Sears
All Three Locations open late!

Sears… and Wurlitzer!
This Sears Appliance ad lists three Locations:
Main at Jefferson, Broadway at Fillmore, and Seneca at Cazenovia.
Wurlizter lists 674 Main as its store location.

The Sample Shop
Hertel Avenues Department store is now the site of an old folks home..

Victors
Look at the 20 inch doll with “vinyl face” and “magic skin.”

Victors
24 piece Lionel Train sets…$39.95.

Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com
Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com

 

Christmas in Buffalo 1954: Everything Else

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY- Christmas in 1954 Buffalo… As seen in the Pages of the Courier-Express!

Courier Express

As Buffalonians opened up the pages of the Courier-Express and The Evening News, they saw plenty of choices for Christmas shopping around WNY back in 1954.

Included on these pages are a cross-section of the places Buffalonians would have shopped for clothing, toys, food, cars, and appliances in December, 1954.

I’ve also included this page detailing what folks would have been watching on TV (if they had one!) and listening to on radio during that month.

Okay, this is cool…. but WHY?!?!

A few years ago, I was junk shopping at the Salvation Army store on Seneca Street in South Buffalo.

My love for weird records always takes me to that part of the store,
and that’s where I found the mother-lode– boxes and boxes of old 78rpm records, sitting just as they were packed in in 1955.

But it wasn’t the records that caught my eye…– It was the NEWSPAPER the records were wrapped in!

Dozens of sheets of Buffalo Evening News and Courier-Express, all from December 1954. Well, I took the papers, left the records, and this is the result.

Allegheny Airlines
Who flies to West Virginia? M&T and Anchor Bar
Note the small ad for the Anchor Bar… A decade before they’d usurp the Beef on Weck as The Queen City’s Signature Dish!

T.A. Bowman
The place on Genesee Street to buy TVs!

Brown Motors
Buy Used Hudsons, Nashes, and Packards… They were located in the just recently condemned Gary Pontiac Building

Burnham’s
They’re selling off 1955 TVs

Burnham’s
Great prices on a color set

Century Clothes
The Fonz Jacket is only 18.95…… AAAAIIIIyyeeee!

The Courier-Express
The Paper itself….

Delgato’s
Another Big TV Sale

Erie County Savings Bank
Nice pic of Shelton Square office and clock

Glen Campbell Chevrolet
Nice pic of Store….

Great Arrow Rink
Could that have been the Bells/Jubillee (now an office building?)

Hal Casey
Filling South Buffalo with Used Cars

H-O Oats
Pan Toasted Oatmeal

H-O Oats
My favorite Grain Elevator, just off the 190…. Now in jeopardy with the building of a Seneca Casino…

H. Seeburgs
The factory still stands at Oak & Genesee… As you get on the 33.

Howards
Beautiful Radios for sale…

Iroqouis Gas
Thems some handsome appliances.

KleinWeil
Main Corner of Barker

Labatts
The Finest beer in the British Empire

Lackwanna Railroad
Travel in the modern, streamlined Lackwanna cars.

Langs Milk
Available at Hop-in-Shop locations.

Laube Cafeteria
Big Chicken Pot Pie 78 cents

Laube Cafeteria
Frankfurter and Potato Salad 45 cents

Laube Cafeteria
Generous Portion of Lobster Newburg 89 cents.

One More Laube ad
Irish Stew

Lee’s Drug Stores
All four plazas still stand 50 years later!

Liberty Shoes
Cheap shoes for a generation

Maisels
Suggests a Philco Radio for Christmas… Buy from his Broadway store.

Morrisons
Two Locations

Newmans
Gifts on Jefferson

NFT
Great 50’s traffic jam art.

NFT
Take the bus to the Aud for the Little Three Hoops…

NFT
Don’t forget your charge plate when you head Downtown for Shopping!

Polish Traditions of Christmas
an interesting read

Park Lane
Xmas Dinner at the Park Lane. Dinner starts at $3… Soft Drinks now start at $4.

Paul’s Pies
Baked fresh hourly

Phoenix Beer
Ask for it.

From the Picture Page
Turning out new 1955 car parts at the old Pierce Arrow Factory.

Goldins & Pies Goldins TWO BIG STORES… Pies for Fine Furniture… Delaware at Sheridan.

Sciandras
The Toyland at Bailey near Genesee.

Slades
Another Buffalo Product.

The South Park Bridge opens!
Republic Steel was torn down 25 years ago…. National Analine was Allied Chemical, now its Honeywell. The bridge is now closed for repairs.

Stranksky’s
Selling Appliances on Broadway for 60 Years.

Stephens Ford
Buy used from $395.

Sterling-Amherst Milk
Sam the Milkman is dressed for the season.

Thurway Plaza
Penney’s is Open at the Thruway Plaza…

Tinney
’53 Cadillacs from $2995

Tunmore Olds
They were an Olds dealer until the line ceased prodcution a few years back.

Western Savings Bank
Free Parking!

Winiewicz
Nice Gifts on Broadway

Wurlitzer
Not only Organs, but radios on Main Street.

Zoltes
Lombard opposite the Broadway Market.

Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com
Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com

 

Christmas in Buffalo 1954: Grocery Stores

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY- Christmas in 1954 Buffalo… As seen in the Pages of the Courier-Express!

Courier Express

As Buffalonians opened up the pages of the Courier-Express and The Evening News, they saw plenty of choices for Christmas shopping around WNY back in 1954.

Included on these pages are a cross-section of the places Buffalonians would have shopped for clothing, toys, food, cars, and appliances in December, 1954.

I’ve also included this page detailing what folks would have been watching on TV (if they had one!) and listening to on radio during that month.

Okay, this is cool…. but WHY?!?!

A few years ago, I was junk shopping at the Salvation Army store on Seneca Street in South Buffalo.

My love for weird records always takes me to that part of the store,
and that’s where I found the mother-lode– boxes and boxes of old 78rpm records, sitting just as they were packed in in 1955.

But it wasn’t the records that caught my eye…– It was the NEWSPAPER the records were wrapped in!

Dozens of sheets of Buffalo Evening News and Courier-Express, all from December 1954. Well, I took the papers, left the records, and this is the result.

Adrian’s Meats Many of the meats offered here I’ve never eaten… And might only in the future on accident.
Bells Check out the “Billy Bell” Mascot
Bells 9 Western New York Locations… Check out where Bells used to be in your neighborhood.
Bells More from Bells… They have Howdy Doody haucking toothpaste.
BesTaste 8 locations around WNY… and “Say Merry Christmas to your dog…”
Bestway Stores… All 7 stores Open Til 9
Culms Market, Suffolk Street. Old Fashioned wieners on sale… 55 cents a pound.
Loblaws There was one on the corner of Seneca and Ryan at one point…
Mohican Markets The one at Seneca and Buffum was most recently a Rite Aid….it is the orginal building though. There used to be a Fotomat in the parking lot.
Noel’s Foods At Delaware and Delavan, the Noels building was torn down… A “box” drug store now stands there.
Nuway The spitting image of post-war Suburbia!
Nuway Bologna “by the piece.”(?!?!)
Orchard Park Juice:  Another local brand no longer available.
Queen-o! The Generic Pop of Buffalo for a generation.
Ralph’s Food Market on Genesee St. That’s a great cigar!
More From Ralph’s!
Red & White… More great 50s clip art from Red and Red Food Stores.
Sattlers Market… Apparently the Scotsman has the best stew meat.
Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com
Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com

Christmas in Buffalo 1954: Radio & TV

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY- Christmas in 1954 Buffalo… As seen in the Pages of the Courier-Express!

Courier Express

As Buffalonians opened up the pages of the Courier-Express and The Evening News, they saw plenty of choices for Christmas shopping around WNY back in 1954.

Included on these pages are a cross-section of the places Buffalonians would have shopped for clothing, toys, food, cars, and appliances in December, 1954.

I’ve also included this page detailing what folks would have been watching on TV (if they had one!) and listening to on radio during that month.

Okay, this is cool…. but WHY?!?!

A few years ago, I was junk shopping at the Salvation Army store on Seneca Street in South Buffalo.

My love for weird records always takes me to that part of the store,
and that’s where I found the mother-lode– boxes and boxes of old 78rpm records, sitting just as they were packed in in 1955.

But it wasn’t the records that caught my eye…– It was the NEWSPAPER the records were wrapped in!

Dozens of sheets of Buffalo Evening News and Courier-Express, all from December 1954. Well, I took the papers, left the records, and this is the result.

Bob Wells
Bob Wells presents The Hi-Teen Club on WEBR
ed-tucholka-polish-village-
Ed Tucholka. Here “Touch” celebrates the Polish Village program on WEBR., with Polish Village owners Mr. & Mrs. John Raczynski.
ed-tucholka-webr
Ed Tucholka plays your favorite Music up until Buffalo Bisons Hockey!
Bill Mazer, Jack Eno, and Groucho Marx A Page with ads for Canisius Play by Play on WGR Radio, You Bet Your Life on WGR-TV, and Jack Eno and Bob Wells on WEBR.
Bill Mazer, Jack Eno, and Groucho Marx
A Page with ads for Canisius Play by Play on WGR Radio, You Bet Your Life on WGR-TV, and Jack Eno and Bob Wells on WEBR.
Simon Pure Presents... on WBEN-TV and WGR-TV
Simon Pure Presents… on WBEN-TV and WGR-TV

 

Tune-o. Its like bingo... Only you play over WGR-TV!
Tune-o. Its like bingo… Only you play over WGR-TV!
WBEN AM-FM-TV Look for Lanza tonight on WBEN...
WBEN AM-FM-TV. Look for Lanza tonight on WBEN…
Ralph Hubbell and Lucy "Hubb" chats Hoops on WBEN Radio... And Lucy and Desi star on Channel 4.
Ralph Hubbell and Lucy. “Hubb” chats Hoops on WBEN Radio… and Lucy and Desi star on Channel 4.

 

Tune Your Antenna A Diagram on how best to get WBEN-TV on your set.
Tune Your Antenna
A Diagram on how best to get WBEN-TV on your set.

 

WEBR-Gene-Kelly
Gene Kelly WEBR. Gene hosts Childrens Hour… Also see the rest of the day’s Schedule.

 

webr-tap-taplin,-bernie-sad
Bernie Sadler and Tap Taplin. WEBR is LIVE at the Town Casino….
wgr-55-list
An amazing roster of talent on WGR for 1955.
wgr-tv-frank-dill
Frank Dill’s Sportscorner at 5:45
bells-howdy-doody
Howdy Doody and his pal Buffalo Bob.,..
wgr-tv-basketball
Look at the laces on the basketball! NBA: Syracuse Nats vs Boston Celtics Only on Channel 2!
Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com
Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com

 

WBEN: 75 Years in Sound!

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

UPDATED: February 28, 2005

More information on the audio snippets follow…

  • Lou Douglas News May 1973.
  • Bill Masters commercial, Jimmy Thompson, Vic Baker reporting.
  • Weatherfax Jingle. TM Productions, 1979
  • Tim Wenger on Ed Little’s Retirement, 1991.
  • Mark Leitner & Susan Rose News promo early 90s
  • Promo Bed Jingle. TM Productions, 1979
  • 1964 AFL Championship Game, Van Miller & Ralph Hubbell
  • Ed Tucholka closes out a show. WBEN-FM 1974
  • Early 80’s Sales Presentation for Bills Football. Van Miller, John Murphy, Jimmy Griffin, Ed Rutkowski
  • A Sabres Presentation from the same era. Ted Darling, Rick Jeanneret
  • Three segments of the Jeff Kaye Show from the Blizzard of ’77
    • Lou Douglas, news January 28, 1977
    • Jeff gets angry that an event is NOT cancelled.
    • Lou Douglas, news January 28, 1977
  • Two unidentified WBEN Announcers close out a Childrens Choir Show.1943
  • Elgin Watch 2 Hours of Stars Show Unidentified WBEN announcer gives a station break. 1943
  • Bob Wood and Dave May open the Larry King Show 1980
  • Former WBEN Staff Announcer Lou Adler with memories from the 60th anniversary of the station 1990
  • Tom Jolls remembers his days at WBEN in the mid-50’s. 1990
  • Audio from a WBEN-TV broadcast announcing the death of WBEN President Mrs. Edward Butler. Alan Costantini, Chuck Healy, Mark Estren August 3, 1974
  • Raw production from promos for the Fred Smerlas & Jim Haslett Show.
Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com
Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com

 

WBEN: 75 years of photos

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

UPDATED: February 21, 2005

Thanks to all those who have sent in pictures…
The latest submissions are at the top. We still need YOUR pictures!
Do you have a photo or two? E-mail it to me… or get me the picture
and I’ll scan it and get the original back to you… and I’ll post it here to share with everyone!

Thanks to those who’ve shared their photos so far:
Tom Langmyer, Tony Caligiuri, Candy Acierno, Tim Wenger, Pete Weber, Tom Kelly

 

Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com
Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com

WBEN Alumni: 75 Years of Stories

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

UPDATED: February 21, 2005
A bunch of folks have sent in their memories , bios, and anecdotes to be included here. For questions or submissions… Drop me an E-mail!

Name: Steve Cichon

Years at WBEN: 1993-98, 2003-present

Position(s) Held:
Board Op
Producer
News Anchor

I was 15 when I started as an intern at WBEN, and was working full time hours by the time I was a senior in high school. I remember my first tour of duty at BEN like most people remember high school.

I was the youngest guy in there, by nearly a decade. One of my best friends was the oldest guy there… By probably two decades. While I admit I probably wouldn’t want to work with Ed Little in a busy newsroom, I’m grateful for the time spent with him as a board op. After each newscast, We’d walk down to the basement on Elmwood for a cup of coffee, and Ed would never let me buy.(You can buy when we have STEAK!, he’d say.)

The thing I’d like people to remember about Ed is this.. I went out to lunch with Ed pretty regularly until he died, and I don’t think I ever heard him say a bad thing about anyone. EVER. I knew him for years before I knew he flew bombing runs over Japan in WWII. He put his head down, and got the job done… without any of the Bull hockey that usually gets in the way in this business. Where’ve I been?

After spending a few years and Channel 4, and producing and programming at WNSA, I’m back at WBEN as a news anchor. I also married fellow WBEN alum Monica Huxley in 2001.

Bob Wood 3/9/05

Memories abound:

The log I inherited, with no spotsets at all. “Just do what you feel like doing when you feel like it.” (I changed that pretty quickly.) Hearing Burl Ives into Jefferson Starship into Lisa Minnelli, on my first visit. (I fixed THAT too.) Being one of the first in the country to hire Larry King overnight (via syndication.) Genius Dave May’s first snow closing computer in the USA. Followed by our own music scheduling computer – for WBEN! Trying to win over Clint and failing repeatedly. “Fixing Rock 102 in 30 minutes: “Who changes the tapes – or should I say, doesn’t – “the AM jocks” – ” not any longer, they don’t!”

I remember Tom Langmeyer’s dad calling me and saying whatever you did to my son you turned him into a man this summer. Maybe it was giving Tom responsibility, which he clearly deserved, mastered, and look how he’s thrived! (They say I always had an ear/eye for talent.) Maybe it was a girlfriend.

Jeff Kaye’s pregame show and its AWESOME produced replay on the week before. Speaking with John Facenda (then the voice of the NFL) to arrange promos – turned out he lived only a half mile from where I grew up and was GOD to me. SO sweet, too.

Stan Barron doing a game with a broken leg. Seeing him toward the end in the hospital. I brought him Larry Levite’s stogie just so he’d feel “at home.” Stan would sometimes sit in the studio watching TV, with an earplug UNDER his headphones, tuned to something else.

Kevin O’Connell reporting from the copter with me sitting alongside at Run For Your Life one Sunday morning – there was virtually nothing to see except a few runners below. He does an amazing three minutes. When finished I ask, “How did you do that?” He says, “That’s what I do.”

Howard Lapides doing The Bills postgame. HUGELY talented, and with John The Pearl Demerle they had a powerful interactive show that played listeners like puppets to express the real heart and soul of the game that just ended.

Linda Pellegrino, after her TV began, “the secret – it’s not hard. If you make it hard it is.”

Larry Levite, a mensch. A real caring man. A man-boy. He gave me as much autonomy as you could have. He threw the biggest parties, rented as many hotel rooms as needed so everyone would not drive under the influence. He cared about all his people. He’d say, “I want you to give away Ten Thousand dollars tomorrow.” He’d ask, “why do we play music?” He’d provoke, coddle, inspire, find new boundaries and always try for better and more. Once, when we had a bad episode with a major out of control talent in his office (really bad, and I thought I was going to be beaten with a wielded baseball bat, literally) after the storm passed, just sat with him in his office, trying to recover, and unexpectedly I found myself breaking out crying – I must have had an adrenaline thing happen – I was so embarrassed and couldn’t stop. Finally Larry asks what should we do, and I say, if he’s still here let’s go moon him, WHICH WE DID, from the hall. It was our way of defusing the situation. For us and the temporary nut case.

I saw Rick Jenrette (spelling?) call a game from a black and white 9 inch monitor of the TV broadcast when he missed a flight due to snow. Didn’t miss a call.

I saw Lacy go toe to toe with Stan Roberts and Danny Neaverth at an Art Museum award show and equal or better their best. I hired him from Erie and I still remember sitting by a motel pool listening to him on a trip to uncover new talent. Lacy’s REAL good… smooth and naturally funny.

I wrote a memo back then that everyone should treasure these, as they would become the “Good Old Days” of their career, and I think for many, they were.

We had awesome news and services, a full slate of sports, major, major talent, a great guy to work for, incredible facilities… great pride. I somehow knew this would be the high mark in so many ways.

I still have my souvenir goalpost section from The Day The Dolphins Drowned.

And Fred, aka ROCK 102, just sat and made money. A monster in two countries… a signal to die for. My refuge for music. A nail in the coffin for the once great WKBW.

To anyone from the day (my day) 1978 -1984… it was an honor to work with you.

My best,

Bob Wood

PD, WBEN/ROCK 102

Pete Weber 2/05

Years at WBEN: 1983 – 88

E-mail: pete@peteweber.com

Position(s) Held:

Fill-in for Stan Barron (83-84) on Free Form Sports; Buffalo Bills Game Analyst (1983); Bills Pre/Post-Game Host (1984-88); Buffalo Bison PBP (1985-88); One-on-One Sports fill-in (1985-88)

A Favorite WBEN Story or two:
1) The December Monday night Mark Hamrick was leisurely walking down the hall, having just returned from the basement, munching on chips. This was at 8:58 pm. John Demerle and I asked him: are you ready for your 9 o’clock newscast? He replied: “What happened to Monday Night Football?” We told him — “That ended last week!”

The look of horror on his face, the exclamation of “Holy Shit!” and his scramble to the newsroom, pulling wire copy and carts to the news booth…and his flawless newscast (with the exception of the 8 o’clock temperature he used) were an incredible performance under pressure.

2) The night in 1986, I’m in Des Moines with the Bisons at Sec Taylor Stadium with the threatening Midwestern Weather. My lone connection to the outside world was John Demerle. All of a sudden, the temperature drops and I think I see the Wicked Witch of the West pedalling a bicycle across the sky. WBEN listeners hear the Iowa Cubs’ official scorer banging his fist on the storm door of the visiting broadcast booth: “Damnit, Pete, get off the roof, here it comes!” I quickly told the listeners: “This captain is not going down with the ship,” and disconnected. Later, from the safety of a cinderblock building, I called in to report on everyone’s safety.

What you’ve been up to since WBEN… Sports Director, WGR (1988 – 93); Buffalo Bills Game Analyst (1990); Bills Pre/Post Host (1991-93); Buffalo Bison PBP (1989 – 95); Buffalo Sabres PBP (1995 – 97); Empire Sports Network (1990 – 98); Nashville Predators PBP (1998 – Present)

Helen Tederous 2/05

I only worked for BEN for a little over a year from the spring/summer of ‘92 to the late summer of ’93… it was really fun.

Kevin O’Connell 2/05

Steve: I was there in the late 70s/early 80s……We had the opportunity to interview the Beach Boys, Manilow,Dick Clark,etc……I was doing the mid-day Show 12:30-3pm right after Newsday Show…then I would do the evening weather on Channel 4 and the Disco Step by Step Show on the weekends….pretty full day and week…I think that’s why I was so skinny…..left for LA in ’82…and BEN was my last home before that….Kevin

Bill McKibben 2/05

I joined the BEN stations in June of 1965 as “Assistant to the
President” (AHK). My original deal to take over for Bob Thompson
when he retired (Bob’s idea) was derailed by my association with
Kirk, so I moved over to run just radio after two years of running
both under Bob’s wing.

I have also written separate pieces on some of the people I worked
with including an expanded piece on AHK. I am still working on Bob
Thompson who was the real giant at the stations. He did more by far
to shape the WBEN stations than any other individual, and for my
money is the most influential individual in Buffalo Broadcast History.

I will share some pictures with you when I get a moment. I am
grateful that I am up to my ears in meaningful work half way through
my 76th year. My wife says I’ve cut down to half days, 12 hours is
enough.

Are there any plans to celebrate the 75th at this point? I have
always said the station was a gift for my first birthday, I was born in
1929, the station as you know in 1930.

Regards, Bill

Monica Wilson 2/05

First go ‘round was 88-90, i believe -did mornings with Mark Leitner the last year….
started here as News Director July 2001

Kathleen Donovan 2/05

I worked at WBEN as a part-time weekend anchor from 1990 to 1995 and then full-time anchor/reporter from 1995-2000.

I am currently a public relations coordinator for CUTCO Cutlery in Olean, NY.

I have many fond memories of working at WBEN. One that I will always remember is when I signed off from a story saying, “live from the newsroom, Brian Meyer, Newstalk 930 WBEN.” What had happened is I was doing the story live from the newsroom and had just been talking to Brian just before I went on. Why I called myself “Brian Meyer” I’ll never know…what was I thinking? Brian and I still laugh over that one today.

Tom Kelly 2/05

Hello Steve: Thanks for your e-mail. I loved working at WBEN. I was only there for four years… maybe a bit longer. To be sure a very small part of WBEN’s grand history. I was only 23 when I went to work at BEN. What a learning experience! I took over the late midday spot when Kevin O’Connell went to KNBC. Such a pleasure to work with Ed Little, Dave May, Lacy and Mindy. What a great crew. I’ve been at WBIG in Washington DC since ’93. OK – I’m babbling. I’ve only time to add some pictures to your archive… I will do so under separate cover – since the server is lethargic tonight. Sorry for cluttering your mailbox…

Tom also sent along several pics…. They’re on the  picture page.

Mark Hamrick 2/05

My former colleague Pete Weber alerted me to your web site. Congratulations for having done a tremendous job compiling so much material. In this photo, I’m pictured alongside Dave May. I worked at ‘BEN for about 18 months, during 1985 and ’86. I had worked for several years at WEBR Newsradio 1970 before that. My job at ‘BEN was afternoon traffic copter and news with Murph on One on One sports. It was a great place to work, and I keep in touch with Murph, Pete W. as well as Kevin Keenan.

I left to work for AP Radio in Dallas, where I was for one year, and then transferred to the Washington operation, where I’ve been since. I married the former Jeanne Golanka, who worked weekends at ‘BEN, her full time job back then was PR for the Sabres.

I also do a lot of volunteer work for the National Press Club, where I’m Vice Chair of the Board of Governors.

Thanks for helping to relive some pleasant memories.

Cherie Messore 2/05

Hi Steve – Tom Kelly forwarded your email to me. I’m a WBEN alum. I was assistant to the program director from 1983-1985. I have photos I can send you, too!

Please keep me informed about any parties of reunions.

Also, there’s a photo on your site of Kaye Lapping and Eileen Tobias and a third woman. The mystery woman worked in traffic or billing and her name is Ona and I can’t remember her last name. Candy Acierno and Denise Burt (if they still work at WBEN) would remember her.

Cherie Messore

Marketing Manager

Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

Jennifer L. Randazzo 2/05

Years at WBEN: 6 1/2

Positions Held: Intern, Producer, Local Sales Assistant, Call Screener

Email: JenniferRandazzo@peoplepc.com

Favorite WBEN story: WIll get back to you on that

SInce WBEN: I continue to work as National Sales Assistant/Assistant Paid Programming COordinator at Sinclair (WB49)

Joe Sviatko 2/05

When I left WBEN I took a job at Dean Witter as I attempted to change careers. From Dean Witter I took a job at a bank in Baltimore.. to where we moved in January 2000. Left the bank in April 2001 and went to work as a PIO for a State agency here in Maryland. Left the State in April 2003 for a PIO job with Baltimore’s State’s Attorney (in NY you call them District Attorney.) I have been a spokesman here in Baltimore ever since for the State’s Attorney’s Office.

An aside.. I have been OUT of radio now for the same amount of time I was IN radio.. SEVEN years. Amazing… Ellen and I are still happily married and we have three children: Joseph IV (Joey) age 3, Matthew age 2, Zachary age 3 months.

More from Joe 3/9/05:

Here are two favorite stories.. At one of the February “Christmas” parties I walked into the Men’s room

and Van Miller was standing in the middle of the bathroom with his pants around his knees making sure

his shirt was tucked in correctly, he told me. Sure he would not remember, if you know what I mean. That same night he visibly “checked out” Ellen with an exaggerated up and down motion of his head. That was the night Ellen became a WOMAN. 🙂

Ellen came to the station one night and met Mike Mroziak for the first time.. he proceeded to tell this complete stranger all his love life woes. 🙂

I loved listening to Mark Leitner make the cop calls in the morning.. typical conversation.. “Good morning Trooper, Mark Leitner, WBEN Radio News. Anything exctiting happen overnight. No? So, how are you this morning? How is Marge? And your kids? You don’t say?? First grade? My, they grow up quick. Have you seen Fred lately? I saw him a month or two ago……….” Another favorite.. the Mark Leitner cold season wrap with the cold open” “A-choo. This is Mark Leitner…..” And of course, that :30 wrap would have about 15 actualities in it…..

MaryJane Lynch-Wieleba 2/05

WBEN 1986-still here (I think I’m a lifer)
traffic director for WBEN/WGR/WWKB
email mjwieleba@aol.com
There have too many stories over the years to pick a favorite. So many
people have come and gone and so many are still here. Remember Bill
Lacy’s annual dropping of the pants at the holiday parties. The
impromtu shrimp and champagne parties because we had great books. Or
the parties to drown our sorrows because we didn’t. I grew up here,
got married, had my kids, made friends for life. WBEN is more than a
station its a family.

MJ

Tom Langmyer 2/05
Years at WBEN: 1978-1979
Position(s) Held: Production assistant, board op, some on-air work.
E-mail: telangmyer@cbs.com

A Favorite WBEN Story/Experience: You have it!

What you’ve been up to since WBEN: Left WBEN in 1979 for college. After school, worked at WGR as airborne traffic reporter & PD, also on-air at WTAE Pittburgh. Also worked at WNEW New York, WSYR/WYYY Syracuse (Operations Director). Have been at KMOX St. Louis since 1992. Currently VP/GM of KMOX St. Louis & VP-News/Talk Stations Group, Infinity Broadcasting.

An Update from Tom 3/9/05:

I guess you can change the “what I’m doing now” thing for me as I’m now the VP/General Manager at WGN Radio in Chicago.

More from Tom:

Steve—Thank you very much for the email making me aware of your great site, celebrating the history of WBEN! It’s really great! I’ll will dig up a photo as well and have some other photos you might not have that I will email to you. (Tom sent a BUNCH on photos… Theyre on the photos page.)

WBEN was the first Radio/TV I had ever visited. I was 7-years old. My dad and I were involved in the YMCA’s “Indian Guide” program and we toured the “WBEN Stations” on Elmwood Avenue. I saw Virgil Booth, Van Miller, Ken Phillips, John Corbett, Steven Rowan. They were STARS! I saw the studio that housed Clint Buehlman’s “Arthur Mometer,” the piano and a xylophone on which Buehlman would play the NFT bus theme. And on the wall of that studio, there it was!! “Traffic Central!!” Really just a map on the wall. No matter to me, it was great! I was in awe, hooked on radio and I developed a passion for the kind of radio station WBEN was. I liked WKBW, WGR, WYSL, CHUM, CFTR, WLS and WABC. At the same time, CFRB, KMOX, WGN, WJR and WBEN represented something I really appreciated. Nearly 35 years after that tour, a love for radio, which was born at WBEN, still burns. I still hold WBEN in very high esteem. Buffalo is my hometown, and I am very proud to say I worked there (and also proud to have worked at WGR after college).

I started at WBEN (the first station to actually PAY me) in 1978, when I was 17. At first, it was an internship under Bob Wood that turned into a board-op job just a couple of weeks later. I worked evenings, overnights, weekends and babysat Rock 102’s “Fred” as well. Within a month, I was allowed to do basic things on WBEN’s air, such as weather, time, announcements, promos, etc. Bob Wood would critique my tapes weekly. It was a generous thing. He was busy with people who were a lot more important than me. I have never forgotten it.

It was a very interesting time to be at WBEN (during a recovery from upheaval). Before the News sold the station in the late 70s, they took the idea of “younging up” the station too far, too fast. The station dumped long-time, loved personalities and replaced them with “hipper” personalities – Jay Fredericks, Chris Tyler, etc. I will never forget hearing the disc-jockeyish back sell….. “From the album Aja, that’s Peg from Steely Dan on Ninety-Three BEEE–EEEEE–ENNNNN!!” The approach reminded me of a teenage kid taking his father to the mall and outfitting him at “Chess King” so he could have the coolest dad on the block. It just doesn’t work. It just made things worse. Yes, Clint Buehlman was ready for retirement at that time (the stress of the Blizzard of `77 didn’t help things for him), but he was also a loved, legendary part of life in Western New York. He wasn’t happy about “being forced out” and it was no secret to the listeners. Even as a 15-year old kid, I knew this was wrong.

When Larry Levite and his group bought the station, Levite and his team did a superb job at giving Buffalo back the WBEN they expected and more, without taking it back to something that was no longer relevant. He brought back Stan Barron and others. Bob Wood rebuilt the station through a VERY creative approach to content, production and imaging and he added talent to fit the need to appeal to younger demos, while respecting the station’s rich heritage. The Bills returned to WBEN from WKBW and Van Miller was back behind the mike. Levite put up a helicopter for the first time for WBEN (WGR and WEBR had previously been the stations with helicopter traffic). Dave May and Debbie Stamp took to the sky. The station offered the respect due to Clint Buehlman and many listeners by bringing him back to host Sunday mornings on WBEN, while Jeff Kaye was absolutely the right guy for morning drive Monday-Friday! The station was everywhere. There was a beautiful new remote studio for the station and WBEN was on a roll!

I worked many hours at WBEN and pulled long weekend shifts. I often worked from Saturday afternoon at 2pm, straight though until Sunday morning at 9:30. The work consisted of recording public affairs shows, changing the FM automation tapes, doing production and working for Stan Barron on his show (I remember all those forms from Buffalo Raceway!). Then at midnight, I jumped behind the board for the overnight and morning programming before leaving at 9:30 am the next day. I then turned over the controls to Tom Whelan (who was Clint Buehlman’s longtime “operator”).

One Sunday morning at 6:30, I finally nodded off in “AMMCR” during the recorded “City Mission” program. There was dead-air for 2 minutes after the tape ran out before I was awakened by a panicked newsman, Rick Pfieffer. I felt terribly embarrassed about it. It was a 19½ hour shift yet I still felt like I really let the station down!

I was just a kid when I worked at WBEN and a few people there who were just a few years older than me (also trying to work their way up), didn’t seem to appreciate having a “kid” work there. At the same time, the “established” people were wonderful and taught me a lot! Bob Wood, Jim McLaughlin, Jack Mindy, Tom Whelan, Mike Whelan, Pam Legge, Kevin Gordon, Lou Douglas, Roger Christian, Tom Van Nortwick, Wendy Stahlka, Stan Barron, Phil Chordas, Linda Pellegrino, Mike Binis, Dave May, Dave Dibic, Bob Russo, Kay Lapping, Eileen Tobias, Bob Smith and Mark Leitner were just a few of the great people I learned from. There were many others too!

Larry Levite, the President/GM, was incredibly gracious. He even knew who I was, and made it a point to make me feel comfortable. It was apparent that he respected his managers and the staff. He wasn’t pretentious or wrapped in symbols of power. In fact, I remember going to the station’s holiday party in 1978 at Mulligan’s on Hertel Avenue. I was a kid not old enough to drink (even when the drinking age was 18). People drank A LOT in the 70’s and I could have felt really left out, but Larry Levite, Dave May, the other engineers, Bob Russo and others made me feel welcome and part of the team.

I left Buffalo in 1986. I live in St. Louis with my wife and two children, yet I still buy all of my suits at Riverside Men’s Shop. I do it because my dad and Stan Barron did. In fact, Mr. Barron’s picture still hangs on the wall at Riverside. That is how deep roots go between Buffalonians and WBEN.

Today, WBEN has great personalities and an excellent news department. John Zach, Susan Rose, Tom Bauerle and Sandy Beach are “Buffalo.” That’s why WBEN remains so successful.

Happy 75th Anniversary to WBEN!

Steve-Thanks for letting me ramble and remember my radio roots! If you want to use any or all of the above in any way, please feel free to do so. Comes from the heart. I’ll send some pics to you! Good Luck Steve….. Let’s stay in touch. This made my day!

Ed Tucholka 2/05

Please don’t overlook my Dad……..

He was Ed Tucholka, WEBR, WHLD and WBEN.

He was known variously as Uncle Ed, “Tuch”, First Voice of the Niagara Frontier and Ed Tucholka.

Ed retired in September 1995 at 80 years old, took ill in December and died the first week of January 1996. Broadcasting was his life, and when it ended…

He played radio broadcaster as a young boy, started as a boy chorister, first job was at a local department store (“Sattlers – 998 Broadway”) announcing specials.

Ed Landed a DJ job in the late 1930s at WEBR radio: Did a piece called the “Noon Day Review”, where he highlighted a local GI every day at noon (re: where he was and what he was doing for the war effort).

Late 1940s and early 1950s he was “Uncle Ed” of Uncle Ed’s Children’s hour.

He interviewed many celebs, but was never in awe of any of them; taught radio broadcasting through Junior Achievement and the YMCA; interacted with many local talents (ie: Irv Weinstein). He lived for his listeners; declined a nomination to the Buffalo Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame (he said “let the young fellas have that”). He was a true radio pioneer.

Timothy P. Tucholka

Thanks to Jack MINDY for a few photo IDs.

Eileen Tobias 2/05

Hi Steve;
Candy Acierno sent me the web page etc., of WBEN people over the years. What a wonderful idea and how great it looks.

I started at WBEN in 1973 and retired at Entercom in June, 2002. When Larry Levite bought the station in 1978 I became his Ex. Assistant for 18 years until he sold in 1996. Stayed on a few years in the sales office at 2077 Elmwood, worked 1 yr. at the Hyatt when stations merged with WGR, etc. and was at Entercom in Amherst for about 2-1/2 yrs. until 2002.

Incidentally I now work p/t at CH. 4 in the receptionist position (can’t get media out of me!!).

Do hope Brian has the get-together again this year as Ron (my husband) and I would like to attend, he has known many of these people over the years.

Incidentally, under the Alumni photos the one of me and Kaye Lapping (who passed away last February, a wonderful lady) the other gal in the photo is Oda Hanners who was Traffic Manager for many years, and now lives in Ft. Myers. Florida. Hope this helps

Again, great you did this. Yes, I also think kindly of Ed Little a real gentleman.

Hope to see you soon,

Eileen Tobias

Jim Kelley 2/05

Wow what a fabulous site.

I don’t have any pics (that I can find anyway), but I have a
slew of memories working with John Murphy (who gave me a chance at radio
with Hockey Night in Buffalo), Howard and Chris and even Dave Kerner.

Meeting Stan Baron and working in the same arenas with Van Miller was a big
deal to a kid from South Buffalo as I progressed through the Buffalo Sports
scene. Any success I’ve ever had in broadcasting is a result of those early
days at WBEN with John Demerle and you behind the glass and Murph and his successors. WBEN is where people gave me a chance. It was a time of innocence and fun and I loved it every bit as much as writing.

Jim Kelley

Eileen Buckey 2/05

I worked at WBEN from 1989-1991 as a reporter/anchor. Best memory  —  Ed
Little coming in around 3pm for his shift, taking off his suit jacket like
“Mr. Rogers”, and putting on his baby blue cardigan sweater, then he would
gather wire copy and head over to the national desk to write his leads and
cart up CBS drive-time packages!!
See you in the field!

Eileen Buckley,
Reporter/Producer WBFO

Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com
Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com

 

Buffalo in the 70’s: Buffalo Anchorman

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

“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.1967.


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.


 


Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com
Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com