The essence of Buffalo Stories is defining and celebrating the people, places, and things that make Buffalo… Buffalo.
That’s Buffalo’s pop culture heritage-– and that’s what you’ll find as you scroll through these stories or search the collected works of one of WNY’s most prolific pop culture historians of the last decade for something specific…
I started trying to describe Shane to a co-worker the other day…. But there’s no way to describe the Cosmic Cowboy…. Buffalo’s Shane Brother Shane.
From the Day he arrived in Buffalo in 1974 for WKBW’s Great American Talent Search wearing pants with SHANE written in studs up and down the legs, to the day he ran for Common Council in Buffalo, Shane always kept the Queen City on its ear. Please share your Shane memories below… and enjoy some audio clips from Shane’s stellar Buffalo Radio career…
Listen to more Shane:
Shane Brother Shane rocks Freedom City USA!
The scary sounds of Halloween on WKBW: 5 hours worth of K-Big talent on display
BUFFALO, NY – The great Tom Shannon, South Buffalo’s breaker of hearts and as smooth a disc jockey as Buffalo, Detroit, Denver, LA, or anywhere else has ever known…
Starting at tiny little WXRA Radio in Kenmore while still at Bishop Timon High School, Tom’s last on air gig in Buffalo brought him to WHTT for about a decade starting in the mid 90s.
He also spent some time at WGR in the early 60s, but is best known in Buffalo for his time at WKBW Radio.
Tom’s first stint at KB was from 1958-62, and as this aircheck from during his second 1983-86 stint at KB explains, his theme song was as famous as he was.
Tommy plays the old theme song, explains how it came about, and explained how an instrumental version of the song — “Wild Weekend,” by the Rockin Rebels– became Top Ten hit, and how Tom was in the Army when he found out, and– oh, well, let’s just let Tom tell us.
The song has a special place in my heart– not just because Tom and I (and Tim Russert) all went to Holy Family grammar school on South Park Avenue in South Buffalo… but because it was to “Wild Weekend” that my wife and I made our entrance to wedding reception.
BUFFALO, NY – Aside from all the photos, audio, and video in the staffannouncer archives, there are also hundreds of Newspaper and magazine articles… You’ll see plenty of those pop on on this blog as well.
Remember these faces? After this little introduction, this post is simply an exact copy of a piece that ran in the Courier-Express Sunday Magazine in 1982.
By Dick Hirsch
In the Mellow half-light of the motel room, the face was strangely familiar. The coiffure was stylish but understated. The makeup was careful by emphatic. The smile was inviting but relaxed. Then there was that voice… “Good evening,” the voice intoned, “I’m Ron Hunter, and here is the news…”
For a visitor to Philadelphia, it was a startling return to these slambang days of Buffalo television of the 1970s when Ron Hunter’s face not only peered out of TV sets but also seemed to be posted on the rear end of every bus and most billboards in WNY. Since his days at WGR-TV, he has left several forwarding addresses, with anchor jobs in Miami and Chicago. (AT print time in 1980) in Philadelphia, he (was) a reporter during the week and a fill-in anchor on weekends. He has learned to pronounce Schuylkill with the same uncertain clarity with which he mastered Scajaquada. The names and places have changed, but Hunter is still on the job, reading the night’s news to an eager public.
The re-discovery of Hunter, coupled with the “opening” of the “new” television season has prompted a nostalgic examination of some of the faces and voices who have been meeting with us at 6 and 11 each evening since the lights first went on in 1948.
Virgil Booth, Joe Brush, Ward Fenton
”Its a very visible job,” says Irv Weinstein, the WKBW-TV anchorman whose longevity on camera has made him the most recognizable public person in WNY. “Since you are visible,” he adds, “you are also vulnerable.”
He became a TV news director and anchorman in 1964, when, as he likes to explain, “Channel 7’s news ratings were fourth in a three station market.” Weinstein first came to Buffalo in 1958 as a radio newsman at WKBW. Managers have come and gone, but a combination of corporate patience and Weinstein’s deft flair for news and dramatic delivery has made him a fixture, if there is such a thing in TV.
Anyone remember Irv’s predecessor? It was Bill Gregory, a guy who stayed around long enough to learn how to pronounce some Polish last names but not long enough to make much of a dent in the ratings. Gregory is now a radio newsman in Philadelphia.
Channel 7 was the last of the three commercial stations to go on the air. It began broadcasting in 1958. Thus its cast of newscasters is smaller, and includes names like Roger Lund, Hal Youngblood, Nolan Johannes, and Rick Azar, Yes, Azar. He did some news reporting as well as sports. Johannes is remembered primarily for his work on “Dialing for Dollars,” but also did some news announcing…
Announcer is a title you don’t hear much anymore, but in the old days most of the faces on TV news in Buffalo were radio announcers who walked across the hall and did a stint before the camera.
Pat Fagan, Susan King, Roy Kerns
WBEN-TV (now WIVB) had a substantial headstart on its competitors. It began broadcasting in 1948, six year before Channel 2 and 10 years before Channel 7. The television and radio stations of WBEN were on the 18th floor of the Hotel Statler. In some of the earliest local public affairs broadcasting they would point the snout of the camera out a window and focus on the streets below just to give the cameramen some practice in transmitting a picture. An anonymous announcer in those days would intone a play-by-play of the street scene. “That is Genesee Street and there is a truck from Victor’s heading out to make deliveries and over there you can see the sign of Denton, Cottier, and Daniels.” It wasn’t exactly compelling, but then it was 1948.
Probably the first regular newscaster was Ed Dinsmore. He also did the “Luncheon Club” program on radio. After his death, there were others, like Frank Fredricks, Carl Erickson, Dick Westerkamp, Ward Fenton, Virgil Booth, Bill Ferguson, Lou Douglas, and Cy Buckley.
Buckley, now (in 1980), a revenue officer for the IRS in Buffalo, says that the early days were characterized primarily by reliance on radio veterans. “All we were doing was reading a radio newscast on TV. There was very little visual material. Later we got some still photos and some 16 millimeter film. There was no videotape and no rear screen projection. Nobody ever hear the term “anchorman” because that concept hadn’t been developed.”
John Corbett, Harry Webb, Bill Gregory, Bill Mazer
The longest running news personalities on Channel 4 were Harry Webb, John Corbett, and Chuck Healy, who also had radio responsibilities. In recent years, it has been Steve Rowan, Jim Mitchell, Allen Costantini, and the incumbants, Gary Gunther and John Beard.
Channel 2’s newscasters included early announcers like Roy Kearns, Pat Fagan, and Chuck Poth, who has been involved in local Democratic politics since his departure from TV, was one of the first to read from a telepromter rather than a script, enabling him to look directly into the camera during the newscast, a dramatic advancement. Others at Channel 2 included Lou German, John Gill, Joe Brush, Harry Gunter, Joe Pope, Goerge Redpath, Henry Marcotte, Hunter, Susan King,, and more currently (in 1980), Sheila Murphy, Molly McCoy, and Rich Kellman. (Since no roundup of Channel 2 news is complete without mentioning the long running, ubiquitous and opinionated sportcaster for the station, here goes: Bill Mazer).
Hope you enjoyed this Vintage Courier-Express piece from Dick Hirsch, written in 1980.
With the Sabres flying high, rest assured I’ll be dipping into the Sabres Archives quite a bit on this blog… This time, we’re going back to the late 80’s with a pair of sound files.
This is a 60 second verision of the Rock Em Sabres Jingle, paired back-to-back with WBEN’s “We’re Here, We Care” song. That edit is taken directly from the reel that used to play over the Aud Speakers before game time.
The second sound clip is a commercial for WNYB-TV 49– the Television Home of the Sabres before the Empire Sports Network. This spot promos a West Coast Trip, with a game against the Stanley Cup Champion Oilers, as well as a game against the Flames. The announcer voice on the spot is that of Steve Mitchell… And of course the play-by-play clips feature Ted Darling.
I’ve just re-opened a huge box of stuff that Buffalo Radio vet JR Reid sold to me when he moved to sunny FLA. It’s mostly transcriptions (acetate records that were cut right at radio stations in the days before audio tape), as well as some interesting paper items from the time before KB became the King of the Rock and Roll Heap…
WINE was one of a handful of radio stations trying to break in on the Rhythm Music Craze (should read Rock’n Roll) in the mid to late 1950s in Buffalo.
A Quick History of 1080 in Buffalo
WINE had become the call letters following a change from WXRA…. WINE soon became WYSL. WYSL then moved to 1400, and the call letters became and stayed…. WUFO.
WINE sounds… These are all from Transcriptions (more to come!) from WINE radio… And I’ll bet haven’t been heard in over 50 years!
Look for more stuff from WNIA, WWOL, WYSL, WBNY, and other great Late 50’s Rock’n Roll Stations to come!
I’m 30 years old– born 20 years after Perry Allen rocked the house down at KB.
I was about 8 years old when I first heard the famous Perry Allen aircheck from a 1959 WKBW promotional piece. Having grown up listening to radio in the 80s… I was just bowled over with how amazing and fresh and quick radio could really sound when someone talented and imaginative like Perry was left unshackled to work his magic in radio’s “theatre of the mind.”
Radio was always interesting to me, but what I heard Perry Allen do on the aircheck linked below was what I wanted to do– Make it fresh and alive and fast moving. Perry passed away after a hospital stay in California. He was 75.
This aircheck collection contains not only Perry, but all the classic KB “Pulsebeat News” and “Mr. Weatherman” jingles, along with a classic Irv Weinstein newscast. Irv is also the narrator.
This late 1959 WKBW Composite also includes the voices of Russ “The Moose” Syracuse, Johnny Barrett, Art Roberts, Dick Biondi :
I never knew Perry Allen, but his work certainly had a big impact on me. Aside from his time on KB in the late 50’s, he also came back to Buffalo to work at WEBR in the mid 70’s.
This piece was published in Forever Young magazine
Born in Kenmore, Wolf Blitzer graduated from Kenmore West High School and earned a bachelor of arts degree in history from SUNY Buffalo and a master of arts degree in international relations from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. Blitzer began his career in 1972 with the Reuters News Agency in Tel Aviv.
Shortly thereafter, he became a Washington, D.C. correspondent for The Jerusalem Post. Blitzer joined CNN in 1990 and served as CNN’s senior White House correspondent covering President Bill Clinton from his election in November 1992 until 1999.
Wolf Blitzer is the anchor of CNN’s “The Situation Room,” an afternoon news program that combines traditional reporting methods with the newest innovative online resources. Blitzer has won numerous awards, including the 2004 Journalist Pillar of Justice Award from the Respect for Law Alliance and the 2003 Daniel Pearl Award from the Chicago Press Veterans Association. He was among the team awarded the Edward R. Murrow Award for CNN’s coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. In November 2002, the American Veteran Awards honored him with the prestigious Ernie Pyle Journalism Award for excellence in military reporting, and, in February 2000, he received the Anti-Defamation League’s Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize. Blitzer won an Emmy Award for his 1996 coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing.
For a wide-eyed 1951 graduate of Mercyhurst College, learning the inner workings of the phenomenon called television was like gaining the code to the secrets of the universe. Ann Deckop jumped at a chance for a summer job at the only television station in her hometown, WBEN-TV.
All she hoped for was to meet some of the on-air radio legends from her childhood, who had leaped to television. She never imagined that she would spend all of her working life at Channel Four as the “right-hand woman’ to the station’s top executives, first in Sales and then with C. Robert Thompson. Ann became assistant to Thompson’s successor, Leslie G. Arries, Jr. as he guided Channel 4 through the turbulent final decades of the Twentieth Century.
She worked with Arries on his many community outreach programs and National Association of Broadcasters projects. Ann Deckop’s career thrived through fifty-five years of phenomenal change in broadcasting. Currently Public Service Director, she oversees Channel Four’s public affairs programming and serves as station liaison to the Call For Action unit. She says she has “enjoyed the friendships, the fun, and the excitement of being in the middle of everything going on in our community. When people ask, ‘Where do you work; what do you do?’ it is with a great deal of pride that I reply, at Channel Four.”
Rich Newberg is the Senior Correspondent for News 4 Buffalo, WIVB-TV. He joined the CBS affiliate in 1978 as Weekend Anchorman, later becoming a main anchor for the 5 and 11p.m. Newscasts. Rich was named Senior Correspondent in 1999, reporting on the big stories of the day and heading the Documentary Unit at News 4. Newberg has won nine New York Emmy Awards for his television specials, including the fight against terrorism, the challenges facing psychiatric outpatients, and developmentally disabled.
“Our documentaries generally deal with the human struggle for dignity,” says Rich. Newberg’s many state, regional and national awards include the Edward R. Murrow, CINE Golden Eagle, Telly Hugo, Gabriel, New York Festivals World Medal, AP and UPI. Throughout his thirty-seven years as a broadcast journalist, Rich has sought to bring the camera and microphone to people who generally don’t have a voice in society. He started his career as TV News Troubleshooter.
Rich worked at ABC affiliates in Syracuse and Rochester, and the NBC owned and operated station in Chicago. Rich received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communication Arts from Ithaca College, and a Master of Arts degree in News and Public Affairs from Michigan State University. M.S.U. honored Rich last year with its Distinguished Alumni Award.
Norman Schrutt retired September 20, 1996 as President of Owned Radio Stations for Capital Cities/ABC, Inc. Schrutt’s corporate responsibilities included supervision of the company’s stations in Chicago, Washington, Dallas, Atlanta and Minneapolis. He also consulted the company’s radio interest in the Scandinavian Broadcast System, which owns ten stations throughout Sweden, Denmark and Finland.
Schrutt joined Capital Cities in 1963 at its Buffalo (WKBW) facility as an Account Executive. In 1971 he was made local sales manager and general sales manager in 1974. He was named general manager in 1977. In 1980 he was tapped to manage the company’s two Los Angeles radio stations and the next year was transferred to Atlanta to manage the new purchase of WKHX AM/FM.
In 1987 he was named to his past position as a result of restructuring following the acquisition of the American Broadcasting Companies by Capital Cities, Inc.
Schrutt is a past “Gabriel” and “Clio” award winner signifying national recognition for station public service campaigns. Additionally, the Atlanta stations were recipients of the 1995 “Joseph P. Dougherty Award” for outstanding public service among all Capital Cities/ABC stations. He has served on the boards of the Country Music Association, Atlanta Better Business Bureau, Cobb County Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Association of Broadcasters, Atlanta Radio Association and the All Radio Negotiating Committee.
On January 2, 1997 he formed a new company, Schurutt & Katz, Inc., representing broadcast talent. The company represents over 20 radio personalities across the country.
With a career in broadcasting that began in 1963 and continued until his death in 2004, Clip Smith embodied what makes up so many media personalities: an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and a curiosity that leads to a diverse and interesting life.
Clip not only had a career in radio and television where he was an anchor/reporter/talk show host, he also was a newspaper columnist (Union-Sun & Journal) and teacher, having taught at Medaille College and in the Lockport school systems.
As a member of the Lockport Federation of Musicians, Clip was willing to play his tuba wherever and whenever the opportunity arose. Not just a Sunday player, Clip earned a music scholarship to SUNY Buffalo and was a member of their Marching Band. Later he became a concert soloist playing the trombone, euphonium, tuba and string base. I
n recognition of Clip’s broadcasting excellence he was awarded the Elliott Steward Award in 1970 for “Outstanding Contribution to Broadcast News in New York State”. Politics was Clip’s other main interest. He was active in the Lockport Republican Party and served on the Lockport School Board.
In 2005, the City of Lockport Republican Committee posthumously named him “Republican of the Year” in recognition of outstanding leadership and service. No one who ever heard Clip on the air will forget his puns, “Clips Quips”, as he fondly called them. An example? How about: “Do all policemen have an arresting personality?”
Irv Weinstein remembers Clip this way: “Clip had a crazy mind, a photographic memory and all kinds of eclectic interests.” All of which make for an interesting life.
Ed Tucholka was known variously as Uncle Ed, “Tuch”, First Voice of the Niagara Frontier and Ed Tucholka. As a young boy he played radio broadcaster and started as a boy chorister. His first job was at a local department store (“Sattler’s – 998 Broadway”) announcing bargains of the day, paging mothers of lost children and generally keeping things moving without benefit of a script.
Ed’s deep rich baritone voice landed him a DJ job in the late 1930s at WEBR radio. After the war started, he did a piece called the “Noon Day Review,” highlighting a local GI every day. Tucholka would detail where the local serviceman was and how he was contributing to the war effort. In the late 1940sand early 1950s he morphed into “Uncle Ed” of Uncle Ed’s Children’s Hour at WEBR.
Tucholka moved to the WBEN stations in 1958 and oversaw their FM station’s operations along with a variety of other responsibilities through the sixties. He interviewed many celebs, but was never in awe of any of them. He taught radio broadcasting through Junior Achievement and the YMCA.
Tucholka continued to work part time at WHLD and retired in September 1995 at 80, still the picture of dignity and elegance he always presented. He passed away in January, 1996.
Last year, the Buffalo Sabres put out a CD chock full of Rick Jeanneret Highlights (many of them acquired DIRECTLY from the Buffalo Stories/staffannouncer.com archives!) The CD was produced by all-time Buffalo sports producer Greg Bauch.
Now that the Sabres have moved on to selling a Rick Jeanneret DVD, and since I get 5 or 6 emails a week asking where that CD can be found, I’m loading up many of the highlights from the 2005 CD right here…. Along with some RJ photos.
This CD was originally sold to benefit the Sabres Foundation– A really great charity. Please consider buying the Rick Jeanneret DVD (sorry! Link is LONG dead!); or simply making a donation to the Sabres Foundation if you’ve enjoyed these highlights.
The audio of the Dykstra Nystrom fight was on a tape in the drawer of the WBEN sports office when I started there in 1993… This comes from that tape.. Saved by Randy Bushover and John Demerle. It’s an all time great call.
I was at the Shields/Snow game… and can still muster up the feeling of glee… watching Steve Shields skate the length of the ice to rip into Snow. I also made getting a copy of this highlight one of the first things I did when I went to work at Empire Sports Network in 2000.
Buffalo, NY – He was so understated, you didn’t miss him until he was gone.
But there’s no doubt I’m not the only one who can’t help myself when I’m in an echoey room– I have to break loose with a Milt Ellis tribute.
1st Buffalo Goal, his second of the season, scored by number 20 Brent Peterson. assists to number number 7 Dale McCourt, and number 23 Hannu Virta. Peterson, from McCourt and Virta. Time of the Goal, 13:22.
Every Buffalo hockey fan past a certain age has a Milt Ellis impression, whether they know it or not. Milt is a Buffalo institution– although he’d be the last one to say so. He’s the most humble, sincere, honest man you’ll ever meet.
Milt’s Memorial Auditorium public address career started with the AHL Hockey Bisons in the mid-60s. His friend Stan Barron was the PR man for the Bisons, and they needed a new PA announcer. Stan called Milt and Milt continued to be the voice of goals, penalties, and New York State Smoking Regulations until 1997 (yes, he worked for two years in the then-Marine Midland Arena.)
A hockey fan long before the Sabres skated into Buffalo, Milt has always held a place in his heart for the Leafs. When he was growing up, he could get the Leafs games on the radio and TV. Though he’ll tell you he really doesn’t consider himself having a “style,” has has said that he’s always admired the work of longtime Leafs PA Announcer Paul Morris.
The Milt Ellis Jukebox is filled with Milt’s Public Address announcements, as well as other ephemeral sound from a night at The Aud.
Many will remember Milt introducing “The National Anthem, with Tenor Joe Byron and organist Norm Wullen.”
Selections from both men are programmed into the jukebox… Also included are a full length interview Mike Schopp conducted with Milt at WNSA Radio in 2001, and a portion of a show from WDCX– The Christian Station that was Milt’s “Day Job” the entire time he was the Sabres PA announcer.
Also a brief clip from one of the men Milt looked up to as a PA Announcer… The Voice of Maple Gardens, longtime Toronto PA man Paul Morris.