John Zach: an impact spread over seven decades

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

John Zach’s Buffalo broadcasting career has spread over seven decades, starting in the late 50’s as a volunteer in the early days of public broadcasting at Channel 17.

John Zach & Susan Rose, WBEN, 2002.

When he walks away on December 30th to spend more time with his chickens (and his grandkids, I assume), he takes with him the last vestige of a great era in Buffalo radio.

John Zach & Danny Neaverth, Shea’s Buffalo, 1986

He learned the craft of radio and radio news from men who treated their jobs in radio like their friends and neighbors treated their jobs at the plant or the office. Buckle down, do your job with all you’ve got and with the highest attention to detail and quality, shut your mouth and get it done with as little nonsense and frill as possible.

the sound of WKBW: Jeff Kaye, John Zach, Jim Fagan, Danny Neaverth. From the night Kaye, Zach, and Fagan were inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame, 2002.

For quite some time now, John has been the defiant last holdout of that generation still grinding away in the news mill every day– to the point where there aren’t even many folks left who started ten or twenty years after John did still at work in broadcast news in Buffalo.

The sound and sensibility he has brought to Western New York microphones for nearly 60 years is unmistakable. That unique richness and breadth his presence has added to the tableau of media and journalism in Buffalo will be forever missed from our airwaves and news coverage.

John Zach, Seneca High School yearbook.

Your chickens and grandkids will like to see more of you, John, and I can assume you won’t mind seeing more of your pillow in the 3am hour. That, however, leaves the rest of us to miss you and your daily presence in our lives.

John Zach looks on as Steve Cichon takes notes at the WBEN daily news meeting, 2012.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon is a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. The operator of Buffalo Stories Tours writes about the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo special at blog.buffalostories.com and daily at buffalonews.com/history. The storyteller and historian has written six books, worn bow ties since the 80s, and spent 20 years working in Buffalo radio and TV, climbing his way to news director at WBEN Radio. Since then, he's been an adjunct professor and produced PBS documentaries. Steve's Buffalo roots run deep: all eight of his great-grandparents called Buffalo home, with his first ancestors arriving here in 1827.