The Kids Shows of Channel 7

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

This week we’re looking at some of the great kids shows we grew up with in Buffalo, and two great ones from Channel 7.

Rocketship 7

When Dave Thomas wasn’t hosting Dialing for Dollars with Nolan Johannes and Liz Dribben, he was palling around with Promo The Robot and Mr. Beeper.
Rocketship 7 was a must watch for many Buffalo kids through the 60s and 70s, before Dave Thomas blasted off for a new job in Philadelphia in 1978.

Dave Thomas and Promo the Robot on Rocketship 7

And Dave Thomas wasn’t the only Dialing for Dollars connection to Rocketship 7. It was relatively easy for Dave to change from his Rocketship 7 jumpsuit into his “count and amount” clothes, but it was a little more difficult for another cast member on both shows.

Dave Thomas, Banaszak, Nolan Johannes and Jimmy Edwin on Dialing For Dollars.

Johnny and Jimmy were the house band on Dialing for Dollars, and Johnny Banaszak had a quick change between his back-to-back gigs, too. He quickly had to shed the Promo the Robot suit and grab his accordion. He was not only the man inside the suit, but also the voice of Promo as well.

Commander Tom

Another salubrious kids show on Channel 7 starred All-American weatherman Tom Jolls as Commander Tom– who took to TV wearing the bright red jacket of a Canadian Mountie.

Commander Tom, Dust Mop, and the rest of the crew on the Commander Tom Show,.

He performed with his puppet pals which early on, were mostly made from his kids’ old stuffed animals.

Some of those puppets, which the Commander voiced himself, included Matty the Mod, a young and energetic, though not too bright alligator; Cecily Fripple, a sensitive and gentle thing of questionable age who tries to recapture her glorious past; and last but not least, Dustmop, the faithful watchdog of Central Command, who is spite of his old age and failing eyesight, is the brave protectorate of the entire cast.

 

The Kids Shows of Channel 4

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

This week we’re looking at local children’s TV shows through the decades…

Of course Buffalo Bob Smith was a local guy, and his national Howdy Doody Show was one of the most popular shows on TV anywhere in the late 40 and early 50s.

But Buffalo’s first TV station, WBEN-TV Channel 4, brought Buffalo’s first kids shows.

MORE: Remembering WBEN-TV’s Visit With Santa (And Forgetful the Elf)

Mike Mearian

Uncle Mike and pal Buttons, WBEN-TV, 1956

Starting in 1954, one of the most popular shows on Channel 4 was Mike Mearian’s “Children’s Theater,” which featured the host as either Uncle Mike or Captain Mike when they played Popeye cartoons.

Buttons and Uncle Mike Mearian, WBEN-TV

Mike’s faithful puppet sidekick Buttons, was a marionette operated by Ellen Knetchel and voiced by Mearian.

The 1956 Sylvania TV Award nominations described Uncle Mike this way:

“Mr. Mearian’s genius as a humorist plus the best available children’s cartoons add up to youthful entertainment fun that is always in the best of taste.”

 

Virgil Booth

Virgil Booth at the Buffalo Zoo,

There was also Mr Bumble’s Curiosity Shop. WBEN Announcer Virgil Booth was Mr. Bumbles. Booth also hosted regular kids shows as himself from the with Clayton Freiheit at Buffalo Zoo and Ellsworth Jaeger at the Buffalo Museum of Science. he also hosted cartoons through the years as Channel 4’s baggagemaster.

The soft – spoken announcer on WBEN’s Luncheon Club recently retired as Ch. 4’s baggagemaster and opened Mr. Bumble’s Old Curiosity Shop– filled with items bound to attract young viewers.

Mr. Bumbles takes about 30 minutes putting on makeup and costume each Saturday afternoon. He becomes a man in his 70s who uses the language of children to heighten their inquisitiveness during the 5 to 6 PM Saturday program.

Jerry Brick

Uncle Jerry Brick, WBEN-TV

Uncle Jerry Brick– who was the floor manager of the Meet the Millers Show during the week, hosted a Sunday morning kids talent show through the 50s and 60s that introduced more than 2,000 talented youngsters on Channel 4.

The show was described in the paper this way:  TV cameras capture priceless expressions of visiting tots as Jerry asks questions during the outing.

Bob & Ellen Knechtel

They created and operated the puppets and marionettes seen on Channel 4 from the 1940s through the 1970s.

 

The Sounds of the Erie County Fair

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

We spent this week listening in to the sounds of the Erie County Fair.

I Got it!

The sound of an over-modulated PA system, and a guy sitting on a stool grumbling out the numbers of I GOT IT! is a tradition at Western New York lawn fetes, carnivals, and of course the Erie County Fair.

I Got It!

I Got It! was created when a change in state law banned bingo from firehalls.
Orrin “Peck” Catlin took matters into his own hands, building the first eight “I Got It!” units in his Blasdell garage for use at the Big Tree Volunteer fire company.

It was enough like the game of chance bingo to be attractive to the ladies who lined up to play bingo, but also added an element of skill– making it a legal amusement.

That was more than 50 years ago, and we’ve been laying down our quarters to toss those little red rubber balls ever since.

Yelling I GOT IT!… one of the great sounds of the Erie County Fair.


Ramblin’ Lou Schriver

Local country music legend Ramblin’ Lou Schriver played the Erie County Fair for an unbelievable 51 straight years.

He started pickin’ at barn dances, and started entertaining on the radio in 1947, playing live and recorded music as a disc jockey.

Milk for Health sponsored Ramblin Lou’s wholesome family radio shows through eight different decades. He even played on stage sitting on a specially painted old-fashioned milk can.

That can, and Ramblin’ Lou’s “Nudie Suit,”with his famous blue jacket emblazoned with an image of Niagara Falls crafted out of sequins by famous County & Western tailor Nudie Cohn, has been one of the most popular displays at the Fair’s Heritage and History Center.

Elvis, Gene Autry, Hank Williams– all regularly wore suits crafted by Nudie Cohn.

Ramblin’ Lou Schriver died at the age of 86 in 2015, but he’s still at the fair in spirit, as the Ramblin’ Lou family band continues to perform daily at the Avenue of the Flags stage.


 

1975.

The Human Block Head (and other oddities)

The oddities shows were once very much a part of the fair.

Melvin Burkhart nails it 1978

Melvin Burhardt had a few different acts over the decades. He was “the man with the rubber neck” and spent some time with the Ripley’s Oddotorium as “The Two Faced Man.”

He could contort his face so that half was Happy Melvin– with a raised eyebrow and a smile, and the other half was sad Melvin– with a scrunched eyebrow and a scowl.

The James E. Strates Shows have provided the midway attractions for the Erie County Fair since the 1920s. When Burkhardt joined Strates in 1956, his act was one of 18 sideshows.

1939 article talks about Strates’ side shows.
Strates’ 8 Foot Man. 1958.

He was best known to Erie County Fair goers as one of many “Human Block Heads” who came through the fair. Through the years, there were dozens of people who learned the Nail Head trick of hammering nails, or ramming knives, right into their faces.

It’s not comfortable– but it’s also not actual hammering. You can see the trick explained all over the internet.

There were many acts through the years named Alligator Man or Alligator Boy or Alligator girl– those were people who suffered from ichthyosis, which causes profound scaling of the skin. Tall people with Marfan syndrome. Hairy people with Hypertrichosis.

The human oddities are gone from the fair and most circuses and fairs, in part because of our changing sensibilities, but also because most of what we once considered odd or freakish is not so much anymore– especially when YouTube is filled with great, scientific explanations for the tricks and diseases which people put on display during these shows.

Strates showbill, 1959

While they are gone and never to return, the oddities and sideshows are a part of the history of the fair that shouldn’t be forgotten.

1971.

Demolition Derby & Joie Chitwood

The Demolition Derby has been a final-weekend-of-the-fair tradition for generations.

1967 ad.

Billed through the years as “The 100 car Demolition Derby,” “The 200 car Demolition Derby,” and then later as “The World’s Largest Demolition Derby,”  through the 50s and 60s, ads in the sports section of the Buffalo Evening News and Courier-Express goaded men on to join with headlines screaming, “WANTED MEN WITH IRON NERVES” and “WANTED… MEN WITH COURAGE TO DRIVE AUTOMOBILES HEAD ON AT 60 MPH CREATING A 120 MPH IMPACT.”

1953

For about as long as there’s been auto racing and auto thrill shows, motor mayhem has been a big part of The Erie County Fair. Joie Chitwood was the original stock car daredevil, and he and Erie County Fair staple for decades.

Joie Chitwood… The Demolition Derby… all kinds of automotive daring… a long standing part of the tradition at the Erie County Fair.


Chef Felix’s pizza truck

Chef Felix’s pizza truck was a fixture at the Erie County Fair for 34 years.

Felix Coniglio, in front of his truck at the Erie County Fair. Some of his pizza making equipment is on display inside the Fair’s Heritage & History Center at the Octagon Building.

Starting just after World War II, at a time when pizza was far more of an exotic treat than something you could find virtually everywhere. Felix Coniglio dished out whole pies and pizza by the slice as well.

And it was not only the smells of the pizzas cooked right in his truck that filled the midway, but it was his voice, too, coming from a speaker on the side of the truck.

Chef Felix Coniglio was selling pizza pies at the fair after he left the Navy following World War II up until he died in 1992.


Hear these and many other sounds of the Fair at the Erie County Fair’s Heritage & History Center.

Located inside the Fair’s 1885 Octagon Building, the Heritage & History Center opened during the 177th Fair to chronicle over 195 years of agriculture, food, competition and excitement that have come to symbolize the Erie County Fair to generations of Western New Yorkers. Exhibits were curated to showcase the inspiring traditions that have laid the foundation for the present-day Fair as well as reflect the progression of change in our society.

Read more from the Heritage & History Center from the man behind the museum, Marty Biniasz.

 

Sounds of the Fair: I Got It!

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

This week we’re celebrating the sounds of the Erie County Fair.

The sound of an over-modulated PA system, and a guy sitting on a stool grumbling out the numbers of I GOT IT! is a tradition at Western New York lawn fetes, carnivals, and of course the Erie County Fair.

I Got It!

I Got It! was created when a change in state law banned bingo from firehalls.
Orrin “Peck” Catlin took matters into his own hands, building the first eight “I Got It!” units in his Blasdell garage for use at the Big Tree Volunteer fire company.

It was enough like the game of chance bingo to be attractive to the ladies who lined up to play bingo, but also added an element of skill– making it a legal amusement.

That was more than 50 years ago, and we’ve been laying down our quarters to toss those little red rubber balls ever since.

Yelling I GOT IT!… one of the great sounds of the Erie County Fair.

Sounds of the Fair: Ramblin’ Lou Schriver

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

This week we’re celebrating the sounds of the Erie County Fair.

Local country music legend Ramblin’ Lou Schriver played the Erie County Fair for an unbelievable 51 straight years.

He started pickin’ at barn dances, and started entertaining on the radio in 1947, playing live and recorded music as a disc jockey.

Milk for Health sponsored Ramblin Lou’s wholesome family radio shows through eight different decades. He even played on stage sitting on a specially painted old-fashioned milk can.

That can, and Ramblin’ Lou’s “Nudie Suit,”with his famous blue jacket emblazoned with an image of Niagara Falls crafted out of sequins by famous County & Western tailor Nudie Cohn, has been one of the most popular displays at the Fair’s Heritage and History Center.

Elvis, Gene Autry, Hank Williams– all regularly wore suits crafted by Nudie Cohn.

Ramblin’ Lou Schriver died at the age of 86 in 2015, but he’s still at the fair in spirit, as the Ramblin’ Lou family band continues to perform daily at the Avenue of the Flags stage.

1975.

Sounds of the Fair: The Human Block Head (and other oddities)

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

This week we’re celebrating the sounds of The Erie County Fair.

The oddities shows were once very much a part of the fair.

Melvin Burkhart nails it 1978

Melvin Burhardt had a few different acts over the decades. He was “the man with the rubber neck” and spent some time with the Ripley’s Oddotorium as “The Two Faced Man.”

He could contort his face so that half was Happy Melvin– with a raised eyebrow and a smile, and the other half was sad Melvin– with a scrunched eyebrow and a scowl.

The James E. Strates Shows have provided the midway attractions for the Erie County Fair since the 1920s. When Burkhardt joined Strates in 1956, his act was one of 18 sideshows.

1939 article talks about Strates’ side shows.
Strates’ 8 Foot Man. 1958.

He was best known to Erie County Fair goers as one of many “Human Block Heads” who came through the fair. Through the years, there were dozens of people who learned the Nail Head trick of hammering nails, or ramming knives, right into their faces.

It’s not comfortable– but it’s also not actual hammering. You can see the trick explained all over the internet.

There were many acts through the years named Alligator Man or Alligator Boy or Alligator girl– those were people who suffered from ichthyosis, which causes profound scaling of the skin. Tall people with Marfan syndrome. Hairy people with Hypertrichosis.

The human oddities are gone from the fair and most circuses and fairs, in part because of our changing sensibilities, but also because most of what we once considered odd or freakish is not so much anymore– especially when YouTube is filled with great, scientific explanations for the tricks and diseases which people put on display during these shows.

Strates showbill, 1959

While they are gone and never to return, the oddities and sideshows are a part of the history of the fair that shouldn’t be forgotten.

1971.

Sounds of the Fair: Demolition Derby & Joie Chitwood

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

This week we’re celebrating the sounds of the Erie County Fair.

The Demolition Derby has been a final-weekend-of-the-fair tradition for generations.

1967 ad.

Billed through the years as “The 100 car Demolition Derby,” “The 200 car Demolition Derby,” and then later as “The World’s Largest Demolition Derby,”  through the 50s and 60s, ads in the sports section of the Buffalo Evening News and Courier-Express goaded men on to join with headlines screaming, “WANTED MEN WITH IRON NERVES” and “WANTED… MEN WITH COURAGE TO DRIVE AUTOMOBILES HEAD ON AT 60 MPH CREATING A 120 MPH IMPACT.”

1953

For about as long as there’s been auto racing and auto thrill shows, motor mayhem has been a big part of The Erie County Fair. Joie Chitwood was the original stock car daredevil, and he and Erie County Fair staple for decades.

Joie Chitwood… The Demolition Derby… all kinds of automotive daring… a long standing part of the tradition at the Erie County Fair.

The Sounds of the Fair: Chef Felix’s pizza truck

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

This week we’re celebrating the sounds of the Erie County Fair.

Chef Felix’s pizza truck was a fixture at the Erie County Fair for 34 years.

Felix Coniglio, in front of his truck at the Erie County Fair. Some of his pizza making equipment is on display inside the Fair’s Heritage & History Center at the Octagon Building.

Starting just after World War II, at a time when pizza was far more of an exotic treat than something you could find virtually everywhere. Felix Coniglio dished out whole pies and pizza by the slice as well.

And it was not only the smells of the pizzas cooked right in his truck that filled the midway, but it was his voice, too, coming from a speaker on the side of the truck.

Chef Felix Coniglio was selling pizza pies at the fair after he left the Navy following World War II up until he died in 1992.

The Buffalo Stories Film Conservation Initiative

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

I hope you’ll join me in saving a big chunk of Buffalo’s history.

Thousands of hours of Buffalo’s history as recorded from the 1960s through the 1990s was on its way to a landfill.

But in July, 2018, Buffalo Stories LLC saved this collection from the curb, taking possession of about 3,500 video tapes and reels of 16mm film.

We’re still sorting through it all, but suffice it to say, there is nothing like this archive anywhere else in the world.

It was shot mostly in Buffalo over the course of 35 years for commercials, and institutional and promotional video. Most of these moving images have never been seen by anyone other than the people who shot and edited the video…
Until now.

There are a few reasons this amazing archive was about to wind up in a dumpster.

Despite its real historical value, no institution would take this stuff first because of the sheer amount of space needed to properly store the material.

But then, even once it’s stored, there’s the additional burden of gathering the physical resources necessary to view and digitize what is on these bulky old tapes and films.

While 16mm film and one-inch video tape were the industry standard for decades, the equipment and skills needed to make the video on those formats useful to us today is incredibly scarce.

At the moment, I have no way of showing you the video locked away on these defunct media. That’s why I need your help.

It takes not only time to unlock the images on these tapes, but it’s going to take a substantial financial investment to find the equipment needed to digitize, restore, and bring back to life the contents which haven’t been seen in 20, 30, even 50 years.

Help me bring what is now a warehouse full of old tapes and films back from the dead, and then tell the stories that are found in those images in the Buffalo Stories way you’ve become used to.

An early peek at what’s on these films is just amazing.

I was able to use a flatbed scanner to get a good look at some of the 16mm images on some of the film.

These still photos are amazing, and with your help, we’ll soon be turning these cast away piles of film and tapes into living, moving digitized video, to be shared with the world and help make Buffalo’s past– a big part of our future.

For a couple of decades now, Buffalo Stories LLC and, well, my attic, have been the last hope for Buffalo’s treasures on the way to the trash…

But this is more than I’ve ever taken on before, and I need your help.

We’re dealing with 11 pallets, the cost of a storage unit, and thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment needed to see the amazing footage that is literally in my hands— but for the moment, inaccessible.

Conservatively, I need about $3500 worth of equipment to be able to view all of these different media. If you’re like me, and you think that there is some value in not only saving these tapes and films— but also bringing this footage to life, I hope you’ll consider joining me in making a financial commitment to make that happen.

Support The Buffalo Stories Film Conservation Initiative

Your support of The Buffalo Stories Film Conservation Initiative is NOT tax deductible, but it’s the only way we’re going to be able to save these amazing images.

All merchandise is slated for November, 2018 delivery so that we can get to digitizing the tapes and film as soon as possible. Thanks for your understanding.

Buffalo Stories Ball Cap $50

The proceeds from the purchase of this cap (deliverable November, 2018) will be used toward the conserving, digitizing, and sharing of the Buffalo Stories Film Archive

 


 

Buffalo Stories Tote Bag $25

The proceeds from the purchase of this tote bag (deliverable November, 2018) will be used toward the conserving, digitizing, and sharing of the Buffalo Stories Film Archive

 

 


$10 towards Buffalo Stories Film Conservation efforts

These funds will be used toward the conserving, digitizing, and sharing of the Buffalo Stories Film Archive.  Any $10 increment amount can be entered.

 

Any questions? steve@buffalostories.com. Thank you!

Buffalo’s best remembered commercial jingles

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Knowing these five jingles is a bit like a Buffalo Baby-Boomer secret handshake. 

“Talking Proud” was Buffalo’s anthem at a time when many of us didn’t feel so great about Buffalo.

When the song and campaign were released 1980, Bethlehem Steel, where more than 20-thousand men once worked, was winding down and the furnaces would soon go cold.

There was a billboard behind City Hall asking the last person leaving Buffalo to turn out the light.

MORE: Buffalo in the 80’s: Talking Proud 

Our region had spent a lot of time in National headlines as the epicenter of environmental disaster at Love Canal and the home of snowy death with Blizzard of ’77.

We needed something to hang our hats on.

It was easy to feel down about Buffalo, and over the last 40 years, most of us have said, “We’re Talking Proud!” ironically…  but having something, anything to rally around made a difference and gave us Buffalonians a sense of identity—

Even if we giggled a little as Terry Licata did he leaned back arm-swinging march through the streets of Buffalo.

This is a later follow up to the original Talking Proud television spot. These continued to air through the 1980s. The video is courtesy of  retrontario.com, whose webmaster Ed Conroy has posted hundreds of great Buffalo (and, as you might guess, Southern Ontario) television clips from the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

More from the Retrontario YouTube Channel: youtube.com/user/Retrontario

 


Kaufman’s Rye Bread

This week we’ve been looking back at some of Buffalo’s favorite and best remembered commercial jingles.

So, do you remember where you’ll find the Jolly Little Baker?

That animated little baker spent time on Buffalo televisions from the 50s through the 70s.

As much as the unique, dense rye bread that still sparks life in the palates of Western New Yorkers, our yearning for Kaufman’s rye bread is tied to the fact that the taste is forever linked to that 18-second jingle, permanently implanted in the subconscious of generations of Buffalonians, which many of us could still sing on demand.

MORE: Torn-Down Tuesday: The Kaufman’s Rye Bread sign

Known of course for singing the “Jolly Little Baker” jingle, the pen-and-ink bread maker, wearing a bow tie and pleated chef’s toque was emblazoned on the cellophane wrappers of Kaufman’s various varieties of Rye, pumpernickel, and kaiser rolls.

1956.

The smiling chubby little guy would also appear on the pages of the Courier-Express and Buffalo Evening News offering recipes for “sandwiches of the week.”
These sandwiches of 60 years ago, featuring liverwurst, boiled tongue, and sardines aren’t all in line with most modern palettes, but show us what people were putting on their rye bread in 1957.


Sattler’s 998 Broadway

This week, we’re taking a look at some of Buffalo’s iconic jingles, and there aren’t many more iconic than the one that ends with “9-9-8 Broadway!”

Sattler’s closed 36 years ago, yet we still know the address by heart. While the jingle indeed helped Buffalo remember that now iconic address, more than that, without the jingle– we might not have known Sattler’s at all.

Sattler’s from a 1954 ad.

Despite decades of heavy print advertising and growing from a single store front to an entire block across from the Broadway Market, Sattler’s couldn’t seem to bust through as much more than a neighborhood Broadway/Fillmore store.

Ad for Lanny & Ginger Grey’s studio, 1947

In 1941, Lanny and Ginger Grey– singers in New York City– wrote the first advertising jingle ever for a department store for Sattler’s. There were different versions, but they all ended in those five syllables that are permanently etched into the memories of generations of Buffalonians, “nine-nine-eight Broad-WAY!”

The radio singing commercials did something that years of print ads just could do. People from all over Buffalo, especially more elusive wealthy customers, started shopping 998, where they were buying everything from canaries to thuringer sausage to mink coats at Sattler’s.

In 1948, the Sattler’s store was completely rebuilt, complete with escalators and air conditioning. Sattler’s executives called called it “the store that jingles built.”

Those iconic jingles were filled Buffalo’s airwaves in 1950, playing 102 times a week on WBEN, WGR, WKBW, WEBR and WBNY.

Sattler’s was at the cutting edge of over-the-top, cutting edge, marketing and self-promotion.

It was tough to listen to the radio for any extended period of time without being reminded to “shop and save at Sattler’s, 998 Broadway!”


Boost Buffalo!

If you were around in Buffalo in the 1960s, you can’t help but remember the “Boost Buffalo” jingle.

The Boost Buffalo campaign started hitting Buffalo radios, TVs, and with 10,000 bumper stickers in 1960, organized by the marketing men of Buffalo.

The decline of many of Buffalo’s major industries had already begun—but in 1960, Chamber of Commerce President Whitworth Ferguson told one luncheon that Buffalo was the ninth fastest growing city in the country, and it was important to Boost Buffalo because “with an enlarged spirit of cooperation, we can obtain for our citizens an even greater level of prosperity and well-being.”

1965 ad.

Buffalo’s Chamber of Commerce seemed to blame the massive hemorrhaging of industry from Western New York on the bad attitude of Buffalonians.

Clifford Furnas, Henry Comstock, and Mayor Frank Sedita kicking off “Boost Buffalo,” 1960.

Henry Comstock of Comstock Advertising which created the Boost Buffalo campaign and jingle.

“Buffalo’s record on almost every score is far above the average,” said Comstock, “yet our people seem prone to find fault and seem to delight in picking on small insignificant short comings.”

At the unveiling of the campaign, UB Chancellor Dr. Clifford C. Furnas declared that “the negative attitudes about the city expressed by many are entirely unjustified,” and added that “perhaps we have been resting on our laurels.”


MORE:

If you grew up in Buffalo in the 1960s, you can’t help but remember the “Boost Buffalo” jingle. But that was the idea behind the slogan, as it was explained in 1964 when the special Chamber of Commerce “Boost Buffalo” committee elected new leadership.

” ‘Boost Buffalo’ leader is named”

“ ‘Some people poke fun at the “Boost Buffalo, it’s good for you” slogan,’ a chamber official said, ‘but that only shows that it’s caught on, that everybody’s heard of it, and that it’s good.’ ”


WEBR’s The Sound of the City

Starting in 1962, The Sound of the City became WEBR Radio’s theme song, and it’s one of the sounds that makes Buffalo, Buffalo.

Chances are you’ve heard it enough times over the 56 years since it debuted that you might even know all the words, but get ready to hear it a bit differently from now on.

The Sound of the City, WEBR 970. 1962 ad.

“The Sound of the City” was rewritten and resung and for many radio stations and cities around the country– Buffalo wasn’t even first. The son was originally written for San Francisco radio station KSFO, which was owned by Gene Autry.

Johnny Mann, who was best known as the music director on the Joey Bishop Show, wrote “The Sound of the City,” and the track is credited to the Johnny Mann Singers.

Thurl Ravenscroft, 1983.

For the original San Francisco version, as well as the Buffalo version, among those nameless faceless Johnny Mann singers was Thurl Ravenscroft.

You might not know his name, but you know Ravenscroft’s work. While Boris Karloff did the speaking parts in the original “Grinch Who Stole Christmas” cartoon movie, it was the big voiced Thurl who did all the singing parts.

Ravenscroft’s bellowing voice is probably most recognizable as the voice of Tony the Tiger, the spokesman for Frosted Flakes.

Next time you listen to “The Sound of City,” make sure you listen for the deep throaty vibrato, and know that “it’s grrrrreat.”