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.
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.
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.
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.
Believe 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.
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.
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.”
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 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.
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.
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.