12th annual class of the Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

This was originally published in Forever Young Magazine

Roger Baker 2008 Golden Age of Broadcasting Award
Roger Baker
2008
Golden Age of Broadcasting Award

One of the original superstars of Buffalo Radio in the 20s and 30s for the Buffalo Broadcasting Corporation on WGR and WKBW, Baker was the Queen City’s first definitive sportscaster.

Those who remember him in the sports booth remember the ultimate professional– no focus on personality, so much as the product on the air. Calling Bisons games in the 30s from Offermann Stadium, he was straight, and by the book.

After being tapped by Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to call the 1933 World Series to a nationwide audience on CBS, Baker landed a job in Cincinnati calling the National League Reds on WLW.

After the war, Baker returned to Buffalo, reading news on WKBW Radio, but eventually moving into the General Manager’s office at the short-lived Buffalo UHF pioneer WBES-TV–where he also read news.

Along with Bill Mazer, Baker was also an original member of the WGR-TV sports team when the station signed-on in 1954. Baker moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico for health reasons, continuing his broadcast at KOB for several more years.

 

John DiSciullo
John DiSciullo

John entered his first TV studio as a boy with his grandma in Philly to watch a taping of the Mike Douglas Show. It was the most fun he’d seen adults have, ever, and he was hooked. A decade later, his early mentor Dave Thomas (A TV icon in both Buffalo and Philly), sent the fresh out of college DiSciullo up to his hometown for an interview at his old stopping grounds, Channel 7. That was 1982.

Save a few weeks since then when he tried his hand at producing TV in New York in 1988, he’s been at 7 Broadcast Plaza as a driving force behind AM Buffalo and The Variety Club Telethon, while keeping busy with everything from news, to promotions, to programming. In an age where telethons and locally originated TV talk shows might seem like a vestige of the past for some, DiSciullo points to his two pet projects as examples of how, with plenty of pure passion and a lot of fighting and kicking along the way, doing the right thing on television can continue to have a positive impact on the community.

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 Buffalo Broadcasters

Pat Feldballe
Pat Feldballe

The name would leave most wondering, but the smooth, consistent voice is one you’re unable to escape in Buffalo. From Channel 2’s promo pieces to Valu Home Centers and Paddock Chevrolet, on on-hold messages, to the national Time/Life commercials, for a quarter century, Pat Feldballe has been Western New York’s go-to independent voice-over king.

In 1970s we all heard him at WBUF, WGR, WGRQ, and WUWU playing rock ’n’ roll and hosting a magazine program (and working with Terry Gross) at WBFO. He eventually got the point when he’d show up for his jock shift and find a handful of production orders taped to the console for him to do.

Figuring it was his destiny, he did a stint as a radio production director, but quickly decided, in 1982, that he could do production on his own. He hasn’t looked back.

In an industry where many production guys will try to sell clients on the latest and greatest gadget, Feldballe has used the same microphone since 1986. It’s a part of all his success.

“I’m the most consistent guy I know. I always sound the same, and I take pride in making sure reads time out,” says Feldballe. He’s the best at showing up and doing the work, doing it well, and making it easy for whoever is using his work. “I just hung out the shingle 27 years ago, and here I am.”

 

Ron Jaworski Buffalo Bob Smith Award
Ron Jaworski
Buffalo Bob Smith Award

His fate at the man who’d become the “The Polish Rifle” was sealed just before his senior year at Lackawanna High School. Drafted to play baseball at 17, he wanted to forget college to have a shot to play with Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals. But two weeks of a real Buffalo summer job of bending rods in a steel mill was enough motivation to get an education.

A standout at Youngstown State, Jaws played 17 years in the NFL for 4 teams, including the Philadelphia Eagles, where he was he 1980 NFL MVP. He also backed up Dan Marino for 2 seasons with the Miami Dolphins. But no matter where he played, and now, no matter from which city he analyzes Monday Night Football, Ron hasn’t forgotten his years as a season ticket holder at the Rock Pile, and certainly hasn’t forgotten his friends and family in Lackawanna.

His compatriots on the ESPN MNF staff are just glad he hasn’t forgotten where the good wing joints are.

Named after one of Buffalo’s most famous sons, the Buffalo Bob Smith Award is given to broadcasters with local roots who made his or her mark away from the Niagara Frontier, but is still a Buffalonian at heart.

 

Barry Lillis
Barry Lillis

Always wearing a smile like no other, Barry’s best known for his 20 years (1976-96) in front of WGRZ-TV weather maps. But that earnest grin, and the personality that went along with it, also made Barry a natural as the local host for annual the MDA telethon, and well as the Kids Escaping Drugs Campaign, which Barry himself named in 1987.

Just before Barry left the air in 1994, he was ordained an Orthodox Catholic Priest. To this day, much of his ministry involves counseling those battling drug and alcohol dependence. Its a challenging and rewarding vocation, which is often helped along by those thousands of weather forecasts where Barry made it feel like he was trying to make just you smile.

Often someone will say they remember the time he wore a t-shirt promoting their scout troop’s soup dinner on TV. People love to share memories of Barry’s zany overnight presentation of poorly lipsynched movies on Barry’s Cats Pajamas. But for Fr. Barry, it means so much more; maybe opening a door to help someone else along in life. It makes his career in broadcasting one of Buffalo’s most special ever.

 

Bill Stachowiak 2008 Behind the Scenes Award
Bill Stachowiak
2008
Behind the Scenes Award

Bill’s love of electronics growing up led him to broadcasting in college, where he was the college station’s chief engineer. That, he thought, was the end of radio business for him, which he lived and breathed as a kid. He started a business that did use his engineering background, however, selling and installing two-way and CB radio equipment for companies around WNY.

His voyage back into radio started with a tour of WPHD in 1979, where PD Harv Moore decided he was the right fit to fill an open engineering job. Since taking that job, Bill’s run his own broadcast engineering firm, building studios and performing maintenance all over New York state and all over the country, often explaining to someone hundreds of miles away over the phone how to fix what’s wrong.

Its a story made more incredible when you find out he did all of that without sight. Bill is blind. “I realize I have limitations, but made my mind up to live like everyone else. I was scared when all the sudden I was responsible for two stations (in 1979), but I rely on memory a lot, and I’ve had the help of a lot of great people over the years.” And a lot of people have relied on, and rarely been disappointed with Bill.

The Behind the Scenes Award celebrates the many people who make any broadcast possible, but don’t usually get the credit: The directors, producers, photographers, writers, engineers and office staff.



2008-Art Wander 120Those of you who know the him as “Artie Baby Boo-Boo, The Tiny Tot of the Kilowatt,” as Art might say: Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute! As a kid growing up on Buffalo’s East Side, Art would ditch school to watch Foster Brooks and Buffalo Bob Smith do their WGR show live from Grant’s Department Store.

After a stint in the Navy, Art was the Radio Director for the VA Hospital, before landing at WKBW in 1956, where he eventually joined the news staff as a Pulsebeat Newsman under the direction of Irv Weinstein. By the late 1960’s, Art had programmed radio stations all around the country, including WOR-FM in New York, where he met the Beatles and became close with their manager Brian Epstein. Its this work done in music radio where Art feels more accomplished.

He’d return to Buffalo in the early 80s, first to program, but then to talk sports on 1400-AM. After Bills General Manager Bill Polian told Art to “get out of town,” he was picked up by WGR and later Empire Sports Network to talk sports. He always pictured his show as guys in a barroom. And opinions could be right, wrong, or indifferent, so long as they were entertaining.

 

Elephants roaming Parkside… Really!

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

On my way to church Sunday morning, I was making the right onto Jewett Parkway from Parkside Avenue, and there they were– the elephants from the zoo were eating maple tree branches right off the trees on the edge of the Buffalo Zoo parking lot!

The handlers say the “helicopters” on the maple trees are like candy for them. These three elephants are all babies and that this was the farthest they’d walked outside the elephant house.

It’s a bit reminiscent of a story that happened  in the ’20s or ’30s, when Frank the Elephant walked out of the zoo unnoticed, and made his way almost to Hertel Avenue before being brought back to his home at the zoo.

Just another great reason to love living in Parkside!

Photos taken with my Motorola Razr flip phone.

Buffalo Morning Radio around the dial in 1989

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Don Postles... NewsCenter 2.It was a NewsCenter 2 sweeps week special series… Don Postles visited with the most popular radio personalities. It opened with an explanation of how Buffalo’s morning radio choices had just been radically changed when two former KB Staffers– Sandy Beach and Danny Neaverth– found new homes along the dial.

In wonderfully cheesy 80s TV style, this was graphically represented by two heads moving along an analog radio dial.

Sandy had left KB only a few years ago, and stopped at Hot 104 WNYS before heading to Majic 102 WMJQ.

When KB went satellite, Danny went to WHTT after Sandy left. Snortin Norton and 97 Rock had also recently returned after an absence of a few years.

All the moves help to make Bill Lacy and WBEN number one in Morning Drive. NewsCenter 2’s Don Postles met with each of these jocks… Plus WPHD’s team of Taylor & Moore.

All told, the 5 part series is a nice snapshot of Buffalo Radio in 1989.

 

Remembering Mr. Dressup

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Steve and the Tickle Trunk
I visited the tickle trunk at the CBC museum before the place was closed after budget cuts.

As I write this, I wonder how much of my bizarre personality can be attributed to the late great Ernie Coombs, known to Canadian Children (and those like me just over the border) as Mr. Dressup.

The daily half hour filled with drawing, creating cool stuff out of things that I had laying around the house, Dressing up in costumes, and using funny voices always set my imagination into motion.

This is me at the CBC museum… Just inches away from the tickle truck. My wife and I were also able to visit Mr. Dressup’s drawing easel, and Casey’s tree house (as well as The Friendly Giant’s castle).
stevegregxmas79Mr. Dressup was a 10:30 appointment for most of my childhood. My brother Greg and I would stop fighting the moment we heard the piano open on the show (this picture is of us Xmas ’79).

And we’d sit together on a big chair and be quiet for the half hour. My sister Lynne soon joined our love for Mr. Dressup too.

In true Mr. Dressup fashion, the Cichon kids made our very own Tickle trunk… We drew flowers on an empty beer case box, and stored our dress up gear in it. It seemed that just about every other day, the show ended with either Mr. Dressup or Casey asking about lunch… which then made us start bothering my mom about lunch, too.

Included here are some stills from the Mr. Dressup special that aired on CBC after his death in 2001, as well as some from a Casey and Finnegan episode that I taped in the late 80s or early 90s.

I’m glad that even after his death Mr. Dressup lives on every day on TV (even if without Casey and Finnegan.) It’s the finest kids show I’ve ever seen. It’s fun and spurs kids to be creative and think… without being preachy.


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

Celebrating 60 Years of Buffalo Television

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

60 Years of Buffalo TV

Featuring over 2 dozen current and vintage Buffalo Television logos, this fundraiser for the Buffalo Broadcasters and the Preservation of Buffalo Television History was made possible through the cooperation of Buffalo’s Television stations, The Buffalo Broadcast Pioneers, and staffannouncer.com.

A great way to celebrate 60 years of Buffalo Television History, and help save it at the same time.

This 11×17 poster is printed in full-color on archival heavy 80lb gloss stock, and will be delivered in a mailing tube.


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: WYSL/WPHD Album Charts and Jock Pics

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Buffalo, NY – Ranging from 1971-1979, these singles and album charts from WYSL and WPhD are a great snapshot of what Buffalo was listening to musically and on the radio in the 70s.

And as far as the jock photos– let’s just say we all looked great in the 70s. Thanks to Paul, who gave me most of these charts for “safe keeping” a few years back.

 

Robert W Taylor, Crystal Beach
1977
Tom Tiberi– Slick Tom, ad for the first World’s Largest Disco. August 25, 1979.
August 25, 1979.
Jim Nowicki, August 11, 1979
August 11, 1979
August 11, 1979
Dean Matella wearing an “I love You Buffalo” t-shirt. Wear a MILK Mustache ad. August, 1979
August, 1979
Jim Nowicki, July 1979.
July 1979.
Nancy Miller, May 1979
May 1979
Tom Tiberi, May 1979
May, 1979
Chuck Stevens, April 1979
April 1979
Dino in the Morning April 1979
April 1979
Kevin Hines, Club 747 ad for the first computerized disco, April 1979
April 1979
Chuck Stevens March 1979
March 1979
Dino in the morning March 1979
March 1979
Nancy Miller March 1979 14 Rock WYSL Non Stop Music
March 1979
Kevin Hines March 1979
March 1979
Jim Nowicki Feb 1979
Feb 1979
Nancy Miller Feb 1979
Feb 1979
Dean Matela, Dec 1978
Dec, 1978
Nancy Miller, Oct. 1978
Oct. 1978
Robert W. Taylor
Sept. 1978
Jim Nowicki
Aug 1979
Nancy Miller
Larry Norton July 1979
July 1978
Jim Scott, June 1978
June 1978
John Piccillo JP, June 1978. Milk Mustache I Love You Buffalo t-shirts
June 1978
Larry Norton, May 1978
May 1978
Harv Moore May 1978, American Top 40
May, 1978
John Piccillo, April 1978
April 1978
March 1978 Rick Arnay
March 1978
Bill Potter Jan. 1978
Jan. 1978
Tom Atkins 1977 American Top 40
1977
JP John Piccillo November 1977
November 1977
Rick Arnay October, 1977
October, 1977
John Piccillo, Crystal Beach ad. September, 1977
September 1977
Craig Matthews, June 1977
June 1977
Chuck Stevens June 1977
June 1977
Kenny Davis May 1977
1977
Kenny Davis April 1977
April 1977
Robert W. Taylor 1977
April 1977
Harv Moore April 1977
April 1977
Sean Grabowski 1977
February 1977
Grabowski October 1976
October 1976
Grabowski October 1976
October 1976
Jim Scott, September 1976
September 1976
Harv Moore, July 1976
July 1976
John Piccillo WYSL, “Laverne & Shirley Sing” 1975
Grabowski
1976
1976
Robert W Taylor 1976
Robert W Taylor 1976
1976
1976
Robert W Taylor 1976
Robert W Taylor 1976
1975
1975
Grabowski, 1975
Grabowski, 1975
Jim Scott, 1975
1975
1975
Tom Tiberi, 1979. Burger King at Main & Utica, Just Opened!
Tom Tiberi, 1979. Burger King at Main & Utica, Just Opened!
1979
1975
Kevin O'Connell. WYSL, 1971
Kevin O’Connell. WYSL, 1971
WYSL 1971
WYSL 1971
WYSL, 1971
WYSL, 1971
Jack Evans WYSL
WPHD 1979
WPHD 1979
WPHD 1979
Taylor & Moore, WPHD 1979
May 1978
May 1978
Jim Nowicki, May 1978
Jim Nowicki, May 1978

 

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

Remembering The Uncle Bobby Show

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY – Back in 2005, I was tickled to be able to speak with Bobby Ash over the telephone… known to a generation of Canadians (and kids just over the border like me) as Uncle Bobby.

In the few minutes of the interview you can listen to here, Uncle Bobby gives background on how and why Bimbo the Birthday Clown started and then begat Mr. and Mrs. Happy and son of Happy, the dancing birthday creatures.

He also details many of the other characters who were a part of the show, and though his memory for some of the details is fading a bit– nothing beats Uncle Bobby sharing the names of some of his old friends from our childhood.

Among Uncle Bobby’s human pals were Alex Laurier, who played guitar on the show, Meredith Cutting, “the Singing Policeman;” Cy Leonard, “the ventriloquist;” Ron Leonard, “the magician;” Traffic Officer John, who gave the children tips about road safety. Nancy McCaig played accordion, and Barry McKay was a drawer of birds, animals and other things. Ruth Winkler sculpted plasticine models and told stories that went along with what she was modelling.

Some clips from The Uncle Bobby Show….

After talking to Uncle Bobby on the telephone, he sent me the following letter:

With that letter came these stills from Uncle Bobby himself,  sent along so that all the boys and girls can remember and enjoy…

Off his rocker?From a syndication Advertisement:
Born in a Staffordshire Theatre, brought up in the “pirate” circuses of Britain and steeped in the rich traditions of the theatre — Bobby Ash naturally steps into his role as the show’s active, animated host. Children love him, and give THE UNCLE BOBBY SHOW top priority on their viewing schedules.

The Uncle Bobby Show.
A Treat of Fun and Fancy.
Distributed by Glen-Warren Productions, Limited.

The Bimbo Story
Birthday announcements were a popular feature on the Uncle Bobby Show, and somewhere along the way, Bimbo the Birthday Clown made his first appearance. Though he was first made of cardboard, soon a wooden backing was added, then wheels, moving eyes, and of course the Happy Crew then came along: Mr. & Mrs. Happy, and Son of Happy.

My Uncle Bobby memories…
I can remember getting up very early, getting an apple out of the fridge, turning on my pre-cable TV, and watching the mystical Uncle Bobby Show… I think made even more mysterious by the melodious BIMBO BIMBO EVERYBODY BIMBO chant… And, of course, Uncle Bobby’s accent. I think the only other person I would have known with a British Accent at that point in my life would have been my Great Grandfather…. And now that I think about it, as a very young sprat, I may have thought that Uncle Bobby was my great Grandpa.

More from The Uncle Bobby Show…
This page, originally at my first website staffannouncer.com, was the first place where you could find any information about The Uncle Bobby Show on the Internet back in 2003.

So many years later, many people have sent photos and videos to share… here are just a few.

 


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 1973- Clint Buehlman, The Buffalo Braves, and more….

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo


Originally Posted: February, 2008

Just unearthed! Recordings of entire days of WBEN Radio… Unheard since the days they were broadcast over 35 years ago! Names like Clint Buehlman, Van Miller and the NBA Buffalo Braves! Read on!

WBEN AM/FM/TV, 1960

So where did these tapes come from? In 1995, Lin Television performed a massive cleanout of the 2077 Elmwood Avenue building they had just purchased as a part of their buying WIVB-TV.

Among the “treasures” I found dumpster diving, was a box of Reel-to-Rel tapes that appeared to be WBEN Radio Logger tapes from the early 70s. Many of the reels were blank… But even those with the audio intact were nearly useless… The tapes were recorded at 15/32 IPS. That is very slow, and at the time the tapes were rescued, the only way to hear the tapes properly involved about 4 hours of work for an hour of final product. For 13 years, I’ve been trying to figure out how to play these tapes back… And now… thanks to a new reel deck.. and some new digital audio editing programs, viola!

The audio quality is not the best… Its warbly sometimes… And it jumps quite a bit… And These logger tapes were in the Engineering Shop because there were problems with the recording…. But what is really amazing. Imagine your grandparents listening to WBEN all day… That’s what you get here. Things were slow to change at WBEN. Clint Buehlman’s Show in 1973 was not really all that different from the show in 1953. Van Miller is in great voice and cadence calling Buffalo Braves basketball. As far as I know, these are the only complete recordings of Braves basketball in tact.

Below, you’ll find exactly what and who is on these tapes… and some brief cuts from each.

Clint Buehlman

One of the most often asked questions to this website is, “What was the name of Clint Buehlman’s theme song?” The answer is, there were dozens of light airy instrumentals that were used to open each hour of the Buehlman show, after newsman Jack Ogilvie introduced Your AM-MC after each newscast. Listen below for several such opens, along with other snippets from the Buehly.

 

Newsman Jack Ogilvie (right) and AM-MC Clint Buehlman spent mornings together for over a quarter of a century starting in 1951 and ending in 1977.

Buffalo Braves Basketball

As Van Miller’s one time producer in both radio and TV, I can tell you I don’t know that he ever sounded better than behind the mic courtside at the Aud during Braves games, as shown to the left with Dr Jack Ramsey, standing.

Another of those popular questions is Do you have any Braves Games? Apparently, the answer has been yes for quite a long time… only they’ve been stuck on tapes I couldn’t play. But now, I have at least three Braves games in their entirety.

Braves vs Lakers: December 19, 1973
Kareem Abdul Jabbar visits Memorial Auditorium

Braves vs Bucks: February 2, 1973
Wilt Chamberlain visits Memorial Auditorium

 

Van Miller interviews Fred Hilton and Randy Smith in the WBEN studios circa 1972.

 


Some Highlights from WBEN Friday December 28, 1973

WBEN’s Al Fox interviews a cow.
Dick Rifenburg (l) and Clint Buehlman (r) receive an Award for Ski Coverage.
Ward Fenton
Dick Rifenburg
Jack Ogilvie
Ken Philips
Lou Douglas
Lou Douglas in Studio A
Stan Barron showing some kids around the studio.

Some Highlights from WBEN March 15, 1973

 

 


Random Highlights from WBEN 1973

 

Ed Tucholka at the WBEN-FM automation center.
Virgil Booth on the Channel 4 set.
Marty Gleason at the Editors Desk.
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