The Sound of the City: WEBR

       By Steve Cichon

Excerpt from 100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting 

After being the first in the nation to attempt a poorly received “sing-along” format, WEBR rebooted its image in 1962 with the new “The Sound of the City” theme song.

 The Courier-Express’ Jack Allen called The Sound of the City “a bit of good music a cut above the jarring jingles so often associated with commercial AM radio.”

“The Sound of the City” was originally written for San Francisco radio station KSFO, which was owned by Gene Autry, and resung for radio stations around the country.

Johnny Mann– best known as the music director on the Joey Bishop Show– wrote the song which was performed by “The Johnny Mann Singers.”

Among those nameless faceless Johnny Mann singers was Thurl Ravenscroft, who was the singing voice of “The Grinch” with Boris Karloff’s narration. Also, as Tony the Tiger, he bellowed out “They’rrrrre GREAT!” on Frosted Flakes commercials for 30 years.

His deep throaty vibrato is easy to pick out in the line, “faint is the thunder of Niagara, soft is the murmur from the lake.”

Lyrics to “The Buffalo Anthem,” as sung by The Johnny Mann Singers

The Sound of the City,

the Good Neighbor City,

the Sound of Buffalo.

Are mixed with daylight’s glimmering rays,

and moonbeams shimmering glow.

When darkness settles on the city,

 night sounds slowly come awake.

Faint is the thunder of Niagara,

soft is the murmur from the lake.

Hear the Sound of the city,

the sounds that are heard in Buffalo, New York.

WEBR, Buffalo

When the Boulevard Mall opened in 1962, it was the first to offer “weatherproof shopping” in an enclosed mall space in Western New York.

WEBR deejays Jack Eno, Carrol Hardy, Al Meltzer and others broadcast live from the mall during its first days open to the public.

This page is an excerpt from  100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting by Steve Cichon

The full text of the book is now online.

The original 436-page book is available along with Steve’s other books online at The Buffalo Stories Bookstore and from fine booksellers around Western New York. 

©2020, 2021 Buffalo Stories LLC,, and Steve Cichon

What It Looked Like Wednesday: Christmastime at Sattler’s, 998 Broadway

By Steve Cichon

For generations of Buffalonians, Christmas didn’t begin without the Sattler’s Christmas parade and a visit to the Toys Annex across the street from good ol’ 998.

1951 ad

1951 ad

Starting in 1947, Sattler’s played host to a Santa Claus parade up Broadway that was patterned mostly after the New York City Macy’s parade — featuring gigantic balloons tethered by ropes and the big man himself as the grand finale.

image from the 1962 parade.

Image from the 1962 parade.

It was estimated that 40,000 people lined the parade route on a cold, snowy November Saturday for the parade in 1962. That year, there were 40 large balloons and about 20 marching units —including the Buffalo Police marching band.

from the 1962 parade

Image from the 1962 parade

The 1964 parade was announced by WKBW’s Danny Neaverth and featured Buckskin Joe and the Fantasy Island Stagecoach.


Click to enlarge 1964 ad

In 1967, Santa arrived at 998 via helicopter, greeted by WWOL’s Ramblin’ Lou.


Of course, seeing Santa was great—but the real thrill was shopping for the toys which Santa might bring.

1954 (Buffalo Stories archives)

Even once you outgrew toys — Sattler’s always had plenty to fill your Christmas list, like this 1963 record album list including “The Singing Nun” and “Best of Joan Baez.:


The store’s odd and interesting array of bargains, big events like their Christmas parade and that first-of-its-kind “Shop and Save at Sattler’s, 998 Broadway” jingle made the store a destination for people from all over Western New York.

Buffalo Stories archives

Through the 1960s, Sattler’s became an anchor tenant in a handful of Western New York’s new shopping malls.

The Boulevard Mall Sattler's, 1980. (Buffalo Stories archives)
The Boulevard Mall Sattler’s, 1980. (Buffalo Stories archives)

Sattler’s went out of business in 1982, but the landmark Broadway-Fillmore store was stripped of the Sattler name a year earlier. For its final 13 months, it was known as the 998 Clearance Center. It carried castaways from the Main Place, Boulevard and Seneca Mall locations.

Sattler’s was one of many stores anchoring the Broadway-Fillmore shopping district in the mid-60s. Buffalo Stories archives

The 998 location was torn down in 1988.

Buffalo in the ’50s: The state’s first McDonald’s on Niagara Falls Boulevard

By Steve Cichon

When New York State’s first McDonald’s opened on Niagara Falls Boulevard just north of Maple Road in 1959, that part of Maple Road wasn’t even built yet. It was mostly open farm land.

New York State’s first McDonald’s, as seen in the lower left corner, was built in 1959. This photo was taken in 1962, and shows the progress of building the Boulevard Mall. A photo from the same vantage point today would show Wegmans, Walmart, and the site for the forthcoming Whole Foods as well as the mall… and McDonald’s. (Buffalo News archives)

That part of Amherst and Tonawanda quickly developed around the McDonald’s Drive-In, with the completion of the Boulevard Mall — Western New York’s first covered shopping mall — in 1962, the area has been in a constant state of development ever since.

McDonald’s was a hit the moment Jerry Brownrout opened the franchise in 1959.

1962 ad. Buffalo Stories archives

Over the first few months in business, the self-service drive-in was frying up 70,000 hamburgers, 30,000 bags of fries, and blending 20,000 shakes a month, and McDonald’s was well on its way to becoming a local and international phenomenon. The location was selling more 15 cent hamburgers than any other in the country.

Over the first five years, 250 tons of hamburger was cooked in that Niagara Falls Boulevard location — enough for five million hamburgers. By 1964, there were nine McDonald’s locations in the Buffalo area.


Buffalo in the 70s: Meet Snoopy and Dave Thomas at Hengerer’s

By Steve Cichon

All the youngsters were invited to Hengerer’s to meet Rocketship 7’s Dave Thomas and Snoopy to promote the upcoming Peanuts film “A Boy Named Charlie Brown.”

No word on whether the Sweetlys, Mr. Beeper or Promo the Robot would be attending.