Buffalo Bob Smith sings about Bells Markets

       By Steve Cichon
       steve@buffalostories.com
       @stevebuffalo

Typically, when Buffalo Bob Smith enthusiastically shouted the question, “Say kids, what time is it?” the answer enthusiastically shouted back was, “It’s Howdy Doody Time!”

That wasn’t the case in this series of Bells Markets TV ads from the early 1970s.

“It’s Bells Supermarket Time,” the peanut gallery shouted from the vegetable aisle at Bells.

Robert Schmidt was born in Buffalo and attended Fosdick-Masten Park High School (now City Honors School), and began a radio career on WGR and then WBEN with lifelong friend and early on-air partner Clint Buehlman.

Clint Buehlman and Buffalo Bob.

As Bob Smith, he moved to New York City radio in 1947, and when he started hosting a children’s television show shortly thereafter – adding the nod to his hometown to his stage name, becoming Buffalo Bob Smith.

The video shows three 30-second commercials which aired on Buffalo television in the early 1970s.

They were transferred from 16 mm film as a part of the Buffalo Stories Film Conservation Initiative.

Buffalo in the ’40s: Clint Buehlman & Buffalo Bob Smith

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

They were two of Buffalo’s favorite up-and-coming announcers and emcees during the 1930s on the Buffalo Broadcasting Corp.’s WGR Radio.

When The Buffalo Evening News wanted to wrestle away WGR’s top rating for its own station, WBEN, it was Clinton Buehlman (left) and Smilin’ Bob Smith (right) they hired.

Buehly and Smith, along with Johnny Eisenberger (who was later better known as Forgetful the Elf), were lifelong friends who grew up together on Buffalo’s East Side. When they were brought to WBEN from WGR in 1943, Buehlman hosted the early morning show and Smith did mid-mornings.

In between their own programs, they co-hosted “Early Date at Hengerer’s,” live from the downtown department store.

Early Date at Hengerer's, WBEN. (Buffalo Stories archives)

“Early Date” at Hengerer’s, WBEN. (Buffalo Stories archives)

While Buehlman’s pace was fast and his persona was slapstick, Smilin’ Bob was more laidback and homespun. He caught the ear of NBC executives in New York City looking to build a team for the network’s Big Apple flagship station.

Bob Smith, WBEN. Buffalo News archives

Bob Smith, WBEN. (Buffalo Stories archives)

Shortly after Smith left WBEN for the New York’s WEAF Radio in 1946, longtime News and Courier-Express radio critic Jim Trantor wrote:

“Buffalo’s Smilin’ Bob Smith, who’s become one of NBC’s  fair-haired  boys  on the  New York scene … is going great guns at the head of a television show for youngsters down there and looks to have just about the rosiest future imaginable.”

The show, of course, was Howdy Doody, and Smith was destined to become one of the great early stars of television.