In 1973, Clint Buehlman was celebrating 30 years of hosting the morning show on WBEN. His program had more listeners than the next three stations’ morning shows combined. More than 300,000 people tuned in to “your AM-MC” during the course of the week.
“Dependability,” explained Buehly, was the reason for his 40 years of success on morning radio on WGR and then WBEN.
And from the 1930s through the 1970s, if it was snowing in Buffalo on any given morning, you could depend on tuning around your dial to find “Yours Truly, Buehly” sitting at the piano, singing his song about driving in winter weather.
“Leave for work a little early cause the roads are kind of slick,
and even though your brakes are good you’ll find you can’t stop quick.
“When you step upon that peddle and your car begins to skid,
just remember this advice and you’ll be glad you did.”
It was winter weather that helped end the Clint Buehlman era on Buffalo radio. During the Blizzard of ’77, listeners came to rely on the more modern sound of Danny Neaverth on WKBW, and less on the dated sound of Buehlman’s show on WBEN.
In March 1977, Buehlman turned 65, and WBEN management took it as an opportunity to force him to retire.
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.
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.
Hamburg’s biggest contribution to the early history of rock ‘n’ roll might be more technical than musical, but it was from the 50,000 watts worth of radio waves flying out of Big Tree Rd. that Western New York and much of the east coast and Canada were introduced to the format.
The Buffalo Broadcasting Corporation opened its transmitter and tower facilities on Big Tree Rd. in July, 1941. The facility cost $350,000– $5.7 million in 2017 dollars—and was described as “truly a showplace of electric marvels.”
When the building first opened, a series of telephone lines carried programs from the Rand Building studios of WGR and WKBW to Hamburg for broadcast.
WKBW’s mainstays were the network programs of CBS with stars like Orson Welles, Hedda Hopper, Cecil B. DeMille, and Kate Smith. WGR carried Mutual Network shows like “The Lone Ranger” and talent like Milton Berle.
The local talent included Billy Keaton, Ralph Hubbell, and WGR Orchestra leader David Cheskin. Before Howdy Doody came along, Bob Smith hosted “The Cheer Up Gang” every morning, and before spending 35 years on WBEN, Clinton Buehlman hosted “WGR Musical Clock.”
After spending time at a few smaller stations, in the mid-1950s, George “Hound Dog” Lorenz took his rhythm and blues program featuring the music which would soon be known as rock ‘n’ roll to 50,000 watt WKBW Radio. The powerful signal allowed “The Hound” to introduce the evolving music genre to the entire northeastern United States.
WKBW would eventually be known as “one of America’s two great radio stations.” The voices of Stan Roberts, Tom Shannon, Irv Weinstein, Danny Neaverth, Joey Reynolds, Jack Armstrong, and so many others were sent out over the four and later six towers in our backyard.
Today, WWKB Radio and WGR Radio still transmit from Big Tree Rd. Both stations are owned by Entercom Communiucations, which is in the middle of a $1.7 billion merger with CBS Radio.
This story originally appeared in The Hamburg Sun.
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)
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 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.
Clint Buehlman spent 46 years on Buffalo radio. From 1931 until 1977, “Yours Truly” Buehly’s voice came across Western New York’s airwaves daily, checking Arthur Mometer for the temperature, helping commuters through traffic, and letting kids know when school was cancelled.
Buffalo News archives
Nearly 40 years after Buehlman’s retirement, the day he’s remembered and talked about most by his generations of audiences is Thanksgiving Day.
In 1987, when “Your AM-MC, CB” came back to WBEN after a decade of forced retirement for an interview with then-WBEN (now WHTT) morning man Bill Lacy, Lacy said Thanksgiving time was, by far, the time of year when the phones rang with thoughts of Buehlman the most — and they were mostly thoughts about Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians.
Buehly made it a Western New York tradition to play Waring’s version of “Grandma’s Thanksgiving” every year, and it remains a song takes many Buffalonians back to the old kitchen radio and a much simpler time.
In 1977, upon reaching the age of 65, Buehlman was forced to retire from the early morning seat he had occupied on WBEN since 1943. Here’s a look back at his career at the time of his retirement.
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!
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.
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.
Buffalo Braves Basketball
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
Some Highlights from WBEN Friday December 28, 1973