Rediscovered: Irv Weinstein on PM Magazine… 1979, WIVB-TV

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY –There’s a lot going on in the 12 minute video I posted on YouTube today.

Oddly, iconic WKBW-TV news anchor Irv Weinstein was featured on the premiere of PM Magazine on WIVB-TV in 1979. Hosted by Debbie Stamp and Don Moffit, the show featured an in depth interview with Weinstein and his family, including son Marc Weinstein of Amoeba Records fame, with the rest of his “progressive rock group.”

Also featured are promos for Skybird 4, WIVB’s news helicopter, and a spectacularly ’70s promo for News 4 anchor John Beard, now with cross-town rival WGRZ-TV. How ‘70s is it? Suffice it to say, a fetching young woman mentions how much she likes John’s mustache.

At the end of the tape, another Buffalo pop culture treat– Glendora– known in here as a 1970s late-nite TV salesperson, but known around the country for her community access TV show “A Chat with Glendora” and activism in many arenas.

The stop and go of the tape capture two extra images as well—Danny Neaverth for Bells, and a Van Miller still. Arguably Buffalo’s three greatest radio and TV personalities all in one 1979 tape.

It’s classic Buffalo TV at its finest!

This tape was from Irv’s private collection. I dubbed it for him with a number of other tapes—including video from his wedding—about 15 years ago when I was working at the Empire Sports Network.

Still images from this video

Predating YouTube, I first posted a tiny, very low resolution version of this video on staffannouncer.com in 2006.

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 ’70s: Danny Neaverth, one of Buffalo’s greatest pop culture stars

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Beyonce. Bono. Cher. Some personalities are so renowned and celebrated just one name will do.  Such is Buffalo’s Danny.

Buffalo News archives

Pictured here in the studios of WKBW on Main Street with newsman John Zach in 1972, Danny Neaverth is perhaps Buffalo’s greatest pop culture star. He’s remembered most for peeking at us through the hole in the record behind the microphones of upstart WBNY radio in the 1950s as Daffy Dan, then WGR Radio, and then 25 years at WKBW Radio — with most of those years as Buffalo’s morning man. Tag on a dozen more years at WHTT, and a few more at KB again, and Danny moved our fannies on the radio for half a century.

But it wasn’t just radio — Neaverth was also a TV weatherman on Channel 7 and later Channel 2. He was the public address announcer for the NBA Braves and the NFL Bills.  A few of his moonlighting gigs dovetailed more closely with his work as a disc jockey and radio host. He was a concert promoter and recording artist (who could forget “Rats in My Room,” even if they tried?). Of course, his face and voice were everywhere for Bells Supermarkets and dozens of other Western New York businesses through the years. His work in the community for dozens of causes and charities over the last 60 years has been unmatched.

In the ’70s and ’80s, it was difficult to spend a day in Buffalo and not somehow be graced by the voice, smile and personality of “Clean Dan Neaverth,” a true Buffalonian who never forgot his Seneca Street South Buffalo roots and proudly plied his trade among fellow Buffalonians proud to call him one of us.

Ten years without the I-190 tolls

By Steve Cichon | steve@buffalostories.com | @stevebuffalo

Ah Black Rock and Ogden, we hardly knew ye. The new year will mark a decade since the City of Buffalo had toll booths at its northern (Black Rock) and southern (Ogden) borders along the I-190.

For generations of Buffalonians, it was a bit of a sport to toss the quarter, and later two quarters, into the EXACT CHANGE baskets at the now demolished 190 toll booths.

The tolls were supposed to come down in when the highway was paid for in the late 80’s– but to the outrage of WNYers, you had to pay a toll to get to downtown Buffalo. The outrage built to a crescendo in 2006 when the toll booths were removed.

For some tollbooth memories we dip into the Buffalo Stories archives for these shots.

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Its WKBW-TV Channel 7’s zany weatherman Danny Neaverth standing at the Ogden Tolls sometime in the early to mid 80’s.

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This story was all about how fast people could drive through the “Exact Change” booths, and still get the coins into the basket.

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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

The scary sounds of Halloween on WKBW: 5 hours worth of K-Big talent on display

By Steve Cichon | steve@buffalostories.com | @stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY – In the 1960s and ’70s, Buffalo’s WKBW Radio billed itself as “one of America’s two great radio stations.” Never was that more on display than on Halloween night.

This blurb appeared in a Geneseo newspaper during the week leading up to Halloween in 1968. The masterful promotional folks at KB knew that by sending out this warning--with hope of it being published, that people would flock to hear, as Jeff Kaye puts it in the intro to the 1971 version of the dramatization, "what all the hubhub was about." It's the 1960's version of "don't click on this link." (Buffalo Stories Photo)
This blurb appeared in a Geneseo newspaper during the week leading up to Halloween in 1968. The masterful promotional folks at KB knew that by sending out this warning–with hope of it being published, that people would flock to hear, as Jeff Kaye puts it in the intro to the 1971 version of the dramatization, “what all the hubhub was about.” It’s the 1960’s version of “don’t click on this link.” (Buffalo Stories Photo)

While Program Director Jeff Kaye might be best remembered for that deep resonant voice which he used like Horowitz on a Steinway, he was also perhaps the greatest producer and writer– that is to say, the greatest radio mind– of the generation.

He found superb vehicles not only for his own talent, but also put the stars of KB in situations where they could shine brightest. These Halloween productions are brilliant examples. The writing and production stands up almost 50 years later, and gives the listener a true sense of the talent that went into “playing the hits” on KB.

Most of these recordings played several times through the years, starting in 1967 and running through the late 70’s.

You hear the voice, writing and production of Jeff Kaye; the engineering and production of Al Lafler, Dan Kreigler, and many others; the voices and writing of Dan Neaverth, Jim McLaughlin, Don Berns, Stan Roberts, Sandy Beach, Jack Armstrong, Shane Gibson, Joe Downey, Ron Baskin, Henry Brach, Jim Fagan, Don Lancer, Irv Weinstein, and others.

Three different versions of the war of the Worlds appear. The primary difference in each is the news guy, disc jockey and the music at the start of the show. Sandy Beach was in the original broadcast in 1968, Jack Armstrong was in the 1971 version, and Shane in 1973. In 1974, Jeff Kaye became the afternoon drive host on KB’s competitor WBEN, effectively ending any future reworking of the “covering of the invasion” half of the show– which remained mostly unchanged through the different broadcasts.

LISTEN:

Jeff Kaye, Dan Neaverth, Stan Roberts and the K-Big DJs added gasoline to the “Paul is dead” fire with “Paul McCartney is alive and Well… Maybe?”


Jim McLaughlin introduces Halloween 1973, and reminds you…Don’t turn around.


Dan Neaverth narrates People… places… things.


Jeff Kaye narrates with the KB Players in The Darkness.


Dan Neaverth narrates The Bed.


Jeff Kaye narrates with the KB Players in The Monkey’s Paw.


Jim McLaughlin narrates Vampires.


War of the Worlds 1968: The original broadcast featuring an intro by Dan Neaverth, Joe Downey-KB Radio News, and Sandy Beach- KB Radio Music.


War of the Worlds 1971: The broadcast featuring an intro by Jeff Kaye, Joe Downey-KB Radio News, and Jack Armstrong- KB Radio Music.


War of the Worlds 1973: The broadcast featuring an intro by Jim McLaughlin, Ron Baskin-KB Radio News, and Shane!- KB Radio Music.


Read the coverage of the scare created by the 1968 and 1971 broadcasts from the Associated Press, as printed in the Lockport Union Sun-Journal.

Photos from Buffalo’s Jimmy Griffin years

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

He remains one of the most popular figures in Buffalo’s history. He was also one of the most vilified.

Jimmy Griffin was Mayor of Buffalo from 1978-1993. No one has ever held the post longer, and it’s a pretty good bet that no one ever had more fun doing the job. He got things done. Like Pilot Field. And the waterfront. And the Theatre District. And getting people to stay home and enjoy a six pack instead of heading out into the Blizzard of ’85.

Look at the smile on this guy’s face in nearly every photo, and tell me he’s not having a good time.

Mayor Griffin with Burt Reynolds, when he was in town shooting "Best Friends."
Mayor Griffin with Burt Reynolds, when he was in town shooting “Best Friends.”
Mayor Griffin had a car phone in the 80s. When they were REALLY cool.
Mayor Griffin had a car phone in the 80s. When they were REALLY cool.
Reeling in a Lake Erie mermaid with lawmaker Mary Lou Rath.
Reeling in a Lake Erie mermaid with lawmaker Mary Lou Rath.
Hizzoner was a natural behind the controls of a front loader.
Hizzoner was a natural behind the controls of a front loader.
He was also a natural on an elephant, leading the circus parade into the Aud.
He was also a natural on an elephant, leading the circus parade into the Aud.
With Seymour Knox on the Aud ice…
With Seymour Knox on the Aud ice…
Jim Griffin: Buffalo’s original Irish dancer? with Mercy sisters wearing Talking Proud buttons, dancers, and County Executive Ed Rutkowski
Jim Griffin: Buffalo’s original Irish dancer? with Mercy sisters wearing Talking Proud buttons, dancers, and County Executive Ed Rutkowski
Jim Griffin’s leadership spawned waterfront construction…
Jim Griffin’s leadership spawned waterfront construction…
Two rockstar Jims of 80s Buffalo… Jim Kelly and Jim Griffin
Two rockstar Jims of 80s Buffalo… Jim Kelly and Jim Griffin
The ol’Rockpile… Griffin’s tenacity and will pushed though the building of Pilot Field…
The ol’Rockpile… Griffin’s tenacity and will pushed though the building of Pilot Field…
County Executive Ed Rutkowski, The Mayor, and Danny Neaverth on the streets of South Buffalo…
County Executive Ed Rutkowski, The Mayor, and Danny Neaverth on the streets of South Buffalo…
A true man of the people and a one-time gin mill owner, Mayor Griffin poured a fine beer…
A true man of the people and a one-time gin mill owner, Mayor Griffin poured a fine beer…

These photos are among the roughly 200 photos which come from a new book about Buffalo’s beloved mayor.

A Buffalo Scrapbook: Gimme Jimmy! The James D. Griffin Story in his own Words and Photos, by Steve Cichon, will be in stores next week, or you can order a copy now at www.mayorgriffin.com  and have it delivered to your home by next week.

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

You Love To Hate Them: The Best of the Worst in 1980s Buffalo TV Commercials

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY – It’s an amazing transformation that happens somewhere in our brain. At some point, judging by the numbers of hits they receive, the terrible TV commercials once hated and vilified, become that for which we search YouTube.

There were a few local television ads that we really remember fondly, especially when they involve two WNY institutions we don't hear as much from anymore, like Danny Neaverth and Bells Markets. (Buffalo Stories archives)
There were a few local television ads that we really remember fondly, especially when they involve two WNY institutions we don’t hear as much from anymore, like Danny Neaverth and Bells Markets. (Buffalo Stories archives)

Many things annoy us about the spots by which we are regularly bombarded. The seeming ubiquity when they are on radio, TV, billboards, print. The fact that many are cheaply or poorly produced, or just based on an asinine idea that shouldn’t even have been written on the big sheet of paper in the brain storming session, let alone the idea that will not haunt hundreds of thousands of memories into perpetuity.

Perhaps worst is when, for no one particular good reason, the spot is just plain annoying.

The problem becomes, love them or hate them, they become familiar, a little warm. Annoying, but somehow comforting, in that it’s always there. And then, sometime, even decades after they go off the air, you get a yearning to love and hate them all over again. The hatred for the ad in question turns to hatred for the internet when you can’t mine that nugget you are trying so desperately to remember, so you can properly forget again.

The classic example of this is the Kaufman’s rye bread commercial. This jingle ran over and over on Buffalo TV for 20 years.

Whenever I give a talk about Buffalo, I play that, and people smile and sing along. They hate it, but love it. That jolly little baker is the perfect animated definition of frienemy. Almost scary happy smiles while people say, “I hate that!”

But they love to hate it. We all do. We love to hate terrible commercials. Don’t make me list the commercials you hate today that you will one day search for on the 2037 version of YouTube.

All of this came to mind when I was going through some video recently for a friend, and found some commercials that if you lived through the 80s in Buffalo, you will certainly remember them. And maybe even enjoy watching them once before going back to hate.

I found one of the more popularly hated and loved commercials of the 70s and 80s when i was doing research on the book I wrote about Irv Weinstein. A commercial so popular, people who were too young to have ever seen it in the first place still say FUN WOW even though they aren’t sure why–

Amusement Parks can be especially deadly when they are trying to appeal to kids. This is one from 1989 that I just uploaded. I consider this the definitive version of the Marineland jingle, with King Waldorf singing, and the kids filling in the words.

Fantasy Island and Marineland… Fondly familiar to see those spots once– maybe not again for a while now. But here’s one you might wind up looking at again::

Two Buffalo institutions in this one, but even while WKBW morning man Dan Neaverth is shilling for Bells, he has to work in a reference to the country’s newest amusement park: Darien Lake Fun Country::

Danny of course known as a DJ, and doing Channel 7’s weather outside… He wasn’t the only 1980s spokesman to come from a different line of work to sell a product. Jim Schoenfeld sold City Mattresses for years.

A few more:

Check out the “state of the art” computer they are bragging about at Fay’s Drugs in 1981:

The sound track on this 1989 Genny Light spot is pure 80s. So are the women, as Genesee mocks the 80s trend of filling beer commercials with women in bikinis instead of beer.

Finally, here’s one that put Lackawanna on the map in the late 80s… You may have forgotten about it, and you’ll probably hate me for reminding you.

You’ll find all of these commercials and plenty more great Buffalo video on the staffannouncer YouTube channel.

Shane Brother Shane rocks Freedom City USA!

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Hear what it sounded like… The Day Shane joined Sandy Beach and Danny Neaverth on Sandy;s show in WBEN on July 31, 2009.

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Shane with Sandy Beach and Dan Neaverth on WBEN July 31, 2009

See and hear more classic Shane:

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 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.

 

Danny Neaverth’s 25th Anniversary at KB

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

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.

coverage in Radio & Records magazine... I think they meant Rod Roddy.
Coverage in Radio & Records magazine… I think they meant Rod Roddy.

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.

kbreunionsheasmarquee

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.