By Steve Cichon
Excerpt from 100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting
Van Miller spent the 60s as the play-by play voice of the Bills and one of Ch.4’s top sportscasters, but he was also one of WBEN Radio’s most popular personalities as well. Van hikes the ball to Jack Kemp
Van interviews radio comedy legend Jack Benny (above) and Hollywood beauty Jayne Mansfield (below).
Ch.4 had an ever-changing team of news, sports, and weather announcers.
In 1964, Tom Jolls was the weatherman on the Ch.4 newscasts anchored by Chuck Healy leading into Walter Cronkite’s CBS Evening News.
Ward Fenton, Bill Peters, Martha Torge, Mike Mearian, and Tom Jolls recording “The Life of FDR.”
Before he made Dustmop come to life and made the phrase “Back to you, Irv,” part of Buffalo’s lexicon, Tom Jolls was celebrated as the host of Kaleidoscope on WBEN Radio. The program was filled with daily musical themes and dramatic productions often written and produced by Jolls—including the one shown above.
“I would commend Mr. Jolls for his show, its freshness, variety, presentation and the obvious effort which goes into the program. Mr. Jolls always makes Kaleidoscope sound like fun day after day,” wrote one Toronto critic.
Virgil Booth, as a host and news reporter, brought nature to Ch.4 viewers.
During the station’s first 11 years on the air, Chuck Poth was a familiar face to Ch.2 viewers as one of the station’s most visible newscasters.
The South Buffalo native attended OLV grammar school and Baker-Victory High in Lackawanna. After serving in the Army during World War II, Poth held a string of jobs at WUSJ Lockport, WJJL Niagara Falls, WBNY, and then the short-lived WBUF-TV.
After working at WGR-TV from 1954-1966, he worked in politics, writing speeches for Robert Kennedy, then running for county legislature and congressional seats, before working in Buffalo City Hall during the Griffin administration.
By 1964, Roy Kerns (above) and Frank Dill (below) were familiar faces in Buffalo, both having been on Ch.2 since the station signed on a decade earlier. They were seen anchoring news and weather leading into NBC’s Huntley/Brinkley Report.
After retiring from the Buffalo Bills, Ernie Warlick became the first Black member of a Buffalo TV anchor team when he became a sportscaster at Ch.2. While his duties generally included interviewing sports figures like Bills quarterback Tom Flores (below), they also included some news duty—like chatting with Mayor Frank Sedita during a bus strike (above).
Skating champion Peggy Fleming chats with photographers Roy Russell from The Buffalo Evening News, Don Keller (Yearke) from Ch.7, and Paul Maze from Ch.4.
The press covers the Dome Stadium controversy. At the table: reporters Jim Fagan, WKBW; Allan Bruce, UPI; Jim McLaughlin, WYSL; Milt Young, WBEN-TV, Ray Finch, WBEN-TV. Dick Teetsel, Ch.2 sits in back, and Don Yearke shoots film for Ch.7.
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, staffannouncer.com, and Steve Cichon