BUFFALO, NY – When Irv Weinstein, Rick Azar, and Tom Jolls teamed up in 1965, it’s probably fair to say that more people would have been watching Channel 4’s test pattern than the news on Channel 7. But by the time Rick Azar retired in 1989, the three had not only become the longest running anchor team in history, but also gained an iconic status unparalleled for any other triumvirate in television news history.
For me personally, Irv, Rick, and Tom have been a part of my life as long as I can remember. My dad and I watched the news together every day. My mom tells anyone who’ll listen that “IRV TINE-TINE” was among my first words, and I would run around the house singing my own version of the Eyewitness News Theme (ba-ba-BA, BA-BA, Badabadaba, ba-ba-ba-BA-BA, BADABADABA!).
Commander Tom and his pals Davey and Goliath kept me quiet and entertained, and left me having a great desire to have a red jacket with yellow epaulets. And then there was the time my Grandmother nearly passed out when we all met Rick Azar AND Mike Randall at the Broadway Market one Easter… “He’s so handsome, He’s so handsome,” Grandma repeated over and over.
Eyewitness News Audio
Some of the people, places, and stories of Channel 7 through the years…
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.
Irv Weinstein is remembered as one of — if not the — greatest personalities in the history of Buffalo television. But even as he sat on the set of Eyewitness News reading Buffalo the news for 34 years, his greater love may have been acting. Many times through the years, Irv took the time between the 6 and 11 to take to the stage.
Buffalo News archives
In this photo, Irv, along with Channel 2 weatherman and news director Stewart Dan and Channel 4 weather reporter Suzi Makai, prepare to open “Fiorello” at the Jewish Center on Delaware Avenue.
Dan played the lead role in the play; Makai was the director.
During a mid-’60s visit to Buffalo, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller stopped by the Main Street studios of WKBW-TV for an interview with now-legendary Channel 7 newsman Irv Weinstein.
Buffalo News archives
At the time, however, Channel 7 was, as pejoratively described by Irv himself, “the fourth station in a three-station market.”
Channel 7 signed on in 1958, 10 years after Channel 4, and four years after Channel 2. The offerings of the ABC network didn’t help endear WKBW-TV to Buffalo viewers: Weinstein likes to remind people of quality network programming such as “My Mother the Car.”
When Weinstein left WKBW Radio to join Channel 7 alongside Rick Azar in 1964, the evening newscast went on the air at 7:20 p.m. to avoid competition from the other stations’ 6 p.m. newscasts.
Buffalo Stories archives
A few years later, Tom Jolls joined the crew, and the Irv, Rick and Tom team that dominated Buffalo TV news in the ’70s and ’80s was complete.
The three men, plus addition of more local newsfilm, better tight writing and a display of personality and human interaction unseen before on local TV made Channel 7 — and Irv Weinstein — No. 1 in the market, virtually uninterrupted, from the late 1960s through Irv’s retirement in 1998.
Nelson Rockefeller was governor of New York from 1958 to 1973 and was appointed vice president by Gerald Ford. He served from 1974 to 1977 and died in 1979.
These are the kinds of thing that litter my hard drive and my attic.
This is what it means to be a “Buffalo pop culture historian,” having this sort of junk at my fingertips. And if I don’t regularly share images like these, people stop calling me a “historian” and start calling me a “hoarder.”
So these are from the Buffalo Stories/staffannouncer.com Archives.
If you survived the decade of the 1980’s in Buffalo, New York, you very well may remember:
In most locations, Gold Circle took over Buffalo area Twin Fair stores in 1982. Gold Circle stores closed in 1988, with many becoming Hills, unless there was already a Hills location nearby (such as on Lake Avenue in Blasdell.)
Remember when the Trico ad in the boards lit up when the Sabres scored a goal at the Aud? Windshield wipers were invented in Buffalo, and produced in 3 various plants around the city, until Trico closed up shop and moved to Mexico. Also, remember when the Sabres scored goals?
A field full of plants growing cans of delicious Genny Cream Ale? Don’t tell me you haven’t dreamed this dream. People will come, Ray… People will most definitely come.
This is the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce in 1982. The best part is, the “Talking Proud” hook rug hanging on the wall might not even be in the top 5 most 80’s things about this photo.
Get your discount Crystal Beach tickets at Super Duper. That’s exciting, but the real excitement, in retrospect, was the fact that you could very likely cross the Peace Bridge by answering one question with “US,” and then getting a “go ahead,” from a customs guy.
This 1981 Irv Weinstein photo has a strong 1970’s look about it, but the early 80’s had a strong 70’s look about them. For some people in WNY, the 70’s ended and the 80’s began some time in 1992.
This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com
The story of a TV anchorman so universally loved in Western New York that only one name is necessary… Irv. From the 1950s through the 1990s, Irv Weinstein informed and entertained generations of Buffalonians with his unmistakable style in writing and delivering the news. Together with Rick Azar and Tom Jolls, Irv was a part of the longest running TV anchor team in history, and their story is the story of Buffalo over the last half century.
From the time long ago… When our TV picture looked like it came from the bottom of a Coke bottle in fuzzy black and white, to today’s electronically augmented color; one man in Buffalo television has been the leading presence. As Clint Buehlman once dominated Buffalo radio, as Walter Cronkite dominated network news, so Irv, through his intuition, aggressive style, his personality, has dominated the local news scene. -Phil Beuth
Steve Cichon is an award-winning journalist, author, and historian. The Buffalo News calls him “A true Buffalonian,” and says “he knows this town. The winner of a Buffalo Business First ‘40 Under 40’Award in 2010 and dozens of Associated Press Awards as an anchor and reporter with WBEN Radio since 2003, Steve has worked in radio and television in Buffalo since 1993.
Cichon’s 2009 book, ‘The Complete History of Parkside,’ was described by Western New York Heritage Magazine as ‘packed with numerous facts from start to finish, (A) fun read through one the city’s most beautiful residential neighborhoods.’ Steve and his wife Monica are the care takers of their 1909 EB Green home in the Parkside Neighborhood.
While Steve has spent years collecting the Irv Weinstein story, his interests also extend to the history of all of Buffalo and Western New York as well. He’s the curator, writer, and webmaster at staffannouncer.com, a website dedicated to preserving and sharing the Buffalo area’s pop culture history, particularly the history of Buffalo radio and television, and the numerous untold stories of everyday living on the Niagara Frontier.
Steve is available to talk about Irv, Rick, and Tom and many other Buffalo Pop Culture history subjects… Information on how by clicking here.