Buffalo in the ‘70s: Reggie McKenzie & Fred Klestine

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

This photo shows two well-known figures in 1970s Buffalo getting together to talk about jazz in in the WADV-FM studios.

Buffalo Bills guard Reggie McKenzie and WADV-FM disc jockey Fred Klestine. (Buffalo Stories archives)

Best known for his time at WKBW Radio, Fred Klestine spent parts of four decades as a disc jockey on Buffalo radio stations WWOL, WBNY, WADV and WBUF. A Lackawanna boy who worked in the Bethlehem plant before turning to radio, his broadcast persona was a deep, melodic voiced blue-collar everyman. Off the air, he was a coffee-swilling funnyman who was one of everyone’s favorite co-workers.

Fred Klestine and Jeff Kaye, WKBW, late 1960s. (Buffalo Stories archives)

As the outgoing public face of “The Electric Company,” Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Reggie McKenzie and his fellow guard Joe DeLamielleure were given plenty of credit for O.J. Simpson’s ability to run for a record 2003 yards in 1973. As the man who helped make the way for “the Juice,” McKenzie even became a spokesman for Niagara Mohawk.

On this day, McKenzie dropped by the Buffalo studios of “beautiful music” WADV-FM to promote two jazz albums that were recorded in the Hotel Statler’s Downtown Room. The call letters of WADV-FM were changed to WYRK-FM in 1981.

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.