Excerpt from 100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting
For many kids and teens of the Eisenhower era, the different kinds of sounds coming out of radios gave them something of their own to listen to while doing their homework or on a transistor radio snuck under a pillow after bedtime.
There are also those who listened to deejays like The Hound and Lucky Pierre and were inspired to spend the next 60 years entertaining the world.
For example, Buffalo radio legends Sandy Beach and Jefferson Kaye, both of whom grew up in Massachusetts, listened to the Hound over KB’s powerful signal as youngsters and cited him as an inspiration.
But right here in Buffalo, a handful of the boys who’d be the broadcast Pied Pipers of their generation got their radio start in an old brick building in South Buffalo’s Seneca-Babcock neighborhood.
A group of friends from St. Monica’s grammar school on Orlando Street spent most of the rest of their free time at the Boys’ Club a couple blocks away on Babcock Street.
The club’s organized activities, mostly sports, weren’t exactly what these boys were after. “They weren’t much for boxing,” activities director Jimmy Coyle would say for years after, “they were more for talking.”
Past members of the Babcock Boys’ Club, from the Courier-Express, 1964
Danny Neaverth, Joe Pinto (who’d later become Joey Reynolds on the radio), Bill Masters (who spent 20 years on WEBR and WBEN), Danny McBride (whose local broadcasting career spanned 60 years) were all major players starting a closed-circuit radio station for the club.
Joey Pinto, center, brought his home record player to the Boys’ Club when the one in the club broke. That’s Joe Marszalak and Richard Quinn with him in a photo that ran in the Buffalo Evening News in 1956.
The boys convinced Boys’ Club manager Gurney Jenkins to get rid of an old jukebox that played 78 rpm records for Monday night dances and replace it with a modern record player and a microphone. Once they got the green light, all the boys went to work.
WBCB could only be heard inside the Babcock Boys’ Club, but offered Buffalo the first taste of what would fill the airwaves for decades to come.
Joe Pinto sent letters to record promoters and radio stations asking for old, about to be discarded, or greatly discounted records. He walked all over the city to collect the 45s which offered a more modern beat for the Boys’ Club dances.
Neaverth and McBride wired the whole building for sound, and now the set-up was more than just for dances in the gym. There was music, news, and even commercials on a regular schedule. They boys eventually started doing play-by-play of the sporting events at the club.
And a decade before their KB Radio cross-talk between Neaverth’s afternoon show and Reynolds’ evening show became the talk of Buffalo, the same two kids became the talk of South Buffalo with their “pretend” radio station at the Boys’ Club.
While Danny and Joey were at The Boys’ Club and Bishop Timon, Tom Shannon was at Bishop Ryan High, getting one of his first on air gigs leading the school in the rosary as Fr. Rufus looked on.
Boys’ Club veteran Danny McBride serves Pepsi-Cola and hot dogs at a WEBR Record Hop.
WEBR deejays Tap Taplin, Bob Wells, Bernie Sandler, and Jack Eno prepare to broadcast live for a full week from the newest Your Host restaurant in the Sheridan Drive Plaza, Sheridan at Niagara Falls Blvd. in 1953.
This page is an excerpt from 100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting by Steve Cichon
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.
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