Kevin O’Connell makes Buffalo Buffalo

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Kevin O’Connell

A Buffalo legend hung up his sweater vest after a quarter of a century last night.

Kevin O’Connell is certainly one of the people that makes Buffalo Buffalo.

“I’m not saying goodbye, just, ‘I’ll see you down the road,'” said O’Connell in a recorded message which aired during Channel 2’s 6pm newscast. He’s been the weather anchor on that show and the station’s lead weather personality for 25 years.

But Buffalo’s known O’Connell a lot longer than that. His media career started as a teen disc jockey at WYSL in the mid-60s, he eventually was the station’s program director.

He eventually made his way to WBEN Radio, where he hosted middays on the radio and was Channel 4’s main weather man during the Blizzard of 1977.

Among the innovations he brought to the Channel 4 weathercast was “Weather with A Beat.” He also hosted Channel 4’s “Disco Step-By-Step” show from Club 747 on Genesee Street.

In the recorded “goodbye” piece, O’Connell said that it was his final appearance on Channel 2, and that he wasn’t retiring, but that he did want viewers to know what he’s truly appreciated in his time at WGRZ-TV.

“Thank you very, very much for your loyalty and your viewership, and your comments both good and constructive,” O’Connell said. “The thing I think I’m most proud of– the millions of dollars that we were able to raise for charity. Not the Emmys or the Golden Mic awards, or the Edward R Murrow plaques, it’s the difference that we made together in our community.”

O’Connell is a 2007 inductee in the Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame.


Oct. 22, 1974: WYSL DJ Kevin O’Connell gets a promotion

He’s been known for decades as the grandfatherly weatherman on Channel 2.  But before that, Kevin O’Connell was a news anchor on Channel 4, and even before that, he made “Weather with a (disco) beat” a part of WBEN-TV weather forecasts in the 1970s.

Aside from the decade he spent in Los Angeles as a local TV weatherman and national game show host, O’Connell has spent most of the last 50 years on Buffalo airwaves.

Before joining the staff at Channel 4, the son of Buffalo’s city comptroller had worked around Buffalo’s radio dial as a rock’n’roll personality on stations such as WYSL, WEBR and WBEN. Forty years ago today, the ’70s mop-headed O’Connell was promoted to program supervisor at 1400 AM, where he was also playing the hits as a disc jockey.


MORE:

Buffalo in the ’60s: The Gorskis and O’Connells; generations in the Buffalo limelight

What it looked like Wednesday: The changing look in front of Channel 4, 1960 -2016

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

When Don Paul retired as Buffalo’s pre-eminent weather authority last month, the folks at Channel 4 wished him luck on the message board in front of the station’s Elmwood Avenue studios. The high-definition display replaces a scrolling light sign which had been in place for at least 40 years.

Steve Cichon/Buffalo Stories photo

The station now known as WIVB-TV has called 2077 Elmwood Ave. home since 1960, and until 2000, the building also was home to WBEN Radio. The yellow buildings across Elmwood Avenue in this 1983 photo have long since been torn down, and replaced by Popeye’s and Napa Auto.

Buffalo Stories archives

In 1977, it wasn’t Don Paul, but another fabled Buffalo weatherman — Channel 2’s Kevin O’Connell — who was then Channel 4’s main weatherman, broadcasting live from underneath the sign as a blizzard descended upon the region.

Buffalo Stories archives

It was a simpler sign — almost bizarrely similar to next-door neighbor and competitor WGR’s sign in 1961. The tiny building that housed WGR’s radio studios for several years has been owned by Channel 4 for decades. It still stands directly across Elmwood from McDonald’s.

Buffalo News archives

Looking further down Elmwood, none of the buildings in view past the former WGR building are still standing. A paint store stood where the former Don Pablo’s/Advance Auto now stands. Off in the distance closer to Hertel, the water tower of the Kittinger Furniture factory is visible.