By Steve Cichon
WBEN signed on the air September 8, 1930—90 years ago today.
The station’s birthday is important to me because the station has played such an important role in my life as a listener, employee, and now alumni of the station.
I first walked into the station as a 15-year-old intern, and would spend the next five years working my way up through the producer ranks up to what was the highest profile producer job in radio—producer of Buffalo Bills Football with Van Miller and John Murphy. I also met and worked alongside the woman who’d become my wife during those days on Elmwood Avenue.
Five years later, I returned to the station, this time in the newsroom—and over the next decade I worked my way up to news director.
Through all my years in media, I always took special pleasure in being able to share my passion for Buffalo and Buffalo Broadcasting with the listeners of WBEN, and the station’s birthday, I’ve dipped into the archives to share some of the stories I wrote and produced about WBEN and the people we all listened to at 930am.
WBEN’s longest serving announcer
The 90th anniversary of WBEN’s first sign-on brings to mind many of the stable and authoritative voices which have unflappably informed Buffalo over those decades at 930am.
The longest tenured of those voices remains a daily fixture.
From her early days of airborne traffic reporting from the Skyview 930 helicopter to the last two decades as morning drive host, Susan Rose has been a steady, unwavering, and professional voice on WBEN and a clear connection to the great news voices of generations past.
Rose is not your typical “radio star.” She’s never wanted to be. It’s exactly that which makes her a fit in the pantheon of WBEN greats.
“A superb anchor,” wrote Buffalo News critic Anthony Violanti. “Reads the news with journalistic style and skill.”
After graduating from Buffalo State College and starting her radio news career at Lockport’s WLVL, Rose joined WBEN in 1985.
Her blue-collar approach to journalism combined with 35 years of continuous, daily broadcasting on the station puts her in the same rarified company as past WBEN greats, many of whom she regularly worked with across the decades.
Mark Leitner and Ed Little were WBEN stalwarts and frequent Rose co-anchors through the 80s and 90s.
The legendary Lou Douglas was at WBEN for 30 years before retiring, overlapping a couple years with Rose.
After three decades at WKBW, John Zach spent another 18 years at WBEN, including 16 years co-anchoring “Buffalo’s Early News” with Rose.
While she doesn’t have that booming voice— once considered the most important hallmark of the then all-male radio news profession— Rose’s even and reliable presence has been featured on the station longer than any broadcaster, including Clint Buehlman, who hosted mornings at WBEN for 34 years.
Perhaps that’s part of the secret why Rose’s approach and sound is still as upbeat and fresh as the day she walked through the studio doors 35 years ago.
She doesn’t project her personality into the news. Through her career—rather than stand out in front— she has allowed her writing, editing, news judgement, and steady on-air presence to support the team.
It’s even fair to say Rose avoids the spotlight— but it’s also fair to say when crisis strikes in Buffalo, there aren’t many voices on the airwaves today which bring credibility and calm like hers can.
A recent WBEN bio said “it was always her dream job to work for the number one news station in Buffalo.”
She’s taken it one step further to personify it.