1230am signs on
When 1230 am officially signed on in 1956, WNIA was promised to be “as revolutionary to radio as color was to television.”
The record library here in our Genesee Street studios boasted more than 10-thousand recordings.
From early on, 1230am was “a home for top tunes” as J. Don Schlaerth put it in the pages of the Courier Express, who wrote, “as a new station with lots of peppy music, the ratings began to jiggle.”
Sixty years ago, it was a difficult decision for a radio station to play rock ‘n’ roll music full-time, like WECK does now.
In 1957, Gordon Brown, owner, WNIA, told The Courier-Express, “We play the top 100 tunes half of the time and the old standards the other half of the time. I think people like the sweet popular music as well as rock ‘n’ roll. We’ve had terrific results in the popular music field. We also like to play some soft music to help the housewife work around the house.”
A few years after the station first signed on, a group of local singers—all high school students– at WAY Radio productions sang the jingles you can hear in the piece linked above.
One of those singers was Tom Donahue.
That means his voice has now been heard professionally on the station for more than 50 years.
Mike Melody, Tommy Thomas, and Jerry Jack…
We’re continuing to talk about the early rock ‘n’ roll history here at 1230am.
There were dozens of young disc jockeys who played the hits here at Buffalo’s upstart rock ‘n’ roll station.
Dozens of DJs– but only 4 or 5 names.
Station founder Gordon Brown insisted that the disc jockeys at the radio stations he owned use those on-air handles instead of their own.
He felt the stock jock names gave a more consistent sound even as the DJs changed rapidly, it was always Mike Melody and Jerry Jack.
WNIA’s on air schedule
6 AM to Noon – Tommy Thomas
Noon to 6:30 – Jerry Jack
6:30 to 12:30 AM – Mike Melody
Brown died in 1977, and the station was sold. Since then, the disc jockeys you’ve heard on WECK didn’t necessarily have to use their own names– but they didn’t have to be Mike Melody or Mac McGuire, either.
Midnight Mood & Be Big….
We continue our week long look back at the early rock ‘n’ roll history of 1230am.
It’s one of the most requested songs as people reminisce about radio in Buffalo in the 50s and 60s.
It was the 1230 theme song for years, Richard Maltby’s Midnight Mood would play every night at midnight… that’s a tradition we continue now at WECK each night as the clock strikes twelve.
WNIA was a quirky station. The daily noon time Catholic prayers were bookended by rock ‘n’ roll music.
And if you listened to the station at all in those days, you probably remember that you should be big… be a builder.
THE IMPRESSION YOUR FRIENDS AND OTHERS HAVE OF YOU IS BASED ON WHAT YOU DO…TO TEACH…
TO CREATE… TO ACCOMPLISH… OR TO BUILD, WHETHER YOU DIG THE TRENCH FOR THE FOUNDATION
FOR A BUILDING; WHETHER YOU LAY THE LAST BRICK ON ITS TOP; WHETHER YOU WORK WITH A PICK
AND SHOVEL OR WITH THE TOOLS AND MACHINES, OR IN THE OFFICE,OR SELL THE PRODUCTS OR SERVICES
OF INDUSTRY; WHETHER YOU GROW, PREPARE OR HARVEST THE VERY FOOD WE EAT… WHETHER YOU ARE A
HOMEBUILDER RAISING,TEACHING OR EDUCATING YOUR FAMILY OR OTHERS HOW TO BE COME A BUILDER…
NO MATTER WHAT YOU ARE OR WHAT YOU DO, IF YOU ARE A BUILDER, YOU ARE ONE TO BE LONG REMEMBERED.
THOSE WHO ATTEMPTED TO DESTROY THE PYRAMIDS OF EGYPT WERE DESPISED AND SOON FORGOTTEN…THOSE
THOUSANDS WHO LABORED TO BUILD THEM WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN………. BE BIG…… BE A BUILDER
–as transcribed at http://www.flynnflam.com/wsay/bbbb.html, a website dedicated to remembering WNIA’s sister station, WSAY, in Rochester.
The minute long diatribe, punctuated with the slogan BE BIG, BE A BUILDER, was the brainchild of station owner Gordon Brown.
It was a reaction to the war protests of the late 60s, and now its a well-remembered part of Buffalo’s broadcasting history.
Listening to the Archives
Mac McGuire, Tommy Thomas, Mike Melody, and Jerry Jack all holding court in the Make Believe Ballroom during the 50s, 60s and 70s.
The call letters WNIA originally stood for “NIAGARA.”
When the station was sold in 1977, the new call letters, WECK were selected to represent another Buffalo institution.
From WNIA to WECK
This week we’ve been looking back at the history of 1230am…
For 20 years, tiny WNIA had a powerhouse sized influence on rock ‘n’ roll radio in Buffalo, from the same ranch house we broadcast from on Genesee Street.
From Mike Melody’s “Make Believe Ball Room,” to “Be Big… BE A BUILDER,” to Richard Maltby’s “Midnight Mood,” WNIA and 1230am were very much a part of the tapestry that made up life as a teenager in Buffalo in the 50s and 60s.
By the late 70s, those days were over, the station was sold. WNIA became WECK.
The Roll that rocks. Get it? WECK Roll?
Anyway, 1230 grew up with those 50s and 60s rock ‘n’ rollers and was spinning the disco tunes with DJs like Frankie Nestro.
After years of “Music of Your Life,” then talk for a while, we’re now back to our roots as Buffalo’s home for Good Times, and Great Oldies…
Buffalo’s Very Own WECK.