The Friday Night Polka—One-On-One Sports with the Bulldog, WBEN

       By Steve Cichon
       steve@buffalostories.com
       @stevebuffalo

I don’t remember exactly how it started on the air, but I know that back in the early/mid-90s, when I was the producer of One-On-One Sports with Chris “The Bulldog” Parker on WBEN, I was buying up as many obscure albums as I could from Salvation Army and AMVETS thrift shops—including polka albums with interesting cover art of great song titles.

Chris “The Bulldog” Parker, mid 90s at WBEN.

At some point, with me going through these albums, Chris must have said—we should have a Friday Night Polka—so we did.

The show closed with a polka every Friday night, and we eventually had a good rotation of songs about drinking and about Buffalo.

Heard here for the first time in more than 20 years—a medley of the Friday Night Polkas from WBEN’s One-On-One Sports with the Bulldog.

We’d only play a minute or so from each selection at 10:59pm to close out the show—these are the minute long clips we’d play.

Chris and I really enjoyed the music– but we’d get side eye from the lovely call screeners Monica and Rose (which is really how most of the show went most nights anyway.)

One-on-One Sports with the Bulldog Friday Night Polka Medley

On this track:

  • “Bulldog Talking Sports” theme
  • Bulldog welcomes you to a Friday night, 1996
  • Ice Cubes & Beer, Ray Budzilek & The Boys
  • Buffalo Polka, Krew Brothers Orchestra
  • No Beer in Heaven, Li’l Wally
  • Bartender Polka, Walter Solek
  • Meister Brau Polka, Li’l Wally
  • Why don’t you people give the ball scores?— from a complaining voicemail
ME! Steve Cichon, producing One-On-One Sports in the WBEN control room, 1995

The Bulldog theme is taken from an aircheck… and you can hear the ancient WBEN delay system folding back on itself as the theme music plays.

One of my personal all-time favorite moments in music came when the late, great Tony Krupski of the Krew Brothers played the Buffalo Polka on demand– and grinned from ear-to-ear when I sang along with him, knowing all the words because of this great Friday night tradition in Buffalo radio.

Na zdrowie and sto lat!

On WBEN’s 90th birthday, the station’s longest-serving announcer is still on the air…

       By Steve Cichon
       steve@buffalostories.com
       @stevebuffalo

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.

Steve Cichon- WBEN celebrates 80 years-1
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Steve Cichon- Brian Meyer inducted into Broadcast Hall of Fame-1
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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.

Susan Rose with current co-host Brian Mazurowski

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.

WBEN Newsteam 1988: Brian Meyer, Ed Little, Susan Rose, Tim Wenger, Monica Wilson, Mark Leitner

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.

Rose was hired to join the WBEN news team by legendary news director Jim McLaughlin.

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.

John Zach & Susan Rose, WBEN, 2002.

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.

Rose’s husband, Tim Wenger, was her co-anchor on evening drive news program “Buffalo’s Evening News” in the early 90s.

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.

Early 50s Radio in Buffalo

       By Steve Cichon
       steve@buffalostories.com
       @stevebuffalo


Excerpt from 100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting 


As Clint Buehlman celebrated 20 years as Buffalo’s top morning man in 1952, the team that would be a part of his show for the next 25 years was in place.

Clint Buehlman, early 1950s.

Western New Yorkers began waking up to the news of Jack Ogilvie in 1952. He’d been WBEN’s evening newscaster and a jack-of-all-trades at WJTN in Jamestown.

Jack Ogilvie in WBEN’s Statler Hotel Studios, late 1940s.

Buehly’s “Mr. Operator,” Tom Whalen (below) started on the early shift working the Buehlman show in 1948, arriving each day by 4:30 to make sure the studio was ready for Buffalo’s AM-MC when his show began at 6am.

Tom Whalen

Through most of the 1950s, Buehlman’s show was Buffalo’s most listened to radio program, surpassing even nighttime family shows like Jack Benny, Lux Radio Theater, Fibber McGee & Molly and Dragnet.

During the afternoon hours, WEBR’s Bob Wells was most popular, but his ratings didn’t even approach Buehlman’s. 

1953 ad.

That didn’t stop WEBR’s owner, The Buffalo Courier-Express, to run stories with headlines like one on 1952 exclaiming “Bob Wells’ WEBR Program Rated City’s Most Popular,” before explaining in the story that the show was “the most popular weekday radio show in Buffalo during the greater part of the afternoon.”

It’s bizarre because it was unnecessary. Even in the moment, Wells was one of the most beloved personalities in the history of Buffalo media as the host of the extraordinarily popular and generation-defining “Hi-Teen” program on WEBR. 

Dancers pack the Dellwood Ballroom dance floor for a mid-50’s Hi-Teen broadcast.

Sammy Davis, Jr. signs autographs while Bob Wells looks on smiling after a performance on the Hi-Teen Show. The program was a known stop for many of the country’s top performing artists, who’d gladly give the kids a thrill on a Saturday afternoon before heading to a gig.

Hi-Teen one of Buffalo’s most popular radio shows of the era nestled between the end of World War II and the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.

“I was probably the last disc jockey in America to play an Elvis Presley record,” Wells told Ch.2’s Rich Kellman during a late 1970s interview.

Toronto’s Bluebops on the Hi-Teen stage.

Hi-Teen ran on WEBR for 17 years, hosting as many of 2000 kids in the Dellwood Ballroom at Main and Utica every Saturday.

Wells had been the Assistant Director of Music for Batavia Schools when WEBR General Manager Cy King asked him to produce a live show to help combat juvenile delinquency.

That was January, 1946— and America’s record hop was born with the first edition of Wells’ show. With the help of the Harold Austin Orchestra keeping the beat, Hi-Teen went on to serve as an inspiration for shows like American Bandstand. The tenth anniversary show, live from The Aud in 1956 attracted 10,000 teens to Memorial Auditorium.

Bob Wells, WEBR

After WEBR, Wells landed at WGR Radio and TV, hosting shows on Ch.2 like Pick-A-Polka, The Yankee Doodle Room (live from AM&A’s), and the Money Movie. Even after he was no longer a full-time on-air personality, he could still be seen doing weather on Ch.7’s weekend newscasts. He also spent more than 20 years as the radio and television voice of Your Host restaurants.

The stars that Wells missed during the day often wound up on Ed Little’s nighttime show on WEBR.

From boy actor to announcer to disc jockey to newsman, Ed Little’s 62-year radio career didn’t leave much undone.

Discovered by WEBR’s Al Zink as an actor in 1938 as a kid actor with a grown-up voice, Ed moved to announcing at WHLD and then WGR in 1942, eventually putting those skills to use for the US Army during World War II.

He’d fly along on bombing missions in the Pacific, recording live descriptions of what he was seeing to be played back over NBC on radios across America.

When he returned home from war, he joined the staff at WBEN, before moving over to WEBR in 1949.

Among other duties there, Ed was the host of a show that broadcast live from the Town Casino, with interviews and interactions with many of the day’s biggest stars, who’d stop by the booth to say hello.

In the 60s, he was the newsman on Joey Reynolds’ KB Radio show. In the 80s and 90s, his was one of the voices that distinguished WBEN as Buffalo’s home for radio news.

Ed’s was the last live voice broadcast from the Elmwood Avenue WBEN studios that were the station’s home from 1960-2000.

Buffalo lounge piano legend Jackie Jocko appeared regularly on WEBR in the early 1950s along with his partner drummer Joe Peters.

WEBR’s “Amanda” interviews an AM&A’s buyer on her midday shopping and fashion tips show at the WEBR-970 studios, 23 North Street, in 1951.

“Amanda” was actually Dorothy Shank, president of the local chapter of American Women in Radio & Television. She later worked in marketing for AM&A’s, had a show on Ch.4, and was a host on WJJL in Niagara Falls through the 1980s. She was 81 when she died in 1989.

Another piece of Western New York history in the photo: in the middle, between the microphone and the telephone, the 1950’s equivalent of a Tim Horton’s cup– a glass “to go” coffee cup/milk bottle from Buffalo’s ubiquitous Deco Restaurants (there were more than 50 Deco locations around WNY when they were most popular.)

Amanda with Hollywood actress Gloria Swanson.

Warren Michael Kelly, occasionally known as Warren Mike or Warren Kelly, was one of WGR’s top on-air talents during his two separate stints there in the 50s.

The Bennett High grad was a newsman at WBNY before serving in the Army during World War II.

After the war, he was Clint Buehlman’s newsman at WBEN and spent time in Detroit before coming back to Buffalo to host mornings on WGR. Later, he’d also be seen anchoring newscasts on Ch.2.

He moved on to management and sales, and was General Manager of WYSL and WPHD-FM.

Through the late 40s and early 50s, John Lascalles was WGR’s “Man About Midnight.” Nicknamed “Ol’Bones,” Lascalles would eventually move to mornings on WGR. He was also a familiar face in the early days of Ch.2, as one of the many “Atlantic Weathermen.” With the gas station as a sponsor, the man announcing the weather would wear the snappy uniform of an Atlantic gas station attendant while delivering the forecast.

Frank Dill spent a decade at WGR and Ch.2, from the mid-50s through the mid-60s. He was born in Williamsville, but grew up as a sports fanatic near Washington, DC. Like most of his WGR co-workers, Dill was seen and heard in a wide-ranging number of on-air jobs.

On the radio, he was a disc jockey and one of the play-by-play voices of the baseball Bisons. When Ch.2 first signed on, he was a part of the station’s original announcing staff as the host of “Sports Corner,” the game show “Tune-O,” and co-host of “Yankee Doodle” with Bob Wells.

Dill left Buffalo for San Francisco in 1963. When he retired after 34 years there, the paper called him “nice guy Frank Dill — an oasis of easygoing banter and chuckling good humor.”

WGR’s news men of the 1950s were widely talented beyond news.

Jack Mahl was born in Tonawanda and served in the Army during World War II. He came home to work at WKBW and WGR Radio, eventually spending time at Ch.2 as another of the The Atlantic Weathermen. Through the 70s and 80s, he could be heard up and down Buffalo’s radio dial reading news, most notably on WEBR.

David Getman spent a decade as a newsman and Special Events Director for WGR before moving on to public relations roles with the March of Dimes and Buffalo Mayor Chester Kowal.

Phil Soisson came to WGR from WBEN in 1952, and remained a steady news and sports voice on WGR through the 50s and 60s. He was the radio voice of the baseball and hockey Bisons, and anchored news and sports on Ch.2. He was also part of the original Sabres play-by-play team with Ted Darling in 1970.

John Gill started working in radio as an actor in dramas in 1937, and was on the news desk at WGR Radio and then WGR-TV through the 40s, 50s and 60s. He moved to WEBR, where he was one of the main voices of the news-centric 970 format of the late 70s.

Gill was a newsman’s newsman. “In 20 years of news reporting for WGR,” he said in 1958, “you learn that an analysis of news is vitally important. To paraphrase, every fire isn’t a conflagration, nor is every storm a holocaust. It’s the highly experienced men on our news staff that accurately describe the news when and as it actually happens.”

John Otto would join WGR’s news team in the mid ‘50s, after starting as a newsman and disc jockey at WBNY in 1951. He, by the way, was another Atlantic Weatherman.  

Otto stands for a promo shoot on the roof of the Lafayette Hotel.

“Helen Neville possesses one of those rare personalities that sparkles with friendliness and enthusiasm. She has friends and devotees from practically every walk of life.”

Neville’s broadcasting career began at WGR & WKBW in 1943, and was heard through the 1940s on WKBW’s “Modern Kitchen.”

Through the 50s, she regularly broadcast on WGR from her home at 1119 Delaware Avenue, interviewing people about the civic and social happenings around Buffalo.

On Ch.2, she hosted “Two For Lunch” (which later became “Two For Breakfast” when the time slot changed) for the first six years the station was on the air, 1954-1960.


This page is an excerpt from  100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting by Steve Cichon

The full text of the book is now online.

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. 

©2020, 2021 Buffalo Stories LLC, staffannouncer.com, and Steve Cichon

Wrestling from Memorial Auditorium

       By Steve Cichon
       steve@buffalostories.com
       @stevebuffalo


Excerpt from 100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting 


Starting in 1949, Friday night meant Ralph Hubbell, Chuck Healy, and TVs tuned to live wrestling from Memorial Auditorium—with the action and antics of folks like Gorgeous George, Ilio DiPaolo, Dick “The Destroyer” Beyer, Coco Brazil, and the Gallagher Brothers and dozens of others.

During pre- and post-match interviews, the athletic Healy would often find himself somehow entangled with the wrestlers he was trying to interview— handling the headlocks from “bad guys” with the grace of a professional broadcaster.

There’s little question—especially in Buffalo, wrestling helped make TV and vice-versa in those early years.

In 1951, Ed Don George was promoting wresting in 30 cities, including Buffalo. “Let them try to besmirch the wrestling profession as much as they’d like,” said Ed Don, “But what other form of sporting entertainment gives as much to the fans as wrestling?”

He was proud of wrestling’s showmanship, which had blossomed since he had been the world’s heavyweight champ 20 years earlier. “Sure, there is showmanship in wrestling. We try to dress up our business just like the downtown merchant decorates his shop windows to attract customers.”

Wrestling with Ralph Hubbell & Chuck Healy

Wrestling, of course, goes way back in Buffalo. Crowds sold out Friday night matches through the 30s, 40s, and 50s; first at the old Broadway Auditorium (now “The Broadway Barns” and the home of Buffalo’s snowplows) and then Memorial Auditorium when it opened in 1940.

“This was a shirt and tie crowd,” said the late Buffalo News Sports Editor Larry Felser, who remembered when Wrestling at the Aud was one of the biggest events in Buffalo.

“Not that many people had TV sets back then,” remembered Felser in 2001. “People were crowding into Sears and appliance stores to try to see this thing on TV, because the place was sold out.”

And with all those big crowds, there was no wrestler who could draw them in like Gorgeous George.

Gorgeous George

“When Gorgeous George would wrestle, they’d pack the Auditorium for this guy,” said Felser.

“The Human Orchid,” as George was known, was the first modern wrestler, said retired Channel 7 sports director Rick Azar, saying he “changed the face of professional wrestling forever.”

As someone who called himself “Hollywood’s perfumed and marcelled wrestling orchid,” it’s clear that George knew how to make sure he set himself apart.

“He had an atomizer, and he’d walk around the ring with perfume, supposedly fumigating his opponent’s corners,” said Felser, who also remembered George’s flair for marketing outside the ring.

“His valet drove him around in an open convertible around Lafayette Square, and he’s got a wad of one-dollar bills, and he was throwing money to people. It was a show stopper. He landed on page one. TV was just in its infancy then, but they were all over it. It was like World War III. That’s how big a story it was.”

Gorgeous George is credited with ushering in the Bad Boy era of sports– and even inspired Muhammad Ali, who told a British interviewer, “he was telling people, ‘I am the prettiest wrestler, I am great. Look at my beautiful blond hair.’ I said, this is a good idea, and right away, I started saying, ‘I am the greatest!’”

Wrestling was cheap, flashy and easy to televise — and Gorgeous George was the performer that people loved to hate. It was said that in TV’s earliest years, Gorgeous George’s appearance on TV sold as many televisions as Milton Berle’s.

Another of TV’s favorite early sports was bowling. Chuck Healy was the host of “Beat the Champ” through the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Nin Angelo and Allie Brandt would become among Buffalo’s most popular athletes because of their feats of bowling prowess on the show. All-American Bowler Vic Hermann’s family still proudly talks about the day Vic rolled the first 300 game in the history of the show.

Chuck Healy also hosted “Strikes, Spares, and Misses,” Buffalo’s show for lady bowlers. Phyllis Notaro was just as popular as any of her male counterparts as one of the program’s great champions. Her family ran Angola’s Main Bowling Academy, and from there, she became one of the country’s top amateur bowlers and a US Open champ in 1961.

The WBEN sports team included Chuck Healy, Dick Rifenburg, Ralph Hubbell, and Don Cunningham.


This page is an excerpt from  100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting by Steve Cichon

The full text of the book is now online.

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. 

©2020, 2021 Buffalo Stories LLC, staffannouncer.com, and Steve Cichon

Radio & TV in 1950

       By Steve Cichon
       steve@buffalostories.com
       @stevebuffalo


Excerpt from 100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting 


From the 1949 Buffalo Area Radio-Television Guide, here are some of the names and faces from radio stations just outside of Buffalo. Stations included are Lockport’s WUSJ, Olean’s WHDL, Niagara Falls’ WHLD, and WJTN & WJOC, both from Jamestown.

In 1950, television bore little resemblance to what beams into our homes so many decades later.

The test pattern was a regularly scheduled part of the broadcast day, which on most days didn’t start much before noon.

Still, the growing number of television sets and the wonder of it all was putting dents in the entertainment powerhouse of the previous three decades.

“Radio, facing stiff TV competition, continues to seek means of holding its position in program ratings during the evening hours,” wrote the Courier- Express in 1952.

Among the general similarities between then and today is the popularity of sports on TV. But Buffalo’s favorite television sports in 1950 were live and local.

 A look at two days’ worth of programming on Ch.4 in 1950.


This page is an excerpt from  100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting by Steve Cichon

The full text of the book is now online.

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. 

©2020, 2021 Buffalo Stories LLC, staffannouncer.com, and Steve Cichon

Ralph Hubbell & Around the Dial

       By Steve Cichon
       steve@buffalostories.com
       @stevebuffalo


Excerpt from 100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting 


Ralph Hubbell, WBEN

As already mentioned, his first radio job was reading poetry over the brand new WBNY, where he also became the station’s sportscaster in 1936.

Ralph Hubbell started as WGR’s sports director and moved on to WBEN in 1948, becoming “The Dean of Buffalo Sportscasters” along the way, “displaying a quick wit, warm personality and mastery of language.”

Ralph Hubbell (right) at WGR’s news desk with chief announcer Jack Gelzer

In 1948, he was Buffalo’s first TV sports anchor, although the term hadn’t been invented yet. He was in the booth for the first few seasons of Bills football. Youngster Van Miller was on the play-by-play, but Buffalo’s good sports fans loved the steady observations of Hubb during the games.

Charley Bailey of WEBR, Jim Wells of WBEN, Sig Smith of WKBW, and Hubb were Buffalo’s top radio sportsmen of the 1940s.

When Hubbell retired after 58 years in Buffalo broadcasting in 1989, Buffalo News Sports Editor Larry Felser, a legend in his own right who grew up listening to Hubbell, remarked “those familiar vocal cords… always seemed to have been freshly dipped in motor oil.”

Typically, each 15-minute segment of Clint Buehlman’s daily broadcast was sponsored by a single business. In the earliest days, as outlined in this ad, “Your AM-MC” would not only talk conversationally about that sponsor and its services and products, but also sit at the piano and sing songs about sponsors, weather, news and just about anything else.

By the time Buehlman was forced into retirement at age 65 in 1977, his days of sitting at the piano were long gone — replaced by adult contemporary music that could be heard all over the AM dial in that era. But between records, Buehly still would mix weather, things you needed to know and a few words from his sponsor, just like he had for the previous four decades.


This page is an excerpt from  100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting by Steve Cichon

The full text of the book is now online.

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. 

©2020, 2021 Buffalo Stories LLC, staffannouncer.com, and Steve Cichon

The WGR Flashcast

       By Steve Cichon
       steve@buffalostories.com
       @stevebuffalo


Excerpt from 100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting 


In 1940s America, the frenzied commercialism, hot-burning bulbs and pulsating neon of Times Square ignited a sense of wonder and excitement over what an American city could be.

Buffalo had its share of the lights – Main Street near Chippewa was aglow with what was described as “Buffalo’s great white way,” and the greatest display of dazzling and flashing marquees and signs between New York and Chicago.

One lighting element Buffalo didn’t have – until 1949 – was a flashcast news sign.  WGR Radio was the sign’s sponsor, which meant in red neon, those call letters brightly bookended the revolving ribbon of news headlines at Main and Court streets from atop the Western Savings Bank building. Visible from the WGR studios across Lafayette Square in the Rand Building, the scroll was controlled from WGR’s newsroom.

While the sign was promoted as Times Square coming to Buffalo, the event to throw the switch on the sign, hosted by Mayor Bernard Dowd, was called a “Hollywood premiere-type event.”

A few months after the first messages started streaming across the lights, a News story talking about improvements being made downtown mentioned the sign. “Here is a group of men at Main and Court streets, looking up at the Flashcast. They’re squinting a little to read the moving electric words in the sunlight.”

By the time WGR Radio’s studios had moved to the building behind Ch.4 at 2065 Elmwood Avenue in 1959, the sign had gone dark. It had been completely removed by 1962 when construction was started on a new $4.5 million, 12-story Western Savings headquarters next door.


This page is an excerpt from  100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting by Steve Cichon

The full text of the book is now online.

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. 

©2020, 2021 Buffalo Stories LLC, staffannouncer.com, and Steve Cichon

Billy and Reggie Keaton & Sally Work, WBEN

       By Steve Cichon
       steve@buffalostories.com
       @stevebuffalo


Excerpt from 100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting 


Billy Keaton in the WGR studios with singer Johnny Ray.

Like many of radio’s pioneers, Billy Keaton’s foray into the medium came in the pre-war days when he adapted his Vaudeville routine for WEBR, and then into the highly popular “Stuff and Nonsense” program on WGR.

His success turned a temporary Buffalo assignment permanent. After the war, Billy’s wife Reggie joined the act, and the two hosted the “Mr. and Mrs. Show” for a decade.

Reggie and Billy interview a monkey.

While the Keatons’ voices were familiar throughout the ’40s and ’50s, their faces were soon popular as well. As a long-time WGR Radio fan favorite, Billy was the natural choice to welcome the first viewers to WGR-TV in 1954. The Keatons later hosted several cable TV talk shows through the years, leaving a legacy of 55 years of entertaining Western New York.

Reggie Keaton panics as her husband Billy gets ready to lay a smooch on a cardboard cutout of starlet Linda Christian during the couple’s show in the WGR studio.

Sally Work spent the bulk of her radio career on WBEN, but was a pioneering Women’s Editor on WGR starting in 1926 first. By 1948, her show carried 15 sponsors and a waiting list out the door.


This page is an excerpt from  100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting by Steve Cichon

The full text of the book is now online.

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. 

©2020, 2021 Buffalo Stories LLC, staffannouncer.com, and Steve Cichon

Bennett High’s future star power, 1946 & around the radio dial

       By Steve Cichon
       steve@buffalostories.com
       @stevebuffalo


Excerpt from 100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting 


Bennett High School’s class officers in 1946 included John Otto (front row, leopard tie) and Sorrell Booke (standing, far right).

Buffalo Broadcasting legend John Otto was the 1946 Bennett High School Class President, but he was not the radio star of the class.

While he did appear on WGR as a ten-year-old accordion player on Major Bowes’ Amateur Hour in 1941, Otto didn’t become a familiar voice in the night (on the radio, on the telephone) until after serving in the Navy following graduation.

The class valedictorian Sorrell Booke had already been appearing in locally produced radio dramas for more than a decade, won a contest on WGR with his impersonation of Hitler, and was considered a regular actor on WEBR by the time he was a sophomore at Bennett.

Booke– the man who would ultimately be best known for playing Boss Hogg on TV’s The Dukes of Hazzard– was a classically trained actor who attended Yale by way of Bennett High School.

When Sorrell was 10, he began his radio career by hopping on a street car, heading downtown to the Rand Building and asking for an audition on WGR. He wound up with steady work as an actor in radio dramas through high school.

For most of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, Booke saw steady work as a character actor playing roles on more than 200 TV shows before landing the starring role on The Dukes, which he called “gravy after a long career.”

John Otto’s broadcasting career began as a disc jockey and newsman on WBNY Radio, before moving to WGR, where he spent most of the 1960s as a “jack-of-all-trades” on both WGR Radio and WGR-TV Ch.2.

Otto hosted children’s shows, was a TV weatherman, and hosted a local TV talk show, as well as the radio work that he’d be best known for, starting with a program called Extension 55 on WGR.

Bennett High grad Sorrell Booke as “Boss Hogg.”

Remembered for his brilliance, class, and unparalleled ability to put the English language to its best possible use on live radio, Otto died in 1999, still hosting his “nighttime conference call of all interested parties” as many as six nights a week.

After “The Dukes of Hazzard” ended its seven-year run in 1985, Booke continued to act in guest starring roles on shows like “Newhart” and “Full House,” while also becoming quite prolific as a voice actor on animated children’s shows.

For his part, he never let the fame get to his head. After seven years of playing Boss Hogg on TV, Booke once told a reporter, “I’m not a jet-set type. I’m just an ordinary guy from Buffalo.”

Bob Hope in Delaware Park

More than 175,000 people packed into the Delaware Park Meadow for a 1948 WBEN/Buffalo Evening News July 4th Celebration featuring Bob Hope, who presented a $6000 check to Moir Tanner of the Children’s Hospital Endowment fund from the News Charity Fund.

WBEN announcer Gordon Redding is joined by engineer Edward Czech at the Buffalo Water Intake pier, reporting on how Buffalo gets its drinking water.

WBEN announcers Ed Wegman, Gordon Redding, Les Barry, Budd Tesch, Fred Keller, Woody Magnuson

Harry Webb came to Buffalo from Schenectady as a classical music announcer on the new WBEN-FM, and wound up spending 24 years on TV. Webb was Ch.4’s first newscaster, when the broadcast days began at 12 noon, and involved reading the latest edition of the Buffalo Evening News to an audience of several hundred. By the time Webb retired from newscasting in 1972, he had seen and been a part of the change of television from an indulgence of a few wealthy families to a modern global apparatus and definitive of disseminator information. Here, with technician Ed Huber, he records a show at the Buffalo Zoo.

WBEN announcers Don Cunningham, Ralph Hubbell, Jim Gardner, Harry Webb, Bill Weatherly

UB Roundtable, first presented on WBEN Radio and then on Ch.4, ran for nearly 40 years. This edition from the early 40s featured UB’s Dr. Earl McGrath, Dr. Harry Rockwell of the State Teachers College, Dr. Samuel Capen of UB, and Msgr. Timothy Coughlin of Canisius College.

After hosting “Listen While You Lunch” on WEBR right after the war, Tap Taplin was the host of WEBR’s early morning “T-N-T Show” in the early 50s. “Let him remind you about the time and temperature. There are news reports at 6, 7, 8, and 9 for information about the day’s events… and last, but not least, Tap plays your favorite recorded music.” Later, he spent time at WBNY.

Jack Eno first appeared at WEBR’s “Ye Olde Town Crier” in 1935. After some time at WGR-WKBW in the 40s, Eno returned to WEBR for a more-than 20-year run starting through the 50s into the 70s. In this shot, John Clark is playing the records for Eno in the control room.

WEBR’s daily Queen City Cinderella show, with announcer Gomer Lesch and emcee Clare Allen, awarding prizes to housewives and making one… Queen City Cinderella for the day.

Bob Wells came to WEBR in 1946 to create a music and dance show to help keep kids out of trouble. Hi-Teen became one of the most popular radio shows in Buffalo history, and Bob Wells one of the most beloved stars of radio and later TV.

WEBR morning man Chuck Cook enlists the help of Queen-O Beverages and a model to find “Buffalo’s Hottest Corner,” during a summer heat wave in 1949.

John Boothby was an announcer at WGR-WKBW in early 40s, and became WEBR’s wartime chief announcer while also working at the Curtiss-Wright plant.

Ed Little’s 62-year radio career included a stop at WBEN immediately following service in the war, and then a lengthy stay as one of WEBR’s top announcers, emcees, and disc jockeys.


This page is an excerpt from  100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting by Steve Cichon

The full text of the book is now online.

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. 

©2020, 2021 Buffalo Stories LLC, staffannouncer.com, and Steve Cichon

The Buffalo Bills of the AAFC, 1946-49

       By Steve Cichon
       steve@buffalostories.com
       @stevebuffalo


Excerpt from 100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting 


Jim Wells, who left WBEN for nearly all of World War II to broadcast for the Navy in the South Pacific, returned to the station in 1946 as WBEN Sports Director. In 1948, he left broadcasting and joined the team—becoming special assistant to the owner for the Buffalo Bills of the All-America Football Conference.

George Ratterman was a four-letter man at Notre Dame and the star quarterback of the Buffalo Bills from 1947-49, throwing 22 touchdowns his rookie year. When the AAFC folded, several of its teams moved to the NFL—but not the Bills. Ratterman moved on to several NFL and CFL teams before studying law and becoming the legal counsel for the American Football League Players’ Union.

George Ratterman WKBW

His broadcasting career began at WKBW in 1950. Through the 60s and 70s, he was a color commentator for AFL and NFL games on ABC and NBC. He might be best remembered in the booth for his longtime partnership with Jack Buck.

WKBW’s Bill Mazer

Among his early assignments when Bill Mazer came to Buffalo in 1947, was to call the play-by-play of Buffalo Bills Football at the War Memorial Stadium for the 1940s incarnation of professional football in Buffalo.


This page is an excerpt from  100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting by Steve Cichon

The full text of the book is now online.

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. 

©2020, 2021 Buffalo Stories LLC, staffannouncer.com, and Steve Cichon