Dialing for Dollars

       By Steve Cichon
       steve@buffalostories.com
       @stevebuffalo


Excerpt from 100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting 


“A lot of friendliness and little schmaltz seem to work just fine for ‘Dialing for Dollars’,” wrote Buffalo Evening News Critic Gary Deeb in 1971, by which time, the show had already been a mid-morning mainstay on Ch.7 for seven years.

Nolan Johannes came to WKBW-TV in May 1964 — and by the end of the year, was the permanent host of the brand new “Dialing for Dollars.” His first co-host was Liz Dribben, who left Ch.7, eventually joining CBS in New York as a writer and producer for such luminaries as Walter Cronkite, Mike Wallace, Charles Osgood and Dan Rather.

Lafayette High and UB grad Liz Dribben left Ch.7 in 1969 after being refused pay equity with her male counterparts at the station.

Aside from phone calls trying to give away money, the show was filled with interviews of the everyday women in the audience, twice-weekly exercise tips from UB’s Dr. Len Serfustini, syndicated features from “The Galloping Gourmet” Graham Kerr and “Fashions in Sewing” with Lucille Rivers.

Liz Dribben and Phyllis Diller, wearing Bills clothes and doing a workout routine on “Dialing for Dollars.”

The half-hour show grew to 90 minutes, and in 1969, weatherman and “Rocketship 7” host Dave Thomas joined Johannes as co-host.

And even decades after the show went off the air, most Buffalonians of a certain age will be able to recall without hesitation the names of the guys in the “Dialing for Dollars” band — Jimmy and Johnny.

In 1978, Thomas left Ch.7 for Philadelphia, and “Dialing for Dollars” was reformatted to become “AM Buffalo.” Johannes left Ch.7 in 1983 to become a news anchor in Scranton, Pa.

Jimmy Edwin, drums, and Johnny Banaszak, accordion, on the set of Dialing for Dollars. Banaszak was also one of the men who wore the Promo the Robot costume on Rocketship 7 through the years.

Nolan Johannes on the set of Dialing for Dollars, inside WKBW-TV s Main Street studios.


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

Published by

Avatar

Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.