FDR in Buffalo as President & more Buffalo Radio in the 30s

       By Steve Cichon
       steve@buffalostories.com
       @stevebuffalo


Excerpt from 100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting 


President Roosevelt talks to reporters holding WBNY and WBEN microphones outside of Buffalo City Hall, 1940.

Only weeks before he was to be elected to his second term as president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited Buffalo to dedicate the city’s new federal building at Niagara Square on Oct. 17, 1936.

The visit was Roosevelt’s first time in Buffalo as Commander-in-Chief — although he had visited countless times during his four years as New York’s governor. The courthouse was a federally funded New Deal project and was designed primarily by Buffalo architect E.B. Green.

The president’s dedication was carried on radio stations WKBW, WBEN and WBNY.

“I need not compare the Buffalo of today with the Buffalo as I saw it the last time I was here,” Roosevelt said in Niagara Square. “You will recall, I am sure, those years when I had the privilege of being the chief executive of this state. Already in 1930 the problems of unemployment and depression had become severe and you will recall also that it was in 1931 that I, as governor, called the Legislature of the State of New York into special session to provide relief for the distressed unemployed of the state and New York was the first state in the Union to definitely accept the responsibilities of seeing to it that as far as the state’s resources could prevent it, none of its citizens who wished to work would starve.”

Wider view of President Roosevelt’s 1936 address, with the Niagara Square side of the Statler Hotel seen prominently in the background.

“We can’t honestly say that Buffalo is the largest market in the country,” wrote the Buffalo Broadcasting Corporation in a 1936 ad in a national magazine, “But we can truthfully claim that it is one of the best and has been consistently so for many years.”
Philco radios were among the available in 1932, and The Wm. Hengerer Co. was selling this seven-tube model in the downtown store’s seventh floor radio shop for $49.75– which amounts to just under $900 in 2020 dollars.
Photos of the women of early radio are far and few between—and that’s because unless they were singing, there just weren’t many women on the radio during the first two decades. This 1933 photo shows Lillian Kaye, WGR’s “crooning contralto.” Her voice was heard regularly through the 20s and 30s on Buffalo radios and around the country on network shows on NBC.
The story of Clint Buehlman’s first five years at WGR were told in a comic strip that was included in a booklet commemorating the milestone and distributed by the station in 1937.
The Hall Baking Company, sponsors of Clinton Buehlman’s Musical Clock Show on WGR, was located in the large bakery building that would later be home to the Kaufman’s Bakery on Fillmore Avenue at Main.
Following the Musical Clock Show, Buehly and technician Lew Shea would hop in the WGR Mobile Studio car for programs around town at places like Hengerer’s and Shea’s 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

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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.