Husband & Wife teams and For the Ladies…

       By Steve Cichon
       steve@buffalostories.com
       @stevebuffalo


Excerpt from 100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting 


It was vestige of the Vaudeville days—wives and husbands as co-emcees on radio and television, usually hosting otherwise normal shows, only with a special kind of schtick to fall back on.

The successful and beloved team of George Burns and Gracie Allen, the married stars of one of radio’s most successful network programs from 1936-50, was all the blueprint local radio programmers needed.

Billy and Reggie Keaton were among the earliest married teams on Buffalo radio starting in the mid-40s, but soon they weren’t alone.

When Budd Hulick– half of the sensational Stoopnagle & Budd comedy team of the 1930s—returned to Western New York radio in the late 40s, he was joined by his wife, Helen. They first appeared on WHLD in her native Niagara Falls, before moving to WKBW for a few years on the “Mr. & Mrs.” show. They moved south in the mid-50s, hosting a show on WPTV Ch.5 in Palm Beach starting in 1956.

The Hulicks chat with Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz on a press trip to Buffalo.

Mary Jane and Seymour Abeles hosted “The Shopper’s Guide” on Ch.4.

Both Buffalo natives, Mary Jane was billed as Buffalo’s “first and only” female disc jockey during the war years on WGR, and Seymour was a longtime radio actor on all the stations in Buffalo—and received a Bronze star and Purple Heart in the Pacific during World War II.

Bernie and Norma Jean Sandler were well-known for hosting programs showcasing the talents of young people. Future radio stars Danny Neaverth, Tommy Shannon, and Joey Reynolds were all guest teen deejays on Sandler’s “The Young Crowd” on WEBR.

Bernie Sandler was a teenaged bandleader while still at Bennett High School, playing gigs at The Colvin Gables and the Glen Casino. After serving in North Africa and Italy during World War II, Sandler moved to radio—first at WBTA in Batavia and then Buffalo’s WEBR–where he’d replace Ed Little as the emcee of the Town Casino show in 1953—before moving onto WBEN AM-FM-TV in 1959.

After Bernie had gone to work full-time in marketing for the Iroqouis Brewery and Norma Jane was the director of the Studio Arena School of Theater, the couple hosted “The Sandler Style” on WADV-FM starting in 1969. They were also trusted spokespeople thought the years, often seen together in TV commercials for everything from applesauce to carpets. At the time he died in 1992, Bernie was still on the air weekly at WECK, playing big band music over the radio for the same folks who danced to his live band performances 50 years earlier.

Buffalo’s best remembered husband and wife started a 21-year run on Ch.4 on Jan. 17, 1950, with a little cooking, a couple interviews, and a lot of bickering.

“Meet the Millers” with Bill and Mildred Miller was a Buffalo television staple, weekday afternoons for more than two decades.

The program was a melding of the couple’s skills. They’d spent more than 20 years entertaining together on the Vaudeville circuit. He was a dancer — even once on Broadway – and she was his piano playing accompanist.

They retired from stage work to Buffalo for health reasons, opening a turkey farm in the Town of Colden—only to answer the call to TV after a handful of very successful cooking segments around Thanksgiving time in 1949.

From the onset, “Meet the Millers” was nominally about “using economy in preparing food,” but housewives tuning in around Western New York were just as likely to be entertained by the sometimes-hostile relationship between Bill and Mildred and Mildred’s tendency to put Bill in his place regularly. For better or worse, they were Western New York’s quintessential quibbling couple.

The show grew to include interview segments which aired Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with cooking segments on Tuesday and Thursday.

The big-name stars who came through Buffalo stayed at the Statler, and that’s where Bill and Mildred did their show through the 1950s.

Stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Tony Bennett were guests through the years.

Starting with their first summer on the air, the Millers made bringing Western New York’s agricultural fairs to TV viewers a priority.

As the owners of a 350-acre farm, and Bill’s role as past president of the state turkey growers’ association, the Millers became closely associated especially with the Erie County Fair, from which their show was broadcast live every year.

The Millers were in the inaugural class of the Erie County Fair Hall of Fame in 1989.

After the couple retired from television, Bill was elected Colden supervisor and served through the early 1980s.

The couple moved to Florida, where they passed away in the early 1990s.

Bill and Mildred didn’t necessarily cook all the food they showed on TV, and they certainly didn’t do the dishes—most of the real kitchen work was done by women like Margaret Teasley, seen here offering some of the shows leftovers to the “Meet the Millers” crew, including Producer Bernie Ross, cameraman Art Lester, floorman Bud Hagmann and studio supervisor Gene Klumpp.

“Rising enthusiasm in FM listening throughout Western New York is expected to continue in 1952,” started a story in The Buffalo Evening News. Although WBEN first started experimenting with FM on W8XH in 1934, WBEN-FM was Buffalo’s first frequency modulation station when it signed on in 1946. Other FM stations signed on the air quickly, and by 1950, there were plenty of choices on the FM dial—although programming was slow to develop for the much clearer sounding band. 

It wouldn’t be until the late 60s and beyond when many of these still-familiar frequencies would come into their own with programming beyond “whatever was left over” from AM sister stations.

WBEN-FM changed frequencies from 106.5FM to 102.5FM in 1958 so that the station could increase its power.

The Four Quarters were regular entertainers on WBEN-TV. Bass player Bassie Atkinson was the only Buffalonian—a Central High grad. Kenneth Strother was on piano; Reggie Willis, guitar; and Eddie Inge, clarinet.

Akron’s Miller Bros. Band, shown with Ted Mack as contestants on the Original Amateur Hour, a network program which aired on Ch.4.

Marion Roberts was the hostess of Ch. 4’s Plain & Fancy Cooking weekday mornings through much of the 1950s. Her “timely tips make homemaking easier and cooking more exciting,” according to a 1955 ad. Ch.4’s mid-50s weekday local lineup included Roberts, John Corbett, and Mildred & Bill Miller, all with shows aimed at the housewife.

He came to Buffalo as Ch.4 first signed on— and over the next 30 years, there weren’t many radio & TV personalities who saw more airtime than WBEN’s John Corbett.

Through the 1950s, he was hosting 11 weekly radio shows and was Ch.4’s “Speaker of the House” host weekdays at 12:15pm. Through the 60s and 70s, his duties turned more to news, and in the early 70s, was one of the most seen faces of TV news in Buffalo.

His contract was left to expire in 1977.  He was approached about running for mayor, and even considered it— but ultimately did not, and instead, that election saw James D. Griffin begin his four-term stretch in Buffalo’s City Hall.

Celebrating the fifth anniversary of WBEN’s Breakfast at the Sheraton with engineer Peter Koelemeyer, organist Nelson Shelby, producer Gene Brook (who also played “Grumbles the Elf” on the Santa show), baritone Harry Schad, and emcees John Corbett and Ed Dinsmore in 1954.

Four years later, John Corbett and Dick Rifenburg celebrate the show’s anniversary.

In 1959, the Sheraton Gang included organist Norm Wullen, Dick Rifenburg, and John Corbett.

By the following year, the Sheraton breakfast show had given way to The Statler Luncheon Club, in the hotel’s Grover Cleveland Room. Virgil Booth and Mike Mearian were the hosts.

Ed Dinsmore was everywhere on Ch.4 in the station’s earliest days, as one of the station’s primary newscasters, playing Santa on the Santa show, and host of Breakfast at Sheraton on the radio. Dinsmore might have been Buffalo’s most familiar local TV face when he died suddenly in 1954. 

Ed Dinsmore (left) and crew get ready for a newscast from the Statler studios of Ch.4, 1954.

Van Miller joined the staff at WBEN-TV as a summer relief announcer in 1955, and didn’t leave for 43 years. In this mid-50s shot, Van is anchoring the news while Chuck Healy anchors sports. The pair would play the opposite roles on the same newscast together through much of the following decade.

The first Buffalo scientist to talk meteorology regularly on Buffalo TV was Buffalo Weather Bureau Chief Barney Wiggin.

“Weather with Wiggin” ran Monday evenings in the early 1950s on Ch.4.


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

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

AHK- Alfred Kirchhofer & around the Buffalo radio dial

       By Steve Cichon
       steve@buffalostories.com
       @stevebuffalo


Excerpt from 100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting 


Starting in 1927, Alfred H. Kirchhofer spent 39 years at The Buffalo Evening News as the Managing Editor then Editor. He was also Vice President, then President of WBEN from 1930-67.

AHK (as he referred to himself) or Mr. Kirchhofer (as everyone else referred to him) was the man in charge of WBEN Radio before there was a WBEN Radio.

His influence was key in the News’ purchase of the station in 1930. From 1927 until his retirement in 1967, Kirchhofer ran and expanded a News Empire that included The Buffalo Evening News and added WBEN Radio in 1930, in 1936 added WEBR Radio (then a News property), WBEN-FM in 1946, and WBEN-TV in 1948.

Despite his founding of four broadcast outlets, Kirchhofer was first and foremost a newspaper man. After joining the Buffalo Evening News in 1915, he opened the News’ Washington Bureau, and became a familiar figure to Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, all the while being Buffalo’s eyes and ears in the nation’s capital.

Realizing the potential for radio beyond selling newspapers, Kirchhofer developed a staff of radio writers and newsmen for WBEN and put the station on top to stay for decades.

The FM and television stations developed under Kirchhofer were not only Buffalo’s first, but among the first in the nation.

Even as much of the broadcasting world reflected the changes in society through the 50s, 60s, and 70s, the staunch conservative content and dry delivery at the News Stations was a direct result of Kirchhofer’s editorial approach.

His News style book included a section titled, “avoid mentioning hideous creatures.” Rats and snakes became rodents and reptiles. Women weren’t “pregnant” but with child on the pages of The News, and “motherhood is not treated as a situation comedy.”

The approach made the News Stations “The Stations of Record” for generations.

Another famous Kirchhofer story involves the chair next to his desk, which was notoriously bolted to the floor, nominally as a way to keep “boozy salesmen and politicians from getting too close,” but in practice, it was an intimidation tactic for anyone speaking with him.

Elda Lucente broadcast the Italian Hour on WXRA in 1949. The station was founded in Kenmore in 1947, and sold to become WINE in 1957.
The 1947 WGR announcing staff consisted of chief Allen Lewis (seated), and David Getman, Bernard Ryan, Robert Sherry, and Don Gill.
Bob Glacy joined the WGR/WKBW staff in 1938. In the early 40s, he hosted WKBW’s “Headlines on Parade” morning news program. He was the long-time host of “Glacy’s Basement” on WKBW and through the 50s, was one of the stable of hosts and disc jockeys at WGR.

Over the more than 15 years Bob Glacy spent at WGR Radio and later WGR-TV, he did just about everything from newscasts to disc jockey to hosting Ch.2’s TV Dance Party.

Later on WEBR, he hosted “Coffee Break” between 10 and noon from the fourth floor Civic Room of the downtown Sample Shop at 554 Main Street.

“Glacy will be seated in a glass studio shaped like a coffee-maker. Shoppers will be able to watch the broadcast and have coffee and rolls. Relaxed music will be geared to the housewife and home-bound office worker.”

CHVC signed on from a studio next to the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls, Ontario in 1947. The station offered some of the first programming created by Black Western New Yorkers meant to be listened to by Black Western New Yorkers. Johnny Thomas and Flora Henderson produced programs on CHVC created for an audience in Buffalo.
“The Quiz of Two Cities” on WBEN pitted the people of Buffalo vs the people of Rochester, with Wally Nehrling, quizmaster.


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