The Buffalo Evening News had been a pioneer in the field of wireless communications, from wireless telegraph station WBL which operated from The News headquarters, to setting up the radio relay of election results on “radio’s birthday” in 1920.
“A new voice of the city is on the air, bespeaking new hopes and hoping to fulfill new opportunities for the entire Niagara Frontier,” read the opening sentence of the story in The News, celebrating the initial broadcast of WBEN on September 8, 1930.
“Through the magic of radio, it expects to become an increasingly powerful factor for knowledge, for culture, for good citizenship.”
The voice of announcer Merwin Morrison was the first to be heard on WBEN, but that first broadcast was opened with the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner, followed immediately by “the Maple Leaf Forever,” which was then the national anthem of Canada.
Buffalo Evening News Managing Editor Alfred H. Kirchhofer gave an address welcoming the listening audience to WBEN on behalf of the paper on that first day.
It was Kirchhofer, who would eventually serve as President of WBEN, who was more instrumental than anyone else in the paper’s move to start operating a radio station, and then later to develop FM and television broadcasting stations as well.
“We can promise you that we will be our own most severe critics and that nothing shall interfere with the rapid development of a station that will be a credit to Buffalo and a joy to the listener,” said Kirchhofer over the air that first night.
For the next 47 years, through the auspices of its newspaper owner, WBEN would be Buffalo’s most thoroughly marketed and photographed radio (and later TV) station, as is evidenced on the pages of this volume.
This page is an excerpt from 100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting by Steve Cichon
Since 1900, the boat now known as the Edward M. Cotter (below, middle) has served the Port of Buffalo as an ice breaker and firefighting vessel.
Buffalo News archives
After a rebuild and refit in 1953, the former WS Grattan was renamed in memory of favorite firefighter and union leader Cotter.
While occasionally breaking ice or fighting fires, these days the Cotter serves more as a floating museum, as testimony to the way things once were — when as the WS Grattan, the then-coal-powered boat played in active role in one of the world’s great fresh water ports — Buffalo.
This undated shot shows the WS Grattan offering assistance to another vessel in Buffalo Harbor, while the W.W. Holloway is moored nearby. The Holloway spent 50 years on the Great Lakes, mostly carrying raw materials of the steel trade: coal and ore.
While the Cotter is certainly one of Buffalo’s more famous boats, the W.W. Holloway is Hollywood-famous.
In the 1980 cult classic film “The Blues Brothers,” it was the Holloway that was waiting to pass through Chicago’s 95th Street drawbridge when Jake and Elwood Blues veered around waiting cars to fly over the bridge and continue on their way.