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