Clare Allen was WEBR’s jack-of-all trades through the 40s, 50s, and 60s—as a newsman, emcee, quizmaster, and on-air outdoorsman– but also chief announcer, program director and promotional director. During the 31 years that WEBR was owned by the Courier-Express, Allen also became a prolific writer for the newspaper, chronicling changing face of Buffalo through the 50s and 60s.
Colin Male spent several years in the 1940s at WEBR before heading to Hollywood. He made a handful of television and film appearances as an actor, but the Bennett High grad is best remembered as the announcer who talks over the whistling on the opening credits of the Andy Griffith Show.
Gomer Lesch was WEBR’s “Doctor of Discography” and announcer on popular shows like “Queen City Cinderella,” hosted by Clare Allen and Billy Keaton.
Lesch was a Riverside High School grad who left WEBR to navigate B-29s in World War II. Until his death in 2019, he often put his media skills to work for the Baptist church.
Through the 30s and 40s, Al Zink was one of Buffalo’s most beloved radio hosts as the emcee of “The Children’s Hour” on WEBR for more than 20 years. Many of those kids grew up to listen to him as the local host for NBC’s “Happy Birthday” program. Here, “Uncle Al” gives $40 checks to Mrs. Edith Reardon and Mrs. Marie Walczak at the WEBR studios on North Street.
Zink was part of the WEBR staff under three different owners—founder H.H. Howell, The Buffalo Evening News from 1936-42, and the Buffalo Courier-Express, which bought the station from The News when federal regulations changed– barring an entity from owning multiple stations in a market. The Courier-Express sold WEBR in 1972.
Before coming to WBEN in 1936, Ed Reimers worked at WHO in Des Moines, where he often shared the same mic with sportscaster—and later President—Ronald Reagan.
Reimers was WBEN’s top announcer before joining ABC’s announcing staff in 1948. Soon he was in Hollywood, working steadily in television’s infancy.
He filled in as an announcer on NBC’s Tonight Show—a gig arraigned by fellow WBEN alum Jack Paar, and was the regular announcer on Westerns Cheyenne and Maverick. His best remembered TV acting gig was on the original Star Trek series, where he played Admiral Fitzpatrick in the “Trouble with Tribbles” episode.
But it was with hands cupped he entered American pop culture consciousness. Reimers was the television spokesman and steady voice who reminded viewers, “You’re in good hands with Allstate” from 1958-77.
One of Buffalo’s all-time sports reporters chats with one of Buffalo’s all-time athletes. WGR’s Ralph Hubbell talks with Bisons slugger Ollie Carnegie. Carnegie still holds the record for most games as a Bison and his International League all-time homerun record stood for 69 years. Both men are in Buffalo’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Charlie Bailey was one of Buffalo’s leading sports journalists for 40 years.
A long-time Courier-Express sports columnist and WEBR personality after the paper bought the radio station, Charley Bailey’s early radio career at WGR-WKBW was a varied one.
He stepped into WGR as an assistant to Roger Baker in 1933, before joining the staff of the Courier-Express as a writer and columnist in 1942. He spent time behind the sports play-by-play microphone which would be his realm through the 1960s, but he also “donned a high hat and white tie for a survey of Buffalo’s night life on “Man About Town.”
Starting in 1946, Bailey was back on the airwaves at WEBR, and he would serve that station as sports reporter, play-by-play man, and Sports Director until the 1970s. An old school reporter, Bailey was tough but always smiling, and always seemed ready to turn the perfect phrase.
“Bob Schmidt, so versatile that it is difficult for us editors,” read the caption on this photo in a pre-war publication for the Buffalo Broadcasting Corporation.
“Smiling Bob Smith” was how Masten High School grad Robert Schmidt was known through most of his years on WGR from 1936-1944.
He also spent a couple of years at WBEN before moving onto New York City to host the morning radio show on WEAF (later WNBC), and become one of the great stars of the early days of television as Howdy Doody’s sidekick, “Buffalo Bob Smith.”
This page is an excerpt from 100 Years of Buffalo Broadcasting by Steve Cichon
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
In 1973, Clint Buehlman was celebrating 30 years of hosting the morning show on WBEN. His program had more listeners than the next three stations’ morning shows combined. More than 300,000 people tuned in to “your AM-MC” during the course of the week.
“Dependability,” explained Buehly, was the reason for his 40 years of success on morning radio on WGR and then WBEN.
And from the 1930s through the 1970s, if it was snowing in Buffalo on any given morning, you could depend on tuning around your dial to find “Yours Truly, Buehly” sitting at the piano, singing his song about driving in winter weather.
“Leave for work a little early cause the roads are kind of slick,
and even though your brakes are good you’ll find you can’t stop quick.
“When you step upon that peddle and your car begins to skid,
just remember this advice and you’ll be glad you did.”
It was winter weather that helped end the Clint Buehlman era on Buffalo radio. During the Blizzard of ’77, listeners came to rely on the more modern sound of Danny Neaverth on WKBW, and less on the dated sound of Buehlman’s show on WBEN.
In March 1977, Buehlman turned 65, and WBEN management took it as an opportunity to force him to retire.
This week we’re looking at the women who were the first to make their presence felt in what has traditionally been the male-dominated broadcasting industry.
Today– the women who were the first to grace Buffalo television screens.
Television came to Buffalo with Channel 4 in 1948, and the only women prominently featured in the ceremonial sign on of the station were the chorus girls from the Town Casino.
Some of the pioneering women in Buffalo TV were the same women who pioneered in Buffalo radio.
Sally Work was called “the dean of women commentators” by the Buffalo Evening News. She’d already been on the radio for 15 years by the time she took her act to the new medium of TV. When Channel 2 signed on, Helen Neville took her radio act to TV as well.
Of course, there were those who made their first mark in TV as well.
Starting in 1952, a beloved and strong woman made her debut on Channel 4.
Viewers watched Mildred Miller and her husband Bill cook and interview celebrities for 20 years on “Meet the Millers.
Doris Jones was first seen as a commercial model on Channel 4 when she was still in high school. She’d eventually host a women’s show on Channel 7, and become Buffalo’s first female staff announcer and weathercaster on Channel 2.
Paula Drew was the spokesperson for Niagara Frontier’s dairy farmers, and as Buffalo’s milk maid, she did weather forecasts wrapped around milk commercials. She was later the voice of Tops Friendly Markets.
While Paula Drew was at Tops, it was Joey at Super Duper in the 70s and 80s.
It’s tough to imagine Buffalo without Jim Kelly… but if he would have had it his way at the beginning of his professional career, he never would have become a Buffalo Bill.
Today, two decades after taking his last snap, Kelly remains one of Buffalo’s most beloved personalities and one of Western New York’s biggest backers.
He was one of us in the pocket. His on-field grit reflects what we hope we see in ourselves individually and as a community.
Our admiration for him was forged as we watched him blow into his hands in Rich Stadium cold– and seemed to enjoy it.
Kelly and those great Bills teams embraced the cold and the snow and made it a part of their physical and mental advantage over the rest of the AFC during the greatest ride Buffalo sports fans have ever known.
Fresh out of college, though, Kelly had another path to greatness planned. It was lined with palm trees and beautiful people, not snowbanks and Zubaz.
It took a couple of turns in the road to get him here.
Jim Kelly was drafted by the Bills out of Miami three years before he made Rich Stadium his home.
There were plenty of very good quarterbacks available in the 1983 NFL Entry Draft. Three of them, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, and John Elway, are now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“My agent looked at me after Elway got picked and the problem that arose from it and he said, ‘Hey Jim, is there anywhere that you don’t want to play?’ I said, ‘Oh yeah, I don’t want to play for the Minnesota Vikings. I don’t want to play for the Green Bay Packers and I don’t want to play for the Buffalo Bills.’”
-Jim Kelly to BuffaloBills.com’s Chris Brown in 2010
The Bills picked Notre Dame tight end Tony Hunter with the 12th pick. Watching on TV in his parents’ living room, Kelly celebrated not being picked by Buffalo.
“I remember jumping up out of my seat and I hit my mother who was sitting on the right arm of the recliner and I knocked her right off the chair. I felt so bad, I quick picked her up off the floor and I’m apologizing, ‘Sorry mom I’m just glad I’m not going to play for Buffalo.’”
-Jim Kelly to BuffaloBills.com’s Chris Brown in 2010
But the Bills also had the 14th pick in the first round. With that pick, they took the Miami quarterback.
“I couldn’t believe it. Within minutes the phone calls came and with me being politically correct I was saying how excited I was to be a Buffalo Bill. And when I hung up I said, ‘We need to call the USFL and see what other options we have.’”
-Jim Kelly to BuffaloBills.com’s Chris Brown in 2010
One of those immediate conversations was with WBEN Radio’s Stan Barron. You can listen to that conversation below.
The polite young quarterback impressed one of the old salts of Buffalo sports by saying all the right things, though his heart clearly wasn’t in it– because he had an alternative.
The United States Football League was founded in 1982. The original idea was to capitalize on the country’s growing love of professional football by playing games in the spring and summer during the NFL’s off-season. The league wasn’t going head-to-head with games, but they were going head-to-head in trying to sign talent.
Kelly’s agents worked out a deal with the Bills, and then took two weeks to meet with USFL teams. Bills interim General Manager Pat McGroder was unabashedly optimistic.
“They (Kelly’s agents) said we’ve got a hell of a chance of getting him,” McGroder told reporters as USFL brass wined and dined Kelly and crew.
The Bills were taken by surprise when Larry Felser wrote in The Buffalo News that Kelly would sign with the USFL’s Houston Gamblers “for an enormous sum of money.”
“There are risks in doing what I’m doing, but I made up my mind,” Kelly said. “Everybody has to take a risk once in his life. But I’m happy I did it and I won’t regret it.”
The folks at One Bills Drive were upset that the team was never given a chance to meet or beat the offer from the upstart league.
“We considered three different offers that they threw at us, and they were very happy with the offer we made to them,” McGroder told reporters after Kelly signed the five-year, $3.5 million deal . “I want the fans to know it was not the Buffalo Bills who let them down.”
“It was very cold in Buffalo.”
-Jim Kelly to reporters in Houston
When he signed, Kelly told reporters in Houston that he was never pleased with what the Bills were offering and that part of his decision to join the Gamblers was that he liked the people in their organization better than he did those with the Bills.
When Kelly’s signing was announced in Houston, his agent, Greg Lustig said, “There were several reasons not to sign with Buffalo. For one, it’s one of the most depressed areas in America. The opportunities just aren’t there. I understand Joe Cribbs made under $500 in personal appearances there in the last three years.”
Associated Press, June 11, 1983
The Bills moved on, but the woeful play of the quarterbacks on the roster and a pair of 2-14 seasons in 1984 and 1985 meant Kelly was never far from the thoughts of anyone connected with the Bills.
Joe Ferguson played quarterback for the Bills in 1983, and part of 1984, until Joe Dufek took the starting job. Bruce Mathison was on the roster at quarterback, too. The Bills also brought in veteran Vince Ferragamo in 1985. The day Ferragamo became a Bill, he was asked about Kelly.
“I think you definitely look at that with suspicion,” Ferragamo said of the possibility of Kelly coming to the Bills. “There’s nothing concrete behind that and your approach to the game can’t be decided on the fact of what happens a year from now.”
The Bills thought of Kelly with hope, but Kelly’s thoughts of Buffalo weren’t happy ones.
“There are a lot of off-the-field endorsements I can get here (in Houston) that I couldn’t get in Buffalo. Plus I could come right in and play and make a name for myself and not have to sit behind Joe Ferguson for three years playing in the snow in Buffalo.”
Jim Kelly, a year into his USFL contract, 1984
Kelly was enjoying his time in Houston– setting league passing records and driving a brand new Corvette every few weeks in a deal with a local Chevy dealer– but the future of the upstart USFL was becoming cloudy.
So with a murky prognosis for the league and the team that Kelly played for, the quarterback’s stance softened somewhat, saying that while the Bills weren’t his top choice of NFL teams, he’d “play for them if necessary and give his best.”
It still wasn’t a homerun. As late as February, 1986, Kelly was still openly hostile to playing in Buffalo.
And month before signing with the Bills, Sports Illustrated started a feature article on the Houston Gamblers quarterback with “Jim Kelly, the best quarterback nobody has ever seen play…”
The article went on to describe the close knit Kelly clan that Buffalonians of the ’80s and ’90s remember well– the quarterback’s parents and brothers who eventually seemed to fit right in here despite their Pennsylvania accents.
During the summer of 1986, the USFL was embroiled in lawsuits and court cases. Play was suspended for the league, and on paper, Kelly’s Houston Gamblers had merged with the Donald Trump-owned, Doug Flutie-quarterbacked New Jersey Generals.
The future was up in the air. USFL team mergers could have been haulted. The USFL could have been forced to fold. The USFL could have merged with the NFL.
Kelly talked about all of these possibilities in SI. It didn’t leave Bills fans hopeful.
”I’d like to play for the Raiders. I’d like to live in California,” Kelly says. ”But what I’d really like to do is play for the New Jersey Generals and Donald Trump and merge with the NFL and take the run-and-shoot with Herschel Walker in the backfield and just kick ass.”
Kelly himself says he might play for the Bills if the USFL folds, if they pay him a lot, or he might sit out the 1986 season and become a free agent next year and go where he pleases for a trillion dollars. ”Buffalo needs more than me, more than a quarterback,” he says. ”I’d get the tar beat out of me, and it would shorten my career.”
-Sports Illustrated, July 21, 1986
About a month after the article hit mailboxes in Western New York and around the country, Jim Kelly was a Buffalo Bill and the NFL’s highest paid player.
“I’m being paid to play football, and that’s what I want to do,” Kelly told the Associated Press as the USFL stalemate seemed indefinite during the summer of 1986. Kelly and the Bills started the wheels in motion to make that happen.
In mid-August, Bills General Manager Bill Polian received written permission from Donald Trump– whose team owned Kelly’s rights in the USFL– to negotiate a deal with the quarterback. Kelly sat with Ralph Wilson in a suite during the Bills first preseason game against the Oilers in Houston.
In the following days, Kelly signed a five-year, $8 million contract. The approximately $1.5 million per year pushed Kelly’s salary past Joe Montana’s $1.3 million, making the new Bills quarterback the NFL’s richest player.
“What we’re really interested in is rebuilding this franchise to respectability,” Bills owner Ralph Wilson said at the time of the signing. But it was bigger than that for Buffalo.
Jim Kelly’s deciding join the Bills might have been Buffalo’s biggest event of the 1980s. It was a Buffalo prodigal son story if there ever was one. Jim Kelly spent three years sniping at Buffalo and taking shots at our weather– but a switch was flipped when he climbed off a private plane into a limousine and got a police escort down the 33– with fans waving and cheering at overpasses– to sign the contract that would make him not just a million-dollar arm, but our million dollar arm.
Kelly took a break from signing autographs in the lobby of a downtown hotel to officially sign that contract in a spot only blocks from where a billboard sponsored by Bethlehem Steel employees famously asked “the last person leaving Buffalo to turn out the light.”
It hadn’t even been ten years since that billboard had come and gone, but things had grown worse. The steel plant had closed and the Bills had just played two 2-14 seasons in a row.
It was bleak being a Buffalonian.
The signing definitely made Buffalonians hold their heads a little higher. Bills General Manager Bill Polian spelled it out at that first press conference.
“The fact that Jim is sitting here to my left is an enduring monument to Ralph Wilson’s commitment to building a winner for the city of Buffalo,” said Polian.
Jimbo’s arrival rekindled an almost extinguished sense of civic pride and brought a measure of hometown hope to Buffalo, and the feeling is mutual. Kelly has called signing with the Bills “the best decision of his life.”
Three decades removed, its tough to imagine what Buffalo would have been without his presence.
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 on Niagara Square.
The Oct. 17, 1936, Buffalo visit was Roosevelt’s first as president — although he had visited Buffalo 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 Depression was on the mind of the president and the thousands who turned out around Western New York to greet him and his train as he spoke in Buffalo and in Niagara Falls.
“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.”
The ceremony took place in front of the building which has been known as the Michael J. Dillon Courthouse since 1986. Federal offices started to move from Niagara Square to the former Thaddeus J. Dulski Federal Building (now the Avant) in the late 1960s. The remaining federal courtrooms moved across Niagara Square to the Robert Jackson Courthouse in 2012.
The president’s dedication was carried on radio stations WKBW, WBEN and WBNY.
This brief clip was not from Roosevelt’s Buffalo speech, but it was typical of his talks throughout the 1936 campaign.
Roosevelt arrived in Buffalo at 10:30 p.m. the night before his speech, and left at 11:33 a.m. after the downtown Buffalo dedication and a speech at Hyde Park Stadium in Niagara Falls. The president slept in his special railcar, “The Pioneer,” as it sat on the tracks of the New York Central terminal, surrounded by 25 New York Central Railroad Police.
The day after the president’s visit, an interesting side note about the campaign was the subject of an editorial in the Courier-Express, discussing the media presence of President Roosevelt and his opponent, Kansas Governor Alf Landon.
It is not late for the Democratic organization to show its fine sense of sportsmanship in campaign tactics. Hitherto it has pitted the perfect radio voice of Mr. Roosevelt against the more limited oratorical personality of Mr. Landon, proving Mr. Roosevelt a far superior air attraction than the less unctuous Kansas governor. If the election were to be decided on mere rhetorical counts, the Chanticleer of Democracy undoubtedly would have the edge.
Mr. Landon, however, is really a rather nice looking man with a smile of his own, not overwhelmingly ingratiating, of course, like Mr. Roosevelt’s but still fairly easy on the eyes. The impression is that Mr. Landon, who does not broadcast as well as Mr. Roosevelt, might perhaps screen as well.
These considerations have reference to the campaign movie recently made at Hyde Park House, featuring the Lord High Chief Executive in a story designed to show a typical day at his home. The cameras ground, the sound trucks maneuvered, Franklin the Fair flashed smiles as he sat at his desk — in a word, politics went Hollywood. No release date was set for the attraction at the movies but it certainly should be billed soon now.
What box-office following both candidates may have, if both are offered on their visual merits to the movie fans, could only be conjectured; but at least Mr. Roosevelt’s undisputed radio advantage over Mr. Landon might thus be cut down in the interest of good emotional sportsmanship.
They were two of Buffalo’s favorite up-and-coming announcers and emcees during the 1930s on the Buffalo Broadcasting Corp.’s WGR Radio.
When The Buffalo Evening News wanted to wrestle away WGR’s top rating for its own station, WBEN, it was Clinton Buehlman (left) and Smilin’ Bob Smith (right) they hired.
Buehly and Smith, along with Johnny Eisenberger (who was later better known as Forgetful the Elf), were lifelong friends who grew up together on Buffalo’s East Side. When they were brought to WBEN from WGR in 1943, Buehlman hosted the early morning show and Smith did mid-mornings.
In between their own programs, they co-hosted “Early Date at Hengerer’s,” live from the downtown department store.
“Early Date” at Hengerer’s, WBEN. (Buffalo Stories archives)
While Buehlman’s pace was fast and his persona was slapstick, Smilin’ Bob was more laidback and homespun. He caught the ear of NBC executives in New York City looking to build a team for the network’s Big Apple flagship station.
Bob Smith, WBEN. (Buffalo Stories archives)
Shortly after Smith left WBEN for the New York’s WEAF Radio in 1946, longtime News and Courier-Express radio critic Jim Trantor wrote:
“Buffalo’s Smilin’ Bob Smith, who’s become one of NBC’s fair-haired boys on the New York scene … is going great guns at the head of a television show for youngsters down there and looks to have just about the rosiest future imaginable.”
The show, of course, was Howdy Doody, and Smith was destined to become one of the great early stars of television.
BUFFALO, NY – For those who just knew Tom Connolly as the guy who said, “it’s midnight,” every night, seven nights a week for almost 25 years, its difficult to introduce you to the man. He was as unique as his voice– unequivocally one of a kind.
We’ve all seen some movie or TV show where a kid goes to the dumpy basement closet to hang out with the school janitor– a world-weary and gruff, yet kind and brilliant guy, who gives great advice and does his sometimes rotten job like clockwork.
Overnights in radio are a lot like a dumpy basement… And while Tom was no janitor, he just did his work– and a lot of stuff that he’d do just because he thought someone should– quietly with no expectation of appreciation or praise. He was like radio’s counterculture guidance counselor.
He loved and cared for each one of us kids who went through the station, and encouraged us to make our own role there, because no one else was going to do it for us.
The first time I was ever on the air at WBEN was with Tom’s guidance– make that his insistence. On a Sunday morning shift in 1994, the news guy never showed up.
It was with his passionate, insistent, and unmistakably Connollyesque advice that I began my on air career in radio.
What many people outside of radio might not realize, is that Tom worked overnights, seven days a week. For decades.
Again, that started in part because Tom cared about me personally. There was a time when I was working 3-11 Saturday evening, then was back Sunday morning at 5. At this point, Tom had Saturday nights off– his one night off every week.
The guy who was supposed to work the overnight shift while I’d go sleep on the station couch for six hours didn’t show up two weeks in a row. Being a naive high school kid, I never told anyone… Until one day I let it it slip to Tom. He was already angry that “the man” was taking advantage of my eagerness to work by putting me on such a schedule.
But Tom had no love for the character who skipped out on that shift. The next week, Tom was working Saturday night — the start of his 23 year run of overnights every night. He also insisted that I forgo that soiled couch in the station basement and drive 45 minutes home for some real sleep. More than once that sound sleep ended abruptly with a phone call from the station.
“Sorry Tom, I’m on my way.”
And he meant no problem. For five years, Tom relived me from “running the board” as the technical producer and operator of the station in the early 90s.
Most nights he’d walk in, fresh from Tops next door, with his arms filled with bizarro overnight snacks. The menu would change through the years, but early on it was a half-gallon of Tops Vim One skim milk, which he’d drink straight from the carton to wash down a bag of oyster crackers and a pound of M&Ms.
Often a minute or two “late,” he’d simply say, “Good evening. Vacate.”
In those years he wouldn’t take official vacation days or any time off– he’d ask me to cover for him, with the same request once a year, several years running.
“If it’s ok, I may be a few minutes late tonight,” he’d say— and I then knew what was coming next. “Weird Al Yankovic is performing in concert tonight, and I’d like to attend.”
The gratitude he’d show when you did him a small favor was as if it had been served on a golden platter.
Maybe a bit more mellowed, Tom was the same cat when I came back to WBEN after several years away.
No longer a (young) punk and having some radio management experience under my belt, I had an even greater appreciation for Connolly (which is nearly universally how we’ve always referred to him.)
He taught young people not only the craft of radio, but the reward in the drudgery of work just for the sake of your own pride in getting it done. He was the cool upper classman who knew all the tricks and was willing to share.
For decades, Tom would send home board ops and news people on Christmas… And work double duty for 36 straight hours so the people at the bottom of the totem poll could spend time with their families.
After his daily nine hours at Entercom, contributing to the success of WBEN, WGR, Star and Kiss’ morning show in his typical unheralded fashion, rarely receiving the credit or thanks he deserved, he’d head to his first radio love, WBNY, and work for free on a fantastic music show– again, acting as mentor and funky uncle to generations of Buff State broadcasting students.
If one was trying to be sensitive, one would say Tom was unique. He was unique enough to be comfortable with weird. Mostly a good weird. Mostly a weird like, “Who works that hard?” Or “Who helps people he barely knows like that?” Or “Who just does his job, seven days a week, always superior with no questions asked?”
Tom was one of the people who made working in radio different, exciting, and so much better than any other terrible, terribly-paying job on the planet. His work ethic, his weirdness, and his love and support for all of us will be greatly and forever missed.
Stars make “radio” for those who listen. Guys like Tom make radio for those who make radio.