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 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.
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