Fifty Years Of Your Life

History of WKBW-TV

December 5, 2013 Updated Dec 5, 2013 at 12:54 PM EDT

By John DiSciullo

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December 5, 2013 Updated Dec 5, 2013 at 12:54 PM EDT

The day...November 30, 1958. The place...1420 Main Street in Buffalo, New York- the original home of WKBW-TV. The person...Rick Azar. He signed the station on with the words, "Ladies and Gentlemen, WKBW-TV Channel 7 is on-the-air!" The first broadcast on that snowy night was the Jimmy Cagney classic film, "Yankee Doodle Dandy!" Now...almost 50 years later...WKBW-TV has broadcast tens of thousands of movies, local programs, and newscasts.

WKBW-TV began as an extension of the popular WKBW radio 1520am, (now WWKB). The station began under the direction and ownership of the late Dr. Clinton H. Churchill. In fact, the original building used to be a tabernacle, which is key to what WKBW stands for..."Well Known Bible Witness." WKBW-TV signed on and continues as one of the top ABC affiliates in the country.

Through the years, WKBW-TV changed ownership and location. In 1960, Capital Cities Communications purchased the station. It became a cornerstone for a company that would later acquire the ABC television network before selling that to the Walt Disney Company. In 1978, the station moved from Main St. to the current facility near Buffalo's waterfront, at 7 Broadcast Plaza ( Church and South Elmwood Sts.). Even though the present building is 30 years old, it still stands as a modern fixture in the city landscape with silver reflective panels.



In 1986, J. Bruce Llewellyn acquired the station and operated it under Queen City Broadcasting until 1995...when present owners, Granite Broadcasting, Inc. took control. Granite, under the direction of CEO W. Don Cornwell, stands as one of the most successful minority owned media companies in the country.

Through the years, WKBW-TV has served a mix of local programming, and news that serves the Western New York community, with many viewers in Southern Ontario as well.

Newsman Irv Weinstein, sportscaster Rick Azar, and weatherman Tom Jolls stand as the longest running anchor team in Buffalo television history. Their thirty year tenure became the cornerstone for "Eyewitness News" and that tradition continues today...with current 5, 6 & 11pm anchors Keith Radford and Joanna Pasceri with meterologist Mike Randall, and Sports Director Jeff Russo. They are joined by a top team both in front of, and behind the camera, for all newscasts dedicated to delivering "Eyewitness News."

In 1964, "Dialing For Dollars" hit the air with Liz Dribben and Nolan Johannes. This mix of talk, entertainment, and game show was an instant hit...and led to the creation of "AM/Buffalo" in 1978 to continue that tradition. This year, "AM/BUFFALO" is celebrating 30 years as one of the longest running and most successful locally produced programs in the country. The 10am hour offers a mix of information, entertainment, recipes, and product demonstrations...including live and taped reports from all over the community with interesting people, places, and events. The program began with hosts Brian Kahle and Nancy Foreman, and continues with Linda Pellegrino, and reporter/co host Jon Summers.

Before "Good Morning America" and afternoon talk...WKBW-TV offered a memorable mix of LIVE children's programming. "Rocketship 7" kicked off the day with host Dave Thomas and "Promo The Robot!" Dave is now a weatherman for WPVI-TV in Philadelphia after working in his hometown of Buffalo from 1962 until 1978. "The Commander Tom Show" anchored the afternoons with a mix of cartoons and information with Tom Jolls and puppets "Dustmop" and "Mattie The Mod!" Tom could be seen every afternoon from 1965 until 1978, and weekends until 1995.

WKBW-TV is the "Official Station Of The Buffalo Bills," dating back to the days when the NFL team played at the old "Rockpile" in Buffalo. WKBW-TV followed the team to the current facility in Orchard Park, N.Y. in 1973 (known then as Rich Stadium and now as Ralph Wilson Stadium). You can watch pre-season games on the station and exclusive sports coverage on "Sunday Sports Final" at 11:30pm. Channel 7 is also a partner with Time Warner Cable SportsNet to continue the long running franchise of "The Super 7 Athlete Of The Week" in addition to "High School Sports Roundup" Sunday mornings at 11am. WKBW-TV was also one of the first stations to travel with the Buffalo Sabres hockey team in the 1970's, broadcasting select games...and is a supporter of the triple A Buffalo Bisons baseball team.

A leader in technology...WKBW-TV was one of the first stations in the country with LIVE EYE microwave units in the 1970's...and first in the market with a satellite newsgathering truck, NEWSTAR 7, in 1991. When the world wide web opened up in 1994, Channel 7 was the first Buffalo station online with www.wkbw.com. Today, on the site you are reading this on, the wkbw.com site is the first to offer viewer submitted videos on the YOU NEWS portion of the site, in addition to the most comprehensive mix of news, weather, sports, information, and advice...ranging from Food and Wine, Home Improvement, and Health and Wellness.

Channel 7 has been there for you Western New York, serving one of the most unique regions in the country by supporting a diverse range of community groups and events, like The Buffalo Urban League, Summit Educational Resources, The March of Dimes, The American Heart Association, 1490 Enterprises, and Women and Children's Hospital through the Variety Kid's Telethon to name just a few. In fact, the "Variety Kid's Telethon" is the longest running locally produced telethon in the country. The event posted a total of $1.3 million in 2008 and shows no signs of stopping for the 47th annual effort coming in Feburary 2009 this year from the Adam's Mark Hotel.

WKBW-TV, Fifty Years of Your Life! Thanks for being with us for this golden anniversary. We look forward to 50 more years of delivering "Eyewitness News," weather, sports, programming, and information into your home everyday!"