AL ANSCOMBE is a groundbreaking triple-pioneer in radio, television and cable. Starting his career as a junior sports announcer in the late 1930s at the Buffalo Broadcasting Corp., he became a major player in that company, eventually rising to vice president and station manger of WKBW Radio. In that post he presided over such widely diverse talent as Bill Mazer, Foster Brooks, Stan Jasinski, Jack Mahl and George "Hound Dog" Lorenz. He later was prominent in the management team that transformed KB into one of American's great rock radio stations in 1958. Anscombe's commercial and political efforts were paramount in securing the FCC license of WKBW-TV (Channel 7) also in 1958. He was a prime factor in UHF-TV in the 1960s then shifted into cable in the 1970s as owner of Amherst Cable Vision. In 1996, Anscombe become the founding chairman of the Buffalo Broadcast Pioneers.
PHIL BEUTH is one of the original executive who helped establish the fabled Capital Cities broadcast empire in the mid-1950s in upstate New York. One of the most savvy broadcast managers of his generation, he became enormously take with Buffalo during his 11-year stint as general manager of Channel 7 start in 1975. His "watch" at the station was keynoted by Channel 7's cakewalk-dominance in the audience ratings and be the stunning supremacy of the Weinstein-Azar-Jolls anchor troika. Beuth was especially noted in those years for his deftness in fine-tuning and freshening up the station, while never relinquishing that Nielsen dearth-grip, and for hiring such talent as Susan Banks, Don Postles and Don Polec. When Cap Cities swallowed up ABC in the mid-80s, Beuth immediately was ushered to New York to take over "Good Morning America" where he pulled off a near-impossible fear: Forcing out David Hartman and replacing him with Charlie Gibson, while never missing a beat in that program's No. 1 ranking. He also was primarily responsible for the emergence of weatherman Spencer Christian.
ED LITTLE spent an astonishing 62 years on radio, nearly all of it in Buffalo and Rochester. His awe-inspiring career took root in 1938 when he stepped in front of the microphone at WEBR as a child actor with a grown-up voice. During World War II, Little carried a wire recorder aboard -29 bombing mission over Japan and delivered the play-by-play description for later broadcast over NBC. Joining WEBR as a music personality post-war, he soon became host of the late-night Town Casino show, interviewing every megastar of the 1950s- from Danny Thomas and Tony Bennett to Johnnie Ray and Rosemary Clooney- at that storied nightclub. During 1958-64 he lit up the night airwaves at KFMB San Diego, then returned to Buffalo for an eye-opening career shift- becoming the newsman during the Joey Reynolds' nighttime romp on WKBW. Following 14 years as the afternoon news anchor at WBBF Rochester, Little in 1981 joined the news team at WBEN, where his trademark delivery continued to add ad sense of distinction to that station's aura until his retirement in 2002. Ed passed away in 2001.
JACK MAHL's booming voice, warm smile, friendly manner and snappy salute became the stuff of legend during more than a decade as "Your Atlantic Weatherman" each weeknight on WGR-TV (Channel 2) starting in the mid-1950s. But his career goes far deeper than that indelible impression. A prime member of the original Channel 2 air staff, Mahl earlier had gained the attention of listeners with his radio newscasting and DJ stints at WKBW, WGR and WHLD, becoming a late-night favorite of GIs stationed in Greenland during his KB tenure as host of "Spotlight" Serenade." Not long after Atlantic stopped sponsoring TV weathercasts, Mahl returned to radio and help pioneer that introduction of all-news radio to Buffalo at WEBR. After serving a 10-year stint as news director at WBUF-FM, he returned to WEBR (which later became WNED-AM), where he was heard until retirement in 2000. For 13 years Mahl also was the live announcer for the Mark Russell comedy specials on PBS. "That's All for Mahl-good night!"
DAN NEAVERTH has racked up 42 years as one of Buffalo's most listened-to radio personalities, constructing an almost unmatched legacy of creativity and popularity. After on-air gigs as a teen in Coudersport, PA., and Dunkirk, "Daffy Dan" was among the original jocks who established WBNY as Buffalo's first fulltime radio rocker in 1957, etching his comedic identity alongside the likes of Lucky Pierre and Fred Klestine. Neaverth's instant success triggered his hiring by WKBW, where he became a full-fledged star in afternoon-drive. His nightly 7 o'clock "changeover" crosstalk with Joey Reynolds soon became must-listening, and he recorded two local single hits - "Rats in my Room" (with Reynolds) and "Good Night, Irene." Becoming KB's morning man in the early 1970s, he quickly created a forerunner of the now-familiar morning radio team approach, highlighted by his "adventures" vignettes with newsman Jim McLaughlin. Neaverth was the first person to mount a serious audience-rating challenge to Clint Buehlman and eventually dominated morning drive among most age groups.
JOE RICO probably has done more for jazz than any other broadcast personality in the nation- and he's done it for more than a half-century. So great was this man's influence on the jazz world in the 1950s and 60s that several hit records were produced in this honor - including "Jump for Joe" by Stan Kenton, "Prot of Rico" by Count Basie and "Buffalo Joe" by Louis Bellson. His creative programming of jazz started at WWOL in 1949, then expanded to WHLD, WEBR, WGR and WUFO. His smooth style, deep voice and dedication to jazz earmarked him as the epitome of cool and he brought the greatest names in jazz to Western New York clubs and concert halls from Bird to Billie to Basie and Brubeck. It was Joe Rico who broke the color barrier at music venues as early as 1948, with blacks and whites sitting side by side for the first time, and it was Rico who brought the Newport Jazz Festival to Buffalo for 3 years in the 1960s. From 1965 till 1980, he ruled the jazz roost in Miami, both on the air and in the GM's chair, most notably at WBUS-FM, where he was tabbed 'The Jazz Godfather." Upon returning to Buffalo, Rico restored jazz to the commercial airwaves at numerous stations, including WADV-FM and WBUF-FM. Joe's Rico's on-air intelligence and musical sensitivity have inspired several generations of radio fans to embrace jazz as an everyday part of their lives.
Distinguished Broadcaster Award
RON ARNOLD, whose entire career epitomizes the term public service, keynoted by superb tours of duty as a WKBW Radio newsman, as news director at WEBR Radio, as a reporter and producer at WBEN AM-FM/TV and as an award-winning report and documentary producer at WNED-TV (Channel 17).
LOIS RINGLE, whose long tenure as operations director of WUTC (Channel 29) has been highlighted by uncanny counter-programming against the original VHF giants and by her station's continuing march to popularity against formidable odds.