Buffalo Broadcasting History
Hall of Fame
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2001 Inductees

Liz Dribben
LIZ DRIBBEN has scaled the Everest of broadcast journalism alongside Mike Wallace, Dan Rather, Charles Osgood, Charles Kuralt and Walter Cronkite. Through 21 years as a producer, writer, reporter and interviewer at CBS News in New York, she contributed her formidable talent and discerning critical eye to the betterment of the careers of several of the most distinguished journalists in American broadcasting history. But the foundation that formed the greatness of her CBS years-1972 through 1993-was created in Buffalo, where she was one of the most memorable personalities on WKBW-TV (Channel 7). She started in 1959 as a publicist and production go-fer. By 1964, with "Dialing for Dollars" 5 days a week, her landmark one-on-one interviews on weekends and a daily morning newscast, Dribben had elbowed her way into a medium that previously segregated females into the bailiwick of cutesy-pie duties. Stymied by lack of further advancement, she hopped a plane to the Big Apple in 1969 and never returned. Dribben now works as a commentator at WNYC-FM, hosts talk shows at WEVD Radio and teaches broadcast journalism at Columbia University. Says Charles Osgood: "Liz could have been a great detective or psychiatrist. When she listens, people talk."

The Millers
BILL & MILDRED MILLER seemingly came out of nowhere but a Colden turkey farm when they waltzed into the WBEN-TV (Channel 4) studios in the old Hotel Statler to begin their daily "Meet the Millers" program right after New Year's Day in 1950. Bill & Mildred were seasoned showbiz pros, having worked vaudeville from coast to coast through the 1930s and '40s as dancers and sketch performers. Thus, when Channel 4 executive George Torge invited the Millers to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner for viewers of the fledgling station in 1949, he had a notion that this Mutt & Jeff team might have a long-term TV future. Two months later, "Meet the Millers" went on the air. For a half-hour every weekday for nearly 21 years, Bill & Mildred offered cooking tips, petty and serious bickering, and cozy interviews with the world's biggest stars-from Perry Como to Tony Bennett; from Debbie Reynolds to Elizabeth Taylor. The Millers were intelligent, classy, warm-hearted to newcomers in Buffalo broadcasting and, most of all, fabulous ambassadors for the City of Good Neighbors. Virtually every celebrity who guested on their show left town with generous thoughts about the Millers and the city Bill & Mildred called home. After "Meet the Millers" left the air in 1970, Bill Miller became Colden town supervisor. In the 1980s, the Millers closed up the turkey farm and retired to Florida, where they both passed away in the early 1990s.

Lou Schriver
RAMBLIN' LOU SCHRIVER is the personification of the American dream, where rugged individualism crossed with personal generosity creates genuine greatness. When 1950s morons called him a hick, a hayseed and far worse, Lou hung tough and earned an increasingly fine living simply by being himself-a broadcaster who played Ernest Tubb instead of Frankie Avalon, a bandleader who barnstormed the Northeast, an irrepressible salesman who cajoled merchants into investing in his radio show, and a radio station chieftain who now ranks as the only independent owner in the Buffalo radio market. In the process, he became indisputably the most revered country-music radio personality north of the Mason-Dixon line. Beginning as a teenager at WJJL in 1947, Schriver parlayed his love of country and his relentless pursuit of the public ear into a career that probably knows no equal. Moving to WWOL in 1964 broadened his audience, and purchasing WMMJ in 1970 and transforming it into WXRL gave him the ultimate bona fides as a broadcaster. With tens of thousands of ferociously loyal fans, Ramblin' Lou has worked his way into the Country Music Disk Jockey Hall of Fame in Nashville and the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame here at home. Along with his wife Joanie Marshall, he's also a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame's Walkway of Stars. Ramblin' Lou's Family Band continues to perform regularly, and Lou still hosts his daily radio show each afternoon on WXRL. Friends, he's the real article.

Tom Shannon
TOM SHANNON's career runs a parallel path to the history of rock 'n' roll-breezy and carefree; hard-driving and entrepreneurial; dedicated to roots. Cutting his teeth in his early teens at WXRA Radio in 1955, Shannon soon moved to WKBW and took over 7-to-midnight after Dick Biondi's departure for Chicago. The handsome youth immediately becoming a Buffalo teen heartthrob and one of America's best-known rock jocks via KB's near-total East Coast penetration at night. With the face of a matinee idol, Shannon quickly grabbed a weekly TV gig as host of "Buffalo Bandstand" on next-door neighbor WKBW-TV (Channel 7). By 1964, his huge KB Radio ratings and the infectious joy of his air work landed him at rock powerhouse CKLW in Detroit, where once more he made it look easy, simply duplicating the household-word success that he had magically spun in Buffalo. In Detroit he also stepped up his TV work, eventually becoming host of the morning show at ABC-owned WXYZ-TV. In 1972, he switched to Denver, handling a daily radio air shift and the daily TV gig "Afternoon at the Movies with Tom Shannon" at KWGN-TV. Forty-six years after it launched, his career continues in full-stride at WHTT-FM, where he still pumps out the hits each day in afternoon-drive and where he still intones at the close of each broadcast: "Above and beyond all else-later."

Dave Thomas
If television is a cool medium, Dave Thomas is the perfect fit. His low-key pleasantness and soothing voice having seduced viewers in two fiercely competitive markets throughout an eclectic career that spans an astounding 47 years. The Buffalo native drew his first broadcast paycheck at Syracuse radio stations while awaiting graduation from Syracuse University. Drafted into the Army, he served as news director for the Caribbean Forces Radio-TV Network out of Panama and performed air work on Armed Forces Radio out of New York. But it wasn't until 1961, when he joined WKBW-TV (Channel 7), that Thomas picked up a real head of steam. Before long, it was Dave Thomas the weatherman, Dave Thomas creating and hosting kids' favorite "Rocketship 7" each weekday morning, and Dave Thomas triggering Buffalo's liveliest TV talk show (with Liz Dribben and Nolan Johannes) on "Dialing for Dollars." In 1978 Thomas left for Philadelphia's WPVI-TV, where he took the reins of "A.M. Philadelphia" and brought it to No. 1 and then became the most popular weathercaster in that city's history. Twenty-three years later, Dave still anchors the weather three times nightly, hosts local specials throughout the year and has gained widespread acclaim for his annual stint as Philly host of the Jerry Lewis-Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. Near the end of the year 2000, Thomas was selected as the first "Person of the Year" by the Philadelphia Broadcast Pioneers.

Distinguished Broadcaster Award

Dan and Nancy Lezniak
DAN & NANCY LESNIAK created the last of the Buffalo radio stations spotlighting the Golden Era of American Music. WADV-FM was the groundbreaking station that became a touchstone for lovers of classic pop music through the 1960s and '70s. The Lesniaks instituted an outstandingly smooth and intelligent on-air presentation that featured genuine personalities instead of bloodless automation. Among the great WADV voices were Fred Klestine, Rick Bennett, Jerry Glenn, Bernie Sandler, Pat Vincent, Ken Ruof and Jack Horohoe. On the technical side, WADV also was Upstate New York's first FM stereo station in 1962. Dan & Nancy Lesniak's ownership of WADV was preceded by Dan's longtime radio career, both on the air and in sales and management. Dan Lesniak died in 1982. The Broadcast Pioneers honor the Lesniaks for their staunch dedication to classic radio.

Goodyear Award

John Rigas
JOHN RIGAS borrowed $300 in 1952 to establish the company that eventually became the Adelphia Communications empire. As founder, chairman and CEO of Adelphia, Rigas operates the sixth-largest cable company in America, with nearly 6 million residential subscribers in 32 states. He and his family also preside over the Buffalo Sabres hockey team, cable TV's Empire Sports Network, all-sports radio station WNSA-FM, the HSBC Arena, and subsidiaries that offer voice-and-phone service and Internet access. His pioneering media achievements recently earned him induction into BROADCASTING & CABLE magazine's Hall of Fame. Rigas is the 2001 recipient of the George F. Goodyear Jr. Award, for his colorful and innovative career and for his lifelong commitment to community involvement.

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