Buffalo Television got on the map in 1948 when WBEN-TV (Channel 4) hit the air running. The station was owned by the Buffalo Evening News. Early local shows like “The Clue”, “Meet the Millers”, “The Santa Claus Show”, “Uncle Jerry’s Club”, “Your Museum of Science”, live wrestling from Memorial Auditorium, and “Beat the Champ” were among the favorites of early Channel 4 viewers.
Personalities include the city’s first reporter and news anchor Ed Dinsmore, reporter Harry Webb, weather Ward Fenton, Mike Mearian and pioneer program director Fred Keller.
In 1954, WGR-TV (Channel 2) got airborne, with a stable of talent that included Bill Mazer, Billy Keaton, pioneer female personality Helen Neville, Roy Kerns and “your Atlantic weatherman” Jack Mahl.
Buffalo’s VHF TV community grew to three in 1958 with the sign-on of WKBW-TV (Channel 7). Programming included daily doses of “Rocketship 7” with Dave Thomas, “Commander Tom”, “Dialing for Dollars”, and “Conversations with Liz Dribben.” Starting in 1965, the Channel 7 anchor trio of newsman Irv Weinstein, sportscaster Rick Azar and weatherman Tom Jolls became the longest-running news team in the history of television — a sensational 24 years together on the early and late newscasts.
WBUF-TV (Channel 17) went on the air in 1953 as a short-lived venture, then returned in 1956 as an NBC-owned outlet before folding in 1958. In 1959, however, a new Channel 17, redubbed WNED-TV, became New York State’s first public noncommercial TV station.
Another UHF outlet, WBES-TV (Channel 56), began telecasting in 1953, but went dark within 3 months.
The first commercial UHF station to survive in Buffalo was WUTV-TV (Channel 29), which took to the air in 1970, founded by radio polka king Stan Jasinski. During the 1980s, two additional Buffalo station began telecasting — WNYB-TV (Channel 49, now WNYO-TV) and public, noncommercial WNEQ, now WNLO (Channel 23).
Buffalo’s newest station, WNGS-TV (Channel 67), signed-on in 1997.
In March, 2009, Time Warner Cable launched the first 24 hour live local news station in Western New York. YNN (Your News Now). The company changed to Time Warner Cable News in January, 2014.
From the introduction of color in the 50s to the growth of cable networks in the 80s, changing technology has always been apart of television. In the next millennium digital television will revolutionize the way we look at TV. Digital television will produce a higher level of picture clarity and will allow stations to broadcast even more information to Western New York homes.