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For several years, a group of volunteers from the Buffalo Broadcasters Association called the Archive Task Force has been archiving film from Channels 2 and 4 newscasts during the 1960s and 1970s (Channel 4 is currently the largest contributor). Previous to the project’s start, much of this film was either thrown away or improperly stored after use, causing it to become damaged over time or its location forgotten. These films cover the Buffalo area’s day-to-day events, local elections, memorable weather events, and events of national interest, such as President Kennedy’s visit in October of 1962.
These volunteers are working against time: the fragile film continues to deteriorate every day. They have made a great deal of progress already but there is still much to be done. The film is currently being sorted; due to its fragile condition, the film will not be viewed until after it has been professionally cleaned. Unfortunately, the recovered film reveals only visuals. The voice-over scripts are lost, as the broadcasts were performed live by the news announcers. After filming ended, the scripts were either disposed of or lost.
The chairman of the Archive Task Force is Rich Newberg, Channel 4 senior correspondent and board member of the BBA. He is assisted by Dave Gillen, a Channel 4 account executive and association president. Many contributions come from Mike Mombrea Jr. The Channel 4 chief photographer kept much of the station’s material dating back to the 1960s, knowing that it might someday be needed.
The work of these dedicated volunteers is keeping a visual record of Buffalo’s history from being lost.