Remembering the past... looking toward the future!

Carl Lam

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Congratulations go out to Dale Mussen from WYRK-FM on celebrating 40 years in Buffalo broadcasting! Earlier this morning, Mayor Byron Brown has proclaimed that June 1 is “Dale Mussen Day” in Buffalo.

He got his start at WWOL-FM on June 1, 177 and then Mussen started with WYRK-FM on June 1, 1982. “The Breakfast Club” is currently hosted by Mussen, Clay Moden, and Liz Mantel from 5:30 to 10 a.m. on weekday mornings and he’s been with the show since 1986. The program has contributed to the station being nominated numerous times as the Country Music Association’s Medium Market Station of the Year Award. Mussen is the only member of the original station that is still there today!

He’s been a critical part of the station’s ratings dominance as they continue to be at or near the top of local radio ratings.

In his spare time, Mussen officiates high school football and has been doing so for 30 years. He is also a member of the JFK Touch Football League Hall of Fame.

 

 

 

As the May Sweeps are wrapping up, WGRZ-TV is losing 3 members of their team by the end of the month.

The most visible departure will be evening anchor Scott Levin, who joined the station in the fall of 1998. He came to Western New York and WGRZ-TV after spending a number of years in Washington and Virginia working as a reporter and anchor of all shifts. Levin will be leaving the station after the 6 p.m. newscast on May 24 and begin a new career outside of broadcasting with the West Herr Auto Group as a Finance Manager. He has won multiple Emmy Awards and an Edward R. Murrow Award for his work at the desk along with many NYSBA awards for Best Newscast. Levin has shared the anchor desk with Maryalice Demler, Bazi Kanani, Carol Kaplan, Laura Steele, Jodi Johnston, and Victoria Hong, among others.

Nightside Executive Producer Matt Pitts is also leaving WGRZ-TV at the end of the month to join KeyBank as the Communications Manager for the Western New York area. He joined the station in 2007 as a producer and promoted to his current role in early 2016. Before joining WGRZ-TV, Pitts was a producer at WIVB-TV for 7 years also worked at WBEN as a reporter and news anchor. The Buffalo State College graduate serves as an adjunct professor in the Communication Department.

Producer Corinne Lettieri is also moving to another TEGNA owned station, WCNC-TV, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Lettieri is a St. Bonaventure graduate and joined the station immediately after graduation and began producing the station’s morning show in 2015. Her last day will be Friday, May 26. The station has already hired producer Michelle Hale, who began at the end of March after spending a year in Syracuse at WSYR-TV.

The Chairman of the Buffalo Broadcasters Association, Heidi Raphael, has been named Vice President of Corporate Communications with Beasley Media Group, which is effective immediately. Beasley owns 63 stations in 15 markets, many of which are along the East Coast and in large to mid-sized markets.

Rapahel spent 20 years with Greater Media, Inc. and most recently served as Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications, a role she was promoted to in March 2016. She had previously served in many positions within the company including Marketing Director at WRIF-FM, New Business Development Director at WMGC-FM, and Group marketing Director for Greater Media Detroit. She was promoted to Director of Corporate Communications in 2006 and then two years later was upped to Vice President of Corporate Communications. Beasley purchased Greater Media in July 2016.

Locally, Raphael served as President of the Buffalo Broadcasters Association from 2015 to 2017 and now serves as the organization’s Chairman. On a national level, Raphael has been consistently recognized among the “Most Influential Women in Radio in the United States” by Radio Ink magazine on a yearly basis since 2006. In addition, she is the past spokesperson and executive committee member of the Mentoring & Inspiring Women (MIW) Radio Group. A former NAB Radio Board member, Raphael currently serves on the board of the National Library of American Broadcasting. In addition, she is a member of the Broadcast Education Association (BEA) and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

Raphael is a member of the Women’s Group, the Women’s TAP Fund, The Twentieth Century Club and the Buffalo Canoe Club. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Media Communications from Medaille College and Master of Arts degree from the University of Phoenix.

It’s been a busy few weeks for local radio stations with four departures that have already happened or are scheduled for later this week.

Former morning and midday jock Eric Jordan (left) is no longer with Mix 96 (WMSX-FM). Jordan had most recently been covering morning news/traffic/co-hosting duties on the Mix Morning Rush with Laura Daniels. He previously had worked with Total Traffic Buffalo providing afternoon traffic reports for the Townsquare Media cluster. Juli Hinds, assistant professor of communication at Medaille College, has been covering the midday shift that Jordan used to cover for the station.


Justin Tyme (right), of Kiss 98.5 (WKSE-FM), has left the station after 4 years. In a short write up from All Access, Tyme told the trade magazine that,”I’m on the lookout for my next fulltime gig.” He had been hosting shows during all timeslots including mornings, afternoon drive, evenings, and weekends for the station.


Midday host Virginia Barron (left) is scheduled to leave WNED-FM at the end of this week. Barron joined the station in 2013 hosting the station’s long running “Tuesday Night Opera” program and other programming as well. She then moved to weekday evenings before jumping to middays in August of 2016. She is leaving to focus on her program Buffalo String Works, where she serves as the Executive Director and co-founder, which is a program providing music instruction to children of low-income, refugee, and immigrant parents. Her replacement, Adam Luebke, current conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, is expected to start in June 2017.


Finally, Zaque Evans (right) has left his full-time role as Promotions Manager for the Entercom cluster but will remain in a part-time capacity with the station as an on-air personality on Alternative Buffalo (WLKK-FM). Evans is returning to his alma mater, the University at Buffalo, to pursue a doctoral degree in the field of sociology.

As the May book begins, WKBW-TV will be doing so with two fewer reporters.

Paola Suro, a Journalism Career Program participant through the E.W. Scripps Corporation, has moved back to her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. She has already started at her new station, WCPO-TV, which is another Scripps station, on the Good Morning Tri-State program as an enterprise journalist. Suro came to Buffalo in June of 2016 after graduating from Syracuse University and had previously interned with WCPO-TV, Good Morning America, Univision, and WSYR-TV. Her last day was Friday, April 21. 

Reporter Cierra Johnson is also headed back to Columbus, Ohio, which is also her hometown, to work at WBNS-TV, which is owned by the Dispatch Broadcast Group. She came to Buffalo in December of 2014 as a multimedia journalist after participating in the E.W. Scripps Apprentice Program at WCPO-TV, where she worked various roles in the newsroom. Johnson attended Ohio University at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and her last day is Friday, May 12.

Larry Levite, a 2003 Buffalo Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame Inductee, died on Wednesday after a short illness, according a press release from Buffalo Spree. He was 77 years old.

He spent over five decades working in the media industry in Western New York when he entered the business in the sales arena. He rose through the ranks to become a general manager and eventually the owner of WBEN-AM/FM, a station that he bought in 1978 and sold in 1994. According to the press release, Levite was credited with taking the station to a number #1 rated station in the Buffalo market. During his career in radio, he also worked at WEBR-AM/FM, WPHD, and WYSL.

Levite then bought Buffalo Spree in 1998 and brought the publication from a quarterly magazine and made it to a monthly publication that is found all over Western New York. He served as publisher and CEO for the company and publication.

A special tribute section is currently being worked on for Levite and will appear in the June edition of Buffalo Spree. You can read about Levite on Buffalo Spree’s website by clicking here.

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Scott Brown from WGRZ-TV died on Friday after a battle with cancer at the age of 59. 

During his time with Channel 2,  he covered and investigated hundreds of stories on varying topics including, but not limited to, questions surrounding the Erie County Water Authority, the trial and eventual exoneration of Anthony Capozzi, a story about a young boy named David Ferland diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and his quest to walk without a walker, the murder of Jackie Wisniewski, his series titled “Niagara Falls: A Tale of Two Cities,” and numerous stories on Western New York Politics. He was also known for his work in the political realm including campaigns, covering the candidates, and providing Election Night coverage of incoming results. His reporting earned him dozens of honors and accolades including Edward R. Murrow Awards and New York State Emmys.

Brown had joined the station back in 1982 and then went to work for then County Executive Dennis Gorski as his spokesperson. He later returned to WGRZ-TV in the in the early 2000’s and had been with the station since. In November of 2014, Brown went on medical leave from the station and returned in June of 2015 in a part-time capacity. The WEBR-AM alum was a graduate of Buffalo State College, where he studied political science and communications, according to the article from WGRZ’s website.

Brown was also recently nominated for 4 New York State Emmy Awards, which will be awarded in the beginning of May.

There has been no word on whether funeral services will be made public for Brown.

WGRZ-TV announced yesterday that longtime evening anchor Scott Levin will be leaving the NBC affiliate on May 24, 2017 after spending nearly 20 years with the station. He joined back in the fall of 1998, when the station was picking up the lowest ratings in the market, and has been part of the turnaround for WGRZ-TV alongside Maryalice Demler at the anchor desk in recent years. 

In an interview with the Buffalo News, Levin noted he wants to spend more time with family but also wants to capitalize on his interest in the business world. He will be starting with the West Herr Automotive Group in a management position. In a post on Facebook, West Herr President and CEO Scott Bieler said, “West Herr is extremely humbled and grateful that he has decided to continue his career in Buffalo with our company.”

WGRZ-TV has not announced any future plans of who may replace Levin at the anchor desk.


The interim tag is no more now that Lisa Polster has officially been named News Director at WIVB-TV by General Manager Dominic Mancuso. She had been the Interim News Director after Scott Levy left the station in August 2016.

Polster, a Western New York native and Buffalo State College graduate, started working at WKBW-TV in 2002 until 2006 with various roles like assignment editor and producer. She then returned to Western New York  in June of 2009 as an executive producer and rose through the ranks to eventually become News Director in January of 2014. She left that position in June 2015 and went to cross town rival WIVB-TV as the Executive Producer of “Wake Up!” She had previously worked in Paducah and Baltimore.


Following Jon Summers’ retirement, WKBW-TV has announced the Courtney Corbetta will be taking over on a full-time basis on AM Buffalo as a multi-media journalist. Corbetta will also fill in for Pellegrino when she is on vacation.

Corbetta is originally from Lewiston and attended Niagara University where she majored in Communications with a double minor in Theatre and Dance. She had joined AM Buffalo in April 2016 as a part-time feature reporter and also picked up duties hosting “Your Home, Your Way.”

After 14 years with WBLK-FM, Chris Reynolds has left the station. He has served in multiple roles with the company including the most recent combination of Brand Manager/Program Director, Midday Personality, and Promotions Director (which was added recently).  The news was announced on AllAccess this morning.

Reynolds joined WBLK-FM in 2003 but had previously worked in Flint, Baltimore, Houston, Loos Angeles, and Tulsa, which is his hometown. During his time as Brand Manager, ratings soared to second place in the Buffalo market with a strong 9.3 rating for the Fall of 2016.

“The ratings on the station speak volumes to how we were able to touch the community in a real and emotional way; in fact, our recent Fall ratings were the best for the station in over two decades, we accomplished #1 in virtually every demo and all day-parts,” Reynolds said to AllAccess (you can read the full article here).

As we begin March, there have been a few changes to the staffing behind the camera.

Nate Benson from WGRZ-TV is leaving after more than 3 years with the station. Benson worked overnights as a photographer and editor and then added the title of reporter to his credits in covering breaking news. He also worked on reports for part of the “Innovate WNY’ series and investigated topics like 3D-printing, earthquake engineering, and how ice cream is developed at Perry’s. Before joining WGRZ-TV, Benson worked at WBBZ-TV as a technical director and producer and he’s a graduate of the University at Buffalo. He is leaving the broadcasting business and headed for a position with 43 North.

Producer, photographer, and photojournalist, Jim Gibbons has also left WGRZ-TV after coming to the station in 2015. He joins former News Director Jeff Woodard’s staff at the State University of New York at Fredonia as a photographer/editor in the Department of Marketing and Communications. In his time before coming to WGRZ-TV, he spent five years as photographer for Time Warner Cable News Syracuse and also worked with News 10 Now. Gibbons is a graduate of Lyndon State College.

Following the departure of photogrpaher Jim Herr, WKBW-TV has added Rob Neves as an overnight photographer. The Fredonia graduate came to the station from FOX46 Charlotte (WJZY-TV), where he served as an audio engineer. He also worked at WPTZ-TV in Plattsburgh before the stint in Charlotte. He began his position with WKBW-TV in February of 2017.

 

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