Veteran WGRZ, Channel 2 photojournalist Norm Fisher retired Friday, May 30th. Fisher ended a stellar 37 year career, covering many of the region’s top stories.
Two behind-the-scenes staffers have resigned from WGRZ, Channel 2. Photojournalist Jim Herr and multi-media producer Jessica Malowicki are both leaving the station.
Two local television anchors/reporters announced their respective departures this week. Diana Fairbanks will leave WIVB, Channel 4 at the end of June. She plans to return to Traverse City, Michigan, where her husband has a new job. Fairbanks has anchored News 4’s 5:30 and 10pm newscasts. Mary Friona informed viewers her last day as a reporter/anchor on WGRZ, Channel 2 will be June 13th. She’s leaving to spend more time with her young family. Friona anchored Channel 2’s 11am newscast and reported for “Daybreak.”
Veteran radio broadcaster Cheryl Hagen has joined WBFO, 88.7FM as a part-time program host. Hagen is a full-time employee at the Gateway-Longview Foundation, where she will continue. She has also worked for Metro Networks/WJYE 96.1FM, WGRZ, Channel 2 and WEBR, 970AM. WBFO has also hired Avery Schneider and Portia Coaxum. Schneider has previous experience as a part-time reporter at WBFO while Coaxum worked at WUFO, 1080AM. All three will cover the evening and weekend shifts that had been held by Mark Phillips, who retired from WBFO in March.
WIVB, Channel 4 has hired Kris O’Donnell as assistant news director. She’ll assume her new duties on June 9th. O’Donnell is leaving Time Warner Cable News, where she was an executive producer.
Van Miller, the longtime voice of the Buffalo Bills, will be added to the team’s Wall of Fame at Ralph Wilson Stadium this fall. Miller was the Bills’ play-by-play announcer from the team’s founding in1960 through 1971 and again from 1979 through 2003. He was in the broadcast booth for the Bills AFL Championship years in 1964 and 1965 as well as the Super Bowl years in the early 1990s. Some of his favorite lines were “It’s fandemonium” and “Fasten your seatbelts!” Miller received the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award in 2004. He is a member of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. In 1998, Miller was inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame. A ceremony marking his addition to the Bills Wall will be held on Sunday, Octoberr 13th when Buffalo hosts New England at the Ralph.
WKBW News Anchor Joanna Pasceri “tweeted” Friday that Channel 7 sports anchor and reporter Allen Leight is leaving the station. Pasceri said Leight is taking a position with the Buffalo Sabres. Leight joined WKBW as a general assignment reporter before moving to the sports desk in 2013.
Paul DeWald has retired as an associate professor of Communications at Buffalo State College. He served as faculty advisor for Buffalo State’s television station, BSC-TV. DeWald also worked with the Buffalo Broadcasters Association on oral histories of famous Buffalo broadcasters. He joined the Buffalo State faculty in 1981.
Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Famer Barry Lillis has informed his friends at the BBA he is being treated for cancer in his tongue and neck. Barry is now in his fourth week of chemo/radiation treatments. WGRZ, Channel 2’s Scott Brown and Andy DeSantis spent six hours with Barry recently for a piece that will air this Friday, May 16th on Channel 2 News at 6pm. We’ll keep Barry in our thoughts and prayers.
Another veteran Buffalo broadcaster who is being treated for cancer, Ray Marks, is finally home continuing his recovery. Ray underwent a bone marrow transplant earlier this year. Ray says, “I’m doing okay.” He is still undergoing blood transfusions three times a week at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. His many friends in Buffalo broadcasting, as evidenced by the large turnout at his benefit in January, are all pulling for Ray to make a full recovery.
Heidi Raphael, BBA vice president and vice president of corporate communications for Greater Media, has stepped aside from her leadership role at MIW, “Mentoring and Inspiring Women in Radio.” Radio Ink planted the seed for this group by creating an issue dedicated to the Most Influential Women in Radio. Radio Ink Publisher Eric Rhoads wrote the following tribute to Heidi:
The MIW has had a couple of leaders, but when Heidi Raphael stepped in,
the operation moved to a new level of excellence. Heidi volunteered time
from her already busy schedule as head of communications for Greater
Media, and her boss, Peter Smyth, supported her time away for MIW events
and meetings. Heidi, being the great communications executive she is,
built the reputation of the MIWs to a higher level, opened doors, and
helped bring MIW and its mentoring efforts even further.
I’d like to publicly acknowledge and thank Heidi Raphael for her
leadership and the energy and passion she has devoted to the MIW
organization for the past several years. Her efforts have not gone
Kay Olin, president of Local Focus Radio and a former radio group general manager, is succeeding Heidi at MIW.
Congratulations to Heidi for a job well done at MIW. The BBA is fortunate to have her in a leadership role in our organization. Heidi has worked tirelessly in making the Buffalo Excellence in Media Awards (BEMAs) such a success.
The New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame Class of 2014 includes retired WIVB, Channel 4 General Manager Chris Musial. The induction ceremony will take place at a special luncheon in the Empire Room at the Waldorf Astoria, Friday, June 13th at noon.
Musial began his broadcasting career in 1974 as a radio DJ, news contributor, sports director, and play-by play announcer at WSMH (Saint Maryâ€™s HS, Lancaster) 91.3 FM. From St. Maryâ€™s, it was on to Medaille College in Buffalo and a contributing role at WJPM 91.7 FM.
He joined WIVB-TV in 1978, producing weekend newscasts with Rich Newberg. After a short period of on-air reporting, Chris made the permanent shift to behind-the-camera. While assigned to the evening newscast, he was honored as a Newscast Producer, statewide and regionally. by the Associated Press and United Press International. Later “News 4” would be honored with the New York State Associated Press Grand Prize for Overall Excellence, while Musial was news director.
A 15 time nominated and seven time Emmy Award winning journalist, Musial is also very proud of the two national Sigma Delta Chi (Society of Professional Journalists), and two national and other regional RTDNA Edward R. Murrow awards, won by his news teams at Channel 4. His newscasts have also been honored by the NYS Broadcasters Association, National CINE Golden Eagle and Gabriel Awards, the New York and Chicago Film and Television Festivals, the Ad Council, and NATPE.
In 2006, Musial and his colleagues were honored by the Paley Center for Media with the selection of four “News 4” Special programs that were included in the Centerâ€™s permanent collection.
While serving as news director and president/general manager, WIVB-TV, Channel 4 received the distinction three times of being the highest overall rated television station in the United States from sign-on to sign-off. It was also recognized several times as the highest rated CBS affiliate in the nation. WNLO-TV was also named the top CW Affiliate in 2012, winning the Model Affiliate Award. Musial was chosen by LIN Media to help create and guide the corporate-wide LIN Media News & Digital Task Force for three and a half years.
Musial has actively supported many community causes while serving on the United Way Board of Delegates, Board of Directors at Saint Maryâ€™s HS in Lancaster, and Saint Francis HS in Athol Springs, and on a Media Advisory Board at Medaille College. In retirement, he remains involved in the Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Tops Markets efforts to battle cancer. He works to support the Buffalo Broadcasters Association efforts to restore, digitize and preserve the priceless collection of news film and videotape from Buffaloâ€™s past.
WGRF, 96.9 (97 Rock) personality DJ Jickster delivered a giant get well card to former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly Sunday. Jickster had spent the past weeks taking the card around the Buffalo area where fans could sign it and express their best wishes to Kelly. He is beginning chemo and radiation treatments today (April 7) for the recurrence of cancer. Kelly expressed genuine surprise at the size of the card and the number of people who signed it. Meanwhile, two of Buffalo television’s primary news anchors traveled to New York City this weekend to interview Kelly and his family. WGRZ, Channel 2’s Scott Levin and WKBW, Channel 7’s Keith Radford conducted the interviews, which were broadcast on weekend newscasts. WIVB, Channel 4’s reporter Ed Drantch also reported on the Kelly family for his station.
The Buffalo Bills have added Alexandra Vitale to the teamâ€™s marketing and broadcasting department as a multimedia reporter. Vitale joins Chris Brown and John Murphy as a part of the Bills coverage unit. Along with covering the team, she will report on community, marketing and business initiatives and off-the-field endeavors for buffalobills.com and other Bills media properties. Vitale joins the Bills from WTVM ABC 9 in Columbus, Georgia where she worked as a sports multimedia journalist and weekend anchor. She was previously with Kraft Productions at the New England Patriots as a production assistant and in-studio host of Patriots This Week. Vitale began her undergraduate studies at Canisius College where she was a six-time MAAC Championship finalist for the womenâ€™s swimming team. She completed her bachelorâ€™s studies at Saint Leo University in Florida.
Two young Buffalo broadcasters have been honored in the third annual Changemakers 30 Under 30 Awards ceremony held Saturday night in the Burchfield Penney Art Center. WKBW Channel 7’s Desiree Wiley and WBLK, 93.7FM’s Robert Morris were among those recognized for achievement early in their careers.
Melanie Gregg has departed Time Warner Cable News for a public relations position with the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York. She had been a producer at TWC News. Gregg is also a former anchor-reporter at WBEN, 930AM.
97 Rock’s DJ Jickster spearheaded another community effort this week. This time, Jickster was asking people to sign a giant get well card for NFL Hall of Famer and former Bills Quarterback Jim Kelly, who is battling a recurrence of cancer. On Wednesday, March 19th, the card was available in the lobby of Buffalo City Hall for signing.
Veteran Buffalo radio program host Mark Phillips is retiring from broadcasting. Phillips has spent the past 16 years with the Western New York Public Broadcasting Association, first with WNED, 970AM and most recently with WBFO, 88.7FM. He anchored local newscasts evenings and weekends for WBFO. Prior to that, Phillips worked at WBUF, 92.9FM, WWKB, 1520AM and WHAM, 1180AM in Rochester. His last day at WBFO is Sunday, March 30th. WNYPBA is searching for Phillips replacement.
WBFO 88.7FM Station Manager and News Director Jim Ranney is leaving to become communications director for State Senator Patrick Gallivan. His last day is March 28th. Ranney is one of Buffalo radio’s most respected broadcast journalists. He arrived at the old WEBR Newsradio 970 nearly 25 years ago. For a time in the mid to late 1990s, Ranney was a news anchor at WGR, 550AM. But he is best known for his time at WNED 970AM, where he was named news director in 2000 and then station manager. In 2012, WBFO was sold by the University at Buffalo to the Western New York Public Broadcasting Association (WNYPBA). Ranney was part of the transition team, putting together the schedule and staff for the combined WBFO and WNED-AM. In late 2012, WNYPA sold WNED-AM with WBFO now being the region’s only NPR news station. Ranney also had a visible role on WNED, Channel 17, moderating political debates and other TV specials in addition to serving as an on-air fundraiser. Ranney says he’s at an age and point in his career when it was time to pursue something different.
Luke Tasker is joining WBBZ, Channel 67 and will offer reports periodically on Bob Koshinski’s â€œAll Sports WNYâ€ show Tuesday nights at 7:30pm (encore Wed. 9am) and online at www.allsportswny.com. Lukeâ€™s father is CBS Sports broadcaster Steve Tasker, former wide receiver and Special Teams Captain for the Buffalo Bills from 1986-1997. Tasker hosted his own TV show locally on WKBW before joining CBS. Luke was born and raised in East Aurora. After being named â€œAthlete of the Yearâ€ at Saint Francis High School at Athol Springs in 2009, he was an All-Ivy League selection at Cornell, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2013. Currently, Luke is a wide receiver with the Hamilton Tiger Cats of the Canadian Football League.