A respected, straight street reporter at Channel 4 for an
entire generation, Marie Rice came on at WBEN-TV in 1977 as the woman in the
vaunted station’s on-air news stable.
It was soon after her sign-on in Buffalo that the story perhaps best suited to
her brand of straight-laced compassionate journalism began to unfold; it was one
she’d continue to report on until she left WIVB in 2004.
Rice was one of the earliest journalists on the scene at Love Canal at a time
when home owners there just wanted to know what the ooze in their basements was.
She hopes, she says, that through her reporting she was able to make a
difference. It’s all a part of public service; giving a voice to the voiceless.
The Ohio native says everyone is blessed with a gift, and she counts her husky,
commanding voice as hers. And while the tonal quality of that familiar voice
struck the proper mood in reporting from murder trials and city hall scandals,
before working in television news in Buffalo and Albany, Rice was known as
“Misty,” as one of the country’s first female disc jockeys at an all-jazz
station in Pittsburgh.
The name would leave most wondering, but the smooth, consistent voice is one
you’re unable to escape in Buffalo. From Channel 2’s promo pieces to Valu Home
Centers and Paddock Chevrolet, on on-hold messages, to the national Time/Life
commercials, for a quarter century, Pat Feldballe has been Western New York’s
go-to independent voice-over king.
In 1970s we all heard him at WBUF, WGR, WGRQ, and WUWU playing rock ’n’ roll and
hosting a magazine program (and working with Terry Gross) at WBFO. He eventually
got the point when he’d show up for his jock shift and find a handful of
production orders taped to the console for him to do.
Figuring it was his destiny, he did a stint as a radio production director, but
quickly decided, in 1982, that he could do production on his own. He hasn’t
In an industry where many production guys will try to sell clients on the latest
and greatest gadget, Feldballe has used the same microphone since 1986. It’s a
part of all his success.
“I’m the most consistent guy I know. I always sound the same, and I take pride
in making sure reads time out,” says Feldballe. He’s the best at showing up and
doing the work, doing it well, and making it easy for whoever is using his work.
“I just hung out the shingle 27 years ago, and here I am.”
Like most Lackawanna boys in the 1940s, the late Fred
Klestine worked at the steel mill once he got out of school. But his bellowing
voice and friendly, mellow personality helped him land a job as the morning man
on WWOL Radio in the 1950s.
Whether at WWOL, WBNY, or during his decade at KB Radio during its 1960s top 40
prime, Klestine always did what he could to share his love of jazz with his
audience. He knew the music, and knew many of the performers personally.
Klestine was a natural for the jazz-centric WADV-FM in the 70s, and worked at
WBUF through the 80s.
To those who listened, he was a calm, straight-laced elder statesman type with a
deep melodic voice. Off the air, he was a coffee-swilling funnyman. Longtime
co-workers like Dan Neaverth count him not only as one of the funniest people
they’ve ever known, but as a great friend. Klestine was 68 when he died in 1992.
became Randy Michaels in Buffalo — literally. He made the most of federal
deregulation in broadcasting in the mid 90s, and became arguably the most
powerful man in radio. He oversaw and led in the acquisition of over 1,000 radio
stations as the president of Jaycor Broadcasting, and later Clear Channel
Michaels started his career as an engineer and on air talent at the SUNY
Fredonia campus station in the early 70s. After an on-the-spot tryout at the
Erie County Fair, he quickly moved to commercial radio at Taft-owned WGR and WGR-FM,
where he took the pseudonym by which he’s still known today.
Working in programming and as the nighttime disc jockey on WGR, Michaels soon
left Buffalo for national programming assignments, moving his way up the food
chain, eventually running the 1,200 Clear Channel Communications stations.
Michaels is now in Chicago at the top of the Tribune Company, which is the
nation’s third largest newspaper publisher, and whose 23 television stations
reach 80 percent of U.S. households.
From 1977 to 1982, when Irv Weinstein
smiled wryly and growled on an Eyewitness Newscast, it was Don Polec’s time to
shine, bringing the offbeat and, well, goofy to the airwaves.
A native of Buffalo’s Riverside section, Polec tried radio at WKBW, but found it
wasn’t quite for him. After two years of managing a handful of different Burger
King restaurants around Western New York, Polec looked for work as a
videographer. He sent Irv a resume that listed experience as an “urban sheep
herder” and “professional vagrant.” He was on the air, with that same sort of
silliness, almost immediately thereafter.
Polec left Buffalo in 1982 for Philadelphia, where Action News featured antics
his Western New York fans would recognize in “Don Polec’s World” reports until
earlier this year. Polec’s Buffalo brand of zany-yet-artful reports were also
featured on the national stage when he was a Good Morning Americacorrespondent
in the late 80s and early 90s.
2009 Tim Russert Medal of Merit Award Recipient
This is also the second year of a special tribute to
Buffalo’s own Tim Russert, as the Buffalo Broadcasters Association has selected
Cassandra Eldred as its 2009 Tim Russert Medal of Merit Award winner.
Eldred who earned her bachelor’s degree in May from Canisius College, where she
graduated with an impressive 3.6 overall grade point average. She was nominated
by Barbara Irwin, Ph.D. professor and chair at Canisius.
In 2008, Eldred served internships with WGRZ-TV and CNN News in Atlanta, and she
was recently awarded the 2009 Gold Excalibur Award from the Public Relations
Society of America, Buffalo/Niagara Chapter.
In 2008, the first Russert Award went to Amanda Hartman, a graduate from
Brockport State College who was accepted into the master’s program at the
prestigious Newhouse School of Journalism at Syracuse University which she is
now attending. She is the first Brockport student to be selected to participate
in a special web-based news service project by Rochester’s Democrat &
Chronicle newspaper during her senior year.
Professors and department heads from the communication programs at the seven
area colleges and universities across Western New York are given the opportunity
to nominate an outstanding senior student who is committed to a career in media.
In 2003, Tim Russert was inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall
of Fame. Through this special award in his name, the Buffalo Broadcasters hope
to inspire more young people to dedicate their lives to broadcasting and
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