Local broadcasters will be recognized at the annual gala on Thursday, September 19.
The Class of 2019 features a star-studded lineup of inductees including the “Voice of the Buffalo Bills” and veteran sportscaster John Murphy, longtime Investigative Reporter Tony Farina, WGRZ-TV General Manager Jim Toellner, Detroit anchor and Western New York native Sherry Margolis, Entercom’s Director of Results Don Tomasulo, and the late radio legend Larry Anderson.
The Buffalo Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame Dinner is Thursday, September 19th with cocktails at 5:30 p.m. and the program starting at 7 p.m. in the studios of WNED-TV. WGRZ-TV Meteorologist Maria Genero and 97 Rock’s Rob Lederman are this year’s emcees! Hon. Penny Wolfgang and Steve Monaco are this year’s event chairs.
John Murphy is a name that needs almost no explanation – he is synonymous with Buffalo sports and especially WNY’s pride and joy, the Buffalo Bills.
The Lockport native began his broadcast career in radio, serving as Sports Director for WBEN-AM in 1984 and hosting a show on that station for more than a decade. He made the jump to television at WKBW-TV, succeeding Rick Azar, and joined the team of Irv Weinstein and Tom Jolls at the anchor desk. Murphy served as WKBW-TV’s Sports Director until his departure from the station in 2007. Eventually, Murphy moved across the street to join the team at WIVB-TV in 2008 as Sports Director. He left that post to work full time for the Buffalo Bills in 2012.
Murphy is best known as the voice of the Buffalo Bills Radio Network and host of One Bills Live on WGR-AM and MSG Western New York. He has been play-by-play announcer of the Buffalo Bills since 2003. He has served as commentator for nearly every team in town including the Buffalo Bisons, Canisius College Golden Griffins, UB’s Buffalo Bulls, and the Niagara University Purple Eagles.
Murphy is married to former news reporter Mary Travers Murphy, and has two sons. It’s thought that John and Mary Murphy were the first married couple to work together in the Buffalo television market.
Tony Farina is best known for his work as an Investigative Reporter for both WGRZ-TV and WKBW-TV. To his friends and co-workers, Tony is known as “The Newsbreaker” or “Breaker” for his knack of breaking big stories. Farina has a trail of awards including a UPI Award for breaking a key element in the case of the infamous .22 Caliber Killer serial murder case. Among his honors while working at WKBW-TV, he won the RTDNA First Place award for a series on unsafe NFTA buses.
Farina began his career with a four-year stint as a U.S. Navy journalist stationed in Keflavik, Iceland. Upon his return, he enlisted as an Investigative Reporter for the Courier Express Newspaper. Eventually, Farina migrated to a career in local television.
Newspapers came calling again and Farina joined Artvoice and The Niagara Reporter, continuing with investigative work. He also found time to be a speechwriter for several politicians, including for the gubernatorial campaign of Dennis Vacco.
Few journalists can count as many well-placed sources as Farina can. Various groups recognize that and have recruited Tony as their front man. He currently is a spokesman for Liberty Yellow Cab, fighting for equal rights for taxi cab drivers in the current competition for business with ride sharing businesses.
He continues to wear many hats, but continues to do what he loves the most – investigative journalism – today at the Niagara Reporter.
Jim Toellner has been President and General Manager of WGRZ-TV since 2003 where he became the 25th leader there in their first 49 years of existence. He was named Gannett “Manager of the Year” in 2008 for his management skills leadership and innovation. Toellner took the station to the top of the ratings race from a low point before his leadership.
Toellner is a native of North Tonawanda who attended Niagara Wheatfield High School, Niagara County Community College, and then went on to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Management and Marketing from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
In 2013, he was selected as Broadcasting & Cable’s “GM of the Year” award for the entire United States in mid-sized markets. Prior to working at WGRZ, Toellner was a Sales Manager at the Buffalo News and held positions as Sales Account Executive with CBS and ABC as well as General Sales Manager at WOOD –TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Toellner has made serving the community of Western New York a priority and has volunteered for SABAH and Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara for many years. Under his leadership, WGRZ-TV has been a leader in community involvement with groups such as the Food Bank of WNY, Kids Escaping Drugs, and the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure.
Sherry Margolis is a familiar face and Emmy award-winning figure to audiences in the Motor City where she anchors FOX 2 News “Live at Eleven” and FOX 2 News at 5:30 p.m. In Detroit Sherry is directly involved in the community hosting and producing specials featuring those who give back to the community as well as fronting an annual Veterans Day special “Tribute to Our Troops.” Sherry’s altruism is so well-known that she was honored by the University of Michigan with their first annual Community Involvement Award.
She has won six Emmy Awards including several for best news anchor and several Edward R. Murrow Awards. She is an avid fan of the theater and has acted onstage as well as appeared in a number of movies.
A Western New York native, Sherry’s love for journalism began at Williamsville South High School. One of her most memorable assignments included penning a column for the Amherst Bee. Her first television exposure was working as a producer and host of a daily morning TV program, “The Jelly Roll Review” which aired on WUTV. She is probably best-remembered in Buffalo for her reporting and anchoring on WKBW-TV but also worked in radio news at WKBW-AM.
Sherry graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo where she majored in English.
Margolis is a busy journalist and the mother of three daughters. Her late husband, Jeffrey Zaslow, was well-known and admired in his own right. He was the author and co-author of several best-selling books and a columnist at the Wall Street Journal. Tragically, he died suddenly in an auto crash returning home from a book signing seven years ago.
Sherry suffered a great loss but carried on returning to work after a short break from the work that she truly loves and the companionship of fellow television journalists that enable her to do wonderful works on the air and for her community.
Don Tomasulo graduated in 1979 with a B.S. in Media Communications from Medaille College and had already begun his career in media as Promotions and Advertising Director for Festival East Concerts, where he helped to promote and advertise over 400 shows. During this same period, Don played drums in one of Buffalo’s hottest bands, Benhatzel.
Don left the concert and band business to work in radio starting in 1988. After a brief stint at 107.7 the Bear (WBYR), he joined Rich Communications for the return of 97 Rock and the launch of a full time career in advertising sales. With his background in marketing, Don established himself as a salesperson who put creativity and results for his clients above all else. After Mercury Communications acquired 97 Rock and added WEDG and WHTT to the fold, Don rose to Sales Manager, then Director of Sales.
Shortly after Mercury sold to Citadel communications, Don moved to Entercom Communications in 2002 where he currently serves as Director of Results for Entercom’s 7 radio stations, WBEN, WGR, WKSE, WTSS, WLKK, WWKB and WWWS.
Don has been recognized nationally and is a two-time winner of Radio Ink Magazine’s coveted Radio Wayne Award as Sales Manager of The Year (2007 and 2013).
A believer in giving back to the community, he has served on many boards and committees including Entertainment Chairman of Taste of Buffalo, The Medaille College Board of Trustees, March of Dimes’ Revenue Development Committee, and is a member of The Bishop Fallon Hall of Fame.
Don resides in West Seneca with his wife Nadine and is the proud father of two Eagle Scouts, Michael and Matthew. Don still enjoys playing drums with his band, local cult favorite The All Star Project. Amazed that a salesperson has been voted into the Hall of Fame, this is the ultimate highlight of his 40 plus years in Buffalo media.
The son of a disc jockey at a radio station in Washington Court House, Ohio, Larry Anderson found his first radio job hosting a “Top 10 Show” for teens while he was in high school. Thus began an illustrious career as an air personality, music director, program director and general manager, most of which came to the forefront in Buffalo.
In 1968, Anderson was working in a medium market in Ohio when he was recruited by WGR Program Director Dave Hammond to be WGR’s full time music director and weekend air personality. When Hammond departed WGR in 1971, Larry was appointed program director of WGR and his Buffalo programming legacy began.
He strategically put in place highly visible on-air promotions, weekly remote broadcasts, and constant Hi-Lo contest cash giveaways. The Buffalo Sabres broadcasts were promoted extensively, the station’s news and sports departments were expanded, GR-55 jingles were unique, some sung in Polish and Italian, and the music, a mix of current pop hits and oldies, was always in the foreground.
Under Larry Anderson’s leadership, “GR 55” became a ratings powerhouse with an on-air lineup that included well-known Buffalo radio personalities Stan Roberts and Frank Benny, with “Uncle Larry” anchoring the midday slot between the two legacies.
In 1972, during a remote broadcast talent search at the Erie County Fair, Anderson discovered a young DJ with “the face of a choir boy and the voice of a lumberjack.” Randy Michaels received his big break when he was hired to be the seven to midnight DJ on nights when the Sabres weren’t playing. He later became a nationally known radio programming executive.
Under Larry Anderson’s leadership, Billboard Magazine awarded WGR the coveted Adult Contemporary Station of the Year award in 1973, and for many years thereafter WGR remained one of Buffalo’s top radio stations, often number one, in ratings and revenue.
In 1981, Taft Broadcasting tapped Anderson to turn around WDAE, the company’s AM station in Tampa, Florida. There, Anderson devised a format that targeted the region’s vast population of listeners who grew up in the Big Band era. Using some of the same programming and promotion principles that made WGR a success, Anderson instituted a format featuring music from the 40s, 50s and early 60s. WDAE captured a significant share of listeners on Florida’s Sun Coast and became a ratings leader.
Larry returned to Buffalo in 1984 as General Manager of WGR and WGRQ. On January 6, 1985, he changed the format of WGRQ from 97 Rock to Adult Contemporary WGR-FM, hoping to compete with WBUF which was the market leader with 25-54 year old listeners. The call letters were subsequently changed WRLT, as the format was further adjusted to feature “Lite Adult Contemporary Hits.”
After his tenure as General Manager of WGR and WRLT, Anderson joined Clear Channel Communications, moving to Wheeling, West Virginia as General Manager of Country powerhouse WWVA and WOVK-FM. There, he enhanced WWVA’s regional and national position as a Country station.
As listeners moved to FM for music, Anderson changed the format of WWVA to full service news-talk. WWVA’s powerful sister FM frequency WOVK became a Country music powerhouse. Under his direction and leadership, WWVA and WOVK were market leaders in ratings and revenue.
Sadly, Anderson’s legacy as General Manager of WWVA and WOVK was cut short, as prostate cancer claimed his life far too soon at the age of 58.