Al Anscombe Award
John Hager is inducted in the Al Anscombe Award category. Growing up in East Aurora listening to WKBW, Hager always knew he wanted to work in radio. He graduated from East Aurora High School and Ashland University in Ohio. During college, he began his professional radio career working at stations in Hornell, Dansville, and Warsaw, N.Y. during the summers.
After graduating from Ashland with a degree in Radio and Television, John was hired as the Program Director and morning host at WCJW-AM in Warsaw, also working weekends at the “Beautiful Music” formatted WJYE-FM in Buffalo.
In the fall of 1981, while still at WCJW, John was hired by WPHD-FM as an on-air weekend host. He eventually moved to WGRF-FM, “97 Rock.” In 1983, he was promoted to a full time on-air personality at 97 Rock— first as an overnight talent, and then in afternoon drive.
After the station abruptly changed formats in January 1985, John was hired as an on-air talent and Research Director at WCMF-FM in Rochester. One year later, he accepted the Program Director and afternoon host positions at WPHD-FM.
In the summer of 1988, after John played the now legendary April Fool’s joke of bringing back 97 Rock programming to the air for one day at WPHD, David Rich contacted him to relaunch 97 Rock as its new Program Director.
97 Rock actually returned to the airwaves with great fanfare in September 1988, and Hager has served as its PD without interruption for the past 30 years. During that time, he’s overseen the creation of many of the station’s and Buffalo’s iconic promotions, including Larry Norton’s record on-air marathon, the original Wingstock, the Memorial Day Rock and Roll 500, the 97 Rock Ball drop on New Year’s Eve, and the annual Make-a-Wish Radiothon, which has run for 24 years raising more than $2,000,000 to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses in Western New York.
The Al Anscombe Award is presented to a broadcaster who made a lasting impression in a management position.