2004 Buffalo Bob Smith Award

Buffalo Bob Smith began his broadcasting career in his hometown of Buffalo, but of course gained worldwide fame as the human friend of America’s favorite puppet, Howdy Doody. Despite his international celebrity, Bob never forgot his hometown, and even adopted it as a part of his name. Each year The Buffalo Broadcast Pioneers honor a broadcaster who has made his or her mark away from the Niagara Frontier, but is a Buffalonian at heart. After growing up on Buffalo’s East Side and attending Canisius High School, Mark Russell became interested in comedy during a hitch in the Marine Corps. It was While in the Marines he began performing in clubs around the Virginia base at which he was stationed. Influenced by the likes of Mort Sahl and Tom Lehrer, Russell’s act had become increasing political by the time he landed at the Shoreham Hotel. There, Russell spent 20 years entertaining and skewering the men leading the nation. He also met a few fellow Buffalonians — WNED executives, who offered to produce a PBS special starring Russell. Nearly 30 years later, Russell still returns to Western New York to spend part of the summer and to star in those specials, on a street named Mark Russell Way by the City of Buffalo in his honor.

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