Bill Raffel, a music host on WNED 94.5FM and a communications professor at Buffalo State, died Monday (October 13, 2014) after a lengthy illness. He was 47.
Raffelâ€™s broadcast career in Buffalo began in the early 1990s when he joined the old WEBR 970AM as a reporter. After the station dropped the all-news format and changed its call letters to WNED-AM, he continued in a part-time role as a reporter and anchor while pursuing his law degree at the University at Buffalo.
In 1994, Raffel joined WBFO 88.7FM where he was responsible for reporting on stories from the University at Buffalo. He created a 90-second feature called â€œUBeatâ€ that aired throughout the broadcast day. Raffel also assisted in the WBFO newsroom as a fill-in reporter and anchor.
After earning his law degree in the late 1990s, Raffel joined the communicationâ€™s department at Buffalo State where he served as an associate professor until his death. A number of his former students who now work in broadcasting are sharing remembrances on social media of the impact he had on their careers.
Raffel also continued in a part-time capacity at WBFO, producing a weekly classical music feature, â€œMusic Notes,â€ and a weekend program, â€œCeltic Kaleidoscope,â€ that aired as part of the popular NPR music program, â€œThe Thistle and Shamrock.â€ Raffel also produced holiday programs for WBFO, taping live concerts staged by the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas and the Buffalo Choral Arts Society for later airplay. He also produced for air the yearly â€œNine Lessons and Carolsâ€ from the St. Paulâ€™s Cathedral in downtown Buffalo. On Memorial Day and July 4th, Raffel produced concerts of patriotic music, again by the American Legion Band. For several years, Raffel shared his wit and humor each April Foolâ€™s Day with a special feature on WBFO. One of his most memorable was in 2002, when the city was hosting a public art project featuring brightly painted Buffalo sculptures. He produced a faux news story that aired on April 1st about giant butter lambs that were put up around the city in celebration of Easter and Dyngus Day.
In 2009, Raffel left WBFO to become a classical music host on WNED-FM. He hosted the â€œSaturday Rounds,â€ from 10am to 1pm on Saturdays. He also continued to produce the American Legion Band concerts for Classical 94.5.
Raffel began his career as news director of WNCE-TV in Glens Falls, NY, where he co-anchored the news with former WBFO host Lydia Kulbida, who is now an Albany TV news anchor.
Raffel was also an eclectic musician who played the tin whistle and Celtic harp, and performed Celtic music with the Hobsonâ€™s Choice trio.
Raffel earned a BA in communications from Ithaca College.
â€œHe was a talented professor, journalist and broadcaster,â€ wrote WBFO News Director Brian Meyer on Facebook. â€œ(Bill) has left a lasting mark on many arenas in Western New York.â€
Raffel is survived by his wife Eloisa, and his mother, Elizabeth.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, November 1, 2pm, at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 1080 Main Street, Buffalo.