Each year, we see many broadcasters come and go from Western New York. Some are here for the very first time and for others, it’s a homecoming of sorts. Some who have left stay local, some head off to bigger markets, while some have left the broadcasting world completely. In our best attempt to cover all the bases, here’s a look back at what changed in 2018. This is as comprehensive of a list that we could keep track of.
We start with the changes at Spectrum News Buffalo with a leadership change at the top. Kelly Holland took over as News Director in early 2018 and former BBA Board Member Stephen Marth received a promotion to Assistant News Director in June of 2018.
The station also promoted new BBA Board Member Katie Gibas from Anchor/Reporter to Nightside Executive Producer. Also joining the team this year was reporters Maura Christie and Fadia Patterson and producer Marybeth Calabrese. Rochelle Alleyne left the station earlier this year as well.
The station also debuted a live morning show on October 22, 2018. The newscast runs from 7 to 9 a.m. and features anchors Scott Patterson and John Borsa along with reporters Mike Arena, Maura Christie, and Breanna Fuss. Dan Russell will handle weather duties and Barry Vee will be covering traffic for the broadcast.
One of the biggest promotions of the year came by way of Cumulus Media for James Kurdziel in March 2018. He was named Regional Vice President, Programming – Rock and oversees radio stations in the Northeast with a rock/alternative format. In addition to his current duties and air shift, he is a highly regarded comedian having performed the BBA’s Laugh Out Loud Event on two separate occasions.
Also at Cumulus, Jim Riley joined in May 2018 as the VP/Market Manager for Buffalo. His previous role was in Erie, Pennsylvania with the same title for a dozen years. Before making the move down the 90, he was the General Sales Manager in Buffalo with Cumulus.
Next up, WKBW-TV had an active year of headlines leading off with Ashley Rowe’s contract extension. Rowe is the evening co-anchor with Jeff Russo and Keith Radford and has been in Western New York since 2016.
Longtime anchor Keith Radford has scaled back his schedule to a part-time basis. It was announced earlier this year that he dropped his 12 p.m. anchoring duties but will continue to anchor the 6 p.m. show.
The reporting corps at the ABC affiliate have grown over the past year with the addition of the Scripps Journalism Career Program with Syracuse University. As a part of the program, James Groh, Sean Robson, Nicole DeMentri, and Rebecca Thornburg will spend the year in Buffalo as multimedia journalists. Madison Carter also joined the station as a reporter/anchor and Jeff Slawson, a former JCP participant, was retained in a full-time role as a reporter.
With those changes, the station did say farewell to reporter Justin Moore, reporter/anchor Liz Lewin, who moved to Michigan, weekend anchor Lia Lando, multimedia journalist Dave Thompson, and weekend meteorologist Don Paul.
From the radio world, it’s been a big year for WBEN-AM as talk show icon Sandy Beach celebrated 50 years on the air in June 2018. He was joined by friends like Jerry Reo, Stan Roberts, and Joey Reynolds for the big show.
The station also hired reporter Matt Moran, who fills the spot vacated by Dave Debo in March of 2018. Moran, a graduate of SUNY Oswego, joined the station on a full-time basis in May 2018.
Buffalo’s locally owned WECK-FM had a big year after acquiring its third broadcast frequency at 100.5 FM. The new frequency better serves the Northtowns and covers all of Western New York on both sides of the radio dial. The addition of the new frequency also brought a new logo to the station.
The station also brought in veteran broadcaster and 2015 Hall of Fame Radio Inductee Joe Chille as afternoon drive DJ and Vice President of Programming along with Glenn Topolski. The station also brought on Dick Bauerle as Senior Marketing Manager after over a decade with Entercom Buffalo.
The station also saw the departures of News Directors John Zach in early 2018 and Steve Cichon by the middle of 2018.
Back in the television world, the most noticeable move came in July 2018 when Kevin O’Connell and WGRZ-TV parted ways after 25 years with the station, with many of those years as Chief Weather Anchor. The departure lead to the promotion of meteorologists Maria Genero and Heather Waldman to split the evening newscasts. This also included a promotion for reporter/meteorologist Kevin O’Neill, who took over the Weekend Daybreak slot.
This also was a year of new faces joining the NBC affiliate. Most notably, Kate Welshofer joined Daybreak as a reporter/anchor and has been hosting “This Weekend” with Kevin Sylvester. Also added to the team were reporters Karys Belger and Leanne Stuck, a WNY native. Behind the scenes, the station welcomed back producer Dan Baran after a stint in Charlotte, producers Dan Eye and Mitch Simon. J.T. Messinger was promoted to News and Sports Photojournalist and Jerry Gasser becomes a full-time photojournalist with the station.
This year also brought the departures of sports anchor/reporter Jonah Javad, Erica Brecher Stephanie Barnes, digital producers Dave DeLuca and Sarah Shallowhorn, and reporter Danny Spewak, who left for KARE-TV in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
From Townsquare Media, there have been a number of changes over the past year.
Most notably, Dale Mussen stepped away from mornings on WYRK-FM after nearly 34 years in March 2018. In a post on the station’s website, Mussen indicated that he was not leaving the station but just changing his role to attending station events and filling-in when needed.
Wendy Lynn, Brand Manager for WYRK-FM, exited the station in July 2018. She had been in the Buffalo market since 1999 and has not announced her future plans.
Lynn’s successor is Chris Crowley, who is now Brand Manager at WYRK-FM. Crowley had previously worked at KGON, KASH, WARO, and WCMF. He started in October 2018.
WMSX-FM has also seen its fair share of changes starting with the introduction of a new morning team in April 2018. It featured Dave Fields, Melody Nardone, and producer Rob Banks. However, the show only lasted 9 months before Nardone was let go after the station’s format flip. Fields was also just announced as WYRK-FM’s new afternoon drive host.
WMSX-FM also made the switch to a Soft AC format on Wednesday, December 26. The station is now known as “96.1 The Breeze.”
Yasmin Young also took on new responsibilities as the station’s Director of Promotions and Marketing for the Townsquare cluster.
To wrap up the world of television, WIVB-TV made several additions this year including the expanded 6:30 p.m. newscast airing on the CW23.
The year brought two promotions for Dave Greber, who from January to September 2018 was anchoring the 4 and 6:30 p.m. newscasts with Christy Kern, was promoted to co-anchor of “Wake Up!” with Melanie Orlins.
Also, anchor Jacquie Walker was recognized by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, New York Chapter with the Silver Circle. The award is given to those who contribute to the profession and community for 25 years or more.
2018 also brought the return of reporter George Richert to the Buffalo airwaves after a couple years as Director of Communications for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. Those who joined WIVB-TV in 2018 include reporter and WNY native Kelsey Anderson, reporter/weekend anchor Erica Brecher, sports reporter Jenna Harner, and investigative producer Dan Telvock.
The year also brought the departures of reporter/anchor Callan Gray, who moved out to Minneapolis-St. Paul for an opportunity KSTP-TV and anchor Jordan Williams, who left to become Assistant News Director in Beaumont, Texas. Additionally, reporter Ali Ingersoll left to pursue graduate school overseas, sports reporter Shannon Shepherd left to work at FOX Sports, anchor Nalina Shapiro moved to Dallas, and assignment editor Katrina Schmeider all left the station in 2018.
From Western New York Public Broadcasting, they’ve had a busy year with a number of comings and goings too.
Brian Meyer left his post as Senior Director of News and Public Affairs at the end of March 2018 and veteran reporter Dave Debo took over in April 2018 as News Director.
Dave Rosenthal, who had previously been the Managing Editor for Great Lakes Today, was promoted to Senior Director of News and Public Affairs in April 2018 and was let go from the station four months later.
The station also shifted three existing staffers to new roles. Current BBA Board Member Avery Schneider was promoted to Assistant News Director and Angelica Morrison was promoted to Managing Editor – Special Projects. Omar Fetouh has taken on expanded duties as the station’s Online Editor.
Nick Lippa also joined the station as a full-time reporter and program host in March 2018. Sandy White also joined the station as a reporter for the Seniors News Desk.
From WNED-FM, Mark Michaud joined the station as Program Director in February 2018. He joined the station after working San Francisco for KDFC and KUSC. In the same month, Peter Hall retired from the station but still fills-in at the station.
Also, Mark Swarts took over morning hosting duties and marks his return to broadcasting on a full-time basis in July 2018. Marty Wimmer also returned to the airwaves after a three-year break with the station covering weekend mornings.
Over the past year, morning host Bob Krum, midday host Anna Whistler, weekend host Carl Lam, and Richie English have left the station.
From the sports world, former “Voice of the Buffalo Bisons” Ben Wagner is now announcing Major League Baseball as the “Voice of the Toronto Blue Jays” with the Sportsnet Radio Network. His new radio partners will include Mike Wilner and Dan Shulman.
The Bisons introduced WGR-AM’s Pat Malacaro as the new “Voice of the Buffalo Bisons.” He took over the reigns on April 6, 2018, which was the first day of the season for the herd.
Finally, Steve Tasker joined John Murphy as the co-host of One Bills Live. The show airs weekdays from 12 to 3 p.m. on WGR-AM and features insight, analysis, and interviews with all things Buffalo Bills. Tasker took over for Donald Jones.