Sunday, November 9, 2014

Grand Island is demolished and other tales of Buffalo radio history

Steve Cichon, who used to work in radio, enjoys sharing stories of Buffalo's radio history with the Grand Island Historical Society.

A bear as radio announcer.
In 1938, many people were set in a panic by the radio broadcast of the War of the Worlds. Even though it had been advertised prior to broadcasting and people were told that it was fiction, people were panicked by this story, My mother said that she had listened to the program and that, because of the advertising that occurred prior to the event, she knew that the story was fictitious.
This was considered a textbook case of mass hysteria.
 In 1968, Buffalonians were startled by the tale of aliens from Mars invading Grand Island when WKBW did its presentation of Orson Welles' masterpiece. It was quite a tale, seemingly centered on Grand Island. It actually sounds believable, even though the tale of a large meteor smashing onto East River Road sounds someone extreme and hard to believe.
"Buffalo wigged out," said Steve Cichon, who gave a presentation on the History of Buffalo Radio at the November 6th meeting of the Grand Island Historical Society. People were told that the story was a "dramatization."
Fortunately, Grand Island survived the explosions and fires after the direct strike by a meteor.
Whew!
Oh wait! There was a hydrogen bomb intensity explosion on Mars!
Wow. Someone suggested that there were no people on Mars to detonate a hydrogen bomb.
Yes, I am listening to the production as I write this tale. There is a YouTube version of the radio program.
While I am listening to this tale, let's tune into some other tales that Steve shared...
Back to the attack on Grand Island. The traffic is "really congested." Governor Nelson Rockefeller is prepared to mobilize the National Guard to protect Grand Island.
Back to the history of radio in Buffalo. WGR was the first Buffalo radio station. It came on the air in 1922 with live music. On WBEN, which came on the air in 1930, one of the big radio personalities was Carl Cook, who played the piano for many years, from the 1930s until the first decade of the 21st century. He retired before 2010 and he passed away at the age of 102.
Uh oh. Back to the program. Several houses on Whitehaven Road have been leveled, and several people have become "badly crippled" as a result of the disaster.
OK. Other radio personalities of the past. Well. WGR had its own orchestra.
Here are some interesting tidbits:
John F. Kennedy visited Buffalo at least three time. The first time was in the late 1950s. The second time was in 1960, and his last visit to Buffalo was in 1962.
Another visitor to Buffalo was from Bob Hope. He "
When Irv Weinstein first started announcing the news, he was scheduled for 7:20 p.m.That seems like an odd hour and it would never happen now.
Between 1948 and 1972, there was a Santa Show daily on Channel 4. The program was 15 minutes in length and it ran from just after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve. "It was a bunch of guys having fun," Steve said.
There was a radio program called "Meet the Millers." It featured Bill and Mildred battling it out.
Stan Jasinski of WKBW was the polka king of Buffalo.
One time, John Otto, who was the voice of the night, asked Dan Nevereth, the rock and roll disk jockey, "What are you going to do when the rock no longer rolls?"
Apparently, that never happened.
Uh oh, 46 persons on Grand Island have been wiped out. Aliens have landed on Grand Island! Explosions! Smoke! Craters!  Hmm, and there is a flying saucer.People are getting trampled by the huge machine.
Could the National Guard be placing mines on the bridges?
Well, that's the end of my retelling the tale. I won't reveal the end, and I suggest that you click onto Grand Island is destructed in the War of the Worlds.

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