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Mr. Channel 7 Takes High Road to WBBZ

 

John DiSciullo, locally nicknamed Mr. Channel 7 and Mr. TV, leaving WKBW-TV?

And going to independent station Channel 67, WBBZ!

 I would say that I was shocked by Monday’s announcement, except that I was tipped a few weeks ago by a reliable source that DiSciullo was fed up at Channel 7 and planning to leave the station after a tenure of 30 years minus a few months in Philadelphia.
 

John DiSciullo: Off-Beat Move

I called him back then. He said there was no truth to the rumor. My girlfriend reminded me after the news Monday that DiSciullo was leaving was announced that I had turned to her after hanging up a few weeks earlier and said “he’s lying.”
 
The move from Channel 7, where DiSciullo wore multiple hats including news director, to WBBZ shows just how fed up he was with his bosses.

After all, DiSciullo was there when Irv, Rick and Tom and Eyewitness News dominated Western New York and were easy to promote.

As news director, he was expected to increase ratings when the TV news business was changing drastically. The evidence of how drastic the change was first visible at Channel 7. The station is so cheap that it doesn’t even get Nielsen ratings, and DiSciullo had to deal with the smallest news staff in town, hire reporters who were right out of college and turn photographers into reporters.

Of course, being the consummate professional, DiSciullo denied he was lying a few weeks ago and denied any unhappiness at Channel 7 while understanding the perception that might be given by his departure.

“This is an opportunity unmatched for someone who likes to create and build television,” said DiSciullo in a telephone interview Tuesday of his move to WBBZ.

He added that he also was looking to spend more time with his young daughter before her teen years.

“As much as I love being Mr. TV, I also love being Mr. Dad,” said DiSciullo. “My life was out of balance.”

He also praised his boss, Channel 7 General Manager Bill Ransom, and thanked him “for his personal and professional mentorship.”

But insiders say that DiSciullo was so fed up at WKBW-TV that he likely had to take a pay cut to go to WBBZ, the station primarily known for carrying classic old TV shows but also has grandiose plans for a variety of locally-produced shows that DiScuillo will promote as executive director of production and promotion.

DiSciullo wouldn’t comment on whether he took a pay cut.

“The opportunity that we have at WBBZ I think will pay off for WBBZ and also for Off-Beat Cinema,” said DiSciullo of the late-night program he created 18 years ago with advertising executive James Gillan and hopes to syndicate after it moves to WBBZ.

In keeping with his upbeat attitude, Mr. TV and Mr. Channel 7 (a nickname some believe he gave himself) gave a very positive and upbeat quote in a press release about his days at the once-dominant station.

He said he didn’t give himself the nicknames or remember who did.

”Somebody did,” said DiSciullo. “Or course, Milton Berle was the real Mr. TV. I was just a cheap impersonator.”

He said moving from Channel 7 was “very emotional” and that his telephone “blew up” when WBBZ Owner Phil Arno and Vice President and General Manager Bob Koshinski announced his hiring.

“I was honored and touched by it,” said DiSciullo, saying the callers included Phil Beuth, Channel 7′s general manager in its glory days, and “colleagues across the market.”

“I came to Channel 7 when I was 20-years-old,” said DiSciullo. “You come of age with people you work with through work experiences and life experiences.

“I’ve done everything I can do at Channel 7 working in news, promotion, programming and sales. I think I was blessed to do it all.”

pergament@msn.com  

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3 responses to "Mr. Channel 7 Takes High Road to WBBZ"

  1. I was surprised to hear John was leaving Channel 7. However, knowing how TV/Radio stations are now solely bottom-line focused with little attention to quality programming, I guess John’s departure shouldn’t have been a surprise. And, he undoubtedly took a pay cut.
    Sharon Rozbicki
    The Media Queen

  2. Wow. Koshinski, Hairston and now DiSciullo. I must say I am very impressed with what Arno’s pulled off here. Now the question is can they pull off an upset and make WBBZ profitable and competitive?

    I would suggest to them following the lead of WGWE, the radio station run by the Seneca nation. Much like WBBZ, WGWE is run by a broadcast veteran (Mike Smith, a longtime DJ at market leading radio station WPIG, is the station owner). They have a loose, open-ended “classic hits” format that isn’t bound to a corporate playlist, huge emphasis on local programming (including sports, mostly low-end stuff ranging from Bandits games to high school and even rec baseball!), and a mix of professionals (the other big name is Smitty’s former lead-out Jesse Garon) and first-timers learning the ropes.

    It sounds to me like that’s the direction WBBZ wants to adapt into television, and if it’s anywhere near as popular as WGWE is, it’ll be a big hit.

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