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WBBZ’s “Buffalo Night” Is Bizarrely Classic TV


WBBZ’s “Buffalo Night in America” Saturday night was Classic TV all right.

Co-host Jim Brinson, who was ridiculously effusive all night, was right. We’ve probably never seen anything like it. And probably never will again.

It was so classically bad that in a bizarre way it was entertaining. The live streaming from several cities around the country where Western New Yorkers now live was a technological nightmare, leading to distracting and incomprehensible video and audio of people either being ridiculous or inappropriate.

After a while, you might have thought that WBBZ would have stopped the embarrassment and given up on the remotes. But no such luck.

It  also was more than a little uncomfortable watching former WNYers living near Denver celebrating a few nights after the movie theater tragedy in suburban Aurora that has dominated the news ever since.

The technological problems seemed lost on the ageless Brinson (who used to anchor on the Empire Sports Network) and co-host Mylous Hairston (who used to anchor on Channel 4). They sat in a studio interviewing prominent WNYers about all things Buffalo including the zoo, the love of cars and even religion. I’ve seen more excitement on “AM Buffalo.”

The co-hosts seemed oblivious to all the broadcast problems, which included untimely cutaways to commercials that made the whole TV production seem like amateur hour.

The only personality who escaped somewhat with his dignity intact was 102.5 radio personality Rob Lucas, who was outside the WBBZ studios in the Eastern Hills Mall parking lot talking to food vendors. He had the advantage of doing taped segments, which was apparent when the sun was shining even though some of the interviews ran around 10 p.m.

The low point – and there were many – came when former Buffalo radio star Joey Reynolds told a story near the end of the three-hour show while he sat next to the co-hosts, Buffalo radio legend Danny Neaverth and WBBZ owner Phil Arno.

Reynolds was discussing his days at Bishop Timon, where he apparently romanced some girls at nearby Mount Mercy. Near the end of the story, he took out a chicken wing from his wallet that he supposedly saved for years and supposedly had some relevance.

The story and the punch line were about as incomprehensible as all the live streaming from places across the country. I have no idea what Reynolds was talking about it, which was true of just about everything he said Saturday night in painful attempts to be funny.

The good news for WBBZ is that few WNYers watched this bizarrely entertaining three-hour embarrassment. It had a .2 rating – that’s two tenths of a point – which means it averaged slightly more than 1,000 households.

The other piece of good news is that the station should have plenty of time to reassess what went wrong to try to rectify it the next time it tries to do a live production that includes streaming video.   

Inquiring minds want to know: Why did Channel 2 send reporter Michael Wooten to Colorado to cover the movie theater shootings?

Michael Wooten: Helping Denver Station

Wooten and two other off-air staffers were sent there to help the sister Gannett station in Denver with the coverage of the national story. Gannett typically sends reporters and producers from its other stations when big stories happen and the station in the area where it occurs needs extra help. Gannett reporters from other markets have come to Buffalo in the past when big national stories occurred.

The bonus for Channel 2 is that Wooten gets to send live reports back home, as he did to lead Channel 2’s 11 p.m. newscast on Monday. Some of his earlier appearances on Channel 2 may have had viewers shaking their heads on why he was there.

Regular readers of this blog know I’ve been critical of Buffalo News critic Jeff Simon at times. But his piece today on the Aurora shootings and the dangerous price that possibly may result from great art is one of his best pieces of work in years. It’s a must read. I would have put it on the front page of the newspaper rather than on page 2 of the Life & Arts section.  


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13 responses to "WBBZ’s “Buffalo Night” Is Bizarrely Classic TV"

  1. Well, if it was as bad as you say it was (unfortunately I don’t get WBBZ down here and my Internet was down at the time), this kind of debacle was precisely what WBBZ was trying to avoid. Yet it’s almost a given: anything that is started from scratch like that will almost always have hiccups, like it or not, and the best you can do is learn from them.

    I understand that this had been planned several months before DiSciullo arrived. Hopefully his work helps stabilize things for future attempts at this stuff. Hopefully it doesn’t discourage him from being bold; DiSciullo and Koshinski are consummate pros and have done this before.

    • Bob says:

      I think this debacle, and the daily technical issues on WBBZ, should tell them something. Stick with the pure MeTV feed and they’ll probably stay in business.

      • That would defeat Arno’s entire purpose for buying the station.

        IMO, what WBBZ did wrong was assume they could easily fill 3 hours of air time with programming, and if Pergament’s assessment and my hunches are correct, they grossly underestimated how much entertainment they needed. Perhaps a one-hour or 90-minute special, incorporating some music (as they apparently did) and even some on-site audience participation games, would have been a much greater success.

        Another issue is Hairston. As he’ll admit, and as he did when he quit WIVB, his strength is news and journalism. Having him host a variety show was probably a bad idea and that may have contributed to the perception of a boring newscast.

  2. dan says:

    Why did Channel 2 send reporter Michael Wooten to Colorado?…Ratings!! that station can’t beat their chest hard enough

  3. Mark Scott says:

    I, too, have not been a fan of Jeff Simon. But I had the same reaction as you, Alan. Today’s Simon column on the Aurora massacre WAS an outstanding piece of work. I don’t think I’ve read a better piece in the wake of Friday’s tragedy.

  4. Jack says:

    No, Dan. As Alan said, WGRZ sent Wooten and the 2 other off-air staffers to help their sister station, KUSA. Gannett also sent to Denver reporters, photographers and producers from their stations in Washington, St. Louis, Phoenix and Sacramento. If you recall, during the crash of flight 3407, there was a reporter on Channel 2′s air from the Cleveland affiliate. It’s called team work. Gannett corporate seems to understand that and will help other stations when needed. Maybe if LIN or other failing broadcast stations understood the concept, their talented on-air staff would stay rather than bailing for high paid PR jobs with better hours and management staff that understands how to treat employees. But thanks for your 2 cents.

  5. Lauren says:

    This was their first event. It was trial and error. This article is a disgrace. They probably put endless hours of hard work into this event. Shut your mouth you should be ashamed.

  6. Evan says:

    Don’t know about you and your writings on Channel 4′s Wake up BUT just about everyone I’ve ever talked to like Nalina Shapiro Far Better than Emily Guggenmos.She not only looks better but her Delivery is much more professional Emily sounds like a kid with that voice. Nalina and Amelia do a great job. Must be being Ruguse’s wife gives her an in?

  7. Inquiring minds want to know: Why did The Buffalo News send reporter Jerry Sullivan to London to cover the Olympics? Like there really needs to be some guy from a medium/small market paper there?

    • alanp says:

      Because he writes well and gives WNYers a feel for what is going on there. Smart move by the newspaper. Columnists need to go places to get a feel for what they write rather than just write from the seat of their pants.

  8. Gary Walters says:

    Give WBBZ an ‘E for Effort’. It beat out the old WGR-TV program ‘On Target’, hosted by Frank Benny in August 1968. That show was on only one 1 night also, and got thankfully pre-empted by the Democratic National Convention (and street riots) in Chicago the next week.

    Just in case no one remembers, ‘On Target’ had a crossbow attached to the tv camera, and a post card picked viewer at home had to direct the cameraman on the telephone where to aim at a bullseye for prizes.

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