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February 17, 2016 - 11:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in wbta, batavia, news.

wbta.jpg

Appropriate to the recent celebration of WBTA's 75th Anniversary, C.M. Barons sends us this photo of the old WBTA building off of Alva Place, Batavia.

February 10, 2016 - 10:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in wbta, batavia.

danwbtaccat75b.jpg

Fifth Ward Councilwoman Kathy Briggs presented Dan Fischer, co-owner with Debbie Fischer of WBTA AM/FM, with a resolution Tuesday night from the Batavia City Council in recognition of the radio station's 75th anniversary.

February 5, 2016 - 3:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in wbta, batavia, business.

dandebwbta75.jpg

Submitted story:

WBTA Radio, Genesee County's only locally owned commercial radio station, marks its 75th year of broadcasting this Saturday.

The station went on the air at 7 a.m.,  Thursday, Feb 6, 1941. It has been licensed as WBTA since its inception.

The first voice on the air was that of the “genial” Jerry Flynn who opened the program, “Rise and Shine,” according to an article published in the Daily News. Flynn became better known later as a sports announcer. The station's studios and offices were located on the second floor of 90 Main St. in Batavia where they remained until 1957.

WBTA studios moved several times over the years. Its next location was 22 Seaver Place, now the JCPenney store's loading dock. For several years the station occupied the second floor and later the first floor of 413 Main St. at the corner of Harvester Avenue. The station moved to 113 Main St. in 2004 when it was purchased by its present owner, HPL Communications, Inc., owned by Daniel and Debrah Fischer.

As the studios and offices moved, the station's transmission and tower site has remained on Creek Road in the Town of Batavia. In the early years, an engineer was required to be at the transmission site whenever the station was on the air. Technical improvements in the late 1950s allowed the station to be remote controlled from the studio.

The station was originally owned by three Batavia residents: Joseph Ryan, of Union Street; Edward P. Atwitter, of East Main Street and Edmund R. Gamble, of Vernon Avenue. Gamble also served as the general manager.

After the outbreak of World War II, several members of the station's staff left for military service including Gamble.

The next local owner of WBTA was William F. Brown. Brown was best known for his regular editorials on local issues. He won 16 Best Editorial awards from the New York State Broadcasters Association.

Brown expanded the station's news coverage, which was apparent in the 1971 coverage of the Attica Prison Revolt.

In February 2004, the Fischers' formed HPL Communications, purchased WBTA and moved to Genesee County.

New digital studios were built and WBTA moved to its present location at the corner of Main and Center streets, which became the name of the station's morning talk show, “Main & Center.”

From 1977 to 2000, WBTA operated an FM station that was licensed to Attica, NY. The station was sold and became WLOF, which beams Catholic programming into the Buffalo area.

Under HPL, the station launched another FM station in 2014. It is licensed under the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) translator rules and allows WBTA to broadcast in stereo at 100.1 Mhz. The station also streams 100 percent of its programming on the Internet at WBTAi.com and via mobile devices with custom apps for Android and iPhone systems.

“We are proud of WBTA's legacy of service to Batavia and Genesee County,” Fischer said. "As a licensee of a broadcast station, we pledge to the FCC to 'serve the public interest, convenience and necessity as a public trustee.' ”

WBTA is known in the industry as a “heritage” station, Fischer added, “our listeners have grown up with us.” Over the years we have reported individual milestones: births, anniversaries and obituaries. In times of war, the station has reported on service of local men and women in uniform.

The station has broadcast hundreds of local sporting events and have followed area high school teams to regional and state championships. WBTA has been the broadcast voice of Batavia's professional baseball team, the Muckdogs.

Through affiliations with national news organizations such as ABC Radio, WBTA has provided coverage of the most notable events of the 20th and 21st centuries including the Pearl Harbor attack, the assassinations of the 1960s, wars in Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East, the manned moon landing and the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“Radio broadcasting has certainly undergone significant changes over the past 75 years and will continue to change and evolve over the next 75 years,” Fischer said, “but I believe its basic commitment to serving the public interest will never change.”

Photo by Howard Owens. Pictured, Dan and Debbie Fischer.

January 27, 2016 - 2:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in wbta, batavia, business.
wanda.jpg
 Wanda Frank 1926 - 2016

WBTA's local legendary and longtime on-air personality Wanda Frank passed away this morning at the Genesee County Nursing Home.

Although a native of Lockport, Wanda will always be linked to Batavia. She spent the most of her 89 years in Batavia, 23 of them on WBTA as hostess of “Frankly Speaking.”

Wanda served as executive director of the Genesee Arts Council for 10 years. For most of her life, she was involved in local theater as an actress and director, many years associated with Batavia Players.

Wanda left the air four years ago when her health began to fail. But well into her 80s she was interviewing community leaders, fellow actors, and promoting the arts.

Wanda had a quick wit and rarely shied away from speaking her mind.

In 1977, at the age of 51, she earned an associates degree from Genesee Community College, an accomplishment for which she was rightly proud.

She would later be named a Distinguished Alumna of GCC.

“Wanda was a colleague, a friend, and a character, who loved a good laugh. We'll miss her," said WBTA President Dan Fischer.

Arrangements for Wanda Frank will be announced later by the H. E. Turner and Company Funeral Home.

December 12, 2015 - 9:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in wbta, toy drive, Salvation Army, batavia.

toy_drive_final_lg.jpg

Donors once again filled the beds of two pickup trucks with toys for local children during the annual toy drive at Ken Barrett's Chevrolet in Batavia.  The drive his hosted every year by WBTA and benefits the Salvation Army. Pictured are Dan Fischer, owner of WBTA, and radio personality Wayne Fuller.

June 25, 2015 - 1:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in wbta, business.

Press release:

WBTA Radio will temporarily suspend AM and FM transmissions on Friday morning, June 26 in order to repair antenna damage caused by severe thunderstorms earlier.

The station expects the signals will be turned off at about 10:15 a.m. as engineers reposition the station's FM antenna that was rotated 90-degrees due to strong winds.

The AM signal on 1490 was unaffected by the storm but in order for someone to safely climb the 200-foot tower on Creek Road to reach the FM antenna both signals must be shut down, explained WBTA President Dan Fischer.

“We hope the outage will last no more than 90 minutes but we will not know the extent of damage until we can inspect it close up,” Fischer said.

While the stations are off the air, programming will continue to be heard online and via mobile devices at WBTAi.com.

April 9, 2015 - 11:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, radio, wbta, business, elba.

WBTA has expanded its programming from one local entertaining talk show to two.

Hiram Kasten is now co-hosting "Batavia After Breakfast" with is wife Diana at 9 a.m., Wednesday mornings and his former partner, Lucine Kauffman, now has her own show, "Genesee Life," at 8:30 a.m., Saturdays.

Hiram and Diana, pictured above, will feature their witty repartee as they share their experiences in Batavia, what's happening in Batavia, and Hiram -- with decades experience as a comedian, actor and performer in New York, Hollywood and Las Vegas, as well as around the globe -- hosts guests from his entertainment world.

Lucine, bottom photo, will celebrate and explore Genesee County rich cultural life, featuring local residents who might be artists, musicians, authors, historians, hobbyists, farmers, athletes, local business owners and local characters. The show will also promote local shows and showings.

WBTA is at 1490 AM, 100.1 FM and streaming at wbtai.com as well as through apps available for your mobile devices.

December 29, 2014 - 1:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, wbta, business.

Out on Creek Road is a long, tall structure the folks at WBTA affectionally call "the stick." It's where the over-the-air signal for the 73-year-old AM radio station is transmitted. Today, in our 28-degree weather, a crew installed a new FM antenna that will enable you to hear "one of America's two great radio stations" at 100.1 FM. WBTA (1490-AM) will start simulcasting on both frequencies Feb. 6. The station first went on the air Feb. 6, 1941.

December 5, 2014 - 3:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, wbta, Red Cross, toy drive.

WBTA, Ken Barrett's and the Salvation Army teamed up once again this year for our community's annual toy drive today.

It's the 20th year the toy drive has been hosted at Ken Barrett's with WBTA providing the promotional push to help generate more than two truck loads worth of donations.

Firefighters from the City of Batavia were on hand to help accept donations.

The toys will be delivered by Santa to boys and girls throughout our community, making it a happier Christmas for many.

Firefighter Mike Dorgan and WBTA radio personality Nici Johnson.

WBTA's ad manager Lorne Way and Joan Stevens from the Salvation Army.

December 1, 2014 - 11:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, wbta.

A local legend in news media and stalwart contributor to Batavia community groups, William F. Brown Jr., 91, passed away Saturday at Rochester General Hospital after a brief illness.

Brown's lengthy career included owning and managing WBTA, writing for various area publications, authoring books as well as being the first chairman of the Board of Trustees of Notre Dame High School and serving as president of the Board of Directors for  St. Jerome's Hospital.

“The community has lost a talented broadcaster and WBTA has lost a dear friend," said Dan Fischer, current owner of WBTA. "Bill’s wit was razor sharp and his knowledge of Genesee County history was encyclopedic. During his stewardship of WBTA, Bill set a standard for public service and broadcast news. We honor his legacy by trying to continue that standard as best we can.”

Brown was born Oct. 25, 1923 in Batavia, the son of the late William F. Brown Sr. and Monica Sellinger Brown.  

He was a 1941 graduate of Batavia High School and a graduate of Canisius College. He also studied at Yale and Fordham universities and was an Army veteran of World War II where he worked for the Armed Forces Radio Service in Kokura, Japan.

After his military service, he was public relations director for Batavia Downs and Buffalo Raceway for several years before becoming co-owner and manager of WBTA Radio in 1968.  

At WBTA, he distinguished himself with daily outspoken editorials dealing with local issues and humorous vignettes about family life. He won 16 statewide “Best Editorial Awards” in his career from the New York State Broadcasters Association.  

He remained a member of the United States Harness Writers Association for more than 55 years. He served as secretary for several years and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991.

Besides his community work with Notre Dame and St. Jerome's, he was a trustee emeritus of the Jerome Foundation, a member of the Board of Catholic Education of the Diocese of Buffalo and lay chairman of the Bishop’s Lay Advisory Council. He was a lector and eucharistic minister at Resurrection Parish and a Knight of St. Gregory and a Knight Commander of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

He was active in many local civic organizations throughout his life, including the Rotary Club, Knights of Columbus and the Elks. He was a lifelong member of Stafford Country Club.

His books on local history include a popular publication on the Linden Murders. He also wrote columns for the Batavia Daily News and was Genesee County correspondent for the Buffalo News at the time of his death.

Calling hours are 3 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, at H.E. Turner, 403 E. Main St., Batavia. A Mass of Christian Burial will be Thursday, 9:30 a.m. at Resurrection Parish, St. Joseph Church, 303 E. Main St.. Batavia. Burial will be in St. Joseph Cemetery. The Knights of Columbus will hold a prayer service on Wednesday at 6:30 pm.

For the full obituary, click here.

Photo: From a Rotary lunch in 2012

October 8, 2014 - 7:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in wbta, thebatavian.

Tune in at 9 a.m. to WBTA-1490 for "Talk of the Town" staring Hiram Kasten and Lucine Kauffman.

I'll be their guest this morning.

The show can also be heard live streamed on WBTAi.com and WBTA's smartphone app.

September 19, 2014 - 3:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, wbta, business, elba.

The way Hiram Kasten and Lucine Kauffman see it, Genesee County is a great place to live.

It's beautiful, there's a lot going on, and you'll meet some of the nicest and most interesting people if you just get out on the town a bit.

It's these qualities that they want to highlight in their new weekly, one-hour radio show on WBTA, which debuts Oct. 1.

"Talk of the Town" will feature talk about what's going on and some of the region's interesting people.

It's a cultural show -- arts and entertainment -- but it's more than that.

"There's a national trend toward localism," Kauffman said. "It's not just shopping local. It's living local. We want to capture that idea."

Kasten and Kauffman like interesting people, but they are, of course, interesting people themselves.

Kasten has been a professional entertainer for decades with a long resume in New York and Hollywood that included recurring roles on "Seinfeld" (Hiram and Jerry came up through the New York comedy club circuit together) and "Everybody Loves Raymond."

Diana Kisiel Kasten, Hiram’s wife, is from Batavia and operates Pinnacle Manufacturing on Harvester Avenue. She convinced Hiram to move here a year ago. The couple has a grown daughter who attends Cornell University.

Kauffman is the former town supervisor for Elba and has been active in local theater for years. She grew up in Southern California and graduated from USC. She moved to Genesee County with her Batavia-born-and-bred husband, Bill, 25 years ago. Their daughter attends Notre Dame University. Bill Kauffman is the author of nine books and the screenplay "Copperhead," which had its theatrical release last year.

"We're going to talk about the cultural aspects of Genesee County and the region," Lucine said. "It's more than just arts and entertainment. There are farm co-ops and local artisans and people who enrich life in Genesee County. It's all about quality of life and the quality of life here is very good."

Hiram said he often knows the comedians passing through Rochester and Buffalo, so that will be an opportunity to hear from nationally recognized talent, but they'll also feature the volunteers who make community theater so vital to Batavia.

"There's a lot to celebrate in Genesee County," Lucine said.

"Celebrate. That's a good word," Hiram added. "There is a lot to celebrate here."

The show will air Wednesdays from 9 to 10 a.m. on WBTA-1490.

May 8, 2014 - 3:00pm
posted by Lisa Ace in wbta, sponsored posts, advertisements, Text Alerts..

 

New! Sign up for TEXT ALERTS. Get only the news you choose! Be the first to know about Severe Weather, Breaking Local News, Traffic Advisories and School Closings. Sign up today for WBTA Text Alerts.

You need to only supply your cell phone number and select the services you want to receive. It's that easy. We will never sell your information to anyone.

Log in HERE and follow the simple instructions.

April 14, 2014 - 10:26am
posted by Lisa Ace in wbta, sponsored posts, advertisements, Text Alerts..

 

New! Sign up for TEXT ALERTS. Get only the news you choose! Be the first to now about Severe Weather, Breaking Local News, Traffic Advisories and School Closings. Sign up today for WBTA Text Alerts.

 

You need to only supply your cell phone number and select the services you want to receive. It's that easy. We will never sell your information to anyone.

Log in HERE and follow the simple instructions.

 

February 6, 2014 - 4:12pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, wbta.

From WBTA:

WBTA is experiencing a transmission failure and has lost the over-the-air signal.

WBTA can still be heard on the stream on the homepage at WBTAi.com or on our iPhone app which is available free at the iTunes store.

Repairs are under way and we hope to have service restored as soon as possible.

Thank you for your understanding.

UPDATE 6:51 p.m.: As of at least an hour ago, WBTA is back on the air. Problems fixed.

September 22, 2013 - 8:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, wbta, sports, Batavia HS.

Batavia High School hosted its annual Athletic Hall of Fame dinner Saturday night at Terry Hills.

Pictured above are: Brett Wormley, Julie Redband Varland, Mike Rogers, Wayne Fuller, Lance Cayea, Todd Cayea, Katie Barnard (John Barnard's daughter, representing him at the dinner) and Jim Barnard.

Local broadcasting and announcing legend Wayne Fuller with his guests, Jim Owen, Dan and Debbie Fischer (owners of WBTA), Fuller, Martha Bailey and Anita Strollo (both with WBTA).

June 10, 2013 - 12:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, basketball, wbta, sports, Jerry Warner.

If you happen to be in Miami for the NBA finals, and happen the Largo Bar & Grill, across the street from the American Airlines Arena, you'll hear a familiar voice -- WBTA's Jerry Warner.

Stephen Warner, manager of the Largo, streams WBTA every morning to keep up with the news from back home and listen to his father.

A graduate of Oakfield-Alabama High School, Genesee Community College and SUNY Brockport, Warner has been managing the bar and grill since it opened in 2010.

The place is popular with Miami Heat fans -- players might even stop in -- and it's been hopping with the Heat making the finals again this year, Warner said.

Western New Yorkers pass through the Largo regularly, Warner said. Notre Dame alum Paul Merrill (bottom photo) is the bar manager at the Largo.

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