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May 3, 2018 - 10:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in ARC Genesee Orleans, wbta, business.

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Peggy Schreck was awarded Volunteer of the Year at the annual dinner of the Arc of Genesee Orleans. The award was presented by Shelly Kurdish, director of Rainbow Preschool, where Schreck volunteers.

Debrah Fischer, co-owner of WBTA, assumed the office of president of the board of directors for Arc (next photo, and bottom photo, with board of directors).

More than 400 people attended the dinner and awards program at Genesee Community College's new field house.

Photos and info courtesy our news partner, WBTA.

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UPDATE: Added additional photos submitted by Arc Genesee Orleans and added the press release below.

Also, besides Debrah Fischer, president, this year's officers are: Jane Scott, VP, John Huber, treasurer, and Marlene Hill, secretary.

Press release:

“Each year the Arc of Genesee Orleans honors an individual for their commitment to outstanding volunteerism for making a difference in the lives of others. Volunteers are the cornerstone of our agency and are vital to raising awareness of the great work the Arc provides in the communities in which we live and work. This year the Arc of Genesee Orleans has selected Peggy Schreck as the Volunteer of the Year.

Peggy Schreck began volunteering at Rainbow Preschool in Albion in 2012, and before that Peggy participated on various Arc committees. Peggy actually began her career in the very same building that Rainbow Preschool is now, when it was the Arnold Gregory Memorial Hospital and she was a lab technician.

Peggy and her husband moved to this area so her husband could complete college at GCC and Brockport where he then went on to become an elementary teacher. Peggy also enjoyed the educational setting and was a teacher aide for several years at Medina schools. Peggy later moved in to a position at Medina Savings and Loan where she retired 2010. She wanted to still be a part of the classroom and that is when Peggy began volunteering at Rainbow Preschool.

It is very obvious to the staff, students and families that Peggy thoroughly enjoys her time in the Rainbow Preschool classrooms and the time spent with the children. Peggy states she most enjoys watching the children’s growth and success during the school year, such as hearing a child’s speech develop or their gross motor skills expand. She also enjoys all the children’s smiles and hugs when she gets to the classroom. Peggy notes she enjoys the structure of the classrooms and this is a good fit for her with her prior classroom experience. Peggy says she has also developed many friendships with the staff and families from her volunteer role and she enjoys these new relationships within the community.

Peggy feels she is utilized in the classroom and enjoys the hands on activities and responsibilities she is provided. The teachers and aides all comment what an incredible addition Peggy is to the classroom and she brings such compassion and care to her work. She does special projects with the children and brings fresh ideas to the classroom. Peggy treats all the children as she would her own grandchildren, and she enjoys this because she does not get to see her own grandchildren because they live far away in Georgia where her son is located for his profession. The children call her Miss Peggy or Grandmom and this warms Peggy’s heart with happiness and brings her joy.

I am so pleased to present this year’s award for Volunteer of the Year to Peggy Schreck and to give her on the behalf of everyone at Rainbow Preschool and the Arc of Genesee Orleans our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for her years of dedicated volunteerism at Rainbow Preschool."

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Seated: Brandi Kinnicutt, day habilitation specialist; Carolyn Dawson, chief administrative officer; Dylan DeSmit, direct support professional; Jim Henning, trash collection/recycling driver. Standing: Jennifer Conklin, Special Education teacher; Kim Austin, Culinary Arts manager; Kaelie Grazioplene, supported work assistant manager; Carl Jones, trash/recycling/transfer station manager.

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Mary Anne Graney Scholarship Recipients with Scholarship Committee Chair Molly George: Riley Seielstad -- Albion Central; Abigail Klos -- Oakfield – Alabama; Hannah Duhow -- Medina Central; Kathleen Dessert -- Le Roy Central.

February 13, 2018 - 4:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in wbta, batavia, news.

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Legendary local broadcaster Wayne H. Fuller, 70, was lain to rest today.

He died Friday.

Following a service at H.E. Turner Funeral Home, Fuller was loaded by his pallbearers into the cargo hold of a Trailways bus for transport to a cemetery in Bethany.

Fuller worked for 50 years as a dispatcher at Trailways. It was one of his final wishes that a Trailways bus carry him and people attending his funeral to the cemetery.

A graduate of Batavia High School in 1965, Fuller is best remembered for his work at WBTA both spinning records and broadcasting sporting events, as well as his decades-long work as a public address announcer at Batavia sporting events, including Batavia HS basketball and Batavia Muckdogs games.

For his full obituary, click here.

For our prior story about his passing, click here.

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February 9, 2018 - 1:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Wayne Fuller, wbta, news, batavia, notify.

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waynecrop.jpgWayne Fuller, the voice of Batavia sports, passed away this morning at Strong Memorial Hospital after a lengthy illness.

Fuller was 70 years old.

With a perfect baritone broadcast voice, Fuller became a local legend over the decades, serving as a public address announcer for the Batavia Muckdogs as well as Batavia High School sports. He worked for WBTA at various times since 1967.

Fuller was well known for not only his talent as an announcer but also his encyclopedic knowledge of sports and pop music and his photographic memory.

"Wayne Fuller was blessed with a marvelous voice and a considerable talent, and we were blessed with Wayne Fuller," said Bill Kauffman. "For somewhere between three and four decades, he was the voice of Batavia baseball — of the Trojans, the Clippers, the Muckdogs.

"His voice perfectly fit Dwyer Stadium; Batavia baseball sounds like Wayne Fuller. I think of Wayne as the voice of Batavia, a voice that will never stop echoing."

Batavia gave Fuller a place to excel -- plenty of local sports, but also a locally owned AM radio station that gave him an outlet for sharing the pop music of the recent past that he loved and knew as well as he did baseball history.

Dan Fischer, co-owner of WBTA, said Fuller was a perfect match for the station throughout so much of the station's history.

“Wayne was a unique on-air personality," Fischer said. "He had a perfect voice for AM radio, clear and distinctive. That voice served him well for his public address work as the stadium announcer for the Muckdogs and in the gymnasium for BHS basketball.

"Wayne could weave a story in such great detail. He knew what the weather was on the day his story was set; he could tell you what song was popular on that day. He had a passion for trains and memorized schedules and could describe railroad stations along most any route.

"He was a great friend and a wonderful and talented employee who will be missed by his colleagues and fans alike.”

Fuller was dedicated to the youth of the community and loved being the voice of so many Batavia sports. Both Buddy Brasky, head coach of Batavia HS basketball, and Michael Bromley, the school's athletic director, said he will be missed.

"Wayne was a very important part of Batavia Athletics for many years," Brasky said. "As the PA announcer for the varsity boys' basketball games, he added a sense of professionalism to the games. His enthusiasm, the way he played the music, the way he introduced the players in the starting lineups, always added to the atmosphere at the games."

Fuller was a 1965 graduate of Batavia HS. He was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 2013. Bromley also noted the press box at Dwyer Stadium is named after Fuller.

"More than that, Wayne was a friend to everyone," Bromley said. "He was a friend to many of our coaches, many of our athletes. He's going to be deeply missed. We tried to replace him for the season but there's still a big absence without him on the sidelines for basketball."

The impact Fuller had on the region goes beyond sports and broadcasting, however. He was also passionate about his longtime job with Empire Trailways.

Fuller was fascinated by bus schedules and fairs and he was instrumental in pushing bus companies across the Northeast in adopting computerized ticketing, according to his former boss Jack Barker.

"He was promoted to traffic manager in 1974 for Empire Trailways and he held that position for many years, taking care of bus schedules and fares," Barker said. "His contribution to the bus industry was exemplary. He was a friend of mine for probably over well over 50 years and he will definitely be missed."

Ironically, Fuller's broadcast career almost got derailed before it started. He had been hanging around WBTA as a teenager and the station manager one night blamed him for an announcer's on-air mistake. He thought that was the end of his connection with the station.

"I got thrown out of the station by the then-program manager," Fuller told Lucine Kauffman last year during an interview for her WBTA show, Genesee Life. "His name was Bob Folkler. He thought that I had broken up the announcer one night on the radio and it was somebody else. But I got thrown out. So I thought I was done hanging around BTA.

"This was in '67. About a week later, he called me up and said, 'Wayne, could you work tonight?' So here I went into this with no training because I was already pretty well trained because I'd been hanging around so much. I knew exactly what to do. So I just sat down did it."

December 8, 2017 - 10:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ken Barrett Chevrolet-Cadillac, wbta, Salvation Army, news.

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Folks from Arc of Genesee Orleans were among the first to show up this morning with gifts for the annual Salvation Army toy drive at Ken Barrett's Chevrolet and supported by WBTA.

To donate new, unwrapped toys, head over to Ken Barrett's on West Main Street, Batavia, by 4 p.m.

This is the 23rd year WBTA has sponsored and supported the toy drive.

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November 13, 2017 - 12:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in wbta, business, batavia, news.

feig_alex_0.jpgWBTA is promoting multimedia producer and afternoon news anchor Alex Feig to operations manager for the radio station, co-owner Dan Fischer announced today.

Feig assumes his new duties Nov. 27, which include becoming the morning news producer and anchor for all news breaks through 12:30 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays. He will also produce and anchor the Saturday morning newscasts.

The change means Fischer can "retire" from anchoring early morning news.

As Feig settles into his new role, additional duties will include weekly preparation of the "talking points" memo for other station announcers to inform them of information to be shared with listeners during their broadcasts. He will also oversee production standards for commercial and promotional items.

"Deb (Fischer, co-owner) and I have great confidence in Alex," Fischer said. "Please join us in congratulating him on this promotion."

Fischer will anchor afternoon newscasts starting Nov. 27 and continue to supervisor a relaunch of WBTA's website into a more mobile-friendly format.

December 9, 2016 - 1:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Salvation Army, wbta, Ken Barrett Chevrolet-Cadillac, batavia, news.

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The Salvation Army Toy Drive is underway today at Ken Barrett Chevrolet on West Main Street, Batavia.

The event is hosted by Ken Barrett and WBTA and sponsored by several local businesses.

Top photo: Lt. Rachel Moore, Colton Moore, Joan Stevens and firefighters Jerry Yoder and Adam Palumbo.

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Pete Zeliff dropped off a barrel of toys.

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Ken Barrett and Dan Fischer.

October 4, 2016 - 8:10am
posted by Howard B. Owens in wbta, news, batavia, business.

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With clowns in the news recently, it's perhaps ironic that these old posters would reappear in the offices of WBTA about this time.

Dan Fischer, owner of the 75-year-old station, said a listener delivered the two posters to the station years ago and they were stored behind a bookshelf. They reappeared again during remodeling. 

The listener who brought them in knew nothing about them and Dan doesn't know anything about them either.

If anybody knows anything about the history or what they were promoting, leave a comment.

September 6, 2016 - 8:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in wbta, business, batavia, news.

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Rummaging around in the radio station's transmitter site on Creek Road a couple of years ago, WBTA's owner Dan Fischer found the old stainless steel call letters that once adorned the second-floor exterior of 90 Main Street, the radio station's first home 75 years ago.

When the radio station moved to Cedar Place some years later, so did the letters, but whenever the station's studios moved again, the letters were shuffled off to storage at the transmitter building and forgotten until Fischer uncovered them.

As part of a remodeling project at the station's current location at Main and Center, Fischer had the letters polished up and Jeff Gillard designed and built a mounting system that off-set the letters two inches from the wall and back lit them with LED lights.

The long hallway like area at the front of the office has always been a hard area to decorate, Fischer said. It was just a long blank wall and a few small pictures really did not do the space justice. The call letters are a perfect fit.

"They’re obviously a showpiece, a conversation piece, they bring back the history of the station, they’re 75 years old, and when you think of that, and most those years, they were outside, I think they held up pretty well," Fischer said.

June 6, 2016 - 12:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, batavia, wbta, Goodwill Industries.

Press release:

Goodwill of Western New York announced that it will hold a “Donate and Shop” event including a live remote with WBTA radio from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, June 11th. The event will be held at Goodwill’s Batavia retail store and donation center located in the Valu Plaza at 4152 W. Main St..

The event will feature a sidewalk sale and most items in the store will be 50-percent off. The community is asked to bring donations of clothing, household goods, books, toys and furniture to help “stuff the truck” that day. Shoppers and donors will have the opportunity to spin the wheel for prizes.

“We have so many great finds in our stores as well as specials every day. We wanted to hold an event to reintroduce our Batavia store, and partnering with WBTA is a great way to do that,” said Linda Maraszek, Marketing and Community Relations Manager at Goodwill. “When you shop and/or donate at Goodwill, you get a great deal, and you help fund job training programs for individuals with barriers to employment.”

About Goodwill Industries of WNY

Since 1920 Goodwill Industries of WNY, Inc., has provided individualized job training and employment programs and services to persons with disabilities and other barriers to employment. Goodwill works to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by strengthening communities, eliminating barriers to opportunity, and helping people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work. Visit www.goodwillwny.org for more information.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.
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 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.

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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

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