They were two of Buffalo’s favorite up-and-coming announcers and emcees during the 1930s on the Buffalo Broadcasting Corp.’s WGR Radio.
When The Buffalo Evening News wanted to wrestle away WGR’s top rating for its own station, WBEN, it was Clinton Buehlman (left) and Smilin’ Bob Smith (right) they hired.
Buehly and Smith, along with Johnny Eisenberger (who was later better known as Forgetful the Elf), were lifelong friends who grew up together on Buffalo’s East Side. When they were brought to WBEN from WGR in 1943, Buehlman hosted the early morning show and Smith did mid-mornings.
In between their own programs, they co-hosted “Early Date at Hengerer’s,” live from the downtown department store.
While Buehlman’s pace was fast and his persona was slapstick, Smilin’ Bob was more laidback and homespun. He caught the ear of NBC executives in New York City looking to build a team for the network’s Big Apple flagship station.
Shortly after Smith left WBEN for the New York’s WEAF Radio in 1946, longtime News and Courier-Express radio critic Jim Trantor wrote:
"Buffalo’s Smilin’ Bob Smith, who’s become one of NBC’s fair-haired boys on the New York scene … is going great guns at the head of a television show for youngsters down there and looks to have just about the rosiest future imaginable."
The show, of course, was Howdy Doody, and Smith was destined to become one of the great early stars of television.