Local daytime talk radio is suddenly worth hearing again, thanks to a couple of veteran broadcasters who have found new life with the gift of gab.
Clip Smith and Sandy Beach have been around the Buffalo airwaves since the 1960s. They made their marks in different formats.
Smith was a sportscaster at Channel 7 and then a sports talk show host at WGR-AM 550. Beach was part of the legendary DJ lineup at WKBW during that station's Top 40 heydey from the late '60s to the early '80s.
Beach drifted to different cities and jobs over the years but recently returned doing a general talk show from 3 to 6 p.m. on WBEN-AM 930. Smith also found his way to the dayside recently as host of a general talk show from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on WGR.
What's refreshing about these two is that they are consummate pros, with a sense of local history and an understanding what makes the community tick.
Smith has often been considered a jolly punster, due to his frequent jokes and wordplays. But Smith offers biting commentary with the perspective of someone who has lived his life in Western New York.
A turning point for Smith came in June when he was hosting his nightly sports talk show on the day the guilty verdict for Timothy McVeigh was announced.
"I just felt we couldn't go on and talk about sports that night," Smith said. "The issue was too important and touched too many people here."
Smith lives in Lockport, not far from Pendleton, McVeigh's hometown. Smith's sense of that community, and his feeling for the people, shined through in an enlightening evening of radio talk that thoroughly captured the local mood.
"I like doing a general talk show. It's not as confining as sports and is more wide open as far as subject matter is concerned," Smith said.
Beach has sounded totally comfortable doing general talk. In the old days he could be abrasive and nasty, and though he still can flash sharp-edged barbs, Beach has been a joy to hear on WBEN.
Beach's talk show topics have ranged from politics to prostitution, and he appears to be able to handle any subject with aplomb. He has been, for the most part, witty, cordial and provocative without being condescending.
Both Smith and Beach present an open mind on issues. Both are listener- and caller-friendly, and that makes for worthwhile daytime conversation.
STATIC: Public station WBFO-FM 88.7 recently debuted three new programs in its lineup. "This American Life" is hosted by Ira Glass and based in Chicago. The iconoclastic show covers topics ranging from family vacations to Frank Sinatra. It's hard to describe but includes everything from poetry to conversation and short radio plays. The program is broadcast Friday nights from 7 to 8, and Saturdays from 5 to 6 p.m. "Whad'Ya Know" is an irreverent two-hour quiz show hosted by Michael Feldman, heard on Saturdays from 8 to 10 p.m. WBFO offers some offbeat sports programming Saturdays at 7 a.m. with "Only a Game." The program originates in Boston and is hosted by Bill Littlefield.