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Keatons lead local cast into Broadcast Hall

The story of Reggie and Billy Keaton sounds straight out of a 1930s musical and will be told tonight when they are inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

She was a Rockette, dancing and kicking up a storm at the Radio City Music Hall Christmas show. He worked with national radio star and humorist Fred Allen in New York, who acted as master of ceremonies for the Radio City show.

They met, married and in the early 1940s came to Buffalo for a 13-week radio gig that lasted a lifetime. It was here the Keatons, now deceased, made their mark in radio and later television.

That's why, tonight at 7 in WNED-TV studios, the Keatons will be inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame's Class of 2005.

Also going in: Paul Maguire, former Buffalo Bills punter and ESPN analyst; Rich Kellman, senior correspondent for Channel 2 News and local radio personality Jim Santella. Also, Bill McKibben, former radio and television executive, and Al Lafler, who worked as an engineer during the glory days of WKBW-AM radio.

The event will be taped live at WNED and broadcast at a later date.

Most of the attention will be focused on modern day personalities such Maguire and Kellman and Santella.

"Buffalo means a lot to me, and I'm very proud of this," said Kellman, who has been at Channel 2 since 1974.

"A lot of it has to do with luck, but it's also about the people," Santella said. "The people you work with and for, and the people who listen to you. This is very special."

The Keatons are recognized as pioneers, who helped establish a local broadcasting tradition.

Billy Keaton hosted a talk and personality program and after World War II on WGR radio and later teamed with his wife, Reggie, for the "Mr. and Mrs. Show." That program ran for more than a decade.

WGR television signed on in 1954, and Billy Keaton was the first host to welcome viewers.

Later, Reggie Keaton made an impact on cable television. She hosted the "Reggie Keaton Show," on Amherst Cable from 1972 until 1994. Later she appeared as a regular panel member with Chuck Healy on WNED-TV's "Over 50" program.

e-mail: aviolanti@buffnews.com

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