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Ch. 4's Rice returns for induction

It has been about five years since the distinctive husky voice of former Channel 4 street reporter Marie Rice disappeared from the local airwaves.

That's only a blink of an eye compared with the nearly three decades Rice spent covering some of the big local stories, such as the Love Canal chemical contamination, criminal trials and stories in which she gave a voice to the voiceless.

Rice was back in town Tuesday to be honored as one five new inductees into the 2009 Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame during a ceremony held in the studios of WNED on Lower Terrace.

"The [stories] that are the most memorable for me aren't ones that have any big names," Rice recalled.

"They are the stories that you felt in some small way that you were able to help. This, to me, was always like a public service. How can you help the person that didn't have a voice, the powerless, the less fortunate?"

The Ohio native worked in both radio and television in a number of different markets, including Albany, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Sacramento, Calif., before landing at then-WBEN-TV in 1977. When she left in 2004, it wasn't because she was ready to retire, but for family reasons.

"Otherwise, I just absolutely love the city of Buffalo. If it weren't for personal reasons, I would still be here. And, of course, Channel 4 is a terrific operation, and a number of my friends are still there. I just love coming into this community," Rice said.

Now residing in her hometown just outside Akron, Ohio, Rice said she returns frequently to Western New York.

Also inducted were Randy Michaels, a former WGR disc jockey who rose to become one of the most popular broadcasters in radio; Don Polec, the former WKBW-TV reporter who put his own unique stamp on the zany closing story for newscasts; Pat Feldballe, whose distinctive voice has been on hundreds of local and national commercials; and the late Fred Klestine, one of the smoothest and most versatile disc jockeys in Buffalo's history.

e-mail: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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