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Benigni to be dean of primary sportscasters

By Alan Pergament

Some notes left on the cutting room floor, with some original material added:

When Channel 2’s Ed Kilgore leaves the station to work for a company owned by Buffalo Sabres Owner Terry Pegula after the May sweeps, Adam Benigni not only gets his 6 p.m. sports anchor slot but also the title of dean of Western New York’s primary sportscasters.

Stu Boyar has been at Channel 2 much longer – 28 years – than Benigni but he isn’t on the air regularly.

Benigni has been Kilgore’s primary backup for almost 16 years. Jeff Russo, Channel 7’s primary sports anchor, has been at the station around 10 years. Channel 4’s primary sports anchor Steve Vesey is in his first year at the station.


Adam Benigni: Been Here Almost 16 Years

My analysis of local sportscasters will appear in Saturday’s edition of The Buffalo News.

I didn’t have room in today’s newspaper story to  allow Kilgore to praise some of his Channel 2 teammates.

“Working with Scott (Levin), Maryalice (Demler) and Kevin (O’Connell) has been the greatest joy,” said Kilgore in a telephone interview. “And, of course, my buddy John Beard coming back (in 2009). This last year has been the most fun of all my years in Buffalo for that reason.”

As a former sportswriter, I hate it when the people who run local stations say or imply “it is only sports” when they allow sportscasters to continue working after they agree to work for sports teams or sports owners in town.

Kilgore is going to continue working at Channel 2 through the May sweeps even though he has agreed to work for a company owned by the owner of the Sabres. Channel 4 allowed John Murphy to continue working after he agreed to work full-time for the Buffalo Bills. Channel 2's release noted that it is "important" to note that Kilgore won't be working for the Sabres and added he will continue to be objective about the National Hockey League team.

The distinction isn't that "important" to me. I have no doubt that Kilgore can be objective about the Sabres and won’t hold back any hard punches, primarily because he is a good guy and hasn’t taken many tough stands in 40 years anyway.

But sportswriters and sportscasters of today shouldn’t operate under different guidelines than news reporters and news anchors. At the very least, the idea that you can cover a team when you have agreed to work for them or their owner in a few weeks or months gives the appearance of a conflict of interest and shouldn’t be allowed. It gives sports reporters who have spent a long time trying to overcome image issues from decades earlier a bad name.

On night three of the new 10 p.m. news battle, Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock News on WNLO-TV continued its victory streak despite the lead-in that Channel 2’s newscast received from Fox’s “American Idol” on WUTV.

Despite getting almost a non-existent lead-in from CW programming, Channel 4’s newscast on its sister station averaged a 7.2 rating at 10 p.m. for second place in the time period behind “CSI” (7.7) on Channel 4.  Channel 2 hit a week high of 4.1 on WUTV for fourth place in the time period. It beat a repeat airing of NBC’s “Hannibal” (3.6) on its own Channel 2 and was in the ballpark of ABC’s “Nashville” (4.3) on Channel 7.

“Idol” actually didn’t give Channel 2 as big a lead-in boost as expected. The two-hour edition of the fading karaoke series only averaged a 5.4 on WUTV, which is one of the series’ lowest ratings ever here. “Idol” averaged a 5.8 in the second hour.   

Channel 2’s release about Kilgore’s hiring gave the incorrect title of the Pegula company that Kilgore is going to work for. He is going to work for Pegula's East Management, not East Resources. I’m told that Pegula sold East Resources to an oil company several years ago.

Finally, I bet you didn’t know this about Kilgore unless you read his book (both of you). His first name is Kim, not Ed.


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