WBEN radio's morning news anchor John Zach, a member of the Buffalo Broadcasters Association's Hall of Fame, will anchor his last newscast on Dec. 30, according to an email sent to the radio station's staff Friday morning by Tim Wenger, program director at WBEN.
Zach, 76, who worked for the last 18 years at WBEN after stints at WKBW and WGR, will be replaced "on an interim basis" starting Jan. 2 by Brian Mazurowski, said Wenger, who is also operations manager for Entercom Buffalo.
Zach, born John I. Zachwieja in Kaisertown, traced his interest in radio to his father, whom he said built the first crystal radio set in the area. In a 2012 profile published in Buffalo Spree, Zach told News TV Critic Alan Pergament, “Kids in the neighborhood on Barnard Street would come over to listen to this new curiosity."
Zach studied electronics at Seneca Vocational High School, and formed the band, "John Zach and the Furies." By playing school dances, Zach met and befriended Danny Neaverth, then a disc jockey at WBNY. Neaverth suggested that Zach become a disc jockey, so Zach took courses in Syracuse before landing his first job as a disc jockey in Albany, Ga. In 1961 he returned to the area to work in the newsroom at WKBW. He was news director there when the station's news department was dismantled in 1988.
While unemployed, Zach, a model train enthusiast, wrote and self-published a book called "The Train Man." The book told the story of Chester Spoonley and his son, Chester Jr., a South Buffalo family whose model train business became one of the largest in the nation.
Zach then took a public relations job, working for Bob Rich Jr. In 1998 he was offered a job at WBEN, which would have required him to take a $14,000 pay cut. He told Pergament, “Even though I thought the amount of money was insulting, I took the job."
In 1987, while working at WKBW, Zach won New York State Press Association Broadcaster awards for editorial and public service announcement on AIDS. In 1988 he was named a citizen of the year by the Am-Pol Eagle and also earned the Stephen Braun Award for his efforts to increase public awareness of childhood cancer. In 1988, he was named Elma Citizen of the Year by the Elma Businessmen's Association. He has served on the board of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.
Zach was inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasters Association's Hall of Fame in 2002.