The late comedy legend Lucille Ball, television writer-producer Tom Fontana, former CBS executive Gene Jankowski and Buffalo Bills great-turned broadcaster Steve Tasker headline the 12-person 2022 Hall of Fame Class of the Buffalo Broadcasters Association announced today.
It made one wonder what took so long for the BBA to give love to Lucy, the Jamestown native?
A spokesman for the organization explained a BBA eligibility change led to Lucy being honored.
“We opened our categories to more Arts in Broadcasting people. William Fichtner received the Arts honor last year. (Tom Fontana this year).”
“While everyone knows Lucy for her acting and comedy, she was just as important in broadcasting for the innovations she and her production company created. Many of them are still in use today like multiple camera shoots and live studio audiences."
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Ball with her then-husband Desi Arnaz starred in the legendary comedy “I Love Lucy” that was filmed before a live studio audience and has played for generations thanks to their production techniques that saved the film recordings for generations.
Ball, who died in 1989, also became the first female to run a studio, Desilu, named from a combination of the couple’s names, that produced several TV classics, including “Star Trek,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Mannix,” “The Untouchables,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Lucy Show.”
Fontana is a SUNY Buffalo State graduate best known for his 40-year Emmy and Peabody Award career as the writer and producer of NBC’s medical series “St. Elsewhere,” the NBC police series “Homicide: Life on the Street" and HBO’s prison series “Oz” and currently is producing Showtime’s “City on a Hill” set in Boston starring Kevin Bacon and Aldis Hodge.
Jankowski is a Buffalo native who was named the president and chairman of the CBS Broadcast Group in 1977 before leaving that position in 1989 and starting his own company, Jankowski Communications System.
Tasker was a special teams ace for the Bills of the Super Bowl era in the 1990s who went on to become an analyst for CBS for 20 years and now co-hosts “One Bills Live,” which is carried on WGR radio and simulcast on MSG Network.
Here is the rest of the class to be inducted in ceremonies on Sept. 22 at Samuels Grande Manor, and their biographies supplied by the BBA with more information added:
Ed Reilly: He started his 40-year career at WKBW-TV as a photographer on local and international stories before seamlessly becoming a highly respected reporter late in a career that ended with his retirement in January of 2021.
Susan Rose: A Buffalo State graduate, Rose has been the co-anchor of WBEN-AM’s top-rated morning news program for more than 20 years after starting her career at Lockport’s WLVL.
Sheila Brown: The CEO of the parent company of WUFO radio (1080) and Power 96.5, Brown began her broadcasting career at WUFO at age 21 and is the first African American woman to own a radio station in Buffalo. She previously worked at WBLK, Entercom stations and at WIVB-TV in sales positions before becoming the general manager of WUFO and buying the station in 2013.
Tom Darro: He began his radio career as a Niagara Falls High School student in 1964 and has worked for 60 years behind the microphone in Niagara Falls. He has worked at WHLD, WUSJ and WJJL.
Jackie Albarella: She started her career in theater before working in cable television and became the first female engineer in Buffalo at WKBW. She is the founder of Albarella Media, an award-winning multimedia production and consulting firm.
Allen Costantini: The Dunkirk native worked in radio in Dunkirk, Fredonia and Batavia and Buffalo and in television as a reporter-anchor at WBEN-TV before it changed its call letters to WIVB. He settled into a lengthy TV career at KARE-TV in Minneapolis.
Buddy Shula: That’s the stage name of William Ostrander, the owner and CEO of WECK radio who also is well-known for voicing commercials. He began his radio career as a 15-year-old high school student who became an intern WPHD radio and has worked at WZIR, WYRK, WNUC, WMJQ (Q102) in various on-air and sales jobs. He purchased WECK five years ago.
Tom Vetter: A five-time Emmy Award-winning videographer, Vetter began his career working in cable before joining WIVB in 1990. He was there 13 years, co-created the documentary unit and has worked on many important productions with reporter Rich Newberg dealing with racial injustice, the plight of the mentally ill, the abortion debate and the life story of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. Vetter owns a production company, still works with Newberg on special projects and has freelanced for CNN, CBS, ESPN and the Weather Channel.