The 50th anniversary of WKBW radio's "War of the Worlds," the most famous radio broadcast in Buffalo's history, will be celebrated with the screening of a new documentary film and a re-airing on Halloween night - along with two other unique and famous versions of HG Wells "Martian invasion" story.
The documentary film, titled "WKBW Radio's War of the Worlds, 50 Years Later," will be screened at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, at the North Park Theatre, followed by a live panel discussion. The film, produced by All Services WNY and sponsored by the Buffalo/Niagara Film Office and Niagara County Community College, features interviews with the late Jeff Kaye, Irv Weinstein, Jim Fagan and other members of the original cast of KB radio's "War of the Worlds."
Also in the film are iconic radio legends Sandy Beach, Dan Neaverth, Dan Kriegler, John Zach, Pat Feldballe, Jim Pastrick, Tom Atkins and John Hager. Film and television actor William Fichtner and television and film producer Nick Bakay, who both grew up in Buffalo, share their memories of the Buffalo Halloween broadcast, along with Buffalo Broadcasters Chairmen Emeritus Dave Gillen, Entercom Operations Manager Tim Wenger, "97 Rock" Promotions Director Dave Jickster and Blasdell restaurateur Dennis DiPaolo.
"Buffalo's 'War of the Worlds' is considered the second-most famous radio version of HG Wells story, right behind the groundbreaking Orson Welles broadcast in 1938," said documentary producer and All Services WNY owner Bob Koshinski. "I was just a boy when I heard the 1968 broadcast on Halloween night, and it was one of the reasons I sought a career in radio and television.
"This documentary will examine how the legacy of KB's 'War of the Worlds' has surpassed anything the talented Jeff Kaye could have imagined."
"The Buffalo/Niagara Film Office has been very supportive of artists coming to our region to create magic on the screen," Film Commissioner Tim Clark said. "What Jeff Kaye and the tremendously talented people at WKBW radio did 50 years ago is no less inspiring and we are proud to be a part of celebrating their masterpiece."
"Niagara County Community College is excited to be part of this historic event. We feel our students, faculty and alumni will be fascinated and intrigued to hear the sensational story of what happened 50 years ago during Buffalo's 'War of the Worlds' radio broadcast," Public Relations Director Barbara DeSimone said.
Then, on Halloween night, in keeping with the 50th anniversary celebration, Entercom radio will twice re-air the original 1968 version of "War of the Worlds" on WWKB-AM 1520 beginning at 6 p.m.
WECK radio will air the original Welles 1938 version at 9 p.m., proceeded by a two-hour special Halloween edition of "WECK After Hours" hosted by Moon Rivers.
"WECK radio surrounds ourselves everyday with legendary personality radio. It's the reason we exist. We couldn't be prouder to air the original version of this world-changing broadcast of 'War of the Worlds.' It's quite simply pure vintage real radio," WECK owner Buddy Shula said.
"97 Rock" will add a third version of the "Martian invasion" story airing in Buffalo on Halloween night with a re-airing of its 1998 version of "War of the Worlds" at 11:30 p.m.
Program Director Hager produced a unique version of Wells' story 20 years ago as a tribute to WKBW's legendary broadcast.
"Thanks to the creative genius of Jeff Kaye and his 1968 team at WKBW, Buffalo has become 'War of the Worlds-town,' " Hager said. " 'War of the Worlds' deserves its own place in the Buffalo Broadcast Associations Hall of Fame."