on March 29, 2013 - 11:41 PM
March 4, 1950 – March 25, 2013
John W. Farrell Jr., one of Buffalo’s leading FM radio disc jockeys during the heyday of album rock in the 1970s, died unexpectedly Monday in his Kenmore apartment. He was 63.
Born in Buffalo, he attended St. Andrew’s Elementary School in the Town of Tonawanda and was a graduate of Cardinal O’Hara High School.
He began his career in radio as a student at the University at Buffalo, where he volunteered at WBFO-FM and hosted a music show. He went on to work at the city’s FM album rock stations – WYSL-FM, which became WPHD-FM; WBUF-FM; and WZIR-FM.
“He liked overnights. It suited his personality,” said Pat Feldballe, a Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame member who was Mr. Farrell’s longtime friend and co-worker. “He was known for it, style-wise. He was very laid-back, not hype-y, and his humor was very dry.”
“I remember hearing John before seeing him in 1968,” recalled Dan Sack, another volunteer at WBFO. “I was in the ‘newsroom’ of the old Baird Hall studios hearing his very deep voice. When I continued into the control room and saw the announcer on the other side of the glass, I was surprised that the deep voice and the slight figure were of the same body.
“John was a pioneer of Buffalo radio ... stringing together diverse and wonderful music. Friends now who didn’t know John tell me how his radio programming changed their music sensibilities.”
During his stint with WBUF-FM, Mr. Farrell took classes in radio station technical operations and earned his first-class engineering license. He did engineering work for WBUF and WZIR.
In 1982, he accepted a post as an engineer at a radio station in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he worked for about six years.
Returning to Buffalo, Mr. Farrell did engineering work for Pat Feldballe Productions and took a position at Empire State College, where he was a technical support specialist and computer expert traveling among campuses in Western New York and elsewhere in the state.
Surviving are his mother, Patricia G.; two brothers, Terrence and Peter; and a sister, Kathleen Gian.
A memorial Mass will be offered at 9:30 a.m. next Saturday in St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 1085 Englewood Ave., Town of Tonawanda.