Former television and radio personality Brian Kahle, best known for clashing with then-Mayor Jimmy Griffin on the set of “AM Buffalo” in 1987, was found dead Monday night in his Lockport home, according to Lockport police.
Niagara County Coroner Kenneth V. Lederhouse said police went to Mr. Kahle’s Summit Street home after receiving a call from a family member who had been unable to reach him.
Lederhouse said there were no signs of foul play and Mr. Kahle had been ill in recent days. The family’s physician signed off on the decision not to have an autopsy.
Mr. Kahle, 68, worked at Channel 7, WKBW-TV from 1978 to 2001.
The clash with Griffin “is certainly something people talk about when they talk about Brian, but he was so much more than that,” said John Di Sciullo, who left Channel 7 last year to become executive director of production and promotion at WBBZ-TV. “He was a real broadcaster.”
In his marketing career, “Brian had that old-school quality where he would actually pick up the phone and call somebody,” said Di Sciullo, “He was a professional guy. When he was on the show, he always did his homework. Whether it was an author or a local doctor, he took great pride in doing his homework.”
It was an attack on that characteristic that drove Mr. Kahle to end an interview with Griffin on the set of “AM Buffalo” in August of 1987, Di Sciullo said. During the mayor’s monthly appearance on the show, Mr. Kahle asked Griffin about the allegations that his brother, Thomas J. Griffin, mishandled money meant for a federal lunch program. Griffin bristled and repeatedly snapped at Mr. Kahle, “Brian, do your homework.”
Finally, Mr. Kahle replied, “You say that once more and I’ll throw you off this program.”
The pair exchanged a few more remarks before Mr. Kahle announced that the interview was over. In the control booth, Di Sciullo, who was producing the show, said, “I looked at the director, the director looked at me, we went to a wide shot and went to commercial, and the mayor stormed off the set.” A camera crew followed him to the door as he stormed out, uttering an expletive at another reporter he spotted on his way out.
Mr. Kahle later told The News that he said to Griffin, “You’re done today.” He added, “I do my homework. I got angry, I’ll concede that.”
Mr. Kahle left AM Buffalo in 1997 after more than 18 years on the show to work on the station’s Eyewitness News.
In a 2009 interview with The News, Mr. Kahle said he started a public relations firm called Magic Marketing – a nod to his other work as a professional magician – in 1995, while he was still at WKBW. He said, “I’ve always felt the need to diversify, in part because of the nature and uncertainty of the television business, but also because I’ve found so many other things that interest me.”
Mr. Kahle also had a weekly radio show on WLVL from 12:30 to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays. In the early 1990s he operated a restaurant in Jamestown called the Magic Parlour.
In a 2009 interview with The News, Mr. Kahle talked about his health challenges, including diabetes and coronary artery disease, which were diagnosed in 1999.
“Even though I had been feeling tired and listless for quite some time, the double diagnoses came as quite a shock,” he said. He had quadruple bypass surgery soon afterward.
In 2009 he said, “The recovery was long and difficult – three months. But I now feel better than I have in years. The procedure not only changes you physically, but also made me take stock of the stresses I was under and my lifestyle in terms of my diet. Now, I exercise almost every day, and thanks to being my own boss, have much less stress than my days working for others.”
Mr. Kahle is survived by a daughter, Christina, and a son, Michael, according to WKBW.
Funeral arrangements, which were incomplete Tuesday night, are being handled by Lockport’s Taylor & Reynolds Funeral Home.
– Anne Neville