I probably watch Eyewitness News much less than I watch Channel 7’s rivals, primarily because the newscast usually gives me less of a reason to watch because of its smaller staff.
However, there are times when you just need some relief from the measured earnestness and upbeat happy talk of Channel 2’s anchor team of Scott Levin and Maryalice Demler, even if the station does a better job of covering the news.
In any event, Tuesday was one of those days that I gravitated to Channel 7 because I wanted to see its coverage of the death of former “AM/Buffalo” co-host Brian Kahle.
Channel 7 anchor Keith Radford did a sweet tribute to Kahle that was almost magical in its simplicity. It played during the station’s newscasts, with co-anchor Joanna Pasceri moved to tears after it ran on the 11 p.m. newscast.
You might have thought the station would have had time to interview one of Kahle’s co-hosts, but perhaps that will happen on “AM/Buffalo.”
Channel 7’s news rivals also ran stories on Kahle. Channel 4 ran a story on a few newscasts about Kahle’s passing with video. Channel 2 News Director Jeff Woodard said a report on Kahle’s death was “squeezed out” of the 6 p.m. newcast because of timing, but he added it made it on at 11 p.m.
But naturally, Radford’s report on the station where Kahle spent his TV career was the best.
“Brian was a good guy, and he was a smart guy,” said Radford, before highlights of Kahle’s career aired.
The highlights included his memorable 1987 exchange with Mayor Jimmy Griffin, in which Kahle prematurely ended the interview after the mayor told Kahle to do his homework.
On Kahle’s last day as co-host of “AM/Buffalo” in January 1997, the program aired highlights of his memorable interviews over 18 z years with such luminaries as Lawrence Welk, Maynard Ferguson, Jack Kemp, Hillary Clinton and Steve Forbes.
I wrote back then that the interview with Mayor Griffin was “curiously missing” and added that Kahle told me that he didn’t want to see it again.
“Sure, it was controversial,” he told me. “Sure, people still talk about it. But I wish it hadn’t happened. I’m not apologizing for it. Jimmy Griffin and I both want to get on with our lives. I hope to talk to him again.”
Kahle had to know that it was going to be the defining moment of his career and the lead of his obituary. The clip of the interview not only was shown in Radford’s report but it also was all over social media on Tuesday night. You could see again that Kahle was reluctant to toss the mayor off the show, asking him “You don’t think I can do it?” before ending the interview.
I could see why Kahle didn’t want the clip to run during his final “AM/Buffalo” program. It really painted a false picture of his style. Kahle was a smooth broadcaster who seemed genuine in a kinder and gentler TV era. He wasn’t out to draw attention to himself. His soft interview with Hillary Clinton when her husband, Bill, was first running for president was much more his good guy style.
From the outpouring of tributes on social media Tuesday, it is clear that many people in the industry really, really liked him.
On Facebook, Channel 7 meteorologist Mike Randall posted a 10-minute clip of Tom and Dick Smothers performing at Kahle’s magic club in Jamestown almost 20 years ago. Former “AM/Buffalo” producer John DiSciullo posted old photographs of Kahle in his “AM/Buffalo” days. Steve Cichon, the local media historian who left his job as news director of WBEN this week, posted clips of Kahle from his archives that included the Griffin interview.
The social media tributes reinforced the feeling that it was wise of both of Channel 7’s rivals had to find the time to report on Kahle’s death.
After all, Channel 2’s Levin had time at the end of the 6 p.m. newscast Monday to tell Toronto Maple Leafs fans he feels their pain after a heartbreaking Game 7 playoff loss in Boston.
“You’re so strong and so sensitive,” said Demler at the end of the newscast. I wasn’t sure if she was joking or not because she seemed especially upbeat Tuesday.
But my immediate thought was gag me with a spoon.
As I said at the top, sometimes you just have to get a break from Channel 2.