who is this man and how did he help my broadcasting career?

Buffalo broadcasting legend Clip Smith

Buffalo broadcasting legend Clip Smith

Buffalo, New York has had a lot of amazing radio and television stars share our local airwaves since the early 1920’s when radio began here. Certainly people like Buffalo Bob Smith, Foster Brooks and Tim Russert are among some of the many notables.

Like in all television markets, there were also many notable local celebrities in Buffalo whose fame never progressed to a national level but who were immediately recognizable to a regional television audience.

If you lived in Buffalo during the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s – there were 3 main TV stations but for news most everybody watched only one, Channel 7. WKBW-TV, then and now an ABC affiliate, was the leader without question at that time (times have changed). They were led by a weekday anchor team that stayed together 25+ years. I knew the anchor team a little bit but I didn’t work with them; there was somebody else I got to work with at Channel 7 when I was briefly there.

In the summer of 1983, after my freshman year of college at the University of Dayton, I returned to Buffalo to begin a weekend internship at WKBW with the station’s weekend sports anchor and utility player – Clip Smith, the Clipper.

My mom got me the internship.

See, that spring my Mom and Dad were in Buffalo at a charity dinner and somehow my Mom sat next to Clip Smith. She naturally told Clip the TV guy about her son (me) studying broadcasting at the University of Dayton while he worked in radio there. And Clip immediately offered a chance at an internship at Circle 7 (named thusly because of their famous logo). So all summer long I recorded and watched games (remember the USFL…unfortunately I do), went out on news stories and watched newscasts and actually live broadcasts get put together in a way I never could have otherwise.

It was a tremendous experience, working with a variety of people but none better than Clip. Aside from the overwhelming feeling of trying to stay out of the way and not do the wrong thing, the thing I remember most about Clip (besides his humor – some of which included the corniest jokes in the world that he’d share on air) was his ability to improvise a sportscast. He would write and intro sentence and and outro sentence to help the director cue tapes and packages but all the rest was improvised. And it sounded smooth as silk.

His voice was amazing. I remember years before college hearing a voice (I didn’t know it was Clip) doing the top of the hour ID at Channel 7 and he sounded powerful yet friendly — it was amazing and I can STILL hear it in my head “You’re watching Channel 7, WKBW-TV…Buffalo”. Simple. Deep. Perfect.

You can hear Clip’s great announcing voice here in this recorded station sign off of WKBW-TV from 1981

After I left Channel 7 and went back to WVUD I lost touch with Clip. I caught up with him one time at someplace I can’t now remember just to reintroduce myself, say hi and say thank you. He said he remembered me. Later still, we worked together on Buffalo Blizzard Soccer broadcasts when I was the Assistant General Manager there.

He died tragically in 2004, I was sad to learn. In 2006, Clip was inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame and I attended the ceremony. Afterwards, I made a point to speak with his wife who, understandably, was very emotional. But I wanted her to know how much her husband’s kindness impacted my life and what a good guy he really was.

She knew. We all did.

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