Monday, June 30, 2008

Sock Hop at Historic Radio Studio to Commemorate 50 Years of Top 40

WKBW’s 1958 Format Switch Changed Popular Culture in Buffalo Forever

(Buffalo, New York) will host a 1950’s sock hop party to commemorate the 50th anniversary of WKBW Radio's format switch to Top 40. The event will take place on Thursday, July 3rd at 5p.m. at the original KB radio studios located at 1430 Main Street. The event will feature live music performed by members of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, appearances by WKBW alumni and a display of classic cars. The first 500 people to participate will receive a free commemorative poster that includes rare historical photos and a recreation of the original “top 40” song survey from the week of July 4, 1958.

“WKBW was not the first to play rock & roll in Buffalo, nor was it the first top 40 station in the city,” explained Forgotten Buffalo’s Marty Biniasz. “Yet when KB, with its 50,000 watt signal, changed formats on July 4, 1958 something historic happened. It signified a shift in popular culture that officially recognized the power of the post-war baby boomers. From sock hoppers to flower children, the station went on to provide the soundtrack of Buffalo for over 30 years.”

Independence Day 1958 heralded the arrival of "FutureSonic Radio," the catch-phrase given to WKBW to its brand new, fast-paced, top 40 format. Under the guidance of Program Director Dick Lawrence, KB made a drastic change in its format by virtually eliminating all previously carried programs that include the NBC network and substituting what Lawrence called, "ultra modern broadcasting techniques." The music played reflected the growing teenage middle class and featured Elvis Presley,Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson and Frankie Avalon.

Four disc jockeys, brand new to the Buffalo audience were imported from major markets to form the base for the "even newer" WKBW. Perry Allen was hired to fill the early morning 6 to 9 AM slot. Russ Syracuse was next from 9 to 2 PM. Art Roberts handled the 2 to 6 PM slot. He was followed by Dick Biondi who became a legend at night across the East Coast on the wings of WKBW’s 50,000 watt signal. Weekend and overnight disc jockeys included Jack Kelly, Danny Neaverth and Tommy Shannon.

For more on WKBW’s switch to top 40, including a list of song played on July 4th, 1958, visit

The 50th Anniversary Sock Hop is sponsored by The website was founded in 2004 to provide an urban explorer's guide to the Buffalo-Niagara region. Forgotten Buffalo hopes to provide visitors with an uniquely Buffalo experience by highlighting sites that have been left behind, or perhaps clandestinely left in place, providing clues as to what was there before. More than just a nostalgic trip through time, Forgotten Buffalo allows visitors to better understand why Buffalo is one of the most unique urban communities in the world.

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