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Remembering Bill McKibben a Buffalo Broadcasting legend

By: Mary Kate Wirfel

Allot of Broadcasters come and go in the Buffalo area but there are some that we can all remember such as William “Bill” McKibben. Who is Bill McKibben and why is Buffalo so important to him and his legacy? Bill often called Buffalo his adopted hometown and said that people who loved buffalo the most were the people who lived somewhere else first.

Bill began his legacy working as a morning DJ on WACB, it was a small AM station in Kittanning Pennsylvania.

Bill was born and grew up in the Pittsburgh area and by the time he was 19 he was already a news director and station manager. Bill attended Syracuse University while serving in the US army from 1951 to 1953. Bill then spent the next five decades in communications. There were several different stations he managed including WIL in St. Louis, as well WGR,WBEN, and WEBR, before starting up his own public relations firm in 1974 it was called McKibben Communications.

In 1953 Bill got married to Bobbie Hill and had three children before moving from St. Louis Missouri to Buffalo in 1964. In the mid 1960’s Bill became the manager at WGR radio where he helped develop the cities first news, talk type of station a quarter century before news talk stations revolutionized the radio. Bill was then hired by Alfred Kirchofer who was the exclusive editor of the Buffalo Evening news. Bills job was to manage WBEN television and radio stations that were owned by the Buffalo News. The two of them had a father son like relationship and Bill McKibben worked allot more than anyone else during that time. In 1973 Bill became the owner of WEBR after he and other investors from Queen City Broadcasting purchased it from the Courier Express.

Bill was a skilled writer and took his editorial columns from the Buffalo News and made them into a radio and television format. Several of his works were read, watched or listened to throughout the country. His talent then took Bill to opening his own Communications Company McKibben Communications. 857 Delaware Ave was where the company was located up until it closed in 1995. Serval of Bills clients included The Erie County Fair, Trico Products Corporation, Delaware North and Blue Shield.

Bill was also heavily involved in the civil rights movement he helped bring community organizer Saul Alinsky to buffalo. Together they created B.U.I.L.D. of Buffalo this organization was to help end the violence in the city during the 1960s. Several other organizations he brought to Buffalo include the YMCA Buffalo Niagara and United Way of Buffalo and Erie County. In 2005 Bill was inducted into the Buffalo broadcasters association Hall of fame and in 2007 he published a book called “Play Nice and Make Money”

Bill McKibben passed away peacefully on July 20th 2020 his 3rd wife Carolyn McKibben passed away in 2017 he is survived by his daughter Tracy McKibben LeBlanc and his two sons Mark and Robert as well his step daughters Catherine and Carolyn DeLorenzo, six grandchildren and several great grandchildren . Bill was 90 and is impact on the Queen city will live on for ages to come. Bill will be missed.

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