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Thoughts from WBEN/WGR/WWKB Operations Manager Tim Wenger
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Posts from March 2013

PEEPS: Love 'Em or Hate 'EM
Right from the start, I'll tell you I hate these things.

I can tell you the worst part of the East basket on for me as a kid would be when I got through the chocolate and found the marshmallow peeps at the bottom.  Inevitably they'd be stuck to the fake green grass alongside the jellybeans(not much my favorite either) just lying in wait.  Maybe my sisters would make a trade?

What is it about Peeps that so many people love? In case you haven't heard, they're now 60 years old, are manufactured just north of Philadelphia and are enjoying a growing success.  Why?  They're marshmallows coated with colorful crystallized sugar.  Yuck.

I married into a Peep family.  My wife and sisters-in-law love these things.  Around this time of year the Peeps start to show up at the door, dropped off by a thoughtful family member who picked them up on sale.  I'll open the freezer and find them sitting next to the ice cream(they're good frozen I'm told).  And if I time things right, I may walk in the house when the kids pop the Peeps in the microwave and pull the gooey mess out on a paper plate and devour them.   Yes, my kids inherited the taste for Peeps.

60 years and going stronger than ever, I find Peeps to be a "love 'em or hate 'em" proposition.  Where do you fit in?  And feel free to share how you eat your "Peeps".  
For me, I'll just go for the chocolate.
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Topics: Human Interest
Locations: Philadelphia

VIDEO: "Luna" the Polar Bear Will Cheer You Up!
So it's the first day of Spring, it's below freezing and the ground is white!  Welcome to Buffalo, where Spring can mean 80 degrees(like it was a year ago) or lake effect snow as it is today.  But we're Buffalonians and we just grin and "bear" it.

Well I might suggest that a little "bear" may be just the 'pick me up' we all need on this unseasonable start to Spring. 

"Luna", the new polar bear cub at The Buffalo Zoo, is bringing smiles to our faces as the little one gets a taste of the environment she loves.  SNOW!  I think this video will cheer you up on this otherwise blustery and frightful first day of Spring!

READ:  Previous Coverage of Luna
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Locations: Buffalo

AM, FM, Online and Mobile Phone. Now on HD!
Back in the day when I first started out in the newsroom at WBEN, we were on the air at 930 on the AM dial.  That's it!  All we needed to do was communicate with you in one place.  It worked great!  And boy was it easy.

But times have changed.

I remember back in the early 90's when then Program Director Kevin Keenan was posting the AccuWeather forecast on our new website  I wondered, why?  Won't they just get the weather on the radio when we read it? 

Well, obviously, through the years I've changed too!

I'd like to take this opportunity to make sure you're aware of the diverse resources your have now in getting the programming we offer at WBEN.  No longer are we only available only at 930 on the AM dial.  We've added 107.7 on the FM dial, streaming from, our mobile app and streaming from our mobile-enable website.  And just when you thought we were done offering you options to find WBEN, we want to alert you that if you have HD radios that we're there too!

More and more new vehicles are coming equipped with HD radios.  Essentially, HD radio enables us to offer more than one radio station on one individual frequency.  When it comes to WBEN, you can now find us at 102.5 FM HD-2.  It's a very strong signal and the very best clarity that can be achieved, similar in nature to HDTV.  If you have one of the dozens of vehicles equipped with an HD radio, tune to 102.5 FM.  When you get the HD lock on your screen, hump up to 102.5 FM HD-2 and you'll hear WBEN.

As technology changes the way we can receive your favorite radio programming, WBEN is keeping up and making sure we're available to you wherever you are and with whatever technology you have available to you.  We're still the same reliable, informative and entertaining WBEN.  We're just available in a variety of different ways.

Whether you're in your kitchen at home, in your office in the Buffalo area, with your smartphone on the beach in Florida or in your vehicle equipped with an HD Radio, WBEN can be with you.

We hope you enjoy the ride.
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The Prank of ALL Pranks! But What Price?
It really has to be just about THE prank of all pranks.  And those responsible didn't even set out to do what actually happened in the end.

These two unidentified twenty-something's pranked Buffalo Bills GM Buddy Nix by getting through to his office.  But they got cold feet when he actually answered, so they hung up.  Buddy, being a persistent NFL GM, kept calling the number back because he was led to believe the call came from Tampa Bay GM Mark Dominik. 

Those two guys were pretty persistent too as they picked up the phone to call Dominik too and prank him as well.  Just as Dominik was picking up the line, Nix rang through to the guys and they answered, conferencing them all together.  So Nix and Dominik did all the talking while the two pranksters stayed hush and recorded the conversation on another phone.

When you put it all together it's all quite amazing.  It truly is a masterful prank that will go down in the history books.

Nix and Dominik talked for several minutes, complaining about the newly instituted 72 hour rule for NFL free agency and Nix went on to lament about the predicament his club is in with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.  As a casual observer and fan of either team, it's all pretty interesting stuff.  It's some inside information and insight to the inner-workings of the NFL.

But step back a bit and think about the ramifications of this amazing stunt.  At the very least it makes the Bills and Tampa club look pretty bad.  It makes you wonder how Buddy Nix thought he was really calling Mark Dominik as the phone call begins with Nix questioning Dominik why there's no voicemail and why no one answers his phone.

Most of us have been the victim of an embarrassing prank in our lifetimes.  Fortunately, most of these pranks are harmless and end up being a good story.  But in the case, there's a lot on the line.  Millions and millions of dollars are at stake in free agency and in the NFL draft that's approaching.  The livelihood of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Nix and Dominik could also be on the line following this prank.

As you would expect, the Buffalo Bills are looking into the legal aspects of the release of the phone call audio by the website  At first glance, legal experts tell WBEN the two who recorded the call could be in some serious legal hot water and Deadspin may have some issues of its own as well.

But while the social media world erupts with amusing commentary about the masterfully pulled-off prank, it'll be interesting to see who gets the last laugh.  Somehow I don;t think it will be the two pranksters.

And finally, think about this.  In a day and age when two young men can successfully prank two top NFL executives and record their conversation unknowingly, we're waiting to see whether white or black smoke comes from a chimney high atop The Vatican.

It really is a tale of two worlds.
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Want a Gun? Don't Drink and Drive!
Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard is making headlines again in the heated debate over gun ownership in New York State.  Sheriff Howard, running for re-election, has been quick to oppose the state's tough new NY SAFE ACT which restricts gun ownership in the Empire State.  Now, on WBEN's Hardline Program, Sheriff Howard is floating the idea of removing one's right to own a gun if that individual is convicted of DWI.  Sheriff Howard says the measure would target irresponsible gun ownership in suggesting, "you would temporarily or maybe permanently lose your right to possess a firearm because you have acted irresponsibly".  SO let's take a look at this 'up close'.

At first glance, most of those who are in favor of gun ownership and gun rights(myself included) are raising their eyebrows and saying "not a good idea".  We have a Constitutional right to bear arms and DWI or any other similar infraction shouldn't have an impact on that right.   Is speeding next?  What about texting and driving?  Those too are acts of irresponsibility and the same argument could be made.  If we're irresponsible to break those laws, should gun ownership be questioned?  Where would it stop?

But let's return to the DWI scenario.  I think it's different.  And here's why.

While there are numerous incidents of a one-time DWI chalked up by the person who got behind the wheel for the first time in their life under the influence, the statistics tell a different story.  Most who are stopped for DWI and ultimately convicted, have done the deed before.  Numerous times.  They just weren't caught.  That's certainly not responsible behavior, but furthermore, do we want guns in the hands of a portion of the population that has a high likelihood of having a problem with alcohol?  Unlike speeding or texting, alcohol impacts judgment.  Having good and rational judgment has a great deal to do with responsible use of a firearm.

Before you start to cry "liberal" on me, Because that's far from the case, just think about this a bit further.  I'm not ready to take away the right to own a gun for a DWI.  But would suspending that right to bear arms for a period of time upon a DWI conviction(and certainly repeat convictions) be such a crazy thing?

I clearly support the right to bear arms and have demonstrated a willingness to stand behind that with actions.  But I also am surrounded by gun owners who preach responsible ownership and I'm willing to discuss and leave the door open to suspending the right to gun possession from individuals who demonstrate problem drinking.

The knee-jerk response seems to be a loud scream that it's infringing on my rights.  But I question the judgment of anyone who at least won't think this through and see a connection between the dangers of holding a gun and abusing alcohol.  It's just a different weapon from the one they drove under the influence.

Let's have a discussion and see where this goes.  It certainly could have an impact on the outcome of the race for Erie County Sheriff.
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People: Tim Howard

Sometimes It's Best To Tear Things Down
As a lifelong Western New Yorker, I sometimes get the feeling there is a sector of this community that wants to save everything, remember everything and live in the past.  While I don't want to come off as someone with no regard to history, preservation and our roots, it's simply not rational or economically feasible to save every structure in this area that has a page of historical significance.

As a frequent traveler of Route 5 along the Lake Erie shoreline, I pass the century-old Bethlehem Steel Administration building often.  Most times I don't even notice it.  It's surrounded by the decaying remnants of a historically-significant steel mill and some second-life industry that's occupying the completely industrial zone.  To the north the building is bordered by the rejuvenated Buffalo waterfront and to the south by Woodlawn Beach State Park.  Imagine if we could connect the two with additional public use waterfront acreage and not have to divert visitors attention as we drive them by the old steel mill and hope they won't notice what an eyesore it truly is.

I'll take the preservationists word that the building has some historical significance.  So too did the churches that have been demolished and other real estate in the region that simply doesn't make geographic or economic sense to save.  I'm guessing Lackawanna's future would be better bolstered by a rejuvenated waterfront industrial or recreational redo than a shell of a building that will be home to a historic marker out front.
We have a rich and treasured past here in Western New York.  And we should celebrate it.  But, at the same time, with limited resources we should be pretty darn choosy about what we save and spend money on to invest in the future.

With no disrespect to those who disagree and have protested at the building, my bet is that most who read this won't truly miss the building, if they even knew it was there to begin with.
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