The Amherst Central Alumni Foundation congratulates Amherst Alumni Tom McCray and Larry Norton on their induction into the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will take place on September 29th, 2016 at the studios of WNED-TV in Buffalo.
Tom McCray (Class of 1968)
Though he’s known as Tom Donahue in the industry and to thousands of listeners, it is Tom McCray being inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasters 2016 Hall of Fame in the Behind The Scenes. He is being honored, not only for his lengthy, award-winning career in broadcasting, but especially his unique role working with several generations of students hoping to gain a foothold in the industry.
McCray entered the field in 1972 upon graduating from Utica College and since then has worked just about every shift possible at several Buffalo radio stations, including WKBW, WYSL, WUSJ, WGR, WNUC and WHTT Oldies 104. He has been morning host on Timeless WECK Radio since March 2008.
McCray’s radio work has earned him several awards from the New York State Broadcasters Association and in 1996 a first-place award in audio production from the Broadcast Education Association. He earned a master’s degree in Communication from SUNY at Buffalo in 1986.
He also has had an extensive career as a writer, producer and performer of local, regional and national radio and television ads. McCray’s distinctive voice has been used by such diverse industries as grocery store chains, lottery programs, banks, medical organizations, and the travel and tourism industry. Locally, he was the voice of Tops Markets for 16 years and has been the voice for Mavis Discount Tire since March 2009.
McCray has had a parallel career in academia, influencing the next generation of broadcasters as an Associate Professor of Broadcast Communication at SUNY Buffalo State. His former students from his 35-year career include former VH-1 President Tom Calderone; WGRZ-TV reporters Claudine Ewing and Dave McKinley; WBEN 930 morning anchor Susan Rose; and show hosts Howard Simon and Chris “Bulldog” Parker of WGR 550. Tom retired in 2015.
Larry Norton (Class of 1974)
Many in Western New York might remember where they were when they heard that Buffalo legend Larry Norton would retire from local radio, where he reigned for more than four decades.
The legendary WGRF-FM personality stepped away from the mic on Dec. 4 last year, leaving 97 Rock after 31 event-filled years where stamina was a hallmark. The late, great Casey Kasem even recognized Norton’s efforts on his nationally syndicated radio show.
Norton’s first stunt was setting the Guinness World Record for the longest radio broadcast, 20 days and 4 hours in 1981. After that, the Marathon Man rode on the Ferris wheel while broadcasting at Darien Lake for 40 days; he also sat on billboards, filled trucks with food for the needy, and even immersed himself in ice, all to support local charities. He notably stayed on the air for 10 days in 1983 to convince international recording artists The Police to play a concert in Buffalo. The strategy worked, and he got to emcee the show.
Perhaps Norton’s most significant display of endurance was his annual radiothon in support of the local Make-A-Wish chapter, the organization that grants wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. Norton’s final radiothon brought his 22-year total to more than $3 million.
His work for Make-A-Wish, the Food Bank of WNY and others won him many awards and accolades, including the belief that he has raised more money for local charities than any other DJ in Buffalo history.
Norton’s interest in radio began when he was a student at Amherst High School and continued at Buffalo State College in 1975, when he got his first paid job working weekends and overnights at the former WYSL-AM and WPHD-FM; he later moved to 7 to midnight on WPHD before crossing over to 97 Rock and doing mornings with the Bearman in 1981. 97 Rock went off the air in 1985 but returned three years later with many of the original crew like Carl Russo. Norton could be heard on the morning show from 1988 until his recent retirement.
Norton retired to spend more time and perform charity work with Barbara, his wife of 37 years; however, he can still be heard on some promos and commercials on 97 Rock as well as on Buffalo’s Catholic radio station, 101.7 WLOF-FM.
For information on attending the ceremony, click here—>