Cultural stories & organizations

On this first week of Black History Month, the bureau that promotes tourism locally is looking to stress the importance of Buffalo’s African American heritage.

Changes to state law lifting distillers' spirits

Feb 3, 2016
Wendy Guild Swearingen

You may have noticed more and more distilleries opening in recent years in the Buffalo area. One reason is a recent change in state law that's allowed local distillers to run more lucrative operations. WBFO contributor Wendy Guild Swearingen, an editor with Buffalo Spree magazine, visited some local distilleries to learn about some of the unique spirits being concocted in the Queen City.

David Bowie, An Icon Who Wrote Anthems For The Alienated

Jan 11, 2016

Legendary rock musician David Bowie, who influenced generations of musicians and fans, died on Sunday, two days after his 69th birthday.

Photo from the Chautauqua Institution website

The president of the Chautauqua Institution has announced that he will be retiring at the end of this year. Thomas Becker issued a letter outlying his decision to leave.

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

The celebration of Kwanzaa is in full swing. Monday is day three, know as Ujima or collective work and responsibility.

Poinsettias a perfect plant for the holidays

Dec 16, 2015
Elizabeth Licata

When you think of holiday plants this time of year, a few things probably come to mind: holly, mistletoe and poinsettias. Buffalo Spree editor-in-chief Elizabeth Licata, a WBFO contributor, visited Mischler's Florist and Greenhouses in Williamsville to learn more about the decorative plant, a favorite of many during the Christmas season.

If you're a longtime listener of WBFO, you may remember the Heart & Soul commentaries of writer Christina Abt. Once a month, Christina joined us with essays -- some of them very personal, others commenting on the news of the day. She also wrote essays for the Hamburg Sun. Christina has compiled these essays into a new book titled, Heart & Soul: The Best Years of My Op-Ed Life.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Downtown Buffalo was hopping Saturday night. "The Nutcracker" was staged at Shea’s. There was the "World’s Largest Disco" at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. And the Town Ballroom hosted the third annual Continental Reunion.

Avery Schneider/WBFO News Photo

Today is a solemn day for members of Buffalo's LGBT community. Locally, it's the Transgender Day of Remembrance - a day set aside to memorialize people killed due to anti-transgender hatred and prejudice.

Yes, soup for you!

Nov 16, 2015
Wendy Guild Swearingen

As the November issue of Buffalo Spree magazine proclaims, it’s soup season in Western New York. Spree associate editor and WBFO contributor Wendy Guild Swearingen visited one local restaurant, Buffalo Proper, to find out what’s hot in the soup world.

A movement to recognize Native Americans on Columbus Day is attracting more cities around the nation.


A decades-old celebration of Finnish culture and heritage makes its way to Buffalo this weekend.

Kleinhans Music Hall dedicates new archive room

Oct 8, 2015
Michael Mroziak, WBFO

As Kleinhans Music Hall prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary, visitors to the Buffalo landmark will now get to enjoy a glance at some relics telling the story of the hall, and of Buffalo through the years.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

It was built in the 1920s in North Tonawanda, bought by a man who moved it to Massachusetts and has more recently sat in storage in Ohio. A vintage carousel will soon be coming back to Western New York, calling Buffalo's Canalside its new home.

Novelist Nancy Reisman grew up in Buffalo in a well-known family and her first book, The First Desire, is a family saga that spans much of the 20th century. Now a teacher at Vanderbilt University, Reisman's new book, Trompe l'Oeil, is about an Irish family. Resiman sat down with WBFO's Mike Desmond to talk about writing, families and college teaching.

Eileen Koteras Elibol/WBFO

Dayton, Ohio's The Noah Wotherspoon Band delighted a sold-out crowd at the second WBFO Buffalo Blues Bash of the year Saturday night in the WNED|WBFO Studios.

The next WBFO Blues Bash takes place this Saturday in the WNED|WBFO Studios. The headliner is The Noah Wotherspoon Band, a trio that found success at the International Blues Competition in Memphis, finishing second. WBFO Blues host Pat Feldballe talked with Wotherspoon about the band’s beginning and his fondness for public broadcasting.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

A Buffalo native, with longtime ties to the Miss America pageant, is back in Western New York. Michael La Rocca, a three-time Telly Award winner, is now lending his expertise to help produce the Miss Buffalo Pageant that will be held early next year. WBFO's Eileen Buckley met with La Rocca to learn about his work with pageants.

Letchworth State Park celebrated Native American and Pioneer Heritage Day on Saturday with a “pow wow” at its Trailside Lodge.

The event featured historic performances, a Native American storyteller, dancing, and hands-on activities.

Historic Site Manager Brian Scriven said the intent is to make the day feel as similar to the past as possible.

“What we try to do is educate the public on the cultures of both the Native Americans and the Pioneers and how they interacted during the time, and some of the crafts and stuff that they would have,” said Scriven.

Hispanic Heritage Council of Western New York

Hispanic Heritage month was celebrated on Buffalo's waterfront on Saturday.

BPO trumpets start of $30 million campaign

Sep 17, 2015

The chairman of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Board of Trustees is kicking off the orchestra's new fundraising campaign with a $1 million gift. The gift from Lou Ciminelli will help reach the ambitious goal of $30 million.

Photo from Twitter.

A Bhutanese Nepali refugee has made it is mission to visit Buffalo’s hospitalized immigrants and refugees. WBFO’S Eileen Buckley says he is working to offer the very ill and dying comfort.

Courtesy of

Amherst native Laura Pedersen is having a good literary year. The author and playwright has a newly published book and play opening this week at the 710 Main Theatre. Pederson's book is called "Life in New York: How I Learned to Love Squeegee Men, Token Suckers, Trash Twisters, and Subway Sharks" and her play is titled "For Heaven's Sake." WBFO's Mike Desmond spoke with Pedersen about the Queen City and Gotham.

Avery Schneider/WBFO News

More than a dozen area museums and cultural institutions are seizing an opportunity to expose the arts to more people. At least 15 such organizations across Western New York are participating in this year's National Museum Day.

Avery Schneider/WBFO News

The tragic terrorist attacks that occurred 14 years ago today had a profound impact on many people throughout the world. For a Grand Island girl, it triggered her first encounters with blatant prejudice. Sara Ali is the daughter Muslim Arab-American parents. She is a former WBFO intern who is now editor of Karibu News, a multilingual, multicultural newspaper. Ali sat down with WBFO News Director Brian Meyer.

Jeffrey Mayne/WBFO News

Walk into Waiting Room on any given night and you’ll see a flourishing music scene that cultivates local artists while playing an integral role in keeping Buffalo on the national map. That wasn’t always the case.

Music Is Art to auction guitars signed by stars

Aug 24, 2015
Michael Mroziak, WBFO

An auction being hosted in downtown Buffalo on Thursday evening will benefit an organization that promotes music's role in society and culture and hosts programs to make it more accessible for many within the community. The guitars to be auctioned off feature signatures of some of the biggest names in music entertainment.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

A birthday celebration was held Thursday to celebrate the father-son team who designed Kleinhans Music Hall 75 years ago. The Saairnens were born August 20, 37 years apart.

Chris Caya WBFO News

A popular concert series is returning soon to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and a new one is just around the corner.

New Tolkien book scheduled for August 27 release

Aug 17, 2015

His most famous books have influenced generations of fantasy buffs, role-playing game participants and even rock musicians. Now comes word that the estate of the late J.R.R. Tolkien is releasing a story first penned by the author 100 years ago.