Jay Moran

Morning Edition Host

Monday - Friday, 6 a.m. - 10 a.m.

Ways to Connect

Tim Tielman

It's being touted as a high-speed "Road Train" between Buffalo and Albany which looks to learn from the expensive missteps of previous plans to connect Upstate New York.  According to Tim Tielman, Executive Director of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture, this concept is exploring using the Thruway median rather than purchasing a new right-of-way.


The comments made Wednesday by CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield caught the attention of many, including Dr. Nancy Nielsen, former President of the American Medical Association. Redfield said that masks can better protect individuals from COVID-19 than a prospective vaccine. "This really put into stark contrast what Americans need to know," Nielsen said during her weekly conversation with WBFO. "But, frankly, it was also a stark rebuke to the President who basically said masks don't matter."

As founder of the Jacobs Institute in Buffalo, Dr. Nick Hopkins is monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and how it may impact the future of medicine. Medical professionals, Hopkins told WBFO, have made notable advancements in their understanding of the virus so he's organized today's webinar "COVID Unmasked: The Real Impact on the Future of Medicine." Experts will appear, Hopkins says, who will gear their knowledge to help the general public better understand how the virus works and how it is likely to change the world of medicine moving forward.

Free The People, a coalition of various racial justice and police reform groups in greater Buffalo holds another protest at 3:30 p.m. at Niagara Square. Phylicia Brown, Executive Director of Black Lives Resist in the Rust, said Saturday's shooting of Willie Henley, 60, is only the latest example of the problems inside the Buffalo Police Department.

The final score, 27-17, was only part of the story in Sunday's Biils victory over the New York Jets.  Analyst Matt Sabuda says the Buffalo Bills joined several NFL teams in remaining in the locker room while the national anthem played prior to kickoff as players use their use their platforms to call for social justice.  Another facet of Sunday's story, of course, was the lack of spectators at Buffalo Bills Stadium as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact daily life.

WBFO file photo

The Buffalo City Council has begun studying where the name of President Millard Fillmore could be removed from city property, as part of what Council President Darius Pridgen says could be a real conversation on race.

"I am very pleased that it happened," said Pridgen, of recent protests that generate a wider dialogue on race in Buffalo and across the United States.


Despite concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, college parties have been reported around area campuses. Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, is alarmed by the reports. "This is simply not a two-week disease," said Nielsen after hearing of new studies during a recent international conference on COVID-19.

A new poll from the Siena College Research Institute shows New Yorkers remain very concerned  over the threat posed by the coronavirus. The survey examined several aspects related to the pandemic from dining at restaurants to how people expect the cornavirus to spread again this fall. The most telling numbers, however, regard schools. Institute Director Don Levy tells WBFO that 62% of those surveyed say completely opening schools is too risky.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul / Twitter

The most recent COVID numbers highlight a troubling infection trend in this region. On Saturday, the positive rate was 1.6%, more than twice as high as the state's overall rate. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul believes the eight testing sites set up in this area by the state will work to get things under control. 


The Centers for Disease Control have changed their recommendations regarding the testing of those who have been in contact with people who have contracted COVID-19. "This is just nuts, frankly," offered Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.


With COVID-19 restrictions in place, local colleges are bringing students back to campus for the fall semester. Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, gives general approval of the plans. She says the region's lowering rate of coronavirus infections is the main reason for optimism, but there are concerns. Nielsen points to problems at the University of North Carolina where the campus was quickly closed after dozens of students tested positive for the coronavirus.

The list of events canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic is long and continuing to grow. Those involved in the 11 Day Power Play refused to allow that to happen to their event though changes have been made. The games won't be played on the ice at Harbor Center. In fact, there will be no ice for the 1300 participants who will begin playing hockey tonight at Buffalo RiverWorks.  Co-founder Amy Lesakowski says despite the alterations, donations are likely to surpass $1 million again this year. 

It was on this date in 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson visited Buffalo. While the visit would lead to a change in the health of the region's polluted waterways, it was also the day the spotlight was placed on the uncommon efforts of a common man, Stan Spisiak. Author and legendary radio news anchor John Zach details the man and how he changed the environmental course of the region's waters in his new book, "The Day the Buffalo River Burned: The Incredible Story of Stan Spisiak."



As the debate continues over reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, one example out of Georgia is providing a lesson in how NOT to get back to school safely. "It was just amazing," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen of the images of the crowded hallways of North Paulding High School. "Nobody was socially-distanced. Nobody was wearing masks," said Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. "We're going to get in trouble if we have that sort of thing happen." During an interview with WBFO, Nielsen shared some findings on the threats schools face and encouraged parents to "influence" school reopening plans.

Torn Space Theater

With Phase Four of the reopening of the region underway, Torn Space Theater is preparing to present its first in-person production since the start of the pandemic. "Silence" debuts this Friday at Silo City, which has been home to previous site-specific productions from Torn Space. Artistic Director Dan Shanahan says the work reflects "this unprecedented moment we're living in."

Courtesy of Buffalo Rising

Some believe the S.S. Columbia could sail along the recent path of the Buffalo waterfront which has been revitalized after years of neglect and abuse. The 118-year-old Columbia once traveled throughout the Great Lakes, but now sits in a state of disrepair along the Buffalo River. On WBFO's Press Pass, Newell Nussbaumer of Buffalo Rising discusses the vessel's special history and the effort to make it part of Buffalo's future.


There are currently over 20 clinical trials underway searching for a COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, has been following the progress of these efforts. She's been recently intrigued by the "Oxford vaccine," which is being studied in the United Kingdom.  "This has been peer-reviewed,"  said Nielsen, who explained "it uses a genetically-modified adenovirus" to produce neutralizing antibodies. The British effort is funded in part by money from the U.S. federal government "with the promises that we will be able to get vaccine doses if they are effective. "

Courtesy of Buffalo Spree

From assigning writers and photographers to reviewing copy, Elizabeth Licata handles a wide range of tasks as editor of Buffalo Spree magazine. Recently, Licata took to reporting on the many demonstrations taking place throughout Buffalo.  "These young people are reinvigorating the spirit of activism that is needed to make big change happen," Licata said during her monthly appearance on WBFO's Press Pass. She also expanded on other stories in the magazine's July issue, including hiking in Western New York, the region's cobblestone architecture and the resurgence of the drive-in.


News of a potential vaccine for the coronavirus emerged earlier this week. "It's quite promising," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen of the development. In discussing a peer-reviewed study in the New England Journal of Medicine, Nielsen, the Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said the potential vaccine will soon be tested on thousands of people.

WBFO Photo/Mike Desmond

For the group Bella Ciao Buffalo, the removal of the statue of Christopher Columbus from Columbus Park is a good first step. Emily Terrana says the first immigrants to the United States from Italy hailed Columbus as a hero, of sorts, because they "needed a person to grab onto to say 'we, too, are Americans.'" That attitude is shifting. "We don't have to be proud of Christopher Columbus any more." Terrana's group maintains there are others of Italian heritage more worthy of their pride than Columbus and his legacy as a colonizer who subjected natives to extreme violence and brutality.


An array of safety protocols have been issued as part of the state guidelines for schools to reopen in September. "I believe that everybody's motivation is in the right place," said Jay Worona, Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel for the New York School Boards Association. "There are issues with respect to how are we going to pay for these things." Worona shared his concerns during a conversation this morning on WBFO.


Malls in New York State can reopen Friday provided they are equipped with an enhanced HVAC air filtration system. "So, what these filters are doing is removing the droplets which are carrying the virus," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. WBFO.  "It doesn't guarantee that it removes the virus." It was one of many topics Dr. Nielsen addressed during her weekly appearance on WBFO.

WBFO file photo

The doors are open again on a limited basis at the National Comedy Center in Jamestown. The center opened Friday for the first time since the start of COVID-19 pandemic, doing so at 25-percent capacity. "This is about the National Comedy Center being a national-scale cultural institution that has mission-based work that is important," said Executive Director Journey Gunderson.

A stretch of hot, dry weather will stay in Western New York for at least the rest of this week. That's according to meteorologist Jon Hitchcock of the Buffalo office of the National Weather Service who expects the pattern to remain in place "for the foreseeable future." The high temperature is expected to be 90 or above through Friday. A Heat Advisory will be in effect from Tuesday at 1pm until Friday at 8pm.


"It's in everybody's best interest for kids to be able to go school, somehow," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Nielsen cited a recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics that indicates children have fallen behind academically since the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close. With the coronavirus spreading in some areas, returning to the classroom will be complicated.

The Western New York Region may be reopening one phase at a time, but the local economy is a long way from recovering from its pandemic-forced shutdown. Inside that gloomy picture, however, Jim Fink of Business First is finding some positive signs. As Western New York begins Phase Four Tuesday, he discusses the millions being invested in local projects by developers from outside the area for this month's appearance on WBFO's Press Pass. 

Joshua Koester

Buffalo Rising is in the process of unveiling "Greenlight," a video series that looks to bring exposure to Buffalo basketball at a critical time for high school players.  Producers Devin Chavanne and Joshua Koester say the COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted the AAU basketball season which for many players is their best hope to attract the attention of college coaches and the possibility of scholarships.


Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, health experts have been pleading with the public to wear masks when they come in contact with others. A new study is now backing that advice.

Jay Moran/WBFO

The international spotlight has been on the Buffalo Police department in recent days. Much of that attention was ignited last Thursday when a protester was injured after he was pushed by members of the department's Emergency Response Team on the steps of City Hall. While she no longer covers the department, journalist Daniela Porat reflected on her previous reporting which highlighted a number of issues, including the use of excessive force and the lack of appropriate training.


As Western New York reopens its economy from the shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some areas of the country are reporting spikes in the disease. "New York has done so well. We're one of 24 states where the numbers are really massively trending down," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen during her weekly appearance on WBFO.  "What we can't do is get complacent and let it go back up like it has in 19 states."