The Buffalo Music Hall of Fame inducts the Class of 2013 Thursday evening at the Tralf Music Hall downtown. Among the inductees is former WBFO Blues host Jim Santella, who is being honored with the Media Award. WBFO's Eileen Buckley talked with Santella about the honor.
The Buffalo Music Hall of Fame calls Santella "the father of progressive radio."
"I love the fact that the call me the 'father of progressive radio.' It's an honor. It is something that I take a great deal of pride in having done at least with the audience thinks that I should. It's always been about the music," said Santella.
It was here at WBFO where Santella began his radio career as a student broadcaster in the 1960s. He later moved on the commercial radio station WYSL in Buffalo in 1969.
Santella says he would always push to the edges. He boldly walked off the air on April 24, 1972 at the then-WPHD FM in Buffalo when a decision was made to cut back on the music library from 5,000 albums to just 500.
"I walked off the air. I gave them their due. I said it's their station. They have the right to do whatever they want. But I also have a say in this as well and maybe I will see you down the road," said Santella.
Santella recalls playing Jefferson Airplane's 'Lather' as he was walking out. It is one of the many pieces of music that he admires and considers among his favorites.
But even after he was fired for walking out, Santella noted that his path always led him to music and back to the radio studio.
"And I am so lucky because every time that something bad went on, something good went on. I got fired after four months on the air. I go to Woodstock, because I have time for it. I get back, then hired," said Santella.
Santella's career thrived at 97 Rock, WGRF, and later in his radio years, Santella returned to WBFO, settling in as one of the station's blues hosts.
Santella is also a Buffalo Broadcast Hall of Famer. Santella retired from radio and his blues hosting duties a year ago last November.
The Buffalo Music Hall of Fame's 31st Annual Induction Gala at the Tralf begins with doors opening at 6 p.m. followed by the show at 7 p.m.
"I can't say enough about this year's class. Once again, it amazed me of the talent we have here in Buffalo," said Rick Mathews, president of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. "It is truly a privilege to recognize and pay tribute to the outstanding talent of these incredible individuals as we prepare to induct them into Buffalo's coveted Music Hall of Fame."
The inductees for the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame Class of 2013 include:
Performers: Jony James: Blues guitarist extraordinaire
Joe Public: Top selling R&B/ POP group.
Howard Fleetwood Wilson II: First call drummer, writer, producer.
Bobby Previte: A prolific jazz drummer, composer and bandleader.
Natalie Merchant: Platinum selling recording artist.
Linda Lou Schriver: From Country music royalty. She is a multi- instrumentalist, singer and songwriter.
Ed Supple: Nationally acclaimed session guitarist, musician, performer and teacher.
Non-Performer: Dave Fridmann - Grammy nominated music producer
Fred Caserta: A booking agent and concert promoter who started the Kingdom Bound concert festival
Media Award: Jim Santella: Radio host known as the father of progressive radio here in Buffalo.
Legacy Award: Andy Anselmo: Vocal teacher to the stars including the likes of Liza Minelli and Tony Bennett.
President's Award: Cannibal Corpse - Ground breaking million selling Heavy Metal band
Industry Award: New Buffalo Shirt Factory: Industry leader in concert apparel.
Performing live at the Gala will be: Jony James, Joe Public, Linda Lou Schriver, Howard Fleetwood Wilson and Ed Supple. Ed Supple will be playing with the legendary Michael Spriggs who will travel in from Nashville to perform with Ed. Michael was inducted in 2004.
This years host will be Anita West from the Home of the Blues, WBFO and 97 Rock.
To be considered, inductees must have been born in the Western New York area or made major contributions to their musical career while in the area.
Past Hall of Fame inductees include the Goo Goo Dolls, Ani DiFranco, Brian McKnight, Willie Nile and Rick James.