Farina Selected for Broadcasters Hall of Fame Class of 2019

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By: Nicholas D. D’Angelo

Managing Editor

As the Managing Editor of The Niagara Reporter, I would like to extend my congratulations to Tony Farina, one of our longtime contributing writers who was honored last week as one of six new inductees into the Buffalo Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame.

Farina was elected to the Hall of Fame in the television category for his long and award-winning career as an investigative reporter for both WGRZ-TV and WKBW-TV during which he broke many major stories including the arrest of a suspect in the famous .22 caliber murder case in January of 1981.

“I had recently joined Ch. 2 as the “Newsbreaker” when I got a tip that Buffalo police were about to travel to Fort Benning, Ga., to talk to a soldier from Buffalo who had attacked a black soldier in his company with a knife,” Farina said.  “I called the station after confirming the tip and was able to go live at 5 and 6 with the story leading to the arrest of Joseph Christoper in the murder a up to 12 black men in a series of killings that had shocked Western New York and even New York City.”

It was the first of many exclusives for the Lockport native who attended DeSales Catholic High School and later served four years as a journalist in the U. S. Navy.

Farina began his professional career after his military service at the Lockport Union Sun and Journal, and later worked at the Tonawanda News and the former Buffalo Courier-Express where he became the chief investigative writer/editor before transitioning to television after writing 18 copyrighted stories in his last year at the Courier.

“I had a terrific career at the Courier, working every job in the edtiorial department before becoming an assistant city editor and then the investigative reporter,” said Farina.  “I still think of those days and the people I worked with during that time, many of whom are no longer around.  In many ways, I even preferred it to television because as a newspaper reporter you were more in control.  Just get the story and write it.  In television, you not only had to get the story but shoot it, write it,  and produce it on film.  But I had wonderful help with photographers at both stations where I worked.”

Farina won a New York State UPI first place award for investigative reporting at Ch. 2 for a series on Buffalo’s waterfront.  He also won a journalism society award for a series on Surrogate Court at Ch. 2 and won a major national award at Ch. 7 for a series on unsafe buses.  It was one of five national first place awards (Eastern Region) for investigative reporting by the Radio and Television News Directors Association (RTNDA).

“I had wonderful contacts and worked the streets tirelessly to find stories,” says Farina, “and all of it was before cellphones.  I always carried a pocketful of change to make a call back to the station to let them know I had something if I was out without a photographer.  I wore out a lot of shoe leather, that’s for sure.”

Farina has broken a lot of stories for this newspaper as well, even though it is a weekly and much tougher to get a scoop.  Yet he has done so time and again and continues to write something just about every week for the Niagara Reporter.  

As for the Hall of Fame, Farina says he is deeply honored and appreciative, especially for his family, for the recognition he received after all these years.  He left television news in 1998 to become the chief speechwriter for then-New York State Atty. Gen. Dennis Vacco.

The Broadcasters Hall of Fame Class of 2019 includes, besides Farina:  John Murphy (radio voice of the Bills);  Jim Toellner (management, GM, Ch. 2);  Don Tomasulo (longtime radio advertising salesman); Sherry Margolis (former Ch. 7 anchor now in Detroit); and the late WGR-AM program director Larry Anderson.  

The induction ceremony will be held Sept. 19 at WNED-TV in Buffalo.  Congratulations to all of the members of the Class of 2019.

 

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