Irwin "Irv" Weinstein (born April 29, 1930) is a retired local television news anchor. He hosted WKBW-TV's Eyewitness News in Buffalo, New York, for 34 years, from 1964 to 1998, becoming an iconic broadcaster well known in both the Buffalo area and in Southern Ontario, which was within WKBW's broadcast area. Weinstein was known for his powerful delivery and sense of humor. Weinstein, weatherman Tom Jolls and sports anchor Rick Azar are the longest running anchor team in television history, fronting the broadcast from 1965 until Azar's retirement in 1989. Weinstein was inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1998 and the N.Y. State Broadcasters Association in 2006.
Born in Rochester, New York, Weinstein began his broadcast career while he was in high school, working at WHAM Radio as an actor on several locally produced programs. After professional stops in Iowa and West Virginia, he was hired as a newscaster and news director at WKBW Radio in Buffalo in 1958. His fast-paced style featuring strong writing and alliteration ("pistol-packing punks" referring to petty criminals, or "Buffalo blaze busters" in place of firefighters) helped take the newscast ratings to #1 in the Western New York market.
In 1964, Weinstein was hired as news director and anchorman at sister station WKBW-TV, an ABC Network affiliate. At the time, the station's news programs were rated #3 in a three-station market. By 1974, WKBW-TV's Eyewitness News program had an audience larger than the combined audience of the two competing Buffalo stations. It remained the top-rated newscast until Weinstein's retirement in 1998 and beyond. Weinstein's innovations would later be adapted by Mel Kampmann for the national "Action News" franchise.
In 1968, Weinstein briefly returned to his broadcast beginnings as an actor in WKBW radio's Halloween adaptation of Orson Welles' War of the Worlds. Weinstein also appeared in a 1971 remake, which was re-run in 1998. During his 40-year career in Buffalo, Weinstein appeared in numerous stage productions and, in the early 1980s, co-owned The Playhouse, a legit theater in downtown Buffalo.
A WKBW-TV promo for Eyewitness News included a jingle:
"Irv Weinstein, you're really a pro!
Ya got all the news that we wanna know.
You tell it like it is and never throw us a curve,
Nobody says it like Ir-r-r-r-v !
Eye-wit-ness News (Yes-sah!)"
The day of his retirement, December 31, 1998, was proclaimed "Irv Weinstein Day in Erie County" by then-Erie County Executive Dennis Gorski. Five days later, Toronto columnist David Frum wrote a tribute titled "He came from Buffalo" in Canada's National Post newspaper, writing, "The way the French feel about Jerry Lewis, that's how we feel about Irv Weinstein". In October 2004, Weinstein's status as "an icon of television journalism in Buffalo" was discussed on the floor of the Ontario Legislature by MPP Tim Hudak.1
Weinstein was known for using alliteration in his reporting. He coined the phrases "Topping tonight's Eyewitness News" and "It's eleven o'clock. Do you know where your children are?", both of which are in frequent use in other news broadcasts.
References in popular culture:
Eugene Levy's "Earl Camembert" character on SCTV is often compared to Weinstein, particularly in appearance. The character is also compared to Earl Cameron.,
Actor Jim Carrey's character in Bruce Almighty, Bruce Nolan, is reported to be partially based on a real-life WKBW-TV reporter who wanted to replace the retiring Weinstein in 1999 but didn't get the job, and partly on real-life feature reporter Don Polec, who handled lighter and humorous features on WKBW during the 1970s.,
In the film Airplane II: The Sequel, as TV news stations around the world report on an imminent plane crash, a Buffalo newscast is reporting a local arson. This was an homage to Weinstein, who was known for covering Buffalo's many arson-induced fires.,
In the early 1990s, the Buffalo Bisons would flash Weinstein's face on their scoreboard during the seventh inning stretch in time to the song Rock and Roll Pt. 2 by Gary Glitter. The chorus of "Hey!" was replaced with "Irv!".,
Weinstein and his wife, Elaine, currently reside in Irvine, California, where their daughter, Beth Krom, served two terms as mayor and now serves on the City Council. The Weinsteins' son, Marc, is co-owner of Amoeba Music, and their younger daughter, Rachel, is an artist and theater administrator in the Pittsburgh area. Irv Weinstein also owns a part-time residence in Ellicottville, New York.