Hurricane Katrina. The Oklahoma City Bombing. The Gulf Oil Spill. All tragic stories. I could not imagine how difficult it must have been to cover all of those heartbreaking stories. But South Buffalonian Mary Lynn Ryan did it, and then some. Currently she is the Southeast Bureau Chief for the Cable News Network, CNN, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Mary Lynn attributed a lot of her success to her South Buffalo upbringing. Her mother is still doing amazing things in South Buffalo – she heads up South Buffalo Alive.
What I also like about Mary Lynn is that she has helped so many Buffalonians advance in their careers, get promoted in Buffalo, and even relocate to higher positions in other cities, some even working under her leadership in Atlanta. What admirable teamwork! I can clearly see why they have inducted her under the Buffalo Bob Smith award. To view the first part of this series please click on Buffalo Broadcasters 16th Annual Hall of Fame.
I caught up with Mary Lynn right after the Induction Ceremony, and had the pleasure to ask her a few questions:
Mary Lynn, what does it mean for you to be inducted into the Buffalo Broadcaster’s Association Hall of Fame?
Mary Lynn: Next to winning the Peabody Award for CNN’s continuing coverage of the Gulf Oil Spill with my team, this is one of the honors I will treasure most. Growing up in South Buffalo and working in Buffalo media at all three stations… and being included with such great broadcasters as Tim Russert, Wolf Blitzer and all those inducted before me, is a very humbling experience and I am so touched.
The Buffalo Mafia in Atlanta
Mary Lynn, when it was announced that you were being inducted with the likes of Tom Calderone, and Wolf Blitzer and Tim Russert were already members, someone asked, “Wow! What is it about Buffalo people making it in the media?”
Mary Lynn: I didn’t answer them. But I thought to myself, that it’s the Buffalo tenacity and spirit of teamwork and ethics that carried us through such a tough and competitive business. Buffalo people find each other across the country. The group at CNN, some that I have recruited to Atlanta, are known as the Buffalo Mafia. We stick together wherever we go, and continue to carry on what is important to us. Paying it forward to those coming behind us. And sticking together through thick and thin and always going the extra mile to be winners in what we do.
Getting picked up at Downtown Buffalo’s New Year’s Eve Ball Drop by WKBW-TV’s videographer Rich Lee
Mary Lynn: One of those New Year’s Eves during the ball drop, Rich Lee was working, and I went over to the Channel 7 (WKBW-TV) location and it was midnight and the fireworks were going off. And we were hugging everyone a Happy New Year, as we all were a tight knit bunch. And Rich, who is what, six foot seven? He just picked me up and gave me a New Year’s hug. It was funny and I always remembered it.
Rich Lee is one of four cameramen who shot the broadcasters event, which was streaming on the big screen in the studio, as well as for rebroadcast on WNED-TV channel 17 at a later date. Rich smiled and his face turned beet red when Mary Lynn was telling us the story at induction.
“We can all say Lackawanna, Cheektowaga, Tonawanda!”
Mary Lynn, part of the video we just saw had a gentleman telling us, “We can all say Lackawanna, Cheektowaga, Tonawanda!” Was he in the Buffalo Mafia in Atlanta?
Mary Lynn: That was CNN Chief Meteorologist Chad Myers, who worked for me, and was born and lived in Cheektowaga until he was 12 years old. He is a big Buffalo supporter as well, and a good friend.
They could not find the Buffalo Bob Smith award anywhere on stage
When Mary Lynn was ready to accept her award, there seemed to be confusion on stage. Nobody had her award! Then, from out in the audience, a gentleman came up to the podium with her award. It was CNN anchor and correspondent, Martin Savidge, who flew up from Atlanta to Buffalo to surprise and honor her! Mary Lynn told me how Martin and she covered the Oklahoma City bombing story for a Cleveland station, and later presented the tapes of Martin to an executive Vice President at CNN, said that they needed to hire him, and two weeks later he was hired. That is how networking is done kids!
Mary Lynn, I just have to mention your producing The Cat’s Pajamas (WGRZ-TV)!
Mary Lynn: Yes, my start in the graveyard shift with Dooley O’Rourke and Boomer Connell, who is a Vice President at Channel 7. We were a bunch of 20 somethings running the place in the middle of the night.
Mary Lynn thought Tim Russert was one of the best journalists in the business, and that he was from South Buffalo, just like her. She honored her fellow South Buffalonian with a big finish at the end of her induction speech when she quoted the late Tim Russert with, “Go Bills!”
Coming soon look for Part 3 of this series