‘Beat the Champ’ bowling returns to WBBZ-TV

Chris Musial, vice president and general manager of WBBZ-TV Your Hometown MeTV Station, announced this week that one of Buffalo’s most iconic shows is returning to Western New York airwaves.

“Beat The Champ,” a weekly bowling competition showcasing the best bowlers in Western New York, can be seen Saturday afternoons at 4 p.m. starting Saturday, Jan. 9, with encore presentations Sunday nights at 11 p.m.

The program originally aired for decades on Channel 4 with legendary hosts Chuck Healy and Van Miller. While it has not been seen for close to 20 years, the program remains one of the longest running bowling programs on television. 

Now, “Beat The Champ” will be co-hosted by veteran sportscaster Paul Peck and Greater Buffalo USBC Association Hall of Fame bowler Sue Nawojski. Peck worked for decades at Channel 4 before becoming a financial advisor and play-by-play broadcaster for the UB Bulls football team. Nawojski remains active in the area bowling scene, notably at Transit Lanes.

The first four programs were recorded at the Rapids Bowling Center in Niagara Falls. Hometown bowlers competing in the first show are: Brandon Digati of Grand Island, Jason Ciliberto of Gasport, Chris Labiak of North Tonawanda and Joe Pohlman of Clarence.

Bowlers can qualify to compete in “Beat The Champ” at 12 area Western New York bowling proprietors, including Classic Lanes, Kenmore; Manor Lanes II, Amherst; Manor Lanes, Tonawanda; Jamestown Bowling Company, Jamestown; Kerns Avenue Bowling Center, Buffalo; Tonawanda Bowling Center, Tonawanda; Allie Brandt Lanes, Lockport; Mancuso Bowling Center, Batavia; Mallwitz Island Lanes, Grand Island; Lucky Lanes, Fredonia; Transit Lanes, Williamsville; and Rapids in the Falls.

The next round of qualifying matches will be held at the Kerns Avenue Lanes in Buffalo, 163 Kerns Ave., at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, then again at noon, 2 and 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, and 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19. Interested bowlers can call 892-3331 for information on times and registration fees.

The next four episodes of “Beat The Champ” will be recorded from Kerns Avenue Lanes on Wednesday, Jan. 27, starting at approximately 10 a.m.

Noting the return of the program, Musial said, “Buffalo has always been a bowling town. It is the number one participation sport in America, and more and more young people are enjoying the sport. We think viewers will enjoy watching the competition, then head to the nearest lane and go bowling!”

“Beat The Champ” is produced by WBBZ-TV in cooperation with the WNY Bowling Proprietors. Information can also be found at the station website, www.wbbz.tv.