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Buffalo Toronto Public Media names Tom Calderone as president, CEO

Tom Calderone has been hired as president and CEO of Buffalo Toronto Public Media.
Tom Calderone has been named president and CEO of Buffalo Toronto Public Media.

A familiar figure in the top levels of the communications industry is coming back to Buffalo to be president and CEO of Buffalo Toronto Public Media.

The company’s board of trustees announced Monday it has selected Tom Calderone, who has held leadership positions with Spotify and MTV and has strong ties to Buffalo, as its new president and CEO.

“Buffalo is home for me, and being able to lead its public media stations with their rich history and long community partnerships, is an honor,” said Calderone, adding he’s looking forward to working with WNED, WNED Classical and WBFO, as well as the company’s producers, funders and partnerships in Canada.

Board Chair Alphonso O’Neil-White said Calderone was hired because of his “vast experience creating content from different perspectives.”

“Tom loves Buffalo and Southern Ontario and is excited to bring his experience as an innovator in radio, TV, and music to serve our communities on both sides of the border,” O’Neil-White said.

Calderone, 57, served as the global head of content partnership/global head of studios for Spotify from 2016 to 2017, pioneering the company’s expansion into new areas of audio and video content, including podcasts and mobile-friendly video series.

Since 2018, he has served as a media consultant, advising media companies, startups, cable television, and investment firms on the future of streaming services and multi-platform consumption.

For a decade, from 2005 to 2015, Calderone was president of VH1-Viacom, during which he led the organization into the top five cable channels for adults 18 to 49 years old.

He was executive vice president of music and talent programming at MTV-Viacom from 1998 to 2005, during which he introduced new programming such as Total Request Live, MTVIcon and music documentaries.

“I believe in following the audience, studying their video and audio likes and habits, asking them what they want from all our platforms, and delivering that to them,” Calderone said. “But just as important, leading them to new content and new ideas, especially ‘snackable,’ short-form content that will keep them in our video and audio ecosystem no matter how it is distributed. Our audience expects that from us. Plus, we are coming from a position of strength.”

Calderone is a Buffalo State College graduate, earning a bachelor of arts in broadcasting and communication. He was elected to the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2012 and the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame in 2014. He also received an honorary Doctorate from SUNY Buffalo State in 2008.

He owns a home in Buffalo, has been a Buffalo Bills season ticket holder for more than 20 years, and is a frequent visitor to Toronto for culture and entertainment.

Calderone looks forward to the strong personal and community relationships across the border with Canada, as well as broadcasting ties.

“What’s great is the healthy relationships that both regions have for each other,” he said. “If a concert isn’t coming to Buffalo proper, nobody thinks twice about jumping in the car — when the borders are open — and going to Toronto or wherever for a concert or a ballgame or what have you. It’s such a healthy relationship that both sides have.”

Calderone said he has been impressed with how Buffalo Toronto Public Media stations have been able to tell the story of the COVID-19 pandemic, and is excited to help it cover the post-pandemic world.

“I think people are getting out a lot more and also getting a chance to see people they haven’t seen, maybe legitimately, in a year and a half, physically,” he said. “So I hope that we’re part of that exciting journey, through whatever story telling moment we’re able to provide for the audience.”

Calderone will take over Aug. 2. He will succeed Donald K. Boswell, who announced his intention to retire in October. Boswell, whose official retirement date was June 30 but has been extended, will assist during the transition and with ongoing projects.

Tom Dinki joined WBFO in August 2019 to cover issues affecting older adults.
Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.