According to the research done by WNYMMP INC Bob Coles is the first African American to work at a major television station before the riots of 1968, In 1967 the Buffalo Urban league introduced a minority hiring program. The purpose of that program was to include minorities into the work field void of minorities. Through this program with Florence Burton-Johnson several applicants including Robert Coles was sent to WKBW-TV the ABC affiliate located then at 1420 Main Street in Buffalo, New York.
In February of 1967 Mr. Coles a native Buffalonian was hired by WKBW-TV as the first African American employee. Through on the job training his accomplishments included, studio lighting, sets, props, studio camera operation, floor managing, integrating production into engineering, and upgrading film to video tape. During his tenure he worked and contributed to the following shows: Dialing for Dollars, AM Buffalo, Rocket Ship 7, The Commander Tom Show, and local news shows. Mr. Coles assisted and worked 37 consecutive Variety Club Telethons as well as made contributions to the old eyewitness News Family which included Irv, Rick, and Tom, at 1420 Main street and 7 Broadcast Plaza with Susan, Keith and John. Throughout his 37 years Bob Coles has trained many potential employees in the art of television production.
Mr. Coles assisted in the set up, lighting and studio camera work of well known past shows such as: Building a Decent Future (Bill Gater), Ted Kirkland Show (himself), Brother Tedís Gospel Hour (late Ted Johnson), Urban Focus (Sarah Norat), and the shows produced by WNYMMP which included The Western New York Magazine now called Upfront TV (Sufana Wajed), Late Nite Noise (Dwayne Terry), and Official Heat (Rameer Green). Mr. Coles assisted in remote sports production such as Buffalo Bills (War Memorial Stadium), Sabers Hockey (Buffalo Auditorium) and The Jim Kelly Show (studio set-up) later to become the Steve Tasker Show.
Mr. Coles was voted in as Union Stewart (NABET local #25) in 1969 as the first minority to represent NABET in negotiating for WKBW-TV ABC Channel 7. His involvement with future negotiations lasted over 20 years and was a factor in introducing The Minority hiring program at WKBW-TV which still exists today.
Mr. Coles is a member of Resurrection Lutheran Church and is married to Chyrel, they have two daughters Dianna Coles, and Janice Coles-Peoples, along with 2 grandsons, Todd and Evan peoples. Mr. Coles retired in June of 2004.
The Western New York Minority Media Professionals Inc. (WNYMMP) plans the construction of a new facility, The Bob Coles Institute for the Media Arts and Technology, directly behind The Broadway Theatre
. This will also be the home of the WNYMMP Museum. This new facility will be modeled after the Donald Savage Flexible Theatre at Buffalo State College that doubles as a studio space for acting classes and a theatre. Movable risers and seating will allow the space to be reconfigured as needed. It will be equipped with a full inventory of lighting equipment (including 124 dimmers) and a digital sound system. Support spaces will include a control booth, dressing rooms, wardrobe, maintenance room, and storage rooms. This space will be used for informal events, as well as mainstage productions requiring the flexibility and intimacy of a smaller space. Additionally, here students will have the opportunity to explore a variety of performance experiences from staged readings to improvisational games.