This year commemorates the 70th anniversary of when Beaver County’s first radio station, WBVP, was heard over the airwaves for the the first time on May 25, 1948. To mark the historical event, each week, another “70th Anniversary Moment” will be showcased on the airwaves and published on the station’s online feeds.
One of the great benefits of being from an area dominated by big manufacturing industries in the early twentieth century was the people that ended up coming to Beaver County in search of work. Business was booming for local steel mills and just like the hungry blast furnaces needed to be fed with more and more fuel and raw material to keep up with skyrocketing demand for the product, The factories themselves were starving for and needed more workers. Anybody who could do anything, regardless of training or background was needed and thus word spread throughout the world about the labor opportunities available in Western Pennsylvania. This led to an influx of immigrants of many different varieties settling in Beaver County. It was a perfect match. The immigrants found good work, and they brought their rich and diverse cultures with them for the benefit of the whole community. Soon churches, social clubs and even radio shows revolving around the language, culture and ethnicity of the various homelands far away sprang up in Beaver County. These outlets helped the local ethnic enclaves preserve and promote their history, tradition and significance, as well as expose their ideas and way of life to others. The result was a community in Beaver County that even today is very rich in cultural diversity. The following is an excerpt about the ethnic radio shows that aired in Beaver County is taken from from in the recently published book, Behind The Microphone, The History Of Radio In Beaver County, PA:
“One of the ways these various cultures were reinforced and celebrated was with weekly radio shows that aired on WBVP and WMBA and even on Kiss 106.7 F.M. All the way up through the 1990’s, one could tune in on the weekends for a heavy dose of Polkas, Italian, Greek, Croatian and Serbian music hours. In addition to the music shows, Orthodox Christmas Midnight mass from St. Elijah Serbian Orthodox Church in Aliquippa was broadcast live on the air for many years. A Christmas day broadcast on WMBA of Divine Liturgy from Holy Ghost Russian Orthodox church in Ambridge was a highly anticipated event. Even to this day, the weekly Sunday 9 A.M. mass from St. Monica Parish in Chippewa Township is broadcast live on WBVP and WMBA, a tradition that goes back to the very early days of WBVP, when the church was known as St. Mary’s and located in downtown Beaver Falls. Beaver County’s radio stations played a part in promoting and preserving the cultures and traditions that came to the area from parts elsewhere.
The Sunday Morning lineup on WMBA around 1990 was indeed a reflection not only what nationality groups were prominent in Beaver County, but also a testament to the passion and interest these immigrants had in maintaining, celebrating and promoting their heritage This was demonstrated by putting the effort in to in provide the content, funding and producing the weekly shows. Every week, the programs were recorded ahead of time at WMBA and played back on Sundays. This required a significant time commitment from everyone involved. At 8:00 A.M., WMBA aired The Italian Hour hosted by Aspinwall resident, Sal Patitucci. Patitucci would record the show on reel to reel tapes at WKPA in New Kennington and then send the weekly installments of his program out to various radio stations in the Pittsburgh area. At the time, his show also aired on WEDO in Mckeesport and WHJB in Greensburg. The Croatian hour Aired at 10 A.M. hosted by John Plesh. The Serbian Hour, hosted by George Bowes, would air at 11 A.M. and the finally, The Greek Hour would start at Noon. The Greek Hour was hosted by Presbyteria Note Taetras, wife of the pastor from the local Ambridge based Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. Current StateRepresentative Rob Matzie, was then the Sunday morning producer at WMBA and reported that he would do the commercials in English and Presbyteria Note Taetras would announce the commercials in the Greek language during that segment. Matzie anchored the weekly Sunday morning cavalcade of ethnic diversity and aired a local news report between the programs in the WMBA Studio during his career at the station, from 1987 though 1994. On Saturday afternoons during this period of time, WMBA aired a polka music show from 2 until 4 P.M. hosted by Bob Frynkewicz called “The Polka Revue”.
George Bowes, or, Bozic, as would appear on his birth certificate, was known for a successful career at WWSW in Pittsburgh, as well as outlying radio stations including WEDO in McKeesport and WLOA in Farrell. Later on, Bowes worked in politics, but to Beaver County people, he was known as the host of the Serbian Hour on WMBA.
WBVP and WWKS were no stranger to ethnic radio programming either. One of the mainstays of the line up was “The Croatian Hour”, which aired on WWKS, Kiss 106.7 F.M. The program was hosted by Eddie Sabolic and it aired from 10 A.M. to Noon from the late 1960’s up through the mid 1980’s. For a brief period of time in the eighties WBVP aired Sal Patitucci’s Italian Hour broadcast as well. In more recent days, on Sunday mornings, WBVP aired a popular Italian music program hosted by New Castle native Angie Augustine and polka shows that were produced at first by Harry Golmont and later on after the WBVP and WMBA merger, in 2000, by Bob Frynkewicz.”
“70th Anniversary Moments” is presented by Abbey Carpet and Floor, Albert’s Heating, Cooling and Plumbing, Aliquippa Giant Eagle, The Beaver Falls Municipal Authority, Beaver Valley Auto Mall, Beaver Valley Sheet Metal, Castlebrook Development, The Community College Of Beaver County, Farmers Building and Savings Bank, Freedom United Federal Credit Union, Hank’s Frozen Custard and Mexican food, The Health Huts, Kitchen City, Laughlin Insurance Agency, Rochester Manor and Villa and Young’s Jewelry and Coins
Chippewa United Methodist Church Youth are hosting an ALL YOU CAN EAT SPAGHETTI DINNER on Thursday, September 20th from 5-7 PM in the Fellowship Hall.
Free Will Offering
All proceeds benefit our Impact Youth Ministry
2545 Darlington Rd.
Beaver Falls, PA 15010
Carnegie Free Library Annual Book Sale starts Monday, October 1st.
10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Monday – Thursday and Saturday
During the month of October only. Fall/Halloween items will be for sale pls a unique array of bookmarks. Look for other exciting items for sale each month. Also available for purchase will be Coffee & Cookies.