70th Anniversary Moments – Barb Trehar.

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.

Years ago it was somewhat more common for employers to run “blind” classified ads  in the help wanted section of the newspaper when it was time to find or replace workers.  These ads offered job descriptions, or maybe necessary qualifications for the new hire, but didn’t always disclose the company doing the hiring, or just exactly what the duties of the job were.  Often times, these mystery recruiting ads would have applicants reply to a temporary post office box so as not to give away the exact type of job, or where the applicant might potentially be working, should they be hired. Such was the case in 1977, when WMBA General Manager, Ruth Johnson, ran and ad looking for a new talk show host.  The solicitation only disclosed that WMBA was looking for somebody who was well read and a good communicator.  The fact is, Johnson was looking to fill the shoes left by the recent passing of Nick DeSantis about a year earlier, who had been hosting the popular morning talk show segment. “Air Your Opinion”.

The help wanted ad happened to grab the attention of a local school teacher named Barb Trehar.   In the recently published book  , Behind The Microphone, The History Of Radio In Beaver County, PA. , Trehar’s unique hiring experience at WMBA  and career are explored.  “(Upon seeing the ad) Trehar was intrigued.  After all, ten years earlier, she was part of the first group of students who helped put WGEV on the air at Geneva College in 1967.  But still, she had no idea what Johnson and her staff at WMBA might be looking for. It was only during the interview with Johnson that Trehar found out that it was a talk show host that they were trying to recruit.  Even though she was a little anxious, Trehar was intrigued, and a deal was made to anoint Trehar as the next host of the widely popular “Air Your Opinion” talk show. Keep in mind, Trehar was to try and follow the previous hosts of the program, Roy Angst and then Nick DeSantis.  They were two of the most beloved and popular radio personalities of the day and had turned the segment into a fixture of the WMBA schedule. That would be a little like trying to take the stage after Elvis Presley, or Jerry Lee lewis. Hard acts to follow for sure.” 

Beaver County Times article and picture of Barb Trehar . Courtesy of Mike Romigh.

The mystery recruiting ad wasn’t the only aspect of Barb Trehar’s career worth recalling, the book further touches on another “famous incident” of Trehar’s time at WMBA. “It turns out Barb Trehar was well read and a very good communicator, because right out of the gate, she was very well received by WMBA listeners.  But, there was one problem. About a month into hanging out in the second floor studio above Action Tire on Duss Avenue in Ambridge, talking to a faithful group of on air friends everyday from 9 A.M. until 11:30 A.M., Trehar discovered that she was pregnant.  Not only was Trehar with child, but she was ordered by her doctor to stay at home and rest. General Manager Ruth Johnson liked what she was hearing on the air, and wanted to keep the show going, so she made the innovative decision to have broadcast equipment and phone lines installed in Trehar’s residence.  So, for the remaining term of Trehar’s pregnancy with her second child, Jennifer, The show went on. From the fall of 1977 until April of 1978, “Air Your Opinion” was broadcast live on location from Trehar’s residence.”

Barb Trehar (left) with WBVP/WMBA intern, Kaisha Jantsch, at a station 70th Anniversary radio show in the WBVP/WMBA studio in May, 2018.

Barb Trehar did so well as a talk show host that in 1981,  she started working at KDKA radio in Pittsburgh in addition to her duties at WMBA, up through 1984. Then,  after a stint at Penn State Beaver campus, Trehar got back into the media business when she became the Director of Development at WQED in Pittsburgh in 1996. For the remainder of her career, Trehar has held fundraising and institutional advancement type positions with The Carnegie Museum, The Murphy Foundation, Benedictine College, and Lutheran Senior Services. She has also provided independent consulting for a variety of clients.

“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