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.
Beaver County has produced many great radio announcers in its day, many of which started their careers at WBVP and WMBA. However, In today’s 70th Anniversary Moments segment, we will take a look at two gentlemen who, not only had their familiar voices were heard on WBVP and WMBA, They also appeared on television sets all over western Pennsylvania during their distinguished media careers.
Ray Tannehill grew up in New Brighton and graduated in 1952. He part of a legendary group of football players that graced the playing surface of Oak Hill Field in New Brighton and won W.P.I.A.L. titles in 1950 and 1951. As a young boy, Ray got his first taste of the media business by playing music and helping out at high school dances with, prominent WBVP announcer, Chuck Wilson. After his high school days, Tannehill started in the “real” radio business with jobs that took him from stations in New Castle and Youngstown before landing in Cleveland at WERE. While in Cleveland, Tannehill’s career started to take off as he was soon serving as a color analyst on the Cleveland Browns radio network. Tannehill claimed in a conversation in the late 1990’s with WBVP staff members that he had built up such a good relationship with the Browns, and the team management, that he was one of the few media personnel in the world that could call up and get Brown’s team owner at the time, Art Modell, on the phone.
Ray Tannehill’s trustworthiness and excellent work in Cleveland soon got him noticed by even bigger media executives. He moved out west to San Francisco, where he worked for an company that owned a radio and television station. Tannehill’s good looks and charm soon had him appearing on the camera at the company and so it wasn’t long before WIIC, now WPXI, Channel 11 in Pittsburgh came calling and lured Tannehill back to his hometown area. Cross town television rival, KDKA, Channel 2 hired Tannehill away from Channel 11 in 1976, where he anchored the news until 1999.
As they would say, the best was yet to come, well, for Beaver County radio listeners anyhow. After retiring from KDKA television, Tannehill worked part time as a newscaster on WBVP, as he would say, “For fun, to give himself something to do when he wasn’t in Florida, Arizona, or on the golf course.” Eventually, the lure of not getting in the office at 5 A.M. became too hard to resist and Tannehill fully retired after a short, but very enjoyable , stay in the newsroom of WBVP in 1999 and 2000.
Greg Benedetti grew up across the river from Ray Tannehill in Beaver Falls. Benedetti graduated from Beaver Falls High School in 1968 and from Kent State University in 1972. The fact is, Benedetti had his first experience with his hometown radio station at the end of his sophomore year at Kent, when he did a guest interview on WBVP with show host Chuck Wilson on Teleforum about the Kent State shootings, during the week following the May 4, 1970 incident at the Kent, Ohio campus.
While yet in high school, Benedetti started honing his journalism skills as a staff writer for the News Tribune in Beaver Falls. Benedetti also penned a column called “Spanning Sports” in those early days. His passion for sports coverage carried over into his collegiate years as he spent three years broadcasting Kent State football and basketball games over the Kent State University Telecommunications network. Benedetti, by this time was also, already working as a management trainee at KDKA in Pittsburgh.
Following his collegiate years, Greg Benedetti was hired on a WWSW A.M. and WPEZ F.M. (now known as 3WS F.M.) in Pittsburgh as the sports director and was also a regular sports correspondent for CBS radio at that point in time.
In addition to his duties at WWSW, Greg Benedetti was appearing on WIIC, Channel 11 television as the color analyst for Penguins Hockey broadcasts alongside play by play anchor, Sam Nover, from 1973 to 1975.
In 1976, Greg Benedetti accepted a position with KDKA television in Pittsburgh as Assistant Sports Director and worked under popular local television personality, Bill “Sweet Ol’ Bill” Currie, who was the Sports Director at the time. After a three year stint at KDKA T.V., Benedetti put his creative writing talents to work again as political strategist for the firm of Ketchum, McLeod and Grove Advertising and Public Relations in Pittsburgh.
Finally in 2015, Greg Benedetti returned to the station where he had spoke on the airwaves in an interview 45 years earlier, when he became a producer, reporter, and co-host of “The Saturday Sports Slam” on WBVP and WMBA in 2015. Benedetti continues to be an integral part of the line up on WBVP and WMBA.
“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, Farmer’s Building and Loan Savings Bank, Freedom United Federal Credit Union, Hank’s Frozen Custard and Mexican food, Kitchen City, Laughlin Insurance Agency, Rochester Manor and Villa and Young’s Jewelry and Coins.