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.
In 1959, a young boy attending classes at Beaver Falls High School entered a contest sponsored by The Pittsburgh Pirates. The winner would be given a chance to actually sit in with the regular Pirates radio announcers and help call a Pirates Baseball game. Whether it was his natural love of baseball, the charismatic humor of the young lad, or his deep bellowing voice that caught the judges attention isn’t certain, but Jim Reynolds was selected as the winner and began his announcing career in the press box of Forbes Field alongside popular Pirates broadcaster Bob Prince. Not long afterwards, Reynolds would darken the doorway of WBVP and get hired on to host and evening music program from 6 P.M. to Midnight, where he shared the duties in that time slot with another Beaver County broadcasting legend, Syl Sergi.
In the recently published book, “Behind The Microphone, The History Of Radio In Beaver County, PA”, contributing author, Kenneth Britten penned these words about Jim Reynolds: “In 1959 yet another boy was hired for the staff. Jim Reynolds had just won the yearly Pittsburgh Pirate Sports casting contest and had broadcast a number of Pirate games on KDKA with veterans Bob Prince and Jim Woods. (WBVP General Manager Frank) Smith hired him immediately and no one would ever realize it but Reynolds would go on to become the longest hired veteran in the station’s history. He would last 28 and one half years at WBVP.
Like (Arnie) Felsher, (Syl) Sergi and several others, Reynolds would become known for his individual style and strange sense of humor. As the morning man for many years listeners would encounter daily zany meetings with Fred the Abominable Snowman, the Mole, Lena the Leopard Girl, Madge the gum chewing waitress and Poopsie the Mystery Girl. There would be daily dinosaur hunts, national days, morning marches, morning polkas and Uncle Jimmy’s Strange Time.
Reynolds also once did an entire Christmas show in the middle of July, pretended to do a program while the studio was flooding and once offered to pay $20 to any girl who would show up in a bikini on a day when several feet of snow had fallen and it was 20 below zero.”
One of the most talked about events over the course of the seventy year history of WBVP was when Jim Reynolds, who went by the nickname, “The The Teddy Bear”, got married. Another excerpt from the book recounts the event: “The year was 1982, and to this day, Jim’s marriage to his bride, Debbie Reynolds at the Beaver Valley Mall was one of the biggest, most talked about events in the history of the Beaver Falls radio operation. Thousands of spectators crowed into the center court area of the mall to witness the highly publicized and live broadcast nuptials that would be performed by then Mayor of Beaver Falls, and pharmacist at Hoffman’s Drug Store in Beaver Falls, Leo Hegner. The wedding party was made up of local radio royalty, including fellow station staffers Chris Shovlin, Steve Granato and Terry Pease. Images of Jim walking down the aisle with his lovely bride on his arm flanked by scores of people in a shopping mall teeming with all sorts of great stores seem surreal nowadays. Almost fairy-tale like.
Everyone did their part just as Jim wanted it. Everyone looked very nice, the men dressed in dark tuxedos and the bride in pretty white.”
“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.