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.
Since the early days of WBVP and WMBA, politics have been a big part of the radio stations, as a popular topic of conversation on the talk shows and also as a career choice for several of the people who were heard on the airwaves throughout the years. In this edition of “70th Anniversary Moments”, We will Take a look at some of the announcers who parlayed their popularity into an elected position.
Ernie Kline was born in Allentown, PA, and grew up in Westmoreland County. According to information published in the Beaver County Times, he started working at radio stations in Charleroi, Kittanning and Connellsville before being hired on at WBVP in 1950 and was a popular air personality at the station until the mid-1960’s. Kline moved to and took up residence in Beaver Falls and was elected to Beaver Falls City Council in 1955. Kline became a State Senator in 1965 and then, along with Pennsylvania Governor Milton Shapp, Kline was elected on the same ticket as Lieutenant Governor in 1971 Kline served in that position until 1979. Kline continued to work in politics after being in office and worked as a Pennsylvania delegate to the Democratic National Convention up through 2000.
Ambridge native and Point Park University alum, Rob Matzie, started at WMBA in 1987 and worked there off and on until 1994 as a sportscaster and show host and later went into politics. Rob was the Mayor of Ambridge in 2003 and 2004, and then was elected to the Pennsylvania State Legislature in 2008 where he continues to serve the 16th district.
Jim Reynolds grew up in Beaver Falls and never gravitated far from his roots. After winning an announcing contest with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1959, He worked at WBVP from 1960 through 1986, and became one of the most familiar and beloved hosts of all time, known as “The Teddy Bear”. Following his career at WBVP, Reynolds leveraged his popularity gained from years as hosting the morning show and subsequently was elected and served as mayor of his hometown, Beaver Falls, from 1989 to 1993.
Gerry Goff was part of the original staff of WBVP in 1948. He served as the Program Director, show host and also aired the noon time news on WBVP in that era. Kenneth Britten made the following observations about Goff in his 1990 article “Local radio”: “Gerry Goff, a well-known local actor who had appeared in several Broadway productions was actually the first Program Director. However, Goff left the station within a year and (Chuck) Wilson assumed the duties for the next twenty-six years. During the short time he was on the air, Goff had a highly popular afternoon program entitled “Yours by Request” which featured listeners calling in to request songs which was very unusual for that time.” Gerry Goff was from New Brighton and graduated from New Brighton High School. Prior to working at WBVP, Goff served for one two year term, from 1947-1948 as a Republican in the Pennsylvania State House Of Representatives. Jerry Goff also worked at WRYO in Rochester for a brief period of time around 1950.
Jack Andolina hosted a popular adult standards music format show entitled “The Best Music This Side of Heaver” on Sunday Evenings on WBVP during the 1970’s and 1980’s . Andolina also served as the Mayor of Conway from 1973 to 1997 and during that time, he was elected to the post of Vice President of the Pennsylvania Mayor’s Association.
“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.