70th Anniversary Moments – Walt Broadhurst

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.

It has often been said that the President that had the hardest task to accomplish was John Adams.  As the second leader of the newly formed United States of America, He would not have had the benefit of being a part of the excitement and enthusiasm of something new, like his predecessor, and first President, George Washington.  Higher expectations were now in place,  the bar had now been set, plus, the country was still far from being completely stable at that stage of the game. The chance for failure was very high, but as history tells us, Adams filled his role well and the country continued to evolve and become stronger under his guidance.  Such was the case with Walt Broadhurst.

Walt Broadhurst, far left, participates in a Chuck Wilson tribute night at Geneva College in 1977. Courtesy of Bobbie Wilson-Tkacik. Beaver County Times File article/photo.

In 1967, Hall Communications purchased WBVP A.M. and its F.M. counterpart radio station, at the time, from Frank Smith, Tom Price and Charles Onderka, the original owners and founders of WBVP.  Beaver County had seen this wonderful trio of radio pioneers breathe life into a new enterprise in Beaver Falls, and had watched it grow  into a great community radio station. But now, change was on the horizon.  Hall Communications was headquartered in New England and needed to find the right person to run the show in Beaver Falls.  They found their man when they installed Walt Broadhurst as General Manager of WBVP shortly after taking over the company.   Broadhurst was the first manager who was not an owner of WBVP, so not only was there a different person in charge, the whole paradigm had changed from one of a small mom and pop corner store type of business to one with corporate structure, lots of employees and out of town decision makers.  Luckily for everyone involved, with Robert Hall and Dick Reed at the home office in and and Walt Broadhurst running the stations in Beaver Falls, the company continued to flourish and accomplish great things during that era. What could have been a tough transition ended up being the next great chapter in the history of WBVP and Broadhurst’s gregarious personality and strong leadership played a big part in the success.

The following except about Walt Broadhurst has been taken from the recently published book  , Behind The Microphone, The History Of Radio In Beaver County, PA.  “Walt Broadhurst was brought in from Connecticut by Hall Communications to run their newly acquired asset in Beaver County shortly after buying the stations in 1967. This was really the golden era for WBVP and it’s sister F.M. radio station. Competition from outside media was minimal, Beaver County had reached its peak population of nearly 210,000 residents at that point in time, and this was way before the era of the big box stores with out of town corporate decision makers. Almost all the businesses were locally owned stores, and all too happy to advertise on the local radio station.  Broadhurst and his team probably had things relatively easy by comparison. ‘He was on the air and managing and had a good voice did some sports and news.’ reflected Sue Zaskey (Otto) about her boss, Walt Broadhurst.  Ms. Zaskey, at the time was one of the first female advertising salespeople in the radio business, and, later on would marry Broadhurst. Broadhurst looked and acted like the leader he was hired to be.  He appeared as a corporate executive, one with authority in his choice of vehicles, too and reportedly drove a Lincoln Continental according to future (radio station) General Manager, Scott Lowe. Even though there were new owners in town, they had a similar mindset about serving the local community.  Broadhurst was heavily involved in various local clubs like the Beaver Falls Rotary Club. . . With those qualities, Walt Broadhurst was yet another guy perfectly suited to guide the flock in Beaver Falls.”

Walt Broadhurst not only guided the flock,  he also guided everyone two blocks north on 7th Avenue in Beaver Falls.  It was during Broadhurst’s tenure that WBVP moved from its original location in the 1200 block to the lower level of the bank building at the corner of 14th street and 7th Avenue in Beaver Falls in 1968.  WBVP would broadcast from the bank building for the next 12 years.

Walt Broadhurst helped ensure that the future would be a bright one for WBVP.  Even to the point of raising up future generations.  In the 1980’s and 1990’s, Broadhurst’s daughter, Kim Hostetter worked for both WBVP, and WMBA at different times as an Account Executive.  Broadhurst went back to live and work in new England around 1979 after moving on from the Beaver Falls radio stations.

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