The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

November 16, 2013

Still local after all these years

790 at 75 on your radio dial

SHENANGO VALLEY — He pulled out a 1945 request to the FCC to allow the station to broadcast beyond normal hours so it could play a Sharon-Farrell basketball game; a 1945 ownership report; a 1940 request to build a bigger transmission tower; and a 1958 broadcasting license.

Greenburg, sales manager, sports director8 and unofficial station manager, pulled from a wall a 1960 Herald story about disc jockey Joe Jansen, who locked himself in the broadcast booth for more than four hours to play the “Beat ’Em Bucs” fight song during the Yankees-busting World Series year.

Jansen came out after then-Hickory Township police threatened to arrest him because of the bottleneck of traffic on Pine Hollow Boulevard from supporters.

WPIC is celebrating its 75th anniversary, something Greenburg called “pretty amazing.”

“It’s such an engrained part of our community,” he said. “WPIC is a branded name. Everybody knows WPIC.”

The radio industry has been evolving because of changes in listener lifestyles; the way people get their information and music; and economic factors, Greenburg said. WPIC has been caught up in that, he said.

However, the station has not moved away from its initial purpose, and that function likely will keep it operating into the future, said Greenburg, who has been with the station since 1999.

“We still feel the station is serving the community,” he said. “We still provide local programming about 20 hours a week. We’re still doing pretty much what we did back in 1938 – serving the Shenango Valley.”

The station went on the air for the first time at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 28, 1938, founded by The Herald. Its studio and transmitter were built at what became known as FM Corners at Pine Hollow, Mercer Avenue and South Buhl Farm Drive, while Herald staff delivered newscasts from the newspaper’s downtown Sharon office.

John Fahnline Jr. was the first president and station manager.

In 1947, WPIC-FM went on the air.

Tony Butala of the Lettermen noted the station’s role in his singing career with a note congratulating the station on its anniversary.

“This was the radio station that put my voice on the air for the first time,” wrote Butala, of Sharon.

The Herald sold its interest in the stations to Regional Broadcasting Inc. in 1959. Regional later sold the stations to Connoisseur Communications, which subsequently sold them to Cumulus Media Inc., the current owner.

WPIC-FM has since been transformed into Y-103, one of the biggies of the eight stations Cumulus owns in the Youngstown-area market.

WPIC-AM has gone to a news-talk format, much of it provided through syndication, but Greenburg stressed that Cumulus allows local programming and is open to hearing ideas for new local programs that might preempt the expensive, syndicated shows.

“It’s been a good relationship,” Greenburg said. “If we’re doing something good on the local level, they say, ‘Keep doing it.’ ”

Cumulus showed its faith in the station by replacing the original transmission tower in 2006, a project that cost more than $150,000.

The station at 790 on the AM dial still has local newscasts, although they are not produced locally, local obituaries and a weekly show aimed at seniors hosted by Sam Bellich, executive director of Mercer County Area Agency on Aging.

“The Ron Errett Show” is an evening staple after 20 years, taking on local issues, and high school sport broadcasts remain a big draw.

On Sundays, religious shows and ethnic music programs further the hometown mission.

“I think we have a nice mix of stuff,” Greenburg said.

He noted that a radio is not something you need anymore to hear radio, with smartphone apps and web streaming. The Internet has actually expanded WPIC’s audience as people from across the country and even overseas – most of them former Shenango Valley residents – tune in to, say, hear a local football game.

WPIC had 3,000 unique web listeners in October, and Greenburg said industry experts estimate that a station typically has 10 times more local listeners than Internet ones.

As radio stations struggle to capture revenue from its Internet listeners, Greenburg said a big draw for radio is that it continues to be free.

“There’s still a fraction of this community it’s important to,” he said.

“The key for this station to survive has to be as much local programming as possible,” he said. “You need to provide a product you can’t get anywhere else.”

Text Only
Local News
  • Community thanks its first-responders

    Sharpsville honored its emergency responders Sunday at an event that included Mertz Towers residents as special guests.

    July 28, 2014

  • Drilling boom challenges state inspectors

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the last century.

    July 28, 2014

  • Kidds Mill Covered Bridge A span of time

    Four generations of the Cadman family have enjoyed the Kidds Mill Covered Bridge, which is in Pymatuning Township near where the family’s ancestral farm is located.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • Intruder hurts woman, takes $5

    A home invasion in Hermitage Friday night sent an elderly woman to the hospital and netted the robber $5.

    July 27, 2014

  • national night out March against crime set for Aug. 5

    At the last Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Commission meeting, Chief Riley Smoot Jr. presented the number of incidents for each of the four communities in May.

    Farrell topped out at 819.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • high street trail Peaceful pathways

    History buffs and picnickers in the Shenango Valley won’t have to drive to Sharpsville to hang out at the old Erie Canal extension lock. They’ll soon have the option to walk or roll in on bicycles and even powered chairs to visit Canal Park near the outflow of Shenango Dam.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • balloonquest1 Balloon Quest celebrates 25 years

    Today is the final day of the 25th annual Western Pennsylvania Balloon Quest at Scotland Meadows Park.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • News briefs from July 26, 2014

    Man faces bomb threat charges

    June building tops $4 million in Hermitage

    July 26, 2014

  • Elderly man survives plane crash

    An elderly man survived wrecking his plane into a bank, then landing into a wetland, about 200 feet south of Runway 28 at Grove City Regional Airport in Springfield Township on Friday.

    July 26, 2014

  • Dontae Rashad Pinkins Man arrested for April gunfight

    Federal marshals and local police arrested Dontae Rashad Pinkins Thursday on a warrant accusing him of involvement in an April gunfight with another man in a Sharon alley.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hearing changed in starving case

    The time and place for the preliminary hearing of a Greenville mom accused of starving and beating her 7-year-old young son has been changed.

    July 26, 2014

  • Schell working on mural Drawn to Mexico

    Jason Schell probably is not exaggerating when he says that millions of people have seen his art.

    July 26, 2014 4 Photos

  • Farrell man, 24, arrested on warrant in connection with April shooting

    Federal marshals and local police arrested Dontae Rashad Pinkins Thursday on a warrant accusing him of involvement in an April shootout in Sharon.

    Pinkins, 24, of Farrell, is in Mercer County Jail after failing to post bond on gun charges.

    Additional details to follow.

    July 25, 2014

  • Firm will study timing of traffic signals

    Hermitage commissioners on Wednesday hired Whitman, Requardt and Associates LLP to study the timing scheme of traffic signals along parts of Hermitage Road and East State Street.

    July 25, 2014

  • 3 area fire depts. awarded grants

    Three area fire departments will share in more than $590,000 in grants meant to help Pennsylvania’s rural communities guard against the threat of fires in forests and other undeveloped areas, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Ellen Ferretti announced.

    July 25, 2014