|Broadcast area||Youngstown metropolitan area|
CBS Radio News
|Owner||Cumulus Media |
(CUMULUS LICENSING LLC)
|WBBW, WHOT, WQXK, WRQX, WWIZ, WYFM|
Former call signs
|Western Pennsylvania Industrial Center"|
|Power||1,300 watts day|
58 watts night
WPIC (790 kHz) is a commercial AM radio station licensed to Sharon, Pennsylvania and serving the Youngstown metropolitan area. The station is owned by Cumulus Media and has a talk radio format.
WPIC is powered at 1,000 watts by day. To avoid interfering with other stations on 790 AM, it reduces power at night to 58 watts. It uses a non-directional antenna at all times. The transmitter is at Mercer Avenue at Pine Hollow Boulevard in Hermitage, Pennsylvania.
Weekdays begin with the "WPIC Morning News." The rest of the day, nationally syndicated shows are heard: Chris Plante, Clark Howard, Ben Shapiro, Mark Levin, Jim Bohannon, Red Eye Radio and America in the Morning. High school football and basketball games are carried in the fall and winter.
On weekends, shows on money, health, law and religion are heard, as well as music and talk shows for the Italian, Polish and Greek communities. Weekend syndicated hosts include Bill Cunningham and Bill Handel. Most hours begin with CBS Radio News.
At the Heiges Radio Electric store, at 91 East State Street, sometime around 1932, the idea to build a radio station in Sharon PA was developed. In 1935, John Fahnline Jr. and George and Al Heiges entered into a contract. Eventually, the Sharon Herald newspaper, represented by A.W. McDowel, became involved in the project. Even though the name of the new corporation was The Sharon Herald Broadcasting Company, the station was not technically owned by the newspaper. John Fahnline Jr. and the Herald owned 40% each, with the Heiges Brothers in for a twenty percent stake. John Fahnline Jr. was installed as the president and GM of the station. The call sign WPIC was requested from the Federal Communications Commission, which stands for Western Pennsylvania Industrial Center.
On October 25, 1938, the station signed on the air at 780 kilocycles. The opening ceremonies took place at 11:30 a.m.. These were the first words heard on Sharon's new radio station:
“Good morning, friends---you are now listening to radio station WPIC, the new broadcasting station of the Sharon Herald Broadcasting Company, at Sharon, Pennsylvania operating on a frequency of 780 kilocycles.”
From the start, WPIC would be different. At that time, most stations, were heavily laden with soap operas during the day (named for the sponsors who were mostly soap companies). WPIC decided to concentrate on music and news. The recorded music would be mostly classical, very high brow. It was decided that there would be news every hour, which was not common outside the largest cities. Even the United Press International staff warned Fahnline, "You’ll never pull it off," but he did. Despite objections, a booth was set up at The Herald so reporters turned announcers like Johnny Pepe could do news live on the air.
Around 1941, the FCC put into effect the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement (NARBA). To accommodate Canada and Mexico, the AM dial was expanded and WPIC was moved from 780 on the dial up to 790.
In the 1940s, some stations began to add FM stations to their facilities, and WPIC saw the need to expand into FM. It would require a doubling the size of the building and of the tower. An addition was added to the building and a new tower was constructed. The tower was no small project; when built, it would the tallest tower east of the Mississippi River at 547 feet high. On October 25, 1947, WPIC-FM signed on. With a flair history, it was opened exactly nine years to the day after WPIC-AM came on the air.
In the pre rock-n-roll era, country music was king at WPIC, including Rockabilly, Blues, Bluegrass, and Boogie Woogie. Bands from all over the region played live on WPIC, with most having their own shows. Early on, country groups like Sons of The Pioneers were big favorites. Hardly any stations had as many live acts as WPIC, and the Mutual Broadcasting System was happy to include many of the live performances that emanated there on its ten station network. One of the biggest regional groups was Woody Wooddell and The Ridin Rangers. When Woody would play girls would come to the station and look in the windows just to glimpse of this radio star.
As the fifties closed, Regional Broadcasting based in Meadville made an offer to buy the station, and in November 1959, WPIC-AM-FM were sold for $510,000.
In the 1960s, WPIC announcer Joe Jansen, in what was possibly a station sanctioned stunt, decide to lock himself in the studio. It was October and Pittsburgh Pirates were playing the New York Yankees in the World Series. Joe decided to play “Beat Em Bucs” for five straight hours. Listeners caught up in baseball fever began coming to the Pine Hollow Blvd. studios in droves. By mid-day, the Hickory Twp. police showed up and said it would have to stop. They pleaded with Jansen to unlock the doors and he was able to keep his job.
In December 1996, Regional Broadcasting sold the stations to Connoisseur Communications owned by 35 year-old Jeff Warshaw. WWIZ (103.9 FM) and WLLF (96.7 FM) were purchased and added to the roster of stations. In 2000, Warshaw sold all of the stations along with 35 other ones to Cumulus Media for $258 million.
Consolidation continued, and Cumulus would eventually buy WHOT-FM and country powerhouse WQXK and relocate them on Simon Road in Youngstown. WPIC-FM left Pine Hollow in 2000.
On December 2, 2016, the historic Pine Hollow Blvd. studios were closed and the station was moved to a new location at 1965 Shenanago Valley Freeway in Hermitage.