|This article does not cite any references or sources. (October 2008)|
|City of license||Bethlehem, Pennsylvania|
|First air date||1946|
|Power||250 watts (day only)|
|Callsign meaning||Globe Publishing Authority|
WGPA (1100 AM) is a Class D daytimer radio station in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA. It is owned by a local polka musician, Jolly Joe Timmer, and plays a mixture of local and syndicated talk radio programs, oldies, and polka music.
WGPA, "Sunny 1100", used to be owned by Chadwick Broadcasting. Originally, it was a part of the Bethlehem Globe Publishing Authority (the GPA in WGPA). The station, along with sister WGPA-FM 95.1 began February 16, 1946 and was headquartered in studios and offices at 426 Brodhead Avenue, next to the Globe-Times daily newspaper building. The FCC license stated ownership as A-B-E Broadcasting a division of the Bethlehem Globe Times Newspapers signifying Allentown Bethlehem Easton as coverage area. WGPA AM 1100 originally broadcast popular music, which from the late 1940s to the late 1950s was primarily big band/swing featuring artists like Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Doris Day and others. By the late 1950s - early 1960s, rock & roll made inroads and popular music meant playing Elvis, Buddy Holly and other types in addition to the previously mentioned artists. WGPA never became a rock station. In the early fifties, a young man fresh out of Liberty High School named Bob Wolken,started at the station performing odd jobs. He would eventually hire on and became an on-air announcer, who would remain through changes in ownership and formats into the 1990s.
WGPA AM has always been a daytime only station: its broadcast hours are limited to dawn-dusk operation. Because of this limitation, WGPA-FM would pick up local live sports coverage after 6 pm. This included high school basketball and football. The FM station's daytime programming was beautiful music featuring the likes of Mantovani, Ferrante and Teicher, Ray Conniff and Henry Mancini.
By 1973 Bethlehem Globe Publishing Authority aka A-B-E Broadcasting was compelled by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to divest itself of its radio holdings. WGPA AM/FM went to Holt Broadcasting for approximately $125,000. There was a succession of format changes, including oldies, automation, even syndication. Through it all, Bob Wolken remained in some on air capacity. The FM station would become WEZV, "Easy 95", playing easy listening music in stereo. By the late 1970s, WEZV would become WZZO, "Z-95", and play rock. It has remained in that format for more than 25 years. Holt sold WGPA AM to Henry Chadwick in 1978 for approximately $400,000.
The WGPA-AM offices and studios would eventually be moved to the Dodson Building at 528 North New Street. WZZO's offices and studio moved to the Westgate Mall in Bethlehem, and then to Whitehall Township. In January 2013, WGPA announced that due to the sale of the Dodson Building, studios would be moving. In May 2013 WGPA began broadcasting from new studios at 429 East Broad Street in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. 18018
In 1992, Bethlehem Polka personality Joe Timmer acquired WGPA AM 1100 from Chadwick Broadcasting. WGPA AM 1100 became known as "SUNNY 1100" and Timmer, also known as "Jolly Joe" programmed polka music three times daily. In addition, the station defies traditional format philosophies by playing mixed music, as well as locally produced specialty programming which has included advice/call-in shows for subjects such as parenting, local politics, local sports, as well as locally-produced music shows, including the Jolly Joe Timmer Polka Show. Also available are syndicated shows such as The Dennis Miller Show, Jimmy Sturr, Duke and the Doctor and Salem Radio Network News on the hour. WGPA Sunny 1100 also streams live over the internet. As a result, WGPA-AM may be heard after dusk; thus far, all off hours programming is Oldies and Doo-Wop variety and Streaming local High School Football and the Playoffs from The Lehigh Valley Conference in the Fall.
Today in addition to the syndicated shows, WGPA is staffed by highly regarded local DJs like Mark Thomas, Jarret Brown, Budd Williams, Michael Sweigart, Jeff Dean, Alex Fydryszewski, Jim Kelly, and Sam the Golden Oldies Man. These DJs' programs range from Doo-Wop /oldies to Polka and selected local business and talk shows. 1955/1979 is the new formatted intention. Richard T. Mindler, Jr. is the stations managing /technical/computer tech who also makes appearances with selected DJs from time to time and on the Jolly Joe Timmer Polka Show on RCN-TV. He has created a large following for the station on Twitter and recently added a Facebook Page. The station also features the premiere sports talk show in the Valley Jack, Joe, and Company, hosted by Jack Logic and Joe Craig. Prominent local attorney Bruce Davis has hosted a weekly talk show called The Lehigh Valley Means Business for many years, now retired! The show featured interviews with local business leaders and had aired Friday mornings since the early 1990s. Also new to the lineup is "Business 101" with Scott Gingold. Hotel Bethlehem with Dennis Costello/w Kelly with a Lehigh Valley theme, and Jerry "The Geator" Blavet! WGPA is aggressively moving forward with new local and syndicated programming.
- WGPA Official Site
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WGPA
- Radio-Locator Information on WGPA
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WGPA