WGPA

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WGPA Radio
City Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Broadcast area Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton
Branding "The New Sunny 1100"
Slogan "Your Hometown, Community Minded Radio Station"
Frequency 1100 kHz
First air date February 14, 1946
Format Full-service
Power 250 watts (daytime only)
Class D
Transmitter coordinates 40°37′27″N 75°21′19″W / 40.62417°N 75.35528°W / 40.62417; -75.35528Coordinates: 40°37′27″N 75°21′19″W / 40.62417°N 75.35528°W / 40.62417; -75.35528
Callsign meaning W Globe Publishing Authority
Owner Ronald and Christopher Crumbliss
(CC Broadcasting, LLC)
Website WGPASunny1100.com

WGPA (1100 kHz) is a Class D daytimer radio station, licensed to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and serving the Lehigh Valley. It is owned by Ronald and Christopher Crumbliss, through licensee CC Broadcasting, LLC (Kutztown). It airs a Full-Service radio format that the owners describe as "Ameripolitan," consisting of classic country music, rockabilly, oldies and polka music.[1]

Because AM 1100 is a clear channel frequency, WGPA must sign off at night to protect WTAM in Cleveland, the Class A station on 1100 kHz. (Radio waves travel farther at night.) WGPA's studios and offices are located at 2311 Easton Ave. and its transmitter is at 1080 Win Drive, in Bethlehem.[2]

History[edit]

WGPA was originally a part of the Bethlehem Globe Publishing Authority (the GPA in WGPA). Both WGPA-AM and its sister station, WGPA-FM (now WZZO), began broadcasting on February 16, 1946[3] and was located at 426 Brodhead Avenue, next to the Globe-Times daily newspaper building. At the time, WGPA-AM and FM were simulcast. The FCC license stated ownership as A-B-E Broadcasting, a division of the Bethlehem Globe Times Newspapers, signifying Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton as the coverage area. WGPA AM 1100 originally broadcast popular music from that time period. The original musical lineup primarily consisted of big band/swing featuring artists such as Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller and Doris Day. In the early fifties, Bob Wolken, a recent graduate of Liberty High School, started at the station performing odd jobs. He would eventually became an on-air announcer, who would remain through changes in ownership and formats into the 1990s. Wolken's smooth style was the wake up voice for generations of Bethlehem-area residents for many years. His program was called "In the Book" and it aired from sign on time to 9:30 am Monday through Saturdays.

WGPA AM has always been a daytime only station: its broadcast hours are limited to dawn to dusk operation. Because of this limitation, WGPA-FM would carry local live sports coverage after sunset. This included high school basketball and football. By the 1960s, the FM station's daytime programming was beautiful music featuring the likes of Mantovani, Ferrante and Teicher, Ray Conniff and Henry Mancini. One well-known program on the FM side was "The Velvet Touch" hosted by Bob Deacon.

By 1973 Bethlehem Globe Publishing Authority began to divest itself of its radio holdings. WGPA AM and FM were sold to Holt Broadcasting for approximately $125,000. 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 album-oriented rock. It has remained in that format since then. WZZO's headquarters were established at the Westgate Mall in Bethlehem, before moving to Whitehall Township.

Holt sold WGPA-AM to Henry Chadwick in 1978 for approximately $400,000. The WGPA-AM offices and studios were moved to the Dodson Building at 528 North New Street. Soon after, the station adopted the moniker "Sunny 1100," playing a mix of adult standards and soft adult contemporary music, with a mix of local news, weather and traffic. Among the more notable WGPA alumni from this period was Bill Zimpfer, who played music, but who also provided play-by-play for Lehigh University football before moving on to sports radio jobs with Penn State University and the Miami Dolphins.

In 1991, Joe Timmer acquired WGPA AM 1100 from Chadwick Broadcasting for $125,000. In addition to nostalgia and oldies music, the station included a variety of locally hosted "specialty" programming, including "The Lehigh Valley Means Business," hosted by Bethlehem Attorney Bruce Davis, which aired for over a decade. Other programs include "Parenting Matters" with Francine Bianco Tax, "Kisslinger & Company", hosted by Larry Kisslinger and sponsored by Service Electric Cable, and sports talk "Jack, Joe & Company", with co-hosts Jack Logic and Joe Craig. WGPA kept true to its roots, airing polka music three times daily, including the station's flagship program, the "Jolly Joe Timmer Polka Show," middays, Monday through Friday. 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.

In March 2015, due to his declining health, Timmer's family sold the station to Ronald and Christopher Crumbliss' CC Broadcasting, LLC for $95,000. The purchase was consummated on May 29, 2015.[4]

Current program offerings[edit]

The station format change to "Ameripolitan" was introduced in May 2015. Crumbliss feels that WGPA's new format will be successful in Bethlehem and the surrounding area because there are currently no stations in the region playing this style of music. SRN news and traffic from WFMZ-TV 69 News are included in the daily programming. WGPA also endeavors to be the local radio source for high school sports, especially football. These programs are produced for the station by Jack Logic. On Sunday mornings, listeners can enjoy music from Frank Sinatra and his contemporaries on "Sinatra and Friends."

On September 16, 2015, WGPA hosted a four-hour reunion of former station employees. The program, hosted by Robin Miller and broadcast live, celebrated much of the station's history through story-telling and remembrances from the likes of Miller, Gil Ackroyd, Jerry Dean, Mario Markozzi, and fifties local singing stars, the JAN Sisters.

A selection of local programs are archived at the station's website and may be accessed any time. The new owners have offer live streaming of the station from the website and they've also allow the signal to be accessed via a special application which then allows tablet and smart phone users to listen anytime. The app is called "Tune In".

The FCC had issued a construction permit for low-power FM translator W256BQ, which was purchased by CC Broadcasting LLC from a station in Olean, NY at a reported $75,000. It was planned to operate on 93.3 FM (the same as station WMMR in Philadelphia) with a power of 250 watts and would be mounted on the existing AM tower with a directional signal west from the tower toward the center of Bethlehem. This could extend the broadcasting to 24 hours a day on that frequency. The translator was licensed on April 19, 2017, as W227DE. Grant was rescinded on 05-05-17 and new frequency issued for 98.5 which is WKRZ in Freeland, PA.

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