|WKBO started out as WPRC
in October 1925. according to Stevenson's Bulletin of Radio Broadcasting
in January 1926, WPRC was owned by Wilson Printing & Radio Company
and was at 216 meters and 100 watts. It was WCOD for several years
in the late 1920s and early 1930s before becoming WKBO. In 1929, the station
was owned by Norman R. Hoffman and the call letters were WCOD. And in 1931,
the station was purchased by Keystone Broadcasting Organization. Sometime
in late 1933, the call letters were changed from WCOD to WKBO (for Keystone
Broadcasting Organization). The call letters WKBO had originally been assigned
to a station in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Steinman Broadcasting acquired the
station sometime in the late 1930s. Steinman also owned WGAL AM-FM-TV,
Lancaster (now 1490 WLPA and 101.3 WROZ) as well as WORK, YORK (now 1350
WOYK). Steinman also owned the Intelligencer Journal Newspaper in Lancaster.
All of the broadcast properties were eventually sold except for Delmarva
Broadcasting consisting of WDEL and WILM. Also, in the 1930s, the station
moved its facilities to 31 North Second Street in Harrisburg in a building
that still exists today. Special thanks to Harrisburg radio historian Timothy
Portzline for his help. Information in this section was also compiled from
David Gleason's website including Stevenson's Bulletins and White's Radio
WKBO was the first of the Steinman
stations to be sold. In 1971, Hurrea Broadcasting, with Michael Rea
as principal and J. Albert Dame as 25 per cent owner, acquired the
station. Steinman, however, was not known for lavish spending and WKBO
had not performed very well over the years. It certainly was not without
notoriety, as it broadcast live Wilt Chamberlain's record breaking 100
point game at Hershey Sports Arena in 1962. With more on the pre- Hurrea
era, here's John Summers who worked at WKBO from 1971-73:
The call letters:
WPRC ---> WCOD ---> WKBO
The frequency: WKBO
was not always at 1230.
Originally WPRC was at 1390
on the dial. in 1928 WPRC was at 1430. In January 1929, WPRC was listed
at 1200. In October 1929 as WCOD it was also at 1200. As WKBO it remained
on 1200. In 1941, the North American Regional Broadcast Agreement rearranged
the radio dial, and on March 29, 1941, 802 of 893 AM stations shifted frequency.
WKBO moved to it's new home at 1230 am.
|"WKBO had a non-descript
middle-of-the-road format of the Englebert Humperdinck/Tom Jones variety.
NBC News on the hour. NBC Monitor, a music-and-personality service
used by many small NBC stations, ran all weekend. Not a bad station,
really, just no real need for it. A typical low-budget Steinman operation,
almost totally dependent on downtown advertisers, who were closing-up fast
by 1970. Good personalities, Charlie Adams and Gary Brooks among
|"The old WKBO was not without
merit, however. When hearings were held into Harrisburg's racial
disturbances of the late 1960s, WKBO carried them gavel-to-gavel, the only
Harrisburg station to do so. They allowed Toby Young to do a "soul"
show from 6-9pm weeknights, and for a while in the summer of 1970 there
was a guy who did a sort-of progressive rock show from 9 pm - 1 am.
They also had a talk show, "Voice of the People," which aired mornings
from 9 til 10. The host was a guy named Joe Thomas, a real rabble-rouser
and very entertaining."
In 1971, WKBO was in a bad
way. It was generally 4th in a then 4-station market (FM hadn't really
begun to develop yet). It's 1930s era equipment, including the 1938 Western
Electric Board, was showing its age. The transmitter and tower were located
on top of the Old Penn Harris Hotel (now where Strawberry Square is located).
The ground system wasn't maintained and hence, WKBO's class IV 1,000 watt
day/250 watt night signal was the worst in Harrisburg.
Hurrea Broadcasting had a
lot to gain and little to lose.