Infobox Radio station
name = WBEM

city = Geistown, Pennsylvania
area = Johnstown, Pennsylvania
branding =
slogan =
airdate = May 18, 1964 (as WWBR)
frequency = 1350 kHz (AM)
format =
power = 1500 watts (day)
890 watts (night)
class = B
callsign_meaning =
former_callsigns =
owner = Michael and Antoinette Horvath
licensee = Southwestern Pennsylvania Community Radio, LLC
webcast =
website =
affiliations =

WBEM {1350 AM} is a former American radio station, first going on the air May 18, 1964. Its community of license had been Windber, Pennsylvania. This station's last owner had been Jotocon Communications, which took over operations in 1989, but the station would go silent in 1991 and remain so. Application was made in 2003 to return this station to the air [http://svartifoss2.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=100975268&formid=301&fac_num=161327] . A target on-air date has yet to be announced.


Originally known as WWBR, WBEM had been a full-service local radio station for many years, with its studios, offices, and transmitter facilities at 1724 Scalp Avenue, in Richland Township, overlooking the city of Johnstown. In the early years, WBEM operated with a full airstaff, but in later years, would automate or syndicate much of its live programming. Formats varied from MOR to country.

One of WBEM's owners was legendary Pittsburgh radio and television newscaster Hank Baughman, who left his job as anchorman of WPXI-TV's 11 o'clock news in the mid-1980s to purchase his own station. By the time Baughman had purchased it, the station was airing mostly MOR music from 10-inch tape reels from Drake-Chenault's music library. Not long after his arrival, Baughman affiliated the station with the ABC Talkradio network, airing a mixture of both local and national talk.

By the end of the 1980s, the station would be sold to Jotocon Communications, with Baughman returning to Pittsburgh, where he took a job with WSHH. He remains there today. WBEM had fallen on hard times over the years, largely due to the collapse of Johnstown's lucrative local coal and steel-based economy, which had a domino effect on retail business in the area. Because the landscape was already dominated with high and medium-powered FM stations, which found themselves now in a period of hardship, WBEM found itself in a weak position as a strict daytime-only station, though at 2500 watts, had an impressive daytime signal, despite its high dial position of 1350 kHz.

WBEM finally fell silent in 1991. Its studio building was then cleared out of all of its equipment, with all traces of a radio station's existence removed, including its broadcast tower.


In January 2004, the FCC received an application for a new station to broadcast at 1350 kHz from Southwest Pennsylvania Community Radio, LLC; owned by Michael Horvath, of North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Horvath had owned two previous radio stations in the Pittsburgh radio market, known then as WXVX (now WPGR) Monroeville and WPLW (now WZUM) Carnegie, which he had acquired in the mid-1990s before selling both in the early years of the 21st century. Prior to selling both, Horvath had invested substantially in new directional antenna arrays, making them more palatable to prospective buyers.

No call sign has yet been assigned to the new station, which unlike its predecessor, will be licensed to Geistown, Pennsylvania, located just east of the Johnstown city limits. Another application was received in July 2007 to modify the application, which also included antenna diagrams for building the new six-tower directional antenna system and its proposed operational pattern. [http://svartifoss2.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=101155534&formid=301&fac_num=161327]

External links

* [http://www.fcc.gov/fcc-bin/amq?state=PA&call=&arn=&city=Geistown&freq=530&fre2=1700&type=0&facid=&class=&list=0&dist=&dlat2=&mlat2=&slat2=&NS=N&dlon2=&mlon2=&slon2=&EW=W&size=9 Query FCC database for New AM Geistown]

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