York Town Square

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What do call letters for York radio station WSBA, TV’s WPMT stand for?

Philip K. Eberly’s “Susquehanna Radio, The First 50 Years” tells about the early years of radio in York County, Pa., and southcentral Pennsylvania. The 1992 book is available at York County libraries. Background posts: 101 Ranch Boys play on in York County memories and Old WSBA station: ‘Another part of history has gone’ and Carly Simon at WSBA: ‘What do you want to hear?’.

In his book on the nationwide Susquehanna Radio Corp., the late Philip Eberly answers questions and provides insight locally into the 1940s and 1950s when radio was the hot media.
For example, what does WSBA stand for?
Actually, Eberly’s “Susquehanna Radio, The First 50 Years” isn’t clear on that point:

“The precise origin of WSBA’s call letters will probably remain a mystery. Legend has it that the letters stood for Susquehanna Broadcasting Authority. However, this could not be substantiated through documentation or through the personal recollections of participants present at that time.”
The FCC assigned call letters arbitrarily in those days. WSBA might have been in that category, he wrote.
Also, according to Eberly:

– WHP stood for Harrisburg Patriot newspaper.
– WSBA-TV – yes, the company operated a TV station for 30 years at Channel 43 – became WPMT in 1983. WPMT stood for “Pennsylvania Movie Time.” Today, the Fox TV affiliate operates in the former WSBA-TV studios on the South Queen Street hill in York Township.
– WSBA-AM operated along the Susquehanna Trail north of York. That building was recently demolished. WSBA had long since moved to its current location near Wrightsville.
– WSBA-FM got off the ground in the late 1940s, went off the air for a period, came back on and changed to WARM-FM in 1983.
– Lancaster’s WGAL-TV and York’s WORK-AM were owned by the Steinman family, owners of the Lancaster newspapers in the early 1950s.
– WGAL-TV moved its tower, antenna and transmitter to the Hellam Hills in 1954. The station, whose studios are in Lancaster, transmits from that elevated point in eastern York County today.

This book is focused on WSBA and its many Susquehanna Radio sister stations through 1992.
It would be interesting to know more about York’s first radio station – WORK-AM, now WOYK-AM 1350 – founded in 1932.
But from these two pioneering stations grew an array of stations serving York County. To gain a glimpse of the host of stations filling county airwaves today, click here.