WGBN is a U.S. gospel music radio station serving the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania market. The station, which is owned by Pentecostal Temple Development Corporation, broadcasts at 1150 kHz with a power level of 1,000 watts daytime and 70 watts night, and using a two-tower directional antenna system. WGBN is licensed to New Kensington, Pennsylvania. Owned and Operated by the Assistant to the Bishop Reverend Dr. Loran E. Mann, who is a former Pittsburgh radio and TV personality (primarily at WPXI-TV), and is still seen occasionally on Pittsburgh-based Cornerstone Television.
WKPA was launched in 1940 as a typical, small-town radio station of its day. Local news, sports, and talk from the steel town of New Kensington, Pennsylvania, 20 miles northeast of downtown Pittsburgh. The station began at 810 Fifth Avenue, New Kensington, on the second floor of a two-story building that also housed a music store on the ground floor. Cooper Brothers, the owners of the music store, also owned WKPA until they sold the station in the early 1960s to Pittsburgh entrepreneur Nelson L. Goldberg. It is under Goldberg's ownership that WKPA enjoyed its greatest success.
Goldberg, an innovator, pioneer and visionary in the telecommunications industry, developed the first cable system to be acquired by Comcast. The son of the late Edward and Fannie Menzer Goldberg, was a native of New Kensington, Pennsylvania. Goldberg’s career began in radio sales at WKPA-AM in New Kensington. In 1958, at the age of 28, Goldberg became General Manager of WKPA and then purchased the station in 1961. Goldberg then acquired WYDD-FM in 1963 and operated the radio stations for more than 25 years. Goldberg developed WEFB-TV (TV3) and Westmoreland Cable in 1968, one of the first cable franchises in western Pennsylvania. The cable system was later sold to Comcast Corporation.
In the 1980’s, Goldberg was the first to privately own satellite transponders and perceptively anticipated the advent of commercial television satellite broadcasting. Throughout his career, he continuously broke ground in developing new kinds of broadcast programming and the manner in which they were transmitted. As his company's reputation grew, so did that of WKPA.
Both stations were sold to California-based Salem Communications Corporation in the late 80's; the transaction was not completed until early 1990. When Salem assumed ownership, WKPA and WYDD (which by this time had become known as Top 40 rocker WNRJ) immediately underwent changes: WYDD switched from Top 40 to an easy listening format and the subsequent call letter change to WEZE-FM, with WKPA simulcasting WEZE's programming Monday through Friday, with existing weekend oldies and ethnic programming as its only original programming. WEZE-FM moved its studios to suburban Pittsburgh in the spring of 1991, leaving WKPA at its Fifth Avenue location, but continuing the simulcast. Later that year, Salem officials announced that WEZE-FM would drop its easy listening format for Christian Talk, the benchmark format for the other corporate-owned stations. As part of the change, WKPA would have to originate its own programming as part of the contract deals Salem had with its client ministries. Salem appointed a former WEZE-FM announcer, Ken Hawk (who at 21 would become one of the youngest radio executives in commercial radio history...Brian Mroziak at nearby WMBS, coincidentally, would later be another) to manage WKPA's operations. Under Hawk's direction, WKPA brought back a live adult contemporary morning show with local news and talk, plus a nationally syndicated talk format for weekday programming. The oldies and ethnic programming remained untouched. The rebirth of WKPA was successful but short-lived, with Salem spinning off WKPA to Pentecostal Temple Development Corporation in November 1992 to meet FCC ownership limits so that it could pursue acquisition of heritage Christian-formatted competitor WPIT-AM/FM.
Salem donated WKPA to PTDC as a gift to the East Liberty-based church headed by pastor (and WPXI-TV field reporter) Dr. D. Loran Mann, who changed the format to Black Gospel and the station's call letters to WGBN, the call letters to stand for the Gospel Broadcasting Network. The station made history as the first full-time gospel-formatted station in the Pittsburgh market (others followed with little success) and remains so today. Stacy Taylor, The Minister of Music, has hosted the morning show since the station's inception in 1992, and the remainder of the programming is made up of sermons from Pentecostal Temple, and music is provided by ABC Radio's "Rejoice!" format.
WGBN today broadcasts from studios on Seventh Street in downtown New Kensington. The station was forced to abandon its original location at the Cooper Brothers building after the roof over its studios collapsed in 1994. The station then moved one block over to 955 Fourth Avenue, where it occupied the second floor, but the station would only be there for a year.
In 1995, a fire gutted out both WGBN and the computer business that occupied the ground floor of the building both were housed in. Though WGBN's losses were covered by insurance, it would be more than six months until the station was able to return to the air from its new location at 560 Seventh Street, where it remains today.
In September of 2007, a worker dismantling the station's self-supporting 225-foot tower fell to his death about 170 feet above the ground. Daniel Plants, 51, was a West Virginia resident who had been hired as a contractor to paint WGBN's 450-foot guyed tower and tear down and replace the smaller one. Plants did not work for WGBN.
Among the talent that has roamed in and out of WKPA through the years includes Bob Livorio, Jeff Allen, Charlie Apple, Alex Mellon, Porky Chedwick, Sean Israel, Joe Fenn, Jim DeCesare, Ford Shankle, Kelly Pidgeon, Mike Alexander and George Hart.