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If you grew up in Pennsylvania in the 1970’s and 80’s, and found yourself anywhere near a radio, it’s a good bet that you have heard this man’s voice. From 1969 through 1985 the words “It’s a Beautiful Day In Pennsylvania” were delivered through the gravelly vocal chords of one Pete Wambach. During it’s run, the radio feature program officially titled “This is Pennsylvania,” was broadcast on more than 100 Pennsylvania radio stations. The idea was simple, each day Pete presented a little known fact about the state’s history, some local trivia from a long forgotten corner of the state or a highlight of an upcoming fair or cultural event. The productions were straight reads, containing no background music or beds, just Pete and the stories as only he could tell them.
Pete had a certain poetic way of presenting his 3 to 5 minute features, weather describing Pennsylvania’s Flaming Foliage or telling the story of The Auctioneer’s Rebellion, it was hard not to be pulled in. His complete mastery of storytelling and the art of communication can be attributed to his many years as a broadcast journalist. Starting in radio in the late 1930’s, Pete’s communication accomplishments include becoming a long time columnist for both the Harrisburg Patriot News and the Paxton Herald, creating the first television-telephone talk show in the country, and hosting various radio and television programs. Pete found himself close to Pennsylvania politics and the Democratic Party serving as a press aide for Governor George Leader, and even ran, albeit unsuccessfully, for lieutenant governor in 1966 and the 17th District Congressional seat in 1974. On the business front he owned Wambach Waxworks, a record distribution company and a restaurant in the Colonial Park Mall from the 50’s through the 60’s. Creatively he even wrote a musical about the coal region entitled “Anthracite!”
WISL radio was one of the affiliates of “This is Pennsylvania” and Pete Wambach was a frequent guest on the station. Whether in studio or via telephone, it was always great radio when Pete Wambach was involved.
Our presentation today is very fitting considering that this week marks Shamokin’s 150th Anniversary celebration. During this week, we reflect on what it means to be from Shamokin, what it was like growing up here. We remember the good times, the bad times and everything that brought us to where we are today. We remember the rich heritage of this amazing place known as “The Coal Region.” In this feature, originally broadcast on April 14th 1983, Pete takes a look at “The Region.” He eloquently describes, the people, the places, the feelings, the history… what it means to be from here, from Shamokin, from “The Region.”
“… No people on earth are so proud, and with all the reason in the world to be, because they live and work and play and eat and die in The Region.”
This is Pennsylvania – “The Region” April 14, 1983
After his death in 2007, his family donated his transcripts and audio recordings to the Pennsylvania State Archive. The staff has digitally converted and cataloged these historic programs and has made many of them available to hear on their website. CLICK HERE to visit the Pete’s page on the State Archives website. You may also hear the many programs we have recovered every weekday morning at roughly 9:30am at www.WISL1480.com.
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