Union City Radio History
By Chris Lash
Today the low power FM, here in Union City at 96.7 celebrates its first birthday as Mix 96.7. The station itself has been in town for four years. To celebrate today, we thought we’d bring you the history of radio over the past 47 years, here in Union City.
George Smith, a radio engineer by trade, received a vision that the Erie area needed Christian radio. After pouring over topographic maps and spending time in thought and prayer, Smith found out about a small FM station in Union City that had become available. He contacted local pastors in the area and then approached the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Association. Eventually, the new company called Inspiration Time reached an agreement to buy a 250-watt FM station in Union City called WBVB and daily operation and management began on October 3 of that year. The station changed call letters to WCTL in January 1972 and increased power to 3,000 watts later that year. WCTL in the 1980’s and early 90’s, supported Union City in a variety of ways, including live broadcasts of the annual homecoming parade, and airing Union City Bears sports. The station was first housed in a trailer.
WBVB itself was started and owned by the late Rev. Bill Baker, who came back, and would ultimately run WCTL with his wife and daughter, before leaving to move to Youngsville, PA where he established another Christian station. In October 1993, the current WCTL, building was purchased on Route 19N/Peach Street in Waterford Township, just 5 1/2 miles south of Interstate 90.
In wasn’t until July 11th 2014, that another station would establish itself exclusively as Union City’s radio station. The downtown based Family Support Center applied for a low power FM station, consisting of 100 watts. The station staffed by volunteers featured a variety of music, and Union City Bear sports, including football, basketball and wrestling. The studio, transmitter and tower located inside the Family Support Center on Main Street downtown. On March 22nd, 2018 the Family Support Center agreed to sell the station to my wife and I. Five months later, we relaunched Union City’s newspaper online, known as Union City Today.
In December of 2016, Inspiration Time Inc, owners of WCTL, purchased AM 1530 WMCE in North East, PA. The reason behind the purchase was to move the AM station to Union City, which then, by FCC law enables them to be able to move the current Union City based 106.3 FM closer to Erie. The FCC requires that a town currently with a radio station, music have a station remain in the original city of license. Inspiration Time Inc, built the new AM station, and then joined it with several low power FM boosters known as FM translators in Erie, to create a new talk station for the city known as Erie Talks.
As we celebrate the first anniversary of Mix 96.7, we want to thank all of our business underwriters, and all of you for listening.