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WBUT
WBUT logo.jpg
Broadcast area Butler, Pennsylvania / Pittsburgh
Branding BUT Kickin' Country!
Frequency 1050 (kHz)
First air date March 14, 1949
Format Country, news, talk, sports
ERP 500 watts (day)
65 watts (night)
Class D
Callsign meaning BUTler County
Owner Butler County Radio Network
Website InsideButlerCounty.com

WBUT is a commercial AM radio station, licensed to Butler, Pennsylvania. The station first went on the air in 1949, about seven years following the debut of its competitor and present affiliate station, WISR.

WBUT operates at the federally-assigned frequency of 1050 kilohertz, with a maximum power output of 500 watts. Like other small AM's of its day, it was licensed to operate only during daylight hours. That changed when WBUT was granted a license to operate at 65 watts during nighttime hours beginning in the mid 1980s.

Contents

History

The station was founded in 1949 and first owned by the Wise family, which also published The Butler Eagle, Butler's daily newspaper, doing business as Eagle Printing Company. J. Leonard Taylor served as the station's first general manager.

WBUT originally was issued a construction permit to operate at the frequency of 1580 kHz, upon which it operated at a power of 500 watts for a period of several years after going on the air. The station first operated from the Nixon Hotel in downtown Butler, where Morgan Center stands today.

WRYO, a radio station that debuted at 1050 kHz in 1948 in Rochester, Beaver County, failed by 1955, leaving its channel available for WBUT, which uses this channel today. Like WRYO, WBUT operated at 250 watts once assuming this channel until its current tower in Center Township was built in 1979. WBUT began broadcasting from this new tower in 1980, and was subsequently allowed to double its power to the current value of 500 watts, but still retained its daytime-only operational status.

With the frequency swap, came its first change in ownership. The new WBUT, along with its sister FM operating at 103.9 mHz, were sold to Beacom Broadcasting Enterprises in 1955.

WBUT operated as an AM/FM combo, and then as an AM standalone until 1955, when it successfully applied for another FM license, which coincidentally, once belonged to its competitor, WISR-AM, which had returned it citing an unneccsary expense. WBUT earlier had given up its 103.9 mHz frequency, which was later located to Mercer County. The call letters were immediately changed to WBUT-FM, with the two stations simulcasting one another until the FCC enacted new rules in 1965 which called for combination license holders to offer unduplicated programming at least half of the broadcast day. The stations continued to simulcast part-time throughout the early 21st century.

WBUT broadcast tower, located in Center Township behind Clearview Mall, just off Route 8 north. The WLER-FM tri-bay antenna is at the top of the tower.

The stations were purchased by Larry Berg in 1964, who did business as WBUT, Inc. This remained the licensee almost through the end of the 20th Century, though the owner principals would change less than 15 years later.

WBUT and WLER studio location at 1758 North Main Street Extension (PA Route 8) in Center Township, at the corner of Mercer Road. This location was home to both stations from 1987 to 2003, and today houses a restaurant, salon, and sign shop.

WBUT AM/FM was sold on July 14, 1978 from Larry Berg to Brandon Communications Systems, Incorporated, a company headed by Robert C. "Bob" Brandon and his brother Ronald (Berg would later join the staff of then-competitor WISR as a sales rep and talk show host), but the licensee remained under the name WBUT Inc. Not long after acquiring the two stations, Brandon moved both from their downtown Butler location at the Nixon Hotel to a Center Township office and then across the street to a former Citizens' Bank branch north of Butler at the intersection of Route 8 (aka North Main Street Extension) and Mercer Road in Center Township.

WBUT on-air studio console, a Broadcast Electronics 8M250A, taken at the station's former location in Center Township in 1990. This monaural console was manufactured in 1988 and is still in use today at WBUT's current location at Pullman Commerce Center in Butler. A stereo version of this console was used at around the same time for WLER-FM.

When the decision was made to separate the AM and FM stations, Brandon used his knowledge in broadcast engineering to construct an automation system capable of providing live-sounding programming on his FM station, now assigned the call letters WLER-FM. WBUT and WLER would both sign on at 6am, simulcast its morning show for two hours, break away at 8am, and then rejoin at 7pm before signing off at 10pm.

Music and voice-tracked personalities [a practice that still had yet to gain momentum] were provided by Concept Productions, based in Roseville, California. Personalities like Steven Tyler, Dave Ware and Terry Nelson were all thought to be on-site announcers. While these announcers aired on WLER, WBUT aired more local news and information intensive programming, with popular shows like "The Super Store", a buy-sell-trade program allowing listeners to sell unwanted items or find others for sale, and "Speak Up", a locally-produced talk show that ran after the noon news.

WBUT and WLER welcomed a third station into the fold, longtime crosstown competitor WISR, in 1997, following its sale by Butler Broadcasting, Inc. The Brandon brothers then changed the name of their company to the Butler County Radio Network. Within a few years, the Brandons would sell their interests, along with their partners, to its present group of four owners, who continue to do business as the Butler County Radio Network today.

WBUT in the news

A near-tragedy took place in the summer of 1990 when then-program director Shirley A. "Sam" Minehart was changing an automation tape for WLER. The automation system was separated by a large plate-glass window from outside, that would allow Route 8 commuters to see programming at work. A vehicle traveling on Route 8 went out of control and crashed through the window and into the automation system. Minehart had just walked away from the system as the car crashed through the window, scattering shards of glass everywhere.

WBUT news reporter Dave Cubbison was on the air delivering a live newscast when he looked up and saw the car coming towards the building, yelling to Minehart "Oh no, there's a car coming...run!" into an open microphone. Knowing the car was going to hit, Cubbison then ran and dove under a desk. Cubbison and Minehart were not hurt, but the driver did sustain minor injuries.

WBUT Today

WBUT has always been a locally-owned radio station since its beginnings, never having ownership outside of Butler County, and has only had three owners during its history of more than half a century. The station switched from oldies to country music early in 2006. Morning show host Bob Cupp has been with the station for more than 25 years. In 2003, WBUT and WLER moved from their studio building in Center Township and joined WISR in a new facility at the Pullman Commerce Center, on the city's south side, near the village of Lyndora.

Notable on air personalities include "The Breakfast Club" with Bob, Bill, and Wes; "The Super Store" with Pat Parker; Bob Cupp and "The Noon News" magazine; plus afternoons with Wes Briggs. News segments on the station are provided by Bill Davis & Ken Hawk.

Sources

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