Lebanon County’s oldest continuously-operating radio station, WLBR 1270, suddenly changed its format at 9:00 a.m. today to “Classic Hits,” and began identifying itself as “Big Wilbur – 1270.”
Strains of Queen’s “We Are the Champions” greeted surprised listeners who tuned in expecting to hear popular local talk show “On Air with Laura LeBeau.”
The new format appears to be a preprogrammed music stream. When asked whether the disc jockey introducing the songs was in the WLBR studios in Ebenezer, station manager Tim Ritchie declined to comment.
Ritchie confirmed the format change in a phone call with LebTown this morning. He said that Lebeau’s four-hour local talk show is no more, although Lebeau remains at WLBR and will be “doing local news.”
Ritchie had no comment on whether any station employees, on-air or behind the scenes, had been terminated as part of the change. He specifically declined to comment on the status of long time newsman, Gordon Weise.
Nor did Ritchie have any comment on the status of WLBR’s sister station, WQIC-FM, other than to say that its format remained the same for the time being.
Ritchie added that all nationally-syndicated talk shows that WLBR had been airing, such as Sean Hannity and Mike Gallagher, have also been dropped.
The early morning format, a locally-produced mix of news, weather, sports, and features, will continue in some form, according to Ritchie, although he declined to give further details.
And, Ritchie added, he expects that the Philadelphia Phillies will continue to be heard on WLBR, along with other sporting events. Again, Ritchie would not give specifics of other teams and sporting events that the station might continue to carry.
Ritchie referred all other questions to Forever Media management, who had not responded to previous outreach by LebTown.
WLBR and WQIC were owned by Lebanon Broadcasting Company until late last year, when they were sold to Holidaysburg-based Forever Media. Up to then, co-founder Lester Etter and his son, Robert, controlled the local stations since WLBR first took to the airwaves in 1946.
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