Text and photos by SCOTT FYBUSH
I’ve spent a lot of time over the years driving past Mansfield, Pennsylvania. When you live in Rochester, the most direct route south into central Pennsylvania and then to Baltimore, DC and beyond is US 15, the proverbial “long and winding road” that is slowly being upgraded into a modern freeway.
Just south of the New York state line, 15 these days is a new, fast road that’s shaved close to an hour off the drive from Corning to Williamsport. The downside of that fast drive is that it speeds right past the interesting cluster of stations in and around Mansfield, the college town that sits just off 15, 20 minutes or so into Pennsylvania.
With a day to spare last fall, I got off 15 and took some time to see the sites of all the stations I hear as I’m driving through. It’s just a quick exit off 15 at US 6 in Mansfield to get to Mansfield University, home of college station WNTE (89.5), located atop one of the college’s hilltop buildings – but not all the way at the top of the hill, so we can actually drive up above the WNTE antenna to get a shot looking down at it and at the town beyond it.
As with so many small Pennsylvania towns, the big commercial cluster here belongs to Seven Mountains.
Its studio is just up the hill from the university, in a building that looks like it could have been built for radio studios back in the 1950s – but it’s not! It turns out this used to be a church, as evidenced by the glass-block cross in what’s now the office area in back, which was once the sanctuary.
The studios are right off the lobby in front: one on the side for “Bigfoot Country,” heard on WNBT (104.5) in nearby Wellsboro, and a production studio in the back corner.
Next to that is the tchotchke-filled air studio for classic hits “WOGA in Tioga,” WOGA (92.3 Mansfield) and simulcast on WNDA (1490) there and on translators on 93.5 in Mansfield and 93.1 in Wellsboro.
Just beyond that, near the entrance to the old sanctuary, is the rack room feeding all the sites we’re about to see.
Continuing up the hill east of Mansfield on US 6, we turn north on PA 549 to make our way up to an old microwave tower that’s home to the market’s translators. From the top down, there’s a Pensacola Christian Church translator on 90.7, a Jimmy Swaggart translator on 91.5, and two Seven Mountains signals, a 97.9 repeating Elmira’s WNKI (Wink 106) and the 93.5 relaying WNDA.
WOGA is the northernmost of these signals, up a narrow windy road on a hill just east of the new 15 freeway outside Tioga, Pennsylvania; from up there, it puts a listenable signal all the way from Mansfield up into Corning. This class A signal hit the air in 1998 as WNBQ, a simulcast of WNBT over in Wellsboro.
(And we’re cheating a bit here – we actually saw WOGA a few months after the rest of these visits, on a separate day trip that we’ll document in an upcoming installment.)
Heading back to US 6, the trip west from Mansfield to Wellsboro takes us past a station that came close to losing its license. WLIH (107.1 Whitneyville) is a small religious station with its studio and tower just a block north of Route 6. It failed to file for its license renewal in 2014 and again in 2022, which means it was technically deleted when we drove by. But it’s been saved – it reached a consent decree with the FCC, paid a $3000 fine and it’s legal again.
Wellsboro had the earliest radio stations in the region: it was back in 1955 when the current WNDA signed on as WNBT(AM). Cary Simpson, one of Pennsylvania’s legendary small-town broadcasters, owned the WNBT stations for many decades. In 1969, he added an FM, WCRG, on 97.7; it moved to 104.5 in 1973 and upgraded to class B.
WNDA and its 93.1 translator broadcast the “WOGA” classic hits format from a hill next to the town’s Woodland Park, just southeast of downtown. Look closely at the tower and you’ll see a folded unipole antenna for the AM station, with a receive antenna for the main WOGA signal and the 93.1 translator antenna mounted up above that.
The 50,000-watt WNBT signal comes from west of town, on Dutch Hill Road off PA 660 at a site adjacent to the Tioga County communications tower.
Have we completed our sweep of north central Pennsylvania? Not hardly – there are some interesting sites out in the hinterlands beyond Mansfield and Wellsboro worth seeing, and we’ll show you those next week!
FEBRUARY IS ALMOST GONE
We are down to our final copies and they won’t be reprinted.
This is the 23rd edition of our popular wall calendar, featuring gorgeous full-color photos of tower and transmitter sites from around the country, and sometimes the world. Our photos capture the sites throughout the day and throughout the year.
This makes a great gift for the tower enthusiast in your life — or a special treat for yourself!
Don’t miss out — order yours today!
And don’t miss a big batch of Pennsylvania IDs next Wednesday, over at our sister site, TopHour.com!
Thanks to WOGA’s Ryan Dalton for the tour!
Next week: More of Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier