2018-03-10 / Front Page

Local radio station marks 60 years


Morning radio personalities Gary and Tina Solak are at the controls of WLEM radio, which is celebrating six decades of being on the air throughout Cameron, Elk, Potter and McKean counties. The AM station first took to the airwaves in March of 1958. Morning radio personalities Gary and Tina Solak are at the controls of WLEM radio, which is celebrating six decades of being on the air throughout Cameron, Elk, Potter and McKean counties. The AM station first took to the airwaves in March of 1958. Local radio is alive and well in Emporium as WLEM- 1250 observes its 60th anniversary. The station first signed on in March 1958. Initially broadcast from the old Warner Hotel, where a convenience store now stands, the 2,500- watt station has changed locations numerous times, but its roots have always remained firmly entrenched in Cameron County. Long-time announcer Gary Solak, a Point Park College graduate who worked at stations in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Ridgway before making his way to WLEM, signed on in 1994.

“The station was a mishmash of formats, with local and national news and everything from polkas and big band music to Elvis,” Solak said. “Eventually we moved to country music and now we focus on classic hits.”

About 10 years ago, owner John Salter implemented several changes to increase the station’s focus on local news and events.

“Local content has always been our focus, but it’s even more so now,” Solak explained. “The direction has shifted toward more local personalities, programs and especially high school sports.”

WLEM covers all school sports from Cameron County and Elk County Catholic, as well as youth baseball. Local sports are also streamed on WLEM’s “sister station,” WQKY- 98.9 FM.

News is broadcast at the top and bottom of each hour. Local weather reports are given twice every 60- minute segment.

Weekly shows such as Town Hall Talk, Discover the Great Outdoors, and Senior Living complement the daily programming of the station.

WLEM has embraced technology and made use of social media outlets to expand its regional footprint. The station has a website, a Facebook page, its own YouTube channel and live video streaming through Facebook Live.

“Keeping up with the digital age and expanding your reach is imperative,” Solak said. “If you don’t find unique ways to cover news and embrace new technology, you’ll get left behind.”

Return to top