Broadcast Pioneers member William S. Halpern passed away on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 at the age of 84.
On Tuesday, November 29, 1949, WCOJ (1420 KHz on AM) in Coatesville, Pennsylvania came on the air, founded by Louis Seltzer and Bill Halpern. It was the very first broadcast station in Chester County. The first studios were located in a downtown Coatesville venue, the Silver Theater, and broadcast as a day-timer (during daylight hours only) with 1,000 watts. In 1952, WCOJ went to 5,000 watts with 24 hour broadcast authority. Bill served as the station’s General Manager for decades with WCOJ stressing local news with a news bureau in West Chester, the county seat.
It was Halpern who first coined the station’s slogan, “The Voice of Chester County.” WCOJ was well known for broadcasting Chester County high school sports, West Chester University football and Immaculata College basketball events.
WCOJ began broadcasting Philadelphia Phillies baseball games after he convinced sponsors that Chester County fans received lots of static during the broadcasts from Philadelphia stations.
It was Bill Halpern who trained news reporters that went on to successful broadcast careers including former Channel 10 anchor Ralph Penza, NJ Correspondent for Channel 6 Cathy Gandolfo and David Henry, also from WPVI.
During 1968, Bill Halpern founded Cable TV of Chester County. He served as its General Manager until 1983 when he sold it along with WCOJ to Lenfest Communications. After the sale Bill became a consultant for the cable facility.
Broadcasting got into Bill’s veins early when he received a crystal set from the Philco plant (where channel 3 first broadcast from) for his Bar Mitzvah at age 13. He grew up in the Tioga-Nicetown section of Philly and was graduated from Gratz High School. During the Second World War, Bill served in the United States army as a radio operator on a Pacific troopship. After leaving the service, he worked as a North Carolina radio announcer. Then he moved back into the area to Lebanon, Pennsylvania where he served as an announcer, Production Manager and Program Director at WLBR Radio.
He was a past president of the Beth Israel Congregation in Chester County and was on the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce in Coatesville. He served on the Board of Governors for the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters and the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia. He was also, at one time, our Vice-President. Bill Halpern was 84 years old.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Text written by Broadcast Pioneers member Gerry Wilkinson
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