During the early fifties, the FCC made possible many television
channels to the smaller communities for their own television stations
on the UHF band. Realizing the possibilities, two groups in the
Lebanon area joined forces to obtain a permit to operate a television
station in Lebanon. As a result of this action, on September 1, 1953,
the FCC granted a construction permit for WLBR-TV to the Lebanon
Television Corporation, a company principally owned by the Lebanon
Broadcasting Company and the Lebanon News Publishing Company.
In searching for a possible site for the station, the building of
a defunct FM station near Mt. Gretna was chosen. Major renovations to
the building were completed; an RCA 1 KW transmitter was installed, a
572′ tower was erected, and on October 9, 1953 equipment tests were
Regular programming began on October 25, 1953 with WLBR radio
personnel manning the station. Signing-on at noon and running to
approximately 9:30 in the evening, the length of the broadcast day
was rather limited.
However, the economic conditions of that year plus the poor
acceptance of UHF television by the public caused management to
realize that continued operation of the station could only result
in further financial losses. Hence, it was decided to close the
station in the fall of 1954, after approximately one year of operation.
By coincidence, a hurricane swept through the area and the station
was cut off the air by loss of electricity on the day of the scheduled
The building and equipment were left stand and little happened
until the Radio and Television Division of Triangle Publications, Inc.
of Philadelphia entered the picture in 1957. Seeking to extend their
operations in broadcasting, Triangle purchased WLBR-TV and on May 22,
1957, the transfer of the station was approved by the FCC. A construction
permit was granted to Triangle on May 23, 1957 and permission to
operate the station was granted on June 28, 1957. Immediately it was
decided to increase the power of the station’s transmitter and an RCA
10 KW transmitter was installed. Using the new transmitting additions,
regular programming began on August 5, 1957 with programs from the ABC
television network and WFIL-TV.
After a few years, in order to differentiate the new ownership,
it was decided that new call letters were in order. As a result, on
January l, 1959, the FCC granted the station the call letters WLYH-TV
indicating service to Lebanon, Lancaster, York and Harrisburg.
The station grew and during 1961, it became a CBS affiliate.
As part of its increasing growth, WLYH-TV moved to provide more
service to the Lancaster area. In this direction, a studio was
constructed in the Griest Building in Lancaster during the fall of
1961 and the station was now authorized to call itself a Lebanon Lancaster
station (as of March 20, 1961). On May 11, 1962 the
station’s city of license was changed to Lancaster by the FCC.
During 1966, the entire station was remodeled, with the
exception of the transmitter. It was now originating programs from
Lancaster and color film equipment had been installed. By 1967,
both color studio equipment and video tape had been added to the
In 1971, WLYH-TV was acquired by Gateway Communications, a company
formed by George Koehler, after Triangle Publications divested itself
of all broadcast properties. At this time, WLYH-TV moved its Lancaster operation to the Park
City Mall in Lancaster. This studio serves as a production facility
for ‘ WLYH-TV’s Public Affairs program, “Forum 15.” The facility also
serves as a headquarters for Park City Communications (P.C.C.). P.C.C.
is a rather unique mall-wide system of television monitors which are ~
used to advertise Park City Mall merchants.
In 1979, WLYH-TV made a 1.5 million dollar investment in a new
broadcast tower, and RCA transmitter. Together, the tower and transmitter
provided eight times the effective radiated power of the original
transmitter, and gave WLYH an unprecedented 60-mile signal radius.
WLYH-TV’s main facilities at Mt. Gretna underwent further remodeling
in 1981, which included new offices and a conference room. Two new video
switchers were also added, along .with various 3/4″video equipment.
Now, in 1986, WLYH-TV is installing a system of state-of-the-art
satellite dishes for reception of CBS broadcast feeds.