Peter Cyrano Wambach was a Harrisburg broadcaster-journalist
for nearly 70 years, and a self-made historian of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
His radio program, "This is Pennsylvania," was heard daily on over
100 AM and FM radio stations throughout the state from 1964-1985. His work earned
him the name "Mr. Pennsylvania," and millions of radio listeners knew
him by his closing tag line, "This is Pete Wambach. It's a beautiful day
in Pennsylvania." The 5-minute informative segments that he produced regaled
listeners with many little known facts about people, places and things throughout
the state. During his career, he produced a total of 2,470 show segments including
such varied titles as "The Caves of Pennsylvania," "In Philadelphia,"
"John White Geary," "Fishing in Pennsylvania," "Farm
Vacations," "'B' Dekta Bricka," "The Hiking Trails,"
"Scranton's Shortstop," and "Merry Weekend in May."
Unfinished Capitol, looking west up
State Street, 8th Ward in foreground, Harrisburg, 1904
"This is Pennsylvania" was awarded
the George Washington Gold Medal by the Freedoms Foundation for the best radio
program by any governmental agency and was supported by the Pennsylvania Association
of Broadcasters, whose members donated free air time for its broadcast. Wambach's
radio series was a labor of love that he lobbied the Pennsylvania Department
of Commerce to fund. When funding for the production, distribution, research
and recording of Wambach's program was no longer available in the budget of
the Department of Commerce after July 7, 1978, the Department of Revenue briefly
provided for the shortfall until June 15, 1979, when the show ended. House Resolution
120 of July 11, 1979 called for the Department of Commerce to resume funding
for the program in order to promote tourism and to take advantage of a half
million dollars of donated free air time, but the funding was never restored.
From 1980 through 1985 the program was, however, returned to the air under the
sponsorship of the Pennsylvania Rural Electric Cooperative.
Wambach worked in radio from the late 1930s through the
1980s, instituted the first television-telephone talk show in the United States,
and wrote a column entitled "Around the Square" that appeared at various
times in both the Harrisburg Patriot News and The Paxton Herald for nearly 25
years. On the political front, he was a statewide leader in the Democratic Party,
served as a press aide for Democratic Governor George Leader and for Lt. Governor
John Morgan Davis and was an information writer for Democratic Governor David
Lawrence. In 1966 he ran unsuccessfully for the position of lieutenant governor,
and in 1974 ran a close second for the 17th District Congressional seat won
by Herman T Schneebeli.
The Point and environs, Pittsburgh,
Born on July 30, 1916 in Philadelphia, Mr. Wambach was
the son of Karl and Magdalena (Lena) Noheimer Wambach. Upon graduating from
Girard College in Philadelphia he began his public speaking career as a carnival
barker and also worked for Canada Dry Ginger Ale Company. He moved to central
Pennsylvania in 1937 where he married Margherita Carmella Zarbo on April 11,
1940 and together they had fourteen children--seven boys and seven girls. During
the 1950s he owned a restaurant in the Colonial Park Mall and from the 50s through
1967 he owned Wambach Waxworks, a record distribution company having five warehouses
in Pennsylvania. Wambach was also an author, poet, and composer, having written
a musical entitled Anthracite! about the coal regions. He was a member
of St. Patrick's Cathedral, a founding member of the Diocesan inter-religious
council, and was known for his philanthropic endeavors, his contributions of
service to social and political causes and his lectures around the Commonwealth.
One of the first inductees into the Pennsylvania Broadcasters Hall of Fame,
he received numerous other awards during his lifetime, including The George
Washington Medal of Freedom, The B'Nai Brith Award and The Four Chaplains Award.
In 2005 he was honored at the State Capitol and recordings of more than 2,000
of his broadcasts were turned over to the State Archives to be remembered as
a piece of Pennsylvania history. Peter C. Wambach died on May 17, 2007.
"Don't be takers; give back," was the motto
by which his children remembered him. It was said of him by Dr. Michael Barton,
professor of American Studies at Penn State Harrisburg, that "[He was]
one of a kind as a chronicler of the community. He made history and wrote it
at the same time. What he's left, we'll refer to as long as we want to know
anything about Harrisburg. His best memorial is what he wrote." Today,
Peter Wambach's name appears on the Hall of Fame Honor Roll of the Pennsylvania
Association of Broadcasters and many Pennsylvanians fondly remember his broadcasts
as an illuminating guide to the Commonwealth's multi-faceted history and cultural
The transcriptions, tapes and records of Wambach's work held
by the Pennsylvania State Archives document his acclaimed radio series "This
is Pennsylvania." Included in the collection are original reel to reel raw
tapes, 33 1/3 rpm record discs containing the actual broadcast versions of the
series, and transcripts of the broadcasts. A chronological
inventory of the broadcasts is available; please feel free to contact
the Archives with requests for broadcasts that are not included on this page. The audio material has been converted by Archives' staff
to .mp3 and .wav files, and can be heard in the Archives search room if prior
arrangements are made. All of the audio segments contain Wambach's famous
tag line "It's a Beautiful Day in Pennsylvania."
The newly-created Benjamin Franklin
Parkway, with the Philadelphia skyline and City Hall in the background,
#1: All in Pennsylvania.
(This serves an introduction to "This is Pennsylvania") Aired June 2-6, 1969.
#2: Pennsylvania Post Marks.
Initially aired June 2-6, 1969. [Transcription]
#3: Daniel Boone's Pennsylvania.
Aired June 2-6, 1969. [Transcription]