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The Radio Billboard Contest that ‘Rocked’ Allentown Natives

Mihaela Mfarej | Editor

In the 1960s, my father often spent time huddled around the family hi-fi stereo hanging on to every word from any radio station he could get a signal for. In 2024, I pull into my driveway and sift through the mailbox only to end up adding to the piles of mail from the North American Shortwave Association (NASWA), WDIY 88.1WHYY-FM stations. I am infatuated with his memories of mass media, however one story he told at the dinner table has continued to captivate me. 

In 1982, local Lehigh Valley radio station,1470 WSAN, wanted to create visibility and advertise. They did what any American knew best in the time of economic disparity, endurance marathons. Desperation during the depression in the 80s was at an all-time high and the contest was only a microcosm of the hardships locals faced. The station broadcasted their “You’ll Love to Live With Us” contest, giving away a modular home worth $18,000 to the person who could sit on the billboard platform the longest. What seemed like a simple marketing ploy was highly underestimated by the media. Three men, Ron Kistler, Mike McKay, and Dalton Young, climbed 30 feet to the platform where they would end up spending 261 days. What started out as a simple contest would end in drug charges for Young with the contest officially ending due to the other two contestants having to testify in court. On June 7, 1983, Kistler and McKay made their way back down the ladder; however, all contestants were winners. Sponsors of the event upped their prize-winning to a modular home, a Chevrolet Chevette, and a free vacation for each of the participants.


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