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WWVA is an AM radio station that broadcasts on a frequency of 1170 kHz with studios in Wheeling, West Virginiamarker, USAmarker and its transmitter in St. Clairsville, Ohiomarker. It is a class A 50,000 watt clear-channel station, sharing the frequency with KFAQmarker (formerly KVOO) in Tulsa, Oklahomamarker. WWVA can be heard in most of the eastern two-thirds of the United States at night, as well as most of Canada. The station is currently owned by Clear Channel Communications and uses the on-air nickname "The Big One" (borrowed from sister stations WLWmarker and WTAMmarker).

History

WWVA began broadcasting in at 2:00 a.m. on December 13, 1926. Electronics wizard, physics teacher, and inventor John Stroebel threw the switch that sent power surging through the tiny, home-built 50-watt transmitter in the basement of his home. One week earlier, the Federal Communications Commission had granted a broadcast license on 860 kilocycles to the radio station WWVA. In its first year of operation, it broadcast to listeners with home-made crystal sets, principally from Stroebel's own home.

Through the years, WWVA was granted several power increases. In May 1941, the FCC moved WWVA to 1170 KC, and in August of that same year, granted the ultimate power for AM stations: 50,000 watts. In doing so, WWVA became the most powerful AM station in the entire state of West Virginiamarker.

WWVA has changed hands many times over the years. Past owners include Fidelity Investments, West Virginia Broadcasting Corporation, Storer Broadcasting, Basic Communications, Screen Gems Radio - a division of Columbia Pictures, Coca-Cola, Price Broadcasting, Osborn Communications, Atlantic Star Communications, AMFM Inc., and currently Clear Channel Communications.

WWVA’s broadcast history includes the airing of such notable live broadcasts as President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s visit to the Wheeling area, the daily Paul Harvey broadcast, which was fed to the nation from WWVA’s studios (WWVA was an ABC affiliate from 1962 to 2005. In the 1980s, WWVA briefly enjoyed a reputation as one of the leading radio news operations in the country, and won several national news reporting awards under the leadership of prominent broadcast journalists such as Jim Forsyth and Colleen Marshall, but that reputation faded in the 1990s. Harvey, however, remained on the station's schedule, and the legendary Jamboree USA and Jamboree in the Hills broadcasts. The WWVA Jamboree broadcasts started on January 7, 1933 and was even transmitted to troops abroad during the height of World War II.

Under Basic ownership, the Jamboree became the centerpiece of an all-contemporary country western format starting on November 8, 1965, a format that saw ratings skyrocket weeks after it debuted. WWVA's studios and the Jamboree moved to the Capitol Music Hall in 1970, a civic center that is the largest in the state of West Virginiamarker.

This country music format lasted until 1997, when WWVA abandoned it in favor of news/talk. Assumption of ownership by Clear Channel Communications resulted in the addition of such hosts as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. A series of cost-cutting moves in January 2004 resulted in the elimination of both local talk hosts (George Kellas and Jim Harrington) and most of the news department. Coinciding with this was an attempt to relocate the broadcast frequency to Stow, Ohiomarker under an FCC major construction permit four weeks later. This permit was withdrawn in August 2004.

Since then, much of WWVA's programming today emulates regional sister stations WPGB-FM in Pittsburghmarker and WHLO in Akron, Ohiomarker. One local link to the station's past was the afternoon drive show hosted by former sportscaster Steve Novotney, but he was also fired from WWVA in November 2006. At the time, the only local talk show remaining on WWVA was Saturday Sports Day with John Simonson, but WWVA, then in negotiations with new ownership, made a bold move when they paid more money to David Bloomquist to export his Bloomdaddy Experience from rival local station, WKKXmarker in late May/early June 2007. The move was controversial (even though the reason given by WKKX to let Bloomquist go appeared to been in conjunction to the Don Imus Rutgers controversy that transpired on MSNBC around that same time), as WKKX members appeared very bitter about the exit, and Bloomquist has since seen a rebirth of sorts in his radio career with a change in venue. It's interesting to note, however, that WKKX had picked up George Kellas and had since made his show their flagship show, and had also picked up Novotney, with both men having a rebirth in their own right. Furthermore, none of the three men have had any love lost between them and their former employers since leaving one station to move to the other.

Jamboree USA, until recently, was on WWVA's schedule. In spite of a current hiatus, it was the second-longest running program in radio history (The Grand Ole Oprymarker on WSMmarker Nashvillemarker is the oldest, having first aired in 1925). However, in an ironic move, the Jamboree has recently been dropped from WWVA's schedule, and has since been picked up by WKKX.

The country format remains on sister station WOVK-FMmarker, though it remains to be seen if, due to WWVA dropping Jamboree USA, the station will continue to be the FM flagship station of the event once the show resumes upon the reopening of the Capitol Music Hall.

On November 16, 2006, WWVA, WOVKmarker, WVKFmarker, WKWKmarker, WEGWmarker and WBBDmarker were announced for sale as part of Clear Channel's divestiture of almost 450 small and middle-market radio properties in the U.S. The Clear Channel Wheeling stations were initially slated to be sold to Florida based GoodRadio.TV LLC in May 2007, but the deal soon collapsed prior to FCC approval.

Programming

WWVA's weekday programming is identical to that of most Clear Channel news talk stations (owing to its previous ownership), carrying Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, and George Noory. The station opts for paid programming in the late nights.

Until 2009, unlike most Clear Channel news talk stations, WWVA did not air Coast to Coast AM. Instead, it aired America's Trucking Network (still listing it as Truckin' Bozo on the schedule, even several years after the show changed its name) originating from former sister station WLWmarker. The truck show had been a longtime staple of WWVA's nighttime schedule. WWVA was one of the first stations to syndicate The Truckin' Bozo (as well as one of the last; outside of WLW, only one other terrestrial station still carries the syndicated program), and even before that, Buddy Ray hosted a longtime truck show on the station. The truck programming was unceremoniously dropped in 2009, replaced with Coast to Coast, already available from the many other AM signals that penetrate the area.

Its radio signals can be picked up quite strongly in as far away as Toronto, Ontariomarker, giving Toronto the ability to hear such programs which are not permitted to air in Toronto due to Canadian content regulations.

Weekdays



Saturday



Sunday



Notes

  • WWVA was one of the first stations in the US to have an in-studio Citizens' Band Radio to talk to listeners at night, in between songs and other on-air items, during the 1970s when it produced and ran an in-house nightly truckers' show hosted by the popular radio personality, Buddy Ray. Ray left the station in the early 1980s.
  • WWVA relies on a fairly large amount of paid and religious programming during the evening and weekend hours. It is one of a handful of 50,000 watt AM stations that still do this practice, including WCKY in Cincinnati, Ohiomarker and KXEL in Waterloo, Iowamarker.
  • In two instances has WWVA been threatened with relocation, neither being successful: first in 1930 to Charlestonmarker by then-owner West Virginia Broadcasting Corporation, and again in 2004 to Stow, Ohiomarker (a suburb of Akronmarker) by Clear Channel Communications.


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