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One of West Virginia’s pioneer radio stations, WHIS had its origins in the ambitions of Hugh and Jim Shott, sons of Hugh Ike Shott Sr. (1866–1953), owner of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph and later a congressman. The brothers made initial efforts at radio as early as 1922 and in the spring of 1929 obtained a federal license as WHIS (for the initials of Hugh Ike Shott). They went on the air as a 100-watt station on June 27 with a broadcast that featured the local Lions Club quartet. In the next few years the station increased its power to 250 watts in 1933, 500 in 1935, and 5,000 in 1948.

In 1939, WHIS affiliated with the NBC network. Local programming remained important, however, and a favorite program for many years was The Breakfast Club with Stuart Odell and Red Clark. Live country music also played a major role at WHIS, with groups such as the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers, Rex and Eleanor Parker, and the duo of Lynn Davis and Molly O’Day being headquartered there at various times and such well-known figures as Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith there for shorter stints.

In 1948, the Shotts made a premature effort at an FM station, but later abandoned it as few of their listeners had FM radios. In 1963, they revived the station, which later became WHAJ-FM (for Hugh and Jim). The family ventured into television with WHIS-TV in 1955.

By 1981, Mike Shott, Jim’s grandson, had become general manager and WHIS had a ‘‘beautiful music’’ format while WHAJ played ‘‘adult contemporary.’’ Pressure from the Federal Communications Commission forced the Shott family to divest themselves of their TV station in 1980 and the Daily Telegraph in 1985. However, Mike Shott retained WHIS and WHAJ for several years under the corporate name of Adventure Communications, Inc.

WHIS now broadcasts an all-talk format on 1440 AM and 93.7 FM. WHAJ plays contemporary hits on 104.5 FM. All are owned by Charles Spencer and Rick Lambert through First Media Services.

This Article was written by Ivan M. Tribe

Last Revised on September 01, 2023

Related Articles


Tribe, Ivan M. Mountaineer Jamboree: Country Music in West Virginia. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1984.

Becker, Martha J. & Marilyn Fletcher. Broadcasting in West Virginia: A History. Charleston: West Virginia Broadcasters Association, 1989.

Cite This Article

Tribe, Ivan M. "WHIS." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 01 September 2023. Web. 21 July 2024.


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