Broadcaster Harry Morgan Brawley (October 8, 1909-March 25, 1992) was born in Charleston. After contracting polio at age two, he succeeded in learning to walk but struggled with this disability for his entire life. He graduated from Charleston High School in 1927. Brawley attended Marshall College (now Marshall University) and then West Virginia University, where he graduated in 1930 with a B.S. in political science. He earned an M.A. in education at WVU in 1932. He taught history at Lincoln Junior High, 1932–35, and later at Charleston High School, pioneering the use of radio in teaching. In 1945, Brawley accepted a position as director of public affairs at Charleston radio station WCHS. He aired his first radio program for secondary schools, on the timely subject of the United Nations, in September 1945. He later founded the pioneering ‘‘School of the Air’’ and won a 1947 award for the series.
Brawley was instrumental in the formation of West Virginia educational television and later public radio, which are now West Virginia Public Broadcasting. He worked with his friend, Congressman Harley O. Staggers, to write federal legislation that became the Educational Television and Radio Amendments of 1969. This legislation permitted public broadcasting stations to purchase, through grants, the equipment necessary to get on the air.
In retirement, Brawley was known as an authority on Charleston history and developed several popular slide shows that were made into videotapes. He served on Charleston City Council from 1973 to 1987. Brawley Walkway in downtown Charleston was named in his honor in 1984.
This Article was written by Richard Fauss
Last Revised on September 26, 2012
Brawley, Harry M. Twenty Years on an Oasis in the Vast Wasteland. Charleston: Education Foundation, 1981.
Harry Brawley: Making a Difference. Documentary. Huntington: WBPY, 1993.