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Radio station WSAZ (now WRVC) is West Virginia’s oldest continuously licensed AM radio station. It began broadcasting on October 16, 1923, in Pomeroy, Ohio, and moved to nearby Huntington in March 1927. Early downtown studio locations included the Prichard Hotel and the Keith-Albee Theater.

WSAZ’s original frequency was 1160 kHz. After several changes, it moved in 1928 to 580 kHz. In 1941, it began full-time operation and assumed the permanent frequency of 930 kHz. Following World War II, the station’s daytime power increased to its current 5,000 watts. The station affiliated with the Blue Network (later the ABC Radio Network) in 1943, and switched to NBC in 1957.

In 1929, WSAZ was purchased by the Huntington Publishing Company, the publisher of the Advertiser and Herald-Dispatch newspapers, which started the state’s first television station with the same call letters in 1949. In 1961, both broadcast properties were sold to out-of-state owners, with the radio call letters changed to WGNT in 1970. In 1988, the station returned to local ownership. The call letters were changed briefly to WTKZ and then to WRVC, standing for ‘‘River Cities.’’

In addition to the network programs, WSAZ in its early years offered live programming. Musician David Miller, known as ‘‘The Blind Soldier,’’ and his West Virginia Mockingbirds offered listeners some of the first commercial country music. Under the management of Flem Evans in the early 1940s, WSAZ listeners were treated to several other country acts, ranging from Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith to the Bailes Brothers. Gene Kelly, later the radio broadcaster for the Philadelphia Phillies, served as a WSAZ announcer in the same decade.

In the 1960s, WSAZ developed a program format of adult-oriented music with an emphasis on news, sports, and community service. The music changed to country in 1983, and the 1988 ownership change introduced the current format of news, talk, and sports. In addition to local news, WRVC airs news from CNN Radio and the statewide MetroNews network. It is a long-time outlet for Cincinnati Reds baseball and for 50 years has been the flagship station for Marshall University sports.

This Article was written by Ed McDonald

Last Revised on October 16, 2015

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Cite This Article

McDonald, Ed "WSAZ." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 16 October 2015. Web. 06 December 2016.

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