Print | Back to e-WV The West Virginia Encyclopedia

West Virginia Public Broadcasting


The West Virginia Educational Broadcasting Authority was established by the legislature in 1963 following a 1962 executive order. The Authority, which operates as West Virginia Public Broadcasting, holds the licenses for all West Virginia public radio and public television stations. Setting policies of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, the Authority is composed of 11 members, four from higher and public education as established by the legislation and seven appointed by the governor. Public radio and television from their inception have emphasized educational broadcasting. In addition to original programs, the stations carry national programs offered by PBS, NPR, Public Radio International, and other broadcast services.

In West Virginia, public radio began in the 1960s. In 1961, WMUL, licensed to Marshall University, began broadcasting, becoming the first radio station in the state to receive a license designated as non-commercial. In 1966, WVBC, licensed to Bethany College, began broadcasting, and WVWC, licensed to West Virginia Wesleyan College, went on the air in 1968.

In 1969, public television stations began broadcasting, with WWVU-TV in Morgantown and WMUL-TV (later WPBY-TV) in Huntington. The first VHF noncommercial station in the state, WSWP-TV in Grandview, started in 1970. With the exception of WSWP, these early radio and television stations were all associated with colleges and universities.

Initially, because of the decentralized nature of the early educational broadcasting system, each station produced its own programming, which it might share with other stations. Most of the evening programs were syndicated national shows, with occasional local programming. As the system matured, in-state program production was largely centralized, first for radio and then for television. The next step was to coordinate the two, as far as possible. In the 1990s, a policy of cooperation was implemented between West Virginia Public Radio and West Virginia Public Television.

Mountain Stage, a live variety show that started in-state radio broadcasts in 1983, began regular national distribution in 1986. Other significant radio programs have included Inside Appalachia and EclecTopia, plus a daily news service that includes six bureaus located in Charleston, Beckley, Morgantown, Huntington, Shepherdstown and Bluefield. Four of the stations are hosted by universities: West Virginia University, Marshall University, Shepherd University, and Concord University. Television programs produced in West Virginia include The Legislature Today, The Law Works, and many special documentaries. The state’s public television stations broadcast nationally syndicated shows such as the PBS News Hour. Syndicated television programs directed at children include Sesame Street, Arthur, and many more.

In 2013 public radio broadcast from 16 locations in West Virginia, while public television broadcast from the original three stations and additional channels in seven other communities. Most original radio programming was produced at the public broadcasting headquarters facility in Charleston, and the daily radio broadcasts originated there. Charleston and Morgantown shared production of TV programming. An estimated 489,440 people in West Virginia and neighboring areas tuned in to West Virginia Broadcasting’s radio and television programming each week in 2012. In addition, the digital services offered by West Virginia Public Broadcasting reach more than 650,000 users annually.