WCHS in Charleston is the third-oldest radio station in West Virginia. The AM station went on the air as WOBU, September 15, 1927, with 50 watts at 1120 kHz. A year later it moved to 580 kHz, its present frequency, where it shared time until 1933 with WSAZ (now WRVC) in Huntington.
Walter Fredericks, owner of Charleston Radio Supply Company, started WCHS, reportedly to sell more radios. Fredericks sold the station in 1930. The call letters had changed to WCHS by early 1933, and seven years later the station was authorized to increase power to its present 5,000 watts. Early local performers included country musicians Bill Cox and the Kessinger Brothers. The Old Farm Hour program broadcast live country music on Friday nights from the WCHS Auditorium.
WCHS is a long-time affiliate of the CBS Radio Network. By the 1960s, network offerings were being replaced by local programming, mostly adult contemporary music, with an emphasis on news and information. Sports programming has included Cincinnati Reds baseball, high school and West Virginia University football and basketball, and the long-running Sports Page of the Air program, hosted for many years by Ernie Saunders.
WCHS-TV, Channel 8, was launched in 1954, and is now independent of the radio station, with separate owners. WCHS-FM (now WKWS) went on the air in 1969. West Virginia Radio Corporation acquired the station in 1992 and launched the current program format of national and local news, talk, and sports. The station’s long-time location at 1111 Virginia Street East now houses facilities for the company’s seven radio stations in the Charleston market.
Written by Ed McDonald