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The West Virginia Educational Broadcasting Authority was established by the legislature in 1963 following a 1962 executive order. The Authority holds the licenses for all West Virginia public radio and public television stations, which have operated collectively as West Virginia Public Broadcasting since 2015. Setting policies of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, the Authority is composed of 11 members: the governor or a designee, the state Superintendent of Schools, a member of the West Virginia Board of Education, a member of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, 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, EclecTopia, Us & Them, 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 have included 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.

As of 2023, public radio was broadcast on 13 FM stations in West Virginia: Beckley (91.7), Bluefield (88.5), Buckhannon (88.9), Charleston (88.5), Huntington (89.9), Martinsburg (88.9), Matewan (106.7), Morgantown (90.9), Parkersburg (90.3), Petersburg (89.5), Shepherdstown (89.7), Webster Springs (89.3), and Wheeling (89.9). Public television was broadcast from the original three stations plus three digital channels.

Most original radio programming is produced at the public broadcasting headquarters facility in Charleston, and daily radio broadcasts originate there. Charleston and Morgantown share production of TV programming. According to the agency’s 2021 annual report, an estimated 684,396 view one of the public television stations monthly, and 91,800 people listen to West Virginia Public Radio weekly. In addition, the digital services offered by West Virginia Public Broadcasting reach nearly 50,000 people weekly.

Last Revised on August 31, 2023

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Cite This Article

e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia "West Virginia Public Broadcasting." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 31 August 2023. Web. 14 June 2024.

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