|This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2011)|
|City of license||Wheeling, West Virginia|
|Branding||"NewsRadio 1170 WWVA"|
|Slogan||"The Big One"|
|First air date||December 13, 1926|
|Power||50,000 watts (day)
50,000 watts (night)
|Callsign meaning||Wheeling West VirginiA|
|Former frequencies||860 kHz (1926-1941)|
|Affiliations||Fox News Radio, Premiere Radio Networks, Talk Radio Network|
|Owner||Clear Channel Communications
(Capstar TX, LLC)
WWVA (1170 AM, "NewsRadio 1170") is an American radio station that broadcasts on a frequency of 1170 kHz with studios in Wheeling, West Virginia. Its towers were located in St. Clairsville, Ohio, before they were destroyed in an August 2010 storm. The station is operating with reduced power due to the damage.
When on the air, it is West Virginia's only class A 50,000 watt clear-channel station, sharing the frequency with KFAQ (formerly KVOO) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. WWVA can be heard in most of the eastern two-thirds of the United States at night, as well as most of Canada. The station is currently owned by Clear Channel Communications and uses the on-air nickname "The Big One" (borrowed from sister stations WLW and WTAM).
WWVA was one of the first stations in the US to have an in-studio Citizens' Band Radio to talk to listeners at night, in between songs and other on-air items, during the 1970s when it produced and ran an in-house nightly truckers' show hosted by the popular radio personality, Buddy Ray. Ray left the station in the early 1980s.
In two instances has WWVA been threatened with relocation, neither being successful: first in 1930 to Charleston by then-owner West Virginia Broadcasting Corporation, and again in 2004 to Stow, Ohio (a suburb of Akron) by Clear Channel Communications.
WWVA began broadcasting at 2 a.m. on December 13, 1926. John Stroebel threw the switch that sent power to a home-built 50-watt transmitter in the basement of his home. One week earlier, the Federal Radio Commission had granted a broadcast license on 860 kilocycles to the radio station WWVA. In its first year of operation, it broadcast to listeners with home-made crystal sets, principally from Stroebel's own home.
Through the years, WWVA has been granted several power increases. In May 1941, the FCC moved WWVA to 1170, and in August of that same year, granted the ultimate power for AM stations: 50,000 watts. In doing so, WWVA became the most powerful AM station in the entire state of West Virginia.
WWVA has changed hands many times over the years. Past owners include Fidelity Investments, West Virginia Broadcasting Corporation, Storer Broadcasting, Basic Communications, Screen Gems Radio - a division of Columbia Pictures, Coca-Cola, Price Broadcasting, Osborn Communications, Atlantic Star Communications, AMFM Inc., and currently Clear Channel Communications.
WWVA’s broadcast history includes the airing of such notable live broadcasts as President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s visit to the Wheeling area. In the 1980s, WWVA briefly enjoyed a reputation as one of the leading radio news operations in the country, and won several national news reporting awards under the leadership of prominent broadcast journalists such as Jim Forsyth and Colleen Marshall, but that reputation faded in the 1990s. Harvey, however, remained on the station's schedule, and the legendary Jamboree USA and Jamboree in the Hills broadcasts. The WWVA Jamboree broadcasts started on January 7, 1933 and was even transmitted to troops abroad during the height of World War II.
Under Basic ownership, the Jamboree became the centerpiece of an all-contemporary country western format starting on November 8, 1965, a format that saw ratings skyrocket weeks after it debuted. WWVA's studios and the Jamboree moved to the Capitol Music Hall in 1970, a civic center that is the largest in the state of West Virginia.
This country music format lasted until 1997, when WWVA abandoned it in favor of news/talk. Assumption of ownership by Clear Channel Communications resulted in the addition of such hosts as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. A series of cost-cutting moves in January 2004 resulted in the elimination of both local talk hosts (George Kellas and Jim Harrington) and most of the news department. Coinciding with this was an attempt to relocate the broadcast frequency to Stow, Ohio, under an FCC major construction permit four weeks later. This permit was withdrawn in August 2004.
Since then, much of WWVA's programming today emulates regional sister stations WPGB-FM in Pittsburgh and WHLO in Akron, Ohio. One local link to the station's past was the afternoon drive show hosted by former sportscaster Steve Novotney, but he was also fired from WWVA in November 2006. At the time, the only local talk show remaining on WWVA was Saturday Sports Day with John Simonson, but WWVA, then in negotiations with new ownership, made a bold move when they paid more money to David Bloomquist to export his Bloomdaddy Experience from rival local station, WKKX in late May/early June 2007. The move was controversial (even though the reason given by WKKX to let Bloomquist go was in conjunction with the Don Imus Rutgers controversy that transpired on MSNBC around that same time), as WKKX members appeared bitter about the exit. Clear Channel began to syndicate Bloomdaddy through the northeast and midwest after the cancellation of The War Room with Quinn and Rose in November 2013.
The Original Wheeling Radio Jamboree (formerly Jamboree USA) is the second-longest running program in radio history (The Grand Ole Opry on WSM Nashville is the oldest, having first aired in 1925). However, in an ironic move, the Jamboree was dropped from WWVA's schedule in December 2008, and has since been picked up by community and talk station 1600 AM WKKX.
On August 4, 2010, a severe thunderstorm, classified as a "down burst" by the National Weather Service, pushed through the Wheeling area knocking the 3 tower array, located in nearby St. Clairsville, Ohio, to the ground. The station was knocked completely off the air and took its programming to sister station WBBD on August 5. On August 5, 2010 at 10:30 pm, transmissions on 1170 AM were restored using temporary equipment.
On November 16, 2006, WWVA, WOVK, WVKF, WKWK, WEGW and WBBD were announced for sale as part of Clear Channel's divestiture of almost 450 small and middle-market radio properties in the U.S. The Clear Channel Wheeling stations were initially slated to be sold to Florida based GoodRadio.TV LLC in May 2007, but the deal soon collapsed prior to FCC approval.
Prior to 2009, and unlike most Clear Channel news talk stations, WWVA did not air Coast to Coast AM. Instead, it aired America's Trucking Network – still listed as The Truckin' Bozo on the schedule, even several years after the show's name change. The trucking show had been a longtime staple of WWVA's nighttime schedule. WWVA was one of the first and last stations to syndicate The Truckin' Bozo, and even before that, Buddy Ray hosted a longtime truck show on the station. The truck programming was unceremoniously dropped in 2009, replaced with Coast to Coast, already available from the many other AM signals that penetrate the area.
WWVA's weekday programming is identical to that of most Clear Channel news talk stations, carrying Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, and George Noory. The station opts for paid programming in the late nights.
Its radio signals can be picked up quite strongly in as far away as Toronto, Canada, giving Toronto the ability to hear such programs which are not permitted to air in Toronto due to Canadian content regulations.
WWVA relies on a fairly large amount of paid and religious programming during the evening and weekend hours. It is one of a handful of 50,000 watt AM stations that still do this practice, including WCKY in Cincinnati, Ohio and KXEL in Waterloo, Iowa.
- "WWVA Towers Knocked Down". WWVA. 2010-08-04. Retrieved 2010-08-04.
- "Storms Cause Serious Damage, More On The Way". WTOV9. 2010-08-04. Retrieved 2010-08-04.
- "WWVA Radio Towers Destroyed by High Winds". WTRF-TV. 2010-08-04. Retrieved 2010-08-04.
- "Update: Back on the air". WWVA. 2010-08-05. Retrieved 2010-08-05.
- NewsRadio 1170 WWVA
- Query the FCC's AM station database for WWVA
- Radio-Locator Information on WWVA
- Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WWVA
- In-house history of WWVA published on the station's 50th anniversary
- Arcane Radio Trivia - The Newcomer twins of WWVA
- Pictures of WWVA's Towers Down
- map of WWVA-AM (Wikimapia)