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WFIR-AM 2014.png
City Roanoke, Virginia
Broadcast area Roanoke Valley
Branding "960 AM and FM 107.3 WFIR"
Slogan "Depend On It"
Frequency 960 kHz
First air date June 20, 1924[1]
Format News/Talk[2]
Power 10,000 watts daytime
5000 watts nightime
Class B
Facility ID 31138
Transmitter coordinates 37°18′9″N 80°2′25″W / 37.30250°N 80.04028°W / 37.30250; -80.04028
37°15′19″N 79°57′34″W / 37.25528°N 79.95944°W / 37.25528; -79.95944 (night)
Callsign meaning First In Roanoke
Former callsigns WDBJ (1924–1969)[3]
Former frequencies 1310 kHz (1924–1927)
1300 kHz (1927–1928)
930 kHz (1928–1941)
Affiliations ABC News Radio
Fox News Radio
Premiere Networks
Westwood One Network
Owner Mel Wheeler, Inc.
Webcast WFIR Webstream
Website WFIR Online

WFIR (960 kHz "WFIR 960 AM - 107.3 FM") is a commercial AM radio station licensed to Roanoke, Virginia and serving the Roanoke Valley.[2] It is owned and operated by Mel Wheeler, Inc.[4][5] and airs a News/Talk radio format. WFIR broadcasts at 10,000 watts non-directional by day.[6] But at night, to avoid interfering with other stations on AM 960, it reduces power to 5000 watts and uses a directional antenna.[7] WFIR's studios and offices are on Electric Road in Roanoke.[8] The AM transmitter is off Brandon Avenue SW.[9] The transmitter for FM translator W297BC 107.3 is off Catawba Valley Drive.[10]

Local news and talk programs air in weekday morning and afternoon drive times, with syndicated shows heard the rest of day, including Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Dave Ramsey, Mark Levin, Clyde Lewis and Coast to Coast AM with George Noory. Weekends feature shows on money, religion, law, computers, guns, home repair and gardening. Syndicated weekend hosts include Kim Komando, Leo Laporte and Bill Handel.[11] World and national news from ABC News Radio is heard at the beginning of most hours.


In addition to the main station, WFIR is relayed by two FM translators to widen its broadcast area.[12]

Call sign Frequency
City of license Facility
m (ft)
Class FCC info
W233CK 94.5 FM Troutville, Virginia 144940 200 watts 60 m (200 ft) D FCC
W297BC 107.3 FM Roanoke, Virginia 5146 125 watts 219 m (719 ft) D FCC


On its website, WFIR says it was the second radio station to sign-on in Virginia. Frank E. Maddox first began experimenting with amateur radio broadcasts in Roanoke as 3BIY in the early 1920s. His employer, the Richardson-Wayland Electrical Company, asked him to take his knowledge and put a commercial radio station on the air in 1924. The company sold radios but people in the Roanoke area had no local stations to listen to. Their radios could only pick up distant signals after sunset. On June 20, 1924, WDBJ officially went on the air.[13] The studios were in the back of the company's store. The new station broadcast at 1310 kHz, with 20 watts of power. The first program was a live banjo player.[14]

In 1926, the station moved to new studios at The American Theater on Jefferson Street and Campbell Avenue in Roanoke. In 1929, WDBJ began broadcasting at 930 kHz at 500 watts power, and also became the Roanoke affiliate of CBS Radio—a link that would last for more than 70 years. The station was sold to The Roanoke Times newspaper in 1931.[15] Power increased to 1000 watts in 1934. In 1939, Chief Engineer J.W. Robertson increased the power to 5000 watts.[16] In 1941, under the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement or NARBA, the station moved to its current dial position at AM 960. During the 1940s, 50s and 60s, WDBJ mixed bluegrass music and country music with adult standards and middle of the road popular tunes, while also carrying CBS Network dramas, comedies and sports.[17] In October 1955, WDBJ-TV signed on the air[18] as Roanoke's CBS television affiliate.

Times-World Corporation, owner of the Times, merged with Landmark Communications in 1969. As a condition of the merger, Times-World sold off its broadcasting properties. Channel 7 kept the WDBJ call letters while AM 960 became WFIR, standing for First in Roanoke, a reminder that it was the first broadcasting operation in the Roanoke Valley. In 1979, the station was purchased by Jim Gibbons, who was the play-by-play announcer for the Washington Redskins football team. Gibbons added more news and sports into the program schedule. In 1979, WFIR began carrying the syndicated Larry King Show overnight, and later, family financial adviser Bruce Williams in the evening. Through the 1980s, WFIR aired a full service adult contemporary format, keeping WFIR among the top ten radio stations in the Roanoke-Lynchburg media market ratings, despite the shift to FM radio listening.[19] In 1989, the station added Rush Limbaugh to its midday schedule, one of his first affiliates.

In 1999, WFIR became a full-time News/Talk radio station. The following year, it was bought by Mel Wheeler, Inc., which owns eight radio stations in the Roanoke-Lynchburg market. In 2001, WFIR switched from CBS Radio News to ABC News Radio hourly newscasts.[20]


  1. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 2010 (PDF). ProQuest, LLC/Reed Publishing (Nederland), B.V. 2010. p. D-570. Retrieved July 16, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Arbitron Station Information Profiles". Nielsen Audio/Nielsen Holdings. Retrieved July 16, 2015. 
  3. ^ "WDBJ - Roanoke's First Radio Station". Roanoke Radio. Retrieved August 28, 2015. 
  4. ^ "WFIR Facility Record". Federal Communications Commission, audio division. Retrieved July 16, 2015. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Roanoke Times business listings, retrieved 1-11-17
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "W297BC Facility Record". Federal Communications Commission, audio division. Retrieved July 16, 2015. 
  13. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1977 page C-222, retrieved 1-11-17
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Broadcasting magazine, Nov. 15, 1939, page 74, retrieved 1-12-17 from
  17. ^
  18. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1977 page B-136, retrieved 1-11-17
  19. ^ Radio & Records Ratings Report,, Fall 1987, page 180, retrieved 1-11-17
  20. ^

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