|Broadcast area||Narrows, Virginia
Giles County, Virginia
|Branding||"AM-990 The Ridge"|
|First air date||1953|
|Power||5,000 Watts daytime
10 Watts nighttime
|Callsign meaning||W New River Valley
W NaRrows Virginia
|Owner||New River Interactive Media, LLC|
WNRV is a Bluegrass formatted broadcast radio station licensed to Narrows-Pearisburg, Virginia, serving Narrows and Giles County, Virginia. WNRV is owned and operated by New River Interactive Media, LLC.
In 1953, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted an AM broadcast license to the Narrows, VA businessman "Happy" Romanus. He began building the WNRV station on a section of land located between the New River and the highway that is now known as Route 100 between Narrows and Pearisburg. Since the station was located next to a railroad track, the construction required special measures to prevent outside noises being heard on the air. In addition, in order to absorb vibrations from passing trains the control room was elevated several feet higher than the normal station floor level. In 1960 the station was sold to E.D. McWilliams. E.D.'s wife Megan took over ownership of the station after E.D's death.
The arrival of Bob Whitehead was a critical event in WNRV's history. In 1959, Bob moved his family from Pennsylvania to the area and became known as "The Voice of the New River Valley" over the next thirty years. Bob and Megan both dedicated themselves during that period to make WNRV a community-based station and a strong force in Giles County. The station was active in lots of community events and was well known for leading multiple fund-raising causes, such as the Red Cross Bloodmobiles.
Bob was one of Southwest Virginia's most respected broadcasters, and greeted his listeners each morning with his signature sign-on:
"Good morning everyone! This is WNRV, Narrows and Pearisburg in Virginia, beginning broadcasting activities for another day. WNRV operates on a federally authorized frequency of nine hundred ninety kilocycles, with a daytime power of five thousand watts."
The station's daytime license only permitted WNRV to broadcast from sunrise to sunset. However, there were numerous times the station was granted FCC permission to broadcast outside these time periods in order to provide the community with emergency information during severe weather events, such as floods and winter storms. This type of community service established WNRV as a critical source of local information during emergencies. An increase in transmit power from 1 kilowatt (KW) to 5 kilowatts was approved by the FCC in 1968.
Megan McWilliams sold WNRV to a local partnership in 1990 and Bob Whitehead retired after the change in ownership. The new WNRV team consisted of General Manager Rebecca Lolli, Program Director Tom Crockett, and Sales/Marketing Manager Faye Nicholson.
Giles County's first FM station WZFM 101.3 was launched by the new team in November 1991 with a "classic hits" format. In mid-1992 a large lightning strike destroyed WNRV's AM transmitter and took the station off the air for twelve weeks (this transmitter had been active since the late 1960s). The station installed a used replacement transmitter, but it experienced problems. WNRV went off the air about a month later for a second time due to additional issues. On September 28, 1992, an emotional goodbye message from Faye Nicholson marked WZFM going off the air. This, combined with the WNRV AM issues, left Giles County without any local radio stations.
The next owner of WNRV was a Christiansburg, VA-based group, (Travis Media) which operated the station until 1999 under the brand name "100.7 FM/990 AM Kool Country... Kool 100!".
Perception Media Group, Inc acquired WNRV in 1999. For the next eight years WNRV was used as a simulcast station for their Roanoke, VA WWWR (3WR) station with a Southern gospel and religious programming format. In mid-2007, operation of WNRV was assumed under a lease management agreement with Perception Media Group by Gary Jolicoeur and Dennis Welch. Gary and Dennis switched the format to bluegrass, which ushered in the current era of WNRV.
This history of WNRV was taken from the WNRV website, and was based on an article written by James Riffe, Jr, a former WNRV Announcer (1983–1988) and former WZFM/WNRV Announcer and Account Executive (1992). James still periodically works with WNRV for a variety of production and promotion-related tasks.
In July 2007, WNRV changed its format to Bluegrass and began broadcasting local programming back home out of its old studios between Narrows and Pearisburg.
In July 2008, WNRV started full-time 24/7 Web-Streaming.
In November 2009, WNRV launched a new website.
An FCC application to transfer the WNRV license from Perception Media Group, Inc. to New River Interactive Media, LLC was submitted on October 6, 2009. The sale of WNRV to New River Interactive Media was completed in November 2009. This sale puts the station back under a local ownership group. The current format is bluegrass and old-time, with some classic country mixed in.
WNRV celebrated its 63rd birthday in 2016. The first WNRV broadcast license was approved by the FCC on August 24, 1953. The station still transmits out of the original building that was constructed in 1952.