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Woay 2011.png
Oak Hill - Beckley -
Bluefield, West Virginia
United States
City Oak Hill, West Virginia
Branding WOAY Television (general)
NewsWatch (newscasts)
Slogan The heart of southern West Virginia.
Channels Digital: 50 (UHF)
(to move to 31 (UHF))[1]
Virtual: 50 (PSIP)
Affiliations ABC
Owner Thomas Broadcasting Company
(Thomas family)
Founded June 2, 1954[2]
First air date December 14, 1954 (63 years ago) (1954-12-14)
Call letters' meaning derived from former sister station WOAY radio
Former channel number(s) Analog:
4 (VHF, 1954–2009)
Former affiliations DuMont (1954–1956)
CBS (primary, 1959–1967, per program 1967–1975)
ABC (secondary, 1959-1967)
UPN (secondary)
Transmitter power 1,000 kW
Height 237.1 m (778 ft)
Facility ID 66804
Transmitter coordinates 37°57′26.7″N 81°9′2″W / 37.957417°N 81.15056°W / 37.957417; -81.15056
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
Website www.woay.com

WOAY-TV is a television station licensed to Oak Hill, West Virginia, USA. WOAY-TV has been locally owned by the Thomas family since its inception, and is the ABC affiliate for the Beckley-Bluefield-Oak Hill television market. The station's studio and transmitter are co-located on Legends Highway in Scarbro, West Virginia, just outside Oak Hill's city limits.

Digital channels[edit]

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[3]
50.1 720p 16:9 WOAY-HD Main WOAY-TV programming / ABC
50.2 480i 4:3 WOAY-SD


Logo used until October 2009.

The first television station in southern West Virginia, WOAY-TV began operations on December 14, 1954 on channel 4.[4] The station was founded by local businessman Robert R. Thomas Jr., and operated as a sister to WOAY radio (860 AM and 94.1 FM, now WAXS). The station began as a primary ABC affiliate, but in its early years maintained a secondary relationship with the DuMont Television Network, which it lost when DuMont shut down in 1956. In 1959, it switched its primary affiliation to CBS, retaining a secondary affiliation with ABC.

Channel 4 became a full ABC affiliate in February 1967 and dropped most of its remaining CBS programs,[5] though it initially continued to air the CBS Evening News for some time afterwards. This was mainly because the full CBS affiliate nearest to the area, WCHS-TV (channel 8) in Charleston, did not carry it (WOAY dropped it by 1968 when WCHS began clearing it). Another CBS series, Captain Kangaroo was also retained, presumably until ABC launched AM America (the predecessor of Good Morning America) in 1975.[6]

In previous decades, the station was known throughout the area for a very theatrical professional wrestling show that it produced with local "talent" in an arena adjacent to its studios. However, this ended on September 30, 1977 when WOAY's main studio, control room, offices, and transmitter building were destroyed in a fire.[7][8] The stations' facilities were rebuilt in the former wrestling arena, where WOAY-TV remains today. Channel 4 returned to the air within two weeks after the fire, first with ABC programs, and local productions resumed soon thereafter.[9]

Three months prior to the fire, in July 1977 station owner and founder Robert R. Thomas Jr. died, and ownership of the WOAY stations was passed onto his wife Helen and their five children.[10] Robert R. Thomas III succeeded his father as president of the stations, and oversaw WOAY-TV until his death in November 2016.[11] The Thomas family attempted to exit broadcasting in 1990, successfully selling the radio stations[12] but ultimately chose to retain WOAY-TV after a failed sale to Withers Broadcasting Companies, owner of CBS affiliate WDTV in Bridgeport.[13][14]

WOAY-TV turned off its analog signal at 11:35 p.m. on June 12, 2009 and remained on digital channel 50. On that date, WOAY dropped its longtime on-air moniker of "TV 4". It now verbally identifies as "WOAY Television", although its logo identifies it as "TV 50". Unusually, it did not use PSIP to remap its signal to its former analog channel 4.

In 2009, WOAY-TV revamped its technical infrastructure to become the first high-definition station in West Virginia. The station clears the majority of the ABC programming schedule.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ https://enterpriseefiling.fcc.gov/dataentry/api/download/attachment/25076ff35cef71cc015d33297efb2618
  2. ^ "For the record: Actions of the FCC–New TV stations–Grants" (PDF). Broadcasting – Telecasting. June 7, 1954. p. 91. 
  3. ^ http://www.rabbitears.info/market.php?request=station_search&callsign=WOAY#station
  4. ^ "Two TVs commence, two others prepare" (PDF). Broadcasting – Telecasting. December 27, 1954. p. 71. 
  5. ^ "WOAY-TV an ABC affiliate" (PDF). Broadcasting. February 20, 1967. p. 55. 
  6. ^ https://www.flickr.com/photos/ghs1922/5208681163/in/set-72
  7. ^ Grubb, Barbara. "$3 million fire to idle TV station 2 to 4 weeks." The Raleigh Register (Beckley, W. Va.), September 30, 1977, pg. 1.[1]
  8. ^ "In brief" (PDF). Broadcasting. October 3, 1977. p. 32. 
  9. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gA7ciDZ7ayQ
  10. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SdT03jqwMk
  11. ^ "WOAY president passes away". WOAY-TV. November 28, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Changing hands. (sale of radio stations)" (PDF). Broadcasting. April 23, 1990. p. 62. 
  13. ^ "Changing hands. (proposed sale of WOAY-TV to Withers Broadcasting)" (PDF). Broadcasting. March 12, 1990. p. 56. 
  14. ^ "For the record: Ownership changes. (dismissal of Withers Broadcasting's application to acquire WOAY-TV)" (PDF). Broadcasting. August 13, 1990. p. 75. 

External links[edit]