Bluefield, West Virginia
|City||Oak Hill, West Virginia|
|Branding||WOAY Television (general)|
|Slogan||The heart of southern West Virginia.|
|Channels||Digital: 50 (UHF)|
(to move to 31 (UHF))
Virtual: 50 (PSIP)
|Affiliations||ABC (primary 1954–1959 and 1967–present; secondary 1959–1967)|
(Thomas Broadcasting Company)
|Founded||June 2, 1954|
|First air date||December 14, 1954|
|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)
|Transmitter power||600 kW|
320 kW (CP)
|Height||237.1 m (778 ft)|
210.1 m (689 ft) (CP)
|Public license information||Profile|
WOAY-TV, virtual and UHF digital channel 50, is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Oak Hill, West Virginia, United States and serving the Bluefield–Beckley–Oak Hill television market, which also covers portions of southwestern Virginia. The station has been locally owned by the Thomas family since its inception. WOAY-TV's studios and transmitter are co-located on Legends Highway in Scarbro, West Virginia, just outside the Oak Hill city limits.
The first television station in southern West Virginia, WOAY-TV began operations on December 14, 1954 on channel 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, opting to affiliate with what then-station manager Robert Brown referred to as "the nation's fastest growing network," and dropped most of its remaining CBS programs, 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.
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. 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.
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. Robert R. Thomas III succeeded his father as president of the stations, and oversaw WOAY-TV until his death in November 2016. The Thomas family attempted to exit broadcasting in 1990, successfully selling the radio stations but ultimately chose to retain WOAY-TV after a failed sale to Withers Broadcasting Companies, owner of CBS affiliate WDTV in Bridgeport.
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". Unlike most U.S. TV stations after the digital transition, 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 network schedule.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|50.1||720p||16:9||WOAY-HD||Main WOAY-TV programming / ABC|
- Channel 50 digital TV stations in the United States
- Channel 50 virtual TV stations in the United States
- "For the record: Actions of the FCC–New TV stations–Grants" (PDF). Broadcasting – Telecasting. June 7, 1954. p. 91.
- "Two TVs commence, two others prepare" (PDF). Broadcasting – Telecasting. December 27, 1954. p. 71.
- "WOAY-TV an ABC affiliate" (PDF). Broadcasting. February 20, 1967. p. 55.
- WOAY-TV Joins ABC, Beckley Post-Herald, February 3, 1967, Page 1 and 10.
- Grubb, Barbara. "$3 million fire to idle TV station 2 to 4 weeks." The Raleigh Register (Beckley, W. Va.), September 30, 1977, pg. 1.
- "In brief" (PDF). Broadcasting. October 3, 1977. p. 32.
- "WOAY president passes away". WOAY-TV. November 28, 2016.
- "Changing hands. (sale of radio stations)" (PDF). Broadcasting. April 23, 1990. p. 62.
- "Changing hands. (proposed sale of WOAY-TV to Withers Broadcasting)" (PDF). Broadcasting. March 12, 1990. p. 56.
- "For the record: Ownership changes. (dismissal of Withers Broadcasting's application to acquire WOAY-TV)" (PDF). Broadcasting. August 13, 1990. p. 75.