on a cold and wintry 13th of
December in 1926 when
electronics wizard John Stroebel threw the switch that sent power
surging through the tiny, home built 50 watt transmitter set up in
the basement of his Wheeling, West Virginia home. Upstairs, from theStroebel
parlor, that first WWVA broadcast crackled triumphantly over the
air waves, while crystal set owners patiently endured noisy static
to listen to that initial history making radio transmission.
Only one week earlier, on December 6, 1926 the Federal Radio Commission had granted WWVA its first broadcast license on 860 kilocycles. During those blossoming years of WWVA radio, broadcasting hours were 7 am to midnight, with listeners being treated to contemporary (twenties style) music, informal announcements and musical offerings from local amateur groups.
During 1927, WWVA was granted 2 power increases to 100 watts, the 250 watts, a boost in power that drew mail from a listener in Palisade Nevada, testifying that he had heard the station some 1800 miles away.
On November 1, 1927 power was doubled to 500 watts making WWVA one of the strongest stations then on the air, operating on 580 kilocycles. By this time, the station had established its first regular broadcasting studios in the Fidelity Investment building in Wheeling.
January 15, 1928 WWVA carried its first commercial advertisement, that of Cooey-Bentz Company. Wireless pioneer John Stroebel was widely recognized as a radio and electronics whiz.
By mid 1928, with WWVA firmly established as a fully fledged and growing radio station, Stroebel ‘lost interest’ in his brain child, sold it for $50.000.00 to the Fidelity Investment Associated of wheeling and embarked on a tramp steamer journey across the world.
As the decade of the twenties drew to a close, WWVA, on November 25 1928 moved to 1160 k.c. As assigned by the Federal Radio Commission. A new broadcast license was issued to the station on July 1, 1929 and WWVA increased power to 5000 watts.
Fidelity Investment Associates’ ownership of WWVA was short-lived and the station was sold to West Virginia Broadcasting Corporation who, on August 9, 1930, petitioned the Federal Radio Commission for permission to move the studio to the Daniel Boone Hotel in Charleston, West Virginia. This move was strongly & successfully opposed by Charleston station WOBU, (now WCHS). WWVA remained in its hometown and on March 19, 1931was bought by Storer Broadcasting Company.
On May 29, 1931, WWVA went "Network" with CBS radio and dedicated new, modern studios and offices in Wheeling’s downtown Hawley Builds. On May 20, 1933, the transmitter was moved to Avalon, near West Liberty, the highest spot in Ohio County, W. Va.
In January 1933, with George W. Smith managing director of the 5000-watt station, the idea was conceived to program something special for the late night Saturday night listeners. A program of country style music was put together, using local talent; the show was called a "Jamboree" with Howard Donohoe as announcer. At 11pm that January 7th, direct from theWWVA studios in Hawley Building and a little over 6 years after John Stroebel’s first home broadcast, country music history was made when the WWVA Jamboree went on the air for the first time. WWVA received and overwhelmingly favorable response and for 3 months regular Saturday night Jamboree broadcasts were aired.
In response to the publics demand to see their musical favorites in person, WWVA moved the Jamboree show to the Capitol Theatre, where it opened that first day of April, 1933 to an eager audience of 3,266 people, with still another thousand turned away from the "full house"
February 2nd 1933, 2 steel towers, 225 feet high, were erected at the West Liberty transmitter site.
On October 13, 1934 the first Jamboree Harvest Home Festival was held in the Capitol Theatre before a capacity audience, while many more were turned away from the crowded theatre.
During the mid 30's the Air Castle Ballroom opened, offering Saturday night dancing to the music of WWVA orchestra featuring Paul Meyers and Earl Summer, Jr. Prior to the opening of the Air Castle, public dances were held at Wheeling Park on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturday evenings during the summer months. From here WWVA aired its first remote broadcast.
1926 - 1934 | 1935
- 1949 | 1950
- 1958 | 1959
- 1969 |
1970 - 1976
Back to The Wheeling Jamboree