March 25, 1992: West Virginia Public Broadcasting Pioneer Harry Brawley Dies at 82

Mar 25, 2019

Credit West Virginia Division of Culture and History / State Archives

Broadcaster Harry Brawley died on March 25, 1992, at age 82. The Charleston native was a polio survivor. He eventually learned to walk but struggled with it his entire life. After earning two degrees from West Virginia University, Brawley became a teacher. At Charleston High School, he had the novel idea of incorporating the radio into the classroom. In 1945, he became the director of public affairs for Charleston’s WCHS radio station and won an award for his “School of the Air,” a pioneering program for high schoolers.

Brawley played a key role in forming West Virginia educational television and later public radio—the forerunners of today’s West Virginia Public Broadcasting. He worked closely with his friend Congressman Harley O. Staggers to craft federal legislation that helped public broadcasting stations throughout the nation acquire the necessary equipment to get on the air.

After retiring, Brawley volunteered his time to teach Charleston history to school kids through a series of popular slide shows. In addition, he served on the Charleston City Council for 14 years. A walkway in downtown Charleston is now named in honor of this broadcasting pioneer.