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June 27, 1929: Shott Brothers Launch WHIS-AM Bluefield

WHIS AM Bluefield
WV Humanities Council

On June 27, 1929, one of West Virginia’s pioneer radio stations, WHIS, hit the airwaves in Bluefield, featuring a performance by the local Lions Club quartet.

The station was the brainchild of Hugh and Jim Shott, the sons of local newspaper owner and future congressman Hugh Ike Shott. During its first two decades, WHIS expanded from 100 watts to 5,000. In 1939, WHIS became affiliated with NBC, but local programming remained important.

A favorite local show was The Breakfast Club with Stuart Odell and Red Clark. WHIS also played an important role in early country music, showcasing regular live performances by the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers, Rex and Eleanor Parker, Lynn Davis and Molly O’Day, and Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith.

In 1948, the Shotts launched an FM station but abandoned it since few listeners had FM radios. They later revived the idea as WHAJ-FM. The family ventured into television in 1955.

In the 1980s, the Federal Communications Commission forced the Shott family to divest their TV station and newspaper holdings, but the family kept the radio stations. Today, WHIS is owned by Triad Broadcasting.

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