December 13, 1926: Wheeling Radio Station WWVA Goes On The Air
Wheeling radio station WWVA went on the air on December 13, 1926. The 50-watt station broadcast from the basement of John Stroebel, a physics teacher and wireless pioneer. By November of the next year, WWVA had established studios in a Wheeling office building and boosted its power to 500 watts, which, on some nights, could transmit its signal halfway around the world. Early programming on the station included contemporary recorded music, informal announcements, music by local amateurs, and children’s shows.
In 1933, WWVA launched a program that would become a mainstay. The Wheeling Jamboree was broadcast to 17 other states and six Canadian provinces. The show soon moved to Wheeling’s Capitol Music Hall, where it was performed before a live audience of more than 3,000. The Jamboree is still on the air but no longer on WWVA. It’s the nation’s second-oldest radio program, behind the Grand Ole Opry.
WWVA also pioneered other live music shows, such as It’s Wheeling Steel, with songs and routines performed mostly by employees of the Wheeling Steel Corporation. Today, WWVA features mostly news, talk, and religious programming.