History of WAJR, Morgantown


West Virginia Review Article

This article appeared in The West Virginia Review, November 1945.

Residents of Morgantown, West Virginia, and the surrounding areas, received an extra-special Christmas present in 1940 in the form of a new radio station, for it was in December of that year that WAJR went on the air.

The West Virginia Radio Corporation owns and operates the University city's station. H. C. Greer, the president of the organization, is also president of the West Virginia Newspaper Publishing Company, publishers of the Morgantown Post and the Morgantown Dominion News. Business offices and studios of WAJR are at 440-446 Spruce Street, and the building housing the station's 250-watt transmitter is located at Charleston and Summers streets in Morgantown.

WAJR was operated independently until February 15, 1945, at which time it became an affiliate of the Mutual Broadcasting System. On June 1, the station became a "basic" affiliate of Mutual, a classification with which very few radio stations in cities of less than fifty thousand population are honored.

Throughout its five-year history WAJR has been guided by the public service policies outlined by Mr. Greer. These have included constant and complete co-operation with West Virginia University and participation in every type of University activity, from the broadcasting of faculty forums to broadcasts of all the University's outstanding sports events.

Members of the station's program staff are constantly on the alert for events which can be broadcast - events which they feel will be of interest to the listeners in the area served by WAJR. Civic, fraternal, social, and cultural organizations are contacted frequently so the program department may be able to determine how the interests of the various groups can best be served. When noted figures in the world of business, education, or any of the arts or professions appear in Morgantown or vicinity, the facilities of WAJR are placed at their disposal. One listener, noting this particular phase of the station's activity, remarked that "whenever anything was gong on, WAJR was always there." It is worthy of note that in these days when many stations are hanging out "sold out" signs, WAJR has maintained its schedule of educational and public service programs.

Morgantown's radio station has the unusual distinction of having the youngest manager in the country. Norman Knight, general manger of WAJR, started his radio career at a very early age and in the past eight years has been associated with WTMV, St. Louis; KTHS, Hot Springs, Arkansas; WMC, Memphis, Tennessee; WEW, St. Louis; and before joining WAJR last year as general manager, he was on the staff of WMMN, Fairmont, West Virginia. Very progressive in his ideas on station operation, Knight is justly proud of the recent citation received by WAJR from Edgar Kobak, president of the Mutual Broadcasting System, in which Kobak paid high compliments to the station for doing, what he called, "the best promotion job I have ever seen."

Numa Fabre, Jr., is the station's program director. Prior to joining the WAJR staff, he worked at WJPA, Washington, Pennsylvania, and at WMBS, Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Well known in West Virginia radio circles is the chief engineer at WAJR, Ray C. Spence. His experience dates back to the early days of radio in the State; he was associated with several West Virginia stations before joining the WAJR staff.

As to future plans for this busy station, applications for two frequency modulation (FM) stations are pending before the Federal Communications Commission. One is for a station to be installed in Morgantown and the other for a station in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, WAJR is keeping pace with every advance being made in radio and looking forward eagerly to the opportunity of rendering the best possible public service to the communities and people it serves.


Article Supplied by WAJR

This history was provided by the station.

WAJR-AM, Morgantown, went on the air December 7, 1940 at 250 watts, on a frequency of 1230. In the late 50's, WAJR moved to the current 1440 frequency with power of 5000 watts daytime, and 500 watts night.

Since the inception of the Mountaineer Sports network (with the exception of two years) WAJR has been its flagship station for broadcasts of West Virginia University football and basketball games.

WVAQ-FM was established in 1948 as WAJR-FM. (The call letters were changed in 1977 to emphasize separate programming.) WVAQ, operating at 101.9 MHz is a 50,000 watt stereo facility.

Metronews is the news network for the state of West Virginia. Owned and operated by the West Virginia Radio Corporation, Metronews began operations August 26, 1985 with an affiliate list of 35 West Virginia stations. Metronews affiliates now number 59, with stations in virtually every major population area in the state. From its inception, Metronews operations have been directed by Harvey "Hoppy" Kercheval. Among those in the WAJR-WVAQ family of outstanding broadcasters are the following:

  • Bos Johnson, joined WAJR in 1948 as color man for WVU basketball and football, now wit Charles Ryan Associates, Huntington after having been an associate professor, Marshall University's Broadcast Journalism Department and news director, WSAZ-TV
  • Jim Slade (Snider)-WAJR, 1954-59, became Mutual White House correspondent
  • Carl Haeberle-WAJR, 1960-1964, program director WAJR-FM (now WVAQ), went to WSAZ-TV, then became newsman at KGO in San Francisco, currently news director at KLOK in San Jose
  • Bucky Harris, came to WAJR from WVOW in Logan, went to WFLA in Tampa (where he is known as Jack Harris), then to WRC in Washington, D. C., back to WFLA as morning man, and color man for Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Melanie Walters, WAJR news and talk show host (originated "Morgantown A-M"), 1977-1979, now at WOWK-TV in Huntington
  • Michael Bradley, newsman WAJR 1975 to 1976, newsman WWSW-FM, Pittsburgh 1977 and currently news editor, ABC, New York
  • Rod Hundley, evening sports show on WAJR - 1957, play-by-play for Utah Jazz
  • Greg Van Camp, WAJR (evenings and Sundays) announcer 1951-1952, WWVA Wheeling (writer) 1953, WTRF-TV (program manager) 1953-1958, WTAE-TV (program manager) 1958-1960; WWVU-TV (general manager) 1969-1983; WVU telecommunications (director) 1983-present
  • John Raese, owner, WAJR/WVAQ, narrowly defeated by Jay Rockefeller in 1986 in the U. S. senatorial race;
  • Leo W. "Jack" Fleming, staff announcer and general manager WAJR and WAJR-FM (later WVAQ) 1946-1971, play-by-play announcer for Pittsburgh Steelers, 1958 to present; play-by-play announcer for the West Virginia University Mountaineers, 1953 to present; 8-time winner, National Sportscasters and Sportswriters' Association West Virginia Sports Announcer of the year
  • E. Wilson "Woody" O'Hara, staff announcer and program director WAJR, 1969-77, color man, WVU football and basketball for MSN 1970 to present, MSN television basketball play-by-play, 1975 to present; WWVU-TV, program manager, sports director, on-air news host, and director of development 1977-1983, sports editor, WVU Edtelcom, 1983-1986.


FCC Microfiche File

The following FCC microfiche file was transcribed by Xen Scott of ABC News, Washington, and is used here with his permission. These files contain no information past the early 1980s.
From the FCC microfiche files, February 4, 1998.

                                     WAJR

 5/28/40  Granted a C.P. for a new station on 1200kc with 250 watts,
          unlimited, at Morgantown, WV.

12/30/40  Date first licensed.  The licensee was West Virginia Radio
          Corp., Morgantown, WV.  They were granted 1200kc, 250 watts,
          unlimited.

 3/24/41  Under NARBA, they were granted 1230kc, 250 watts, unlimited.

 10/3/56  Granted a C.P. for 1440kc, 5kw-D, 500 watts-N, DA-2,
          unlimited and to change transmitter site, install directional
          antenna for day and night use and install new transmitter,
          with conditions.  There were extensions of completion date.
          License to cover the C.P. granted 12/5/58.

 7/26/72  The Commission, by letter, notified station WAJR of apparent
          liability for $1000 forfeiture for violation of Sections
          73.93 and 73.265 of the Rules.

  6/7/73  Invol. transfer of cont. of lic. corp. from Agnes J. Reeves
          Greer to The Union National Bank of Clarksburg, Executor of
          the Estate of Agnes J. Reeves Greer, deceased, eff. 6/8/73.

 2/13/74  The Commission, by Memo, Opinion and Order, ordered the
          station to forfeit $1000.

 7/20/76  Vol. transfer of cont. of lic. corp. from The Union National
          Bank of Clarksburg, Executor of the Estate of Agnes J. Reeves
          Greer, deceased, to Richard G. Raese, John R. Raese and
          David A. Raese, eff. 8/10/76.

10/22/81  License renewed.

          END OF FILE


Jan. 1, 1941. Broadcasting shows WAJR licensed to West Virginia Radio Corp.; Agnes J. Reeves Greer, secretary-treasurer, 60%; H. C. Greer, steel, limestone, and coke business and publisher of the Morgantown Dominion-News and Post, president, 20%; Jane Greer, vice president, 20%.

May 9, 1956. WAJR files its application to change from 1230 kc, 250 w-U, to 1440 kc, 5 kw-D, 500 w-N, DA-2. [Information from Clarke Ingram]


Some Notes on WAJR-FM/WVAQ (99.3/101.9)

The 1950 and 1956 Broadcasting Yearbooks show WAJR-FM operating on 99.3 MHz with 1000 watts. They indicate the station went on the air in 1948.

The 1961-62 Broadcasting Yearbook has the same facility information, and has: "Duplicates WAJR during the day, programs separately at night."

A letter to the FCC dated May 29, 1961, requested permission for WAJR-FM to go off the air for 90 days because the "present transmitter reached a condition where it was no longer feasible to attempt renovation" and because the station wished "to investigate the possibilities of a change of location of transmitter to consolidate facilities, then purchase new equipment."

On July 27, 1961, the FCC granted authority for WAJR-FM to remain silent until Nov. 1, 1961.

A letter from the FCC on Jan. 4, 1962, asked whether WAJR-FM had returned to the air. The station responded on Jan. 15, 1962, that it had not. The station indicated that it wished to change the station's frequency from Channel 257 to Channel 256 and increase the ERP to 20,000 watts.

On Jan. 26, 1964, the station requested permission to continue to remain silent. On Feb. 17, 1964, the FCC granted an extension to May 1, 1964.

On Oct. 20, 1964, the FCC granted authority to conduct program tests.

The 1969 Broadcasting Yearbook shows WAJR-FM operating on 101.9 MHz with 50,000 watts and a HAAT of 260 ft. Programming is separate from WAJR, and is in stereo.


WAJR-FM (103.3)

WAJR-FM 103.3, licensed to Salem, signed on the air during the last week of April 1999. The station has a news/talk format, and simulcasts with WAJR-AM in the morning for news and again in the evening for a local talk show.

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