Pictures of WGKV/WHMS/WXIT are on Flickr
The WHMS pictures are from 1957-59, when the call letters were WHMS. They were provided by Bob Lilley, and can also be found at his
Charleston radio days page.
WGKV is believed to have gone on the air on Sept. 24, 1939. An article in the Charleston Daily Mail on Sunday, Sept. 17, 1939, reported that the station planned
to go on the air the following Sunday. The newspaper shows a program schedule for the station on Sept. 25. The station began broadcasting on 1500 kHz but switched to 1490
in 1941 as part of a nationwide realignment of frequencies.
On Nov. 15, 1949, an ad in the Charleston Gazette promotes Bill Richards and the Original Dancing Party, 11:15 p.m.
till 12:30 a.m. on WGKV AM and FM. (WGKV-FM operated on 98.5 MHz.)
Bill Richards writes:
I came to Charleston in November, 1946, direct from the Columbia
School of Broadcasting in Chicago. The first person, Colonel Ben
Venable (at WGKV), I called accepted me for "On the Job Training."
Venable's brother, Richard, Willard Irwin and the Custers were also
At that time, the staff included Don Evans, the morning disc jockey,
Ted Sanford, Gil Brooks, "Annie B." Florence Staunton, and Charlie
Vassar. Phil Vogel was program director and newsman, Joe Farris
handled continuity and sports, and John Phillips was General Manager.
Gil Brooks writes:
When I joined the staff in 1945, WGKV's signal barely got to
the South Charleston city limits. A few weeks later, 250 watts was
approved. Shortly after, Big Bill Richards, a wounded war vet from
Illinois, returned from the service and broadcast school to launch
his career in broadcasting-telecasting (he later became the popular
TV weatherman on WCHS-TV 8.)
Joe Farris was later WCHS Radio manager, and after retiring, served
as WV House Delegate. Phil Vogel later managed WKNA AM-FM.
The hit record song publicists were active in the late forties when a
Capitol Records flyer presented three of the station's disc jockeys,
Charlie Vassar and Bill Richards, co-emcees of the popular "Dancing
Party" and Don Evans, for new song titles by the King Cole Trio.
Quoting from the flyer: "Nat (King Cole) sings soft and mellow." The
songs were "Kee-Mo Ky-Mo" and "Rex Rhumba."
Evans ran a raucous morning show while Richards did the evening
Dancing Party. Other jockeys included Martin Black (who was later a
movie host on Las Vegas TV) and Ted Sanford who later became
son-in-law of WGKV's co-owner and managed Custer Theaters.
Big bands and artists such as Nat "King" Cole often played in
Charleston with their local venue WGKV since it broadcast around the
clock disk jockey programs. Interviews with musical stars were a
tradition and continued into the Fifties, from Gil Brooks and Bill
Richards' interviews of Stan Kenton and other top performers to Bob
Entley talking with Louis Armstrong in the late Fifties. Several
prominent "voices" made their home at WGKV: Charlie Coleman during
the 50s (later a big WTIP attraction), Hugh McPherson and "Rehearsin'
with McPherson," at several stations including WCHS and Public Radio;
and, Don Evans, later for WCHS. Interestingly, the jockeys had their
own roster of stars on their very personalized shows, Coleman with
"Oogie," McPherson with live Mynah birds, and Evans performed a "quit
drinking routine," in addition to characters, Brenda and Cobina.
When the station was acquired by the Long Family for WSAZ-TV in 1955,
Brooks, by now former WKNA newsman and program director, became
Channel 3's first Charleston news director, and later radio
Some of the WGKV on air people included: W. C. "Cap" Caplinger and
his Trading Post, Bob Turley took over the Ham 'n Eggs morning show,
Bob Entley hosted "Top Five," and Joe Sadd conducted the "Night
Train." The station continued its strong public service programming
including Irving A Cohen's "Nimrod and Angler," Dr. Walter B. Goff's
healthcare question and answer session and state capital public
Kanawha Valley listeners enjoyed national news reports, top radio
entertainment from NBC and local news, women's features, sports and
disk jockey request shows over the course of WGKV's 20-year life
About 1957, WKAZ, a higher-powered station, secured the NBC radio network affiliation.
In 1958 the call letters were changed to WHMS (“Hit Music Station”).
In 1961 the call letters were apparently briefly changed to WTGR, then back to WHMS.
In 1962 the call letters were changed back to WGKV.
In 1969 new licensee Steere Broadcasting Corp. of West Virginia changed the call letters to WXIT.
In 1990 the call letters were changed to WCZR (“Charleston’s Z-Rock”).
In 1995 the station was acquired by West Virginia Radio Corporation.
In 1997 the call letters were changed to WSWW.
This FCC microfiche file was transcribed by Xen Scott
of ABC News, Washington, and is posted here with his permission. The
microfiche files are incomplete in coverage of events in the 1920s,
and they contain no information past the early 1980s.
From the FCC microfiche files, January 2, 1995.
6/18/37 Application made for a new station on 1500kc with 100 watts,
unlimited, at Charleston, WV.
7/13/38 Granted a C.P. for 1500kc, 100 watts, unlim., eff. 7/23/38.
10/10/39 Date first licensed. The licensee was Kanawha Valley Broadcasting
Co., Charleston, WV. The first listed call letters were WGKV.
They were granted 1500kc with 100 watts, unlimited.
3/24/41 Under NARBA, they were granted 1490kc, 100 watts, unlim.
6/9/42 Vol. transfer of cont. of lic. corp. from Wm. A. Carroll to Worth
Kramer, eff 7/3/42.
1/16/46 Granted a C.P. for 1490kc, 250 watts, unlimited. License to cover
the C.P. granted 5/27/46.
9/10/48 Vol. acquisition of cont. of lic. corp. by R.M. Venable, eff.
5/12/54 Vol. transfer of cont. of lic. corp. to Lawrence H. Rogers and 6
others, eff. 5/18/54.
1/17/57 Vol. assign. of lic. to Jacob A. Evans and Walter Franklin Evans,
d/b as Evans Broadcasting Co., eff. 2/19/57.
12/11/57 Vol. assign. of lic. to Joseph L. Brechner, eff. 12/18/57.
2/1/58 Call letters changed to WHMS.
12/15/58 Vol. assign. of lic. to Charleston Broadcasting Co., Inc., eff.
3/29/61 Vol. assign. of lic. to Edgar L. Clinton, eff. 4/1/61.
7/17/61 Call letters changed to WTGR.
11/6/61 Call letters changed to WHMS.
2/20/62 Call letters changed to WGKV.
5/7/63 Granted a C.P. for 1490kc, 250 watts, 1kw LS, unlimited. License
to cover the C.P. granted 4/6/64.
12/31/68 Vol. assign. of lic. to Steere Broadcasting Corp. of West
Virginia, eff. 1/15/69.
2/10/69 Call letters changed to WXIT.
12/28/71 Vol. transfer of cont. of Steere Broadcasting Corp. (parent corp.
of lic. corp.) from Mrs. John W. Paige (formerly Mrs. Pauline
Steere) and Jeremiah D. Berkey, Co-Executors of the Estate of
Howard D. Steere, deceased, to Jeremiah D. Berkey, Trustee of
Howard D. Steere Residual and Marital Trusts.
4/24/78 Vol. assign. of lic. to Kanawha Broadcasting Corp., eff. 5/16/78.