History of WCFC-FM and WCFC, Beckley

WCFC Pictures

Call letter origin. A 1947 newspaper article stated: “The letters were selected first for ease in pronunciation, understandibility, and in being remembered. Then several slogans were selected which fit the call letters WCFC. West Virginia's Cleanest and Finest City or, for use during the summer months, West Virginia's Coolest and Finest City, which the Beckley Newspapers Broadcasting Service believes fits and describes Beckley; and WCFC, the World's Cleanest and Finest Coal, describing the famous Smokeless Coal for which the Beckley area is famous. Other call letter combinations were also considered. One of them was WVSC for West Virginia Smokeless Coal but this combination was not available. The firm also sought a combination of letters which would fit the two newspapers which it publishes but nothing satisfactory could be found due to the fact that there are two newspapers to be considered rather than one.”

This timeline was last revised on Aug. 1, 2015.

January 1945. WCFC(FM) seeks a construction permit

June 1946. WCFC(FM) granted a construction permit for: 101.1 MHz, 3000 watts, 430 feet above average terrain, Class B.

July 22, 1946. An advertisement in the Beckley Post-Herald for WCFC(FM), soon to be on the air, salutes these "FM pioneers": WFMN Alpine, WMIT Winston-Salem, WNYC-FM, WGTR Boston, WBRL Baton Rouge, WLOU Detroit, WBCA Schenectady, KOZY Kansas City, WMLL Evansville, WENA Detroit, WDUL Superior, WQXQ, WNBF-FM Binghamton, WTMJ, KHJ-FM, WHNF New York, KMBC-FM, WGYN New York, WEAF-FM, WSM-FM, WIP-FM, WELD Columbus, WHFM Rochester, WTIC-FM, WFIL-FM, WDRC-FM, WOWO-FM, KYW-FM Philadelphia, WGNB Chicago, WHEF Rochester, WTAG-FM Worcester, WMOT Pittsburgh, WWZR Chicago

Aug. 12, 1946. WCFC(FM) first experimental transmission. The first FM signal is broadcast in West Virginia at 10:13 p.m.

Aug. 15, 1946. WCFC(FM) signs on the air at 2 p.m. on 101.1 MHz with 250 watts. First day on air 2-5 and 6-9 pm, then 2-9 pm. 304 1/2 Reservoir Rd. 40 ft tower, will be 242 ft overall when 3 kw. "Only preceding FM in SE was WMIT, Winston-Salem," according to the Beckley newspapers. Beckley is first WV city with three radio stations. George W. Yazell, who had started his radio career in 1939 at WBTH in Williamson, designed and built the station. The 250-watt General Electric transmitter was the first one off the assembly line; GE promised the station that an 10,000-watt amplifier still being designed could be driven by the transmitter. Yazell wrote that WCFC built its own transmitting antenna and he wrote, "We had one listener, my wife, who listened on a one tube super-regenerative receiver I had built!"

Nov. 20, 1946. Raleigh Register reports Will S. Jackson is WCFC PD, reports new tower (245 ft topped by 50 ft pole) will be ready within 3 days; soon to be 3 kw.

Feb. 28, 1947. WCFC returns to air at 2 p.m. on 101.1 MHz with 1500 watts, atop Reservoir Hill. The station had gone off the air Feb 7. for installation of the higher-powered transmitter. [A newspaper article at this time referred to WCFC as Beckley’s only FM station. On Mar. 24, 1947, Broadcasting reported, “WCFC Beckley, W. Va., has increased power of its FM transmitter from 250 to 1500 w, half its allowed power, with improved reception reported. The station reports that Beckley stores sell FM receivers as fast as shipments are received, with public demand increasing. Local special events are featured on the programs.”]

Mar. 5, 1947. WCFC Raleigh Co. sectional basketball tourney, 7:25 p.m., play-by-play by George Springer (to 3/11).

Mar. 21, 1947. George Springer does baseball, regional high school championship on WCFC at 3:30 p.m.

Sept. 5, 1947. George Springer and Sid Doherty to do football play-by-play, Beckley vs Stoco

Sept. 16, 1947. Newspapers report WCFC “was off air yesterday,” hopes to return to air today at double strength 3 kw (245 ft tower)

Sept. 17, 1947. Raleigh Register publishes two WCFC photos, with the following caption: “STAFF MEMBERS OF WCFC, Beckley, West Virginia’s first frequency modulation radio station, prepare to resume broadcast activities following installation of equipment that increases listener coverage in Southern West Virginia. Above, Wallace Warren, engineer, confers with Martin Abraham, music librarian, seated at the main control console. Below, Tom Zeigler, left, and Sid Doherty, rehearse a news broadcast in WCFC’s Studio B.”

Sept. 27, 1947. WCFC 101.3 broadcasts Beckley vs Charleston football game from Charleston, rebroadcast on WJLS; advertisement says “compare FM and AM,” George Springer and Sid Doherty; sponsor is Foster Hardware.

Sept. 28, 1947. Grand opening of WCFC, 1500 attend, length of broadcast day is extended to 10 am to 10 pm; 293 FMs on air; WCFC goes on a commercial basis, George Gray commercial manager.

Oct. 24, 1947. WCFC is licensed, the 64th FM licensed though 311 are on the air; WCFC broadcasts Bluefield-Beckley game from WHIS-FM alternating both stations' announcers

July 1948. Arnauld Fleming joins WCFC as announcer (becomes PD Sept 1949)

Nov. 12, 1948. WCFC signs off an hour early, at 9 p.m., to allow for installation of new equipment to raise the station's power to 10,000 watts.

Nov. 27, 1948. Billboard reports: “Arnold Fleming, WCFC, Beckley, W. Va., was skedded to have Elliot Lawrence guest on his Music From the Blue Room show recently, but the sticker was delayed en route. Fleming did the next best thing; he phoned Lawrence at his hotel, with the line hooked to the mike, and their conversation was broadcast.”

July 2, 1949. Billboard reports, “Gothamite Jack Ellis is now jocking at WCFC, Beckley, W. Va.”

Oct. 22, 1949. Billboard reports that Gene Grant (alias for Gene Frankel), formerly of KHMO and WSBC, is now a jock, chief announcer, and sports director at WCFC.

Dec. 6, 1949. WCFC ad says “hear all WVU games,” shows City Council broadcast at 7:30, 35,000 watts

Feb. 14, 1950. WCFC’s application for an AM station on 1450 kHz, pending the move of WWNR to 620 Hz, is filed by the FCC.

Summer 1950. Cincinnati Reds games are broadcast on WCFC

Sept. 20, 1950. WCFC granted a construction permit for an AM station on 730 kHz, 250 watts, daytime.

Nov. 26, 1950. AM station WCFC signs on at 10:40 a.m. on 730 kHz; AM & FM join the Progressive Network. The AM tower is a self-supporting 330-ft tower behind the State Police Barracks on Route 19-21. [In accordance with standard FCC policy, the call letters issued for the the AM station were WCFC, and the FM call letters were changed to WCFC-FM, so that the two stations had the required unique call signs. Interestingly, the station had requested that the FCC allow the FM station to retain the call WCFC, and to issue the call WCFC-AM for the AM station. The FCC denied this request.]

June 30, 1951. WCFC and WCFC-FM go off the air.

January 1981. Broadcasting resumes in the building on Reservoir Road which housed WCFC’s studios as WCIR relocates its studios there. WCFC’s calls were visible on the tile floor of the reception area, but remodeling of the facility shortly thereafter covered the WCFC calls with carpeting. In 1988, WCIR moved its studios to a different site.)

The following is the Broadcast Pro-File of WCFC-FM.

West Virginia’s first Frequency Modulation station was WCFC(FM), located at Beckley, West Virginia. A Conditional Grant for an FM "Class B" channel 266 (101.1 megacycles) station was granted to Beckley Newspapers Corporation by the Federal Communications Commission in early 1946. Charles Hodel was President and chief owner of Beckley Newspapers. WCFC(FM) went on the air under an S. T. A. (Special Temporary Authorization) with 250 watts of power on 101.1 megacycles on August 15, 1946 from temporary quarters in Beckley. E. J. (Ed) Hodel was General Manager of the independently owned and operated FM station. Programming was mostly recorded music and local news and public service hours.

The FCC in December 1946 authorized WCFC(FM) to increase power from 250 watts to 3 kW Effective Radiated Power. Power was raised partially—to 1.5 KW—in early 1947—pending installation of new transmitting equipment. In the late spring of 1947, WCFC(FM) inaugurated a new modern $100,000 studio and transmitting building and 245 foot self-supported antenna tower at 305 Reservoir Road, Beckley, and began commercial operation from the newly constructed one story cement studio-office-transmitter structure, and increased ERP to 3 KW.

WCFC(FM)’s dial position was changed slightly—to 101.3 megacycles—in the fall of 1947. At this time, the station was operating daily from 10:00 a. m. to 10 p. m. Power was increased to 31 KW ERP in 1948, and again raised in 1949—to 35 KW.

With the inauguration of AM service by the owners of the FM station, WCFC(FM) changed call letters to WCFC-FM in 1950, duplicating the AM program schedule during daylight hours. Licensee name was changed in the same year to Beckley Newspapers Broadcasting Service (Charles Hodel, President).

After nearly five years of continuous service, WCFC-FM, due to economic reasons ("out of business," it reported), left the air—July 17, 1951. The FCC canceled the station’s license and deleted WCFC-FM on July 25, 1951. (See WCFC AM Profile).

The following is the Broadcast Pro-File of WCFC.

As a supplement to the Frequency Modulation service provided Beckley, West Virginia by WCFC(FM) in the late forties, the Beckley Newspapers Broadcasting Service filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission in late 1949 for a new AM broadcast station to operate with 250 watts daytime hours only, on 730 kilocycles. This permit was granted in early 1950, and WCFC later in the year went on the air, broadcasting from studios, offices, and transmitting location at 305 Reservoir Road, Beckley, site of the station’s FM sister station, WCFC-FM. Charles Hodel was President and chief owner of the station’s licensee, while E. J. (Ed) Hodel was General Manager of the independent station. Programming was simulcast over both WCFC and WCFC-FM daily until local sunset, with the FM station continuing to operate until 10:00 p. m.

Economic conditions adversely affecting the Beckley Newspapers Corporation, owner of the WCFC licensee, forced the withdrawal from active broadcasting in 1951 (reported "out of business"). WCFC was discontinued and left the air July 17, 1951 citing "economics" as the principal reason for the abandonment of both the AM and FM stations. The FCC on July 25, 1951 deleted the 250 watt WCFC. (See WCFC-FM Profile).

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