Pictures of WGKV/WHMS/WXIT are on Flickr here. 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 owners.

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 operations director.

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 affairs.

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 span.

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.

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