WWVA is an AM radio station that broadcasts on a frequency of 1170 kHz with studios in Wheeling, West Virginia, USA and its transmitter in St. Clairsville, Ohio. It is a class A 50,000 watt clear channel station, sharing the frequency with KFAQ (formerly KVOO) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. WWVA can be heard in most of the eastern two-thirds of the United States at night, as well as most of Canada. The station is currently owned by Clear Channel Communications and uses the on-air nickname "The Big One" (borrowed from sister stations WLW and WTAM).
Through the years, WWVA was granted several power increases. In May 1941, the FCC moved WWVA to 1170 KC, and in August of that same year, granted the ultimate power for AM stations: 50,000 watts. In doing so, WWVA became the most powerful AM station in the entire state of West Virginia.
WWVA has changed hands many times over the years. Past owners include Fidelity Investments, West Virginia Broadcasting Corporation, Storer Broadcasting, Basic Communications, Screen Gems Radio - a division of Columbia Pictures, Coca-Cola, Price Broadcasting, Osborn Communications, Atlantic Star Communications, AMFM Inc., and currently Clear Channel Communications.
WWVA’s broadcast history includes the airing of such notable live broadcasts as President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s visit to the Wheeling area, the daily Paul Harvey broadcast, which was fed to the nation from WWVA’s studios (WWVA was an ABC affiliate from 1962 to 2005. In the 1980s, WWVA briefly enjoyed a reputation as one of the leading radio news operations in the country, and won several national news reporting awards under the leadership of prominent broadcast journalists like Jim Forsyth and Colleen Marshall, but that reputation faded in the 1990s. Harvey, however, remains on the station's schedule, and the legendary Jamboree USA and Jamboree in the Hills broadcasts. Jamboree USA broadcasts started on WWVA in January 7, 1933 and was even transmitted to troops abroad during the height of World War II.
Under Basic ownership, the Jamboree became the centerpiece of an all-contemporary country western format starting on November 8, 1965, a format that saw ratings skyrocket weeks after it debuted. WWVA's studios and the Jamboree moved to the Capitol Music Hall in 1970, a civic center that is the largest in the state of West Virginia.
This country music format lasted until 1997, when WWVA abandoned it in favor of news/talk. Assumption of ownership by Clear Channel Communications resulted in the addition of such hosts as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. A series of cost-cutting moves in January 2004 resulted in the elimination of both local talk hosts (George Kellas and Jim Harrington) and most of the news department. Coinciding with this was an attempt to relocate the broadcast frequency to Stow, Ohio under an FCC major construction permit four weeks later. This permit was withdrawn in August 2004.
Since then, much of WWVA's programming today emulates regional sister stations WPGB-FM in Pittsburgh and WHLO in Akron, Ohio. One local link to the station's past was the Afternoon Drive show hosted by former sportscaster Steve Novotney, but he was also fired from WWVA in November 2006. At the time, the only local talk show remaining on WWVA was Saturday Sports Day with John Simonson, but WWVA, then in negotiations with new ownership, made a bold move when they paid more money to David Bloomquist to export his Bloomdaddy Experience from rival local station, WKKX in late May/early June 2007. The move was controversial, as WKKX members appeared very bitter about the exit, and Bloomquist has since seen a rebirth of sorts in his radio career with a change in venue.
Jamboree USA, however, remains on WWVA's schedule to this day, and in spite of a current hiatus, it is the second-longest running program in radio history. (The Grand Ole Opry on WSM Nashville is the oldest, having first aired in 1925.) The country format remains on sister station WOVK-FM, which is the FM flagship station of Jamboree USA.
On November 16 2006, WWVA, WOVK, WVKF, WKWK, WEGW and WBBD were announced for sale as part of Clear Channel's divestiture of almost 450 small and middle-market radio properties in the U.S. The Clear Channel Wheeling stations were initially slated to be sold to Florida based GoodRadio.TV LLC in May 2007, but the deal soon collapsed prior to FCC approval.
WWVA's weekday programming is identical to that of most Clear Channel news talk stations (owing to its previous ownership), carrying Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage. The station opts for paid programming in the late nights and, unlike most Clear Channel news talk stations, does not air Coast to Coast AM. Instead, it airs America's Trucking Network (still listed as Truckin' Bozo on the schedule) originating from former sister station WLW. The truck show has been a longtime staple of WWVA's nighttime schedule; WWVA was one of the first stations to syndicate The Truckin' Bozo, and even before that, Buddy Ray hosted a longtime truck show on the station.