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WSAZ History | The Decades / 1940s
History Information | The Decades / 1940s


Radio

The Early Years
WSAZ 930AM Radio was one of the most popular radio stations in the region. Its daily performances caught the ears of many on a regular basis. The station moved from from Pomeroy, Ohio to Huntington, W.Va. in 1926. Glenn E. Chase set up the station "W-S-A-Z" on an amateur level. The McKellar Electric Company on Fourth Avenue allowed Chase to set up a transmitter. In 1944, it became affiliated with the American Broadcasting Company.

Here, WSAZ 930AM radio talent gather around the live microphone. The studios of WSAZ Radio were at various locations around Huntington including McKellar Electric Co., The Prichard Building, and The Keith-Albee studios.



Many television pioneers originally worked in radio. A lot of people warned them, "Don't quit your radio job, TV is just a fad."


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Bud Rogers

Lawrence H. "Bud" Rogers is almost exclusively responsible for WSAZ-TV. In 1948 as the publicity director of WSAZ Radio, Rogers was in Toledo, Ohio and witnessed TV for the first time. From that moment on, he fought an uphill battle to bring television to our region. At 26, he tried to convince everyone that television was the future, but to no avail. It seemed for a time that no one would help Rogers achieve his new dream.



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Colonel Long

But it would be Rogers' grandfather-in-law Col. J.H. Long who helped make WSAZ-TV a reality. Long funded the "television project" for Rogers, who figured out what it would take to set up WSAZ-TV. Against the wishes of everyone, a tower and studios were set up for what would become Channel 5. In this picture, Rogers (second on the right) and Long (far right) inspect the new television tower.



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On the Air

October 14, 1949. The few people in the Tri-State who had TV sets were able to see the first television signal ever broadcast in the region. It wasn't a program, but a simple test pattern, followed by a list of TV set distributors. Then, the test pattern returned, followed by the list. With that first broadcast, WSAZ-TV, Channel 5 (now Channel 3) was on the air.



Ten days later, the first regular program Stop the Music was televised through much of West Virginia, plus large areas of Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. And by November 15, 1949 - grand opening day - approximately 2200 TV sets were tuned to Channel 5 for programs such as Kukla, Fran and Ollie, Hopalong Cassidy and Arturo Toscanini conducting the New York Philharmonic. The presidents of RCA and NBC joined West Virginia governor Okey Patterson as honored guests for the opening gala at the old Governor Cabell Hotel.


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Nick Basso

WSAZ-TV, Channel 5 was owned by the Huntington Publishing Co., which included the Herald Dispatch as well as the afternoon Huntington Advertiser. The company also owned WSAZ radio, which had become the area's first radio station when it was moved from Pomeroy, Ohio to Huntington in 1923. The TV station had been brought from idea to reality by newspaper executives Col. J.H. Long and Dave Gideon, and broadcaster Capt. John Kennedy. The first TV station in West Virginia was on the air.

WSAZ-TV broadcast many programs the remainder of 1949.

Nick Basso was the station's first news anchor.

While Long, Gideon and Kennedy brought WSAZ-TV to life, it was Lawrence H. (Bud) Rogers, grandson-in-law of the Colonel, who was the creative genius behind the growth of WSAZ television. Television was a new industry, and there were few guidelines on how to run a station. Rogers became an innovator, developing the two-city (Huntington-Charleston) regional market concept, which was the first in the country for TV. He built a TV station that was a national leader while located in two relatively small communities.


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