Text and photos by SCOTT FYBUSH
If I told you that the house in the picture just below was where we stayed while visiting Parkersburg, West Virginia in late June, you’d believe me, right? In fact, we stayed around the corner in a house that looked a lot like this one…but this “house” on Rosemar Road in Vienna, WV, just north of Parkersburg, is actually a radio station – to be exact, Seven Ranges Radio’s WVVV (96.9 Williamstown).
In last week’s installment (click here if you missed it!), owner Tom Taggart was showing us his stations over in St. Marys, 20 miles or so east of Parkersburg. But V96.9 is his showplace, in part because of how cleverly Tom converted a house into a full-fledged radio station. From the office in the front living room to the full kitchen in back to the studios in bedrooms down the hall, he’s built out a nifty local station here.
There’s even plenty of room to spare downstairs, in what used to be a garage and is now storage space for WVVV’s remote gear.
The V96.9 transmitter site is a little over a mile to the northeast, up off Summit Road, where Tom put up a new tower next to what had been a big garage.
WVVV’s transmitter sits quietly in one room in front; the old garage bays, meanwhile, provide even more expansion space for future use. The site sits next to another older tower that belongs to iHeart’s WDMX (100.1 Vienna) and WNUS (107.1 Belpre OH).
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“Got time to see more?,” Tom asked us – and of course we did, so we headed off east of Parkersburg on US 50 to the tower site of Burbach Broadcasting’s WXIL (95.1 Elizabeth), WHBR (103.1 Parkersburg) and WRZZ (106.1 Parkersburg). These three signals are tightly packed into a block building up a steep driveway; if I recall right, that’s WXIL on the old Collins at left, WHBR on the Harris next to it and WRZZ on the QEI on the right.
From top to bottom, that’s WXIL’s big class B signal on the five-bay ERI at top, then WRZZ and WHBR’s four-bay antennas below that for their class A signals.
Burbach is part of the larger Forever group, and their studios are at the south end of Rosemar Road where it meets Emerson Ave/WV 68.
The executive offices are on the upper floor of this two-story office building, with studios laid out in a neat line downstairs, starting with the top-40 WXIL “My 95” studio.
Continuing down the hall brings us to rocker WHBR (103.1 the Bear), the mostly-automated talker WVNT (1340) and standards WADC (1050), classic rock “Z106” WRZZ and the other big FM here, country WGGE (Froggy 99.1), which has its transmitter on the Ohio side of the river west of town.
There’s one TV station in town, WTAP (Channel 15), which has been an NBC affiliate for decades. We didn’t get to tour its studios by the wall along the river at the southern tip of downtown Parkersburg, but we did watch its local newscasts, which are now also seen on subchannels that carry CBS and Fox. (CBS also airs on WIYE-LD 47 and Fox on WOVA-LD 22; for ABC, West Virginia cable homes get Charleston’s WCHS-TV 8 and Ohio gets Columbus’ WSYX-TV 6.)
Moving east on a hot Saturday morning (toward our ultimate goal for this trip, a Cincinnati Reds game at Great American Ball Park), we make a couple of stops off Ohio 32, the new highway that links the southern parts of the state. About 20 miles west of Parkersburg, religious WPJY (88.7 Blennerhassett) sits just off the south side of the highway next to a water tower.
Another half hour or so and we’re making a too-quick stop in the college town of Athens, home to Ohio University (not to be confused with The Ohio State University up north in Columbus). Ohio University’s public broadcasting empire includes WOUB-TV (Channel 20) and its satellite WOUC-TV (Channel 44) in Cambridge to the east, as well as public radio WOUB-FM (91.3) and five FM satellites, plus a nifty little AM sister, WOUB (1340).
WOUB’s studios are in the Radio-TV Building on campus, which we’ll have to come back and see in depth at some point, while the AM is near sports fields southeast of the main campus.
Thanks to Tom Taggart for the tours!
The Fybush Media podcast is back – for real! Listen to our latest episode right here!
Season two of “Top of the Tower” offered you several preview editions during the NAB Show last month in Las Vegas – and now we’re (finally!) back to regular weekly editions. Join host Scott Fybush and a wide variety of industry insiders every Wednesday for interesting conversation about what’s happening in the business of radio and TV, not to mention programming, engineering and the newsroom.
Find “Top of the Tower” on all your favorite podcast platforms or right here at fybush.com – and check out our Season 1 Archives, too!
And don’t miss a big batch of West Virginia and southern Ohio IDs next Wednesday, over at our sister site, TopHour.com!
Next week: Just West of Cleveland