WNRV in Virginia to celebrate 70 years on the air

WNRV radio in Giles County, VA is set to celebrate their 70th anniversary this week. Broadcasting bluegrass music over the air 24/7 on both the AM and FM band, the station is known locally as The Ridge.

Their first FCC license was received on August 24, 1953 and the station went live that day. Over the years it has changed formats a number of times, but has always had a focus on the area where it is located, including regional youth sports. Their signal reaches most of the New River Valley territory in southwestern part of the state, and the newly-added FM signal allows them to keep up signal strength in the evening.

Current WNRV owner Terry Reed shared some of the history of the station.

“The studio and tower were built in 1952 in a hayfield along the New River on Route 100 between Narrows and Pearisburg, VA in Giles County. In 1968 a power increase to 5KW was approved by the FCC. We’re still using the original facilities today. 

The station has been under several different local ownership groups and formats through 1999. In 1999, Perception Media bought WNRV and used it to simulcast their Southern Gospel station WWWR in Roanoke. In mid-2007 Dennis Welch and Gary Jolicouer came up from Florida and entered a lease management agreement which contained an option to buy.

They switched the format to bluegrass and restored the station back to local independent operation. This rebirth of WNRV was welcomed by the community, and the bluegrass format was a natural fit for a region that has such rich musical history and traditions. Dennis assumed sole operation of the station in October 2008.

In 2009 Dennis and Terry Reed partnered to form New River Interactive Media, LLC, and their purchase of the station from Perception Media was approved in November 2009. This brought the station back to full local ownership and management, with my father Dean acting as General Manager. Dennis retired in 2016 and the station is now solely owned by myself.

We added an FM translator on 97.3 in November 2018.”

Of course their bluegrass music signal can also be accessed anytime online via live streaming, except when the station is broadcasting high school sports. Their schedule includes both independently-programmed music, and popular syndicated bluegrass programs.

A mix of classic and contemporary bluegrass music is featured on The Ridge, along with bluegrass gospel. They invite everyone to have a listen at AM 990, FM 97.3, or online, anytime. The station is supported by local advertisers.

Many congratulations to Terry Reed and the whole WNRV staff for marking 70 years on the air!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.