History of WSPZ/WVRC, Spencer
The photo is Bill Newbrough at the console, showing the
old Collins board and turntables.
WSPZ 1400-AM signed on the air on Sept. 12, 1961, with
1000 watts day and 250 watts at night. The frequency had
become available because WCAW in Charleston had moved from
1400 to 680 kHz.
Former WSPZ employee Bob Weaver writes, “Famous country
musician and composer Tom T. Hall came to work at the
station in the 1960s, got discouraged over the low pay and
the fact the station manager felt he had little musical
talent, telling him to ‘just DJ.’ He packed up and went to
Nashville. The rest is history.” [Weaver now lives in
Calhoun County and is publisher of
The 1961-62 Broadcasting Yearbook shows WSPZ owned
by Community Radio, H. Gordon Minns, President, with other
staff as follows: Paul R. Fairchild, general manager; Robert
J. Weaver, sales manager; Manuel Cederio, news director; and
Emma Lou Mace, women's news director.
In 1966, the station was acquired by Nubro Broadcasting
The call letters WVRC were chosen to stand for "the Voice
of Roane County."
The 1969 Broadcasting Yearbook shows WVRC owned by
Nubro Broadcasting Co., Inc., Jesse D. Newman, president and
chief engineer, with other personnel as follows: Richard
Dale Brooks, general manager and program director; and
William Brannon, commercial manager.
The Collins board at WVRC between 1973 and 1975.
picture. Photo provided by Gary Russell.
Gary Russell writes:
I worked at WVRC from the fall of '73 to sometime early
'75, during my high school years and shortly thereafter.
When I was hired, it was during the transitional period
between the Dale Brooks and Charles (Charlie Ray) Marlow
et. al. ownership.
Dale Brooks used to do a half hour live show shortly
after noon, where he'd play his guitar and sing. He used
"New River Train" as the theme for the program, and
anyone in town at that time remembers it. Dale was even
inducted into the "Rockabilly Hall of Fame."
When Charles Marlow and company purchased the
station, he hired Chuck Loose from Parkersburg as PD.
One of the first things Loose did was purchase
Tapecaster cart machines. He then turned the on-air
studio around to the right so that it faced the
transmitter, and made it a "stand-up" operation.
During this time, the block programming schedule was
6-10 Bill Brannon (Country)
10-2 Chuck Loose (PD) (AC)
2-6 Charlie 'Ray' Marlow (Country)
6-7 News/Public affairs/Easy Listening
7-11:05 M-W-F Chuck Stotts, T-T-S Gary Russell (Top 40/CHR)
Sundays were handled by newer trainees, who basically
did board op for religious or syndicated programming,
for the most part.
Chuck Loose signed the station up with the ABC
network, which was why we signed off at 11:05 PM after
Chuck Stotts and I were both high school kids at the
time. Other Spencer High School kids included Tom Keith,
Vince Metz, and Gary Camp (during the Dale Brooks
years), Lee Johnson and his sister Kim, along with
Stotts and myself during the Marlow years.
I've been in the station only twice since I worked
there, the last time was in the early '90s. The studio
was again rearranged, so that the announcer is once
again facing the production room as shown in the pic you
have of Bill Newbrough. And at that time, they were
still using the old Tapecaster cart machines. (There
were four purchased in '73, two recorders and two
playback units. One set was on-air, and the other was in
I'll add this one story about Tom T. Hall. Charlie
Marlow was working at the station during the same time
Hall was there, and when Marlow decided to get married,
they did so at the station. Charlie 'Ray' Marlow married
his wife Amy, with Tom T. Hall standing in as best man,
right in the production room of the station, something
Charlie never tired of telling.
The 1975 Broadcasting Yearbook shows WVRC owned by
Roane Broadcasting Co. (acq 7-1-66). Personnel listed are
Richard Dale Brooks, general manager and vice president; Ann
Ward, news director; William Brannon, commercial manager;
and Charles R. Marlow, chief engineer. The format is MOR and
Jon F. Caudle Jr. recalls:
I went to work at the Spencer station (WVRC) in about
May 1976. I used the on-air name "Johnny Frank." At that
point Charles R Marlow ("Charlie Ray" on the air) was
not only the engineer, but the manager. Bill and Patsy
Brannon were both working at the time. Program director
or music director or something of the sort was Jeff
Rader, who was a junior or senior in high school (played
trumpet in the Spencer high school band and bass guitar
in a gospel trio with his dad, and then went to Marshall
as a music major). Joyce Schoolcraft (also an SHS
student) was on-air some. Scot Epling came on board in
1977. The local Assembly of God pastor, David - I
believe his last name was Edwards - was on-air some, as
was his son Wayne (HS junior in 1976-77). Charlie Ray's
wife (Amy?) was the secretary. I did sign-on during the
summer, and several evening shifts during the school
year. And I heard all about Tom T. Hall having been
there 15 years before me as sign on. We ran 1000 watts
daytime, and 250 watts nighttime, signing off at 10:00
PM. Our format was gospel 6-8 AM, country 8AM - 5PM, and
rock 5PM - 10PM. Sundays was all gospel, I believe. Mark
Rhodes came in and worked the Sunday shifts. When I came
to work, I was replacing a guy who went by the name
"Grey Fox" on the air ... his daughter (or step-daughter
was Janice Blevins) who was in my class at school.
Another part-time employee was a postal worker (I think)
who used the on-air name of "Sam Hill." I did the
play-by-play for the Little League ball games during the
summers 1976 and 1977. There was an ownership change
during the summer, 1977, and a fellow named Bill
Milliken came to work for the station. When I went in
for a job interview in 1976, they pulled the news of the
AP teletype and had me read through it for them. When I
effortlessly read through names like Menachem Begin,
Jose Lopez Portillo, and Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, they
decided I qualified for the job.
The 1985 Broadcasting Yearbook shows WVRC owned
by MPY Broadcasting Co. (acq 1977). Personnel shown are:
James E. Damron, vice president and general manager; W.
Ellis, program director; Scot Epling, music director; Sam
Hall, news director; and Larry Koenig, chief engineer.
The 1986 Broadcasting Yearbook shows WVRC operated
by Roane Communications Inc. (acq 9-22-82).
In 1985 the station was purchased by Star Communications,
Inc. Officers included Larry Koenig (President) and partners
Gordon Rogers and Doris Jane Rogers and their son-in-law Bob
Zdanek (Bob Edwards).
In November 1992, WVRC-FM began broadcasting on 104.7 MHz
with 3000 watts. It soon upgraded to 6000 watts.
In 2002, WVRC-FM was operating 24 hours per day with a
format of modern country mixed heavily with country oldies.
WVRC-AM had a southern gospel format. .