Editor's Note: This is the 262nd in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON - In 1923, radio engineer Glenn Chase began a semi-regular schedule of radio broadcasts in Pomeroy, Ohio. Chase said keeping his fledgling station on the air was such a headache that he chose the call letters WSAZ to stand for "Worst Station from A to Z." More likely the call letters were simply a matter of chance when the station's license was issued.
Two years later, Chase moved to Huntington and sold a controlling interest in the station to Huntington businessman W.C. McKellar, who wanted to use it to promote the sale of radios at his 4th Avenue store. Chase, who stayed on as the station's engineer, broadcast from the store's first floor show window.
In 1927, McKellar sold a partial interest in WSAZ to the Huntington Publishing Company, the publisher of Huntington's newspapers. McKellar stayed on as station manager and Chase continued as station engineer.
Not surprisingly, veteran newspaper writers like society editor Catherine Bliss Enslow and sportswriter Fred Burns were soon regularly broadcasting on the station. The station's studio was moved, first to the Hotel Prichard, then to the third floor of the Keith-Albee Theater. WSAZ soon negotiated an agreement with Marshall College to broadcast the school's football, basketball and baseball games.
When the record-setting 1937 Ohio River flood swept through Huntington, WSAZ stayed on the air for nine straight days, without any commercials. It aired thousands of requests for information about relatives and friends, appeals for help and directives from officials working to cope with the disaster.
In 1949, WSAZ-TV became West Virginia's first television station, and in 1953, the Huntington Publishing Co. opened a modern combined radio and television studio at 201 9th St.
Later, the two stations changed hands multiple times. First they were sold to Goodwill Broadcasting, which sold them to Capitol Cities Broadcasting, which then sold WSAZ radio to Stoner Broadcasting, which changed the station's call letters to WGNT. Another sale to Kindred Communications brought another change in call letters, to today's WRVC.