Celebrating the rich history of broadcasting in the Miami Valley!

In the late teens, most radio involved ship-to-shore or amateur "ham" stations using telegraphy. In April, 197, stations were ordered off the air until the conclusion of World War I. After the Great War, the United States Department of Commerce (DOC) started issuing licenses for what would become the broadcast band as we know it in 1920. Early broadcasting pioneers held General Amateur licenses. The historic election broadcast on November 2, 1920 actually went out under a temporary Special Amateur authorization, assigned the call 8ZZ, although the station quickly switched to operating under a Limited Commercial license, as KDKA. Many companies and schools sought licenses to ensure they were not left behind. The year 1922 saw a real flood of applications, fighting for – at the time – a shared time slot on the one national frequency. As a result, some of these early "grants" were never in fact even built. It's oelieved the area's first radio station, WDBS ("Watch Dayton's Broadcasting Station"), actually started with the call sign 8XAX which broadcast its' first programming in 1921... making it reportedly the 13th oldest still operating radio station in America. In later years, as WING (named obviously for commemorating the city's place as the Birthplace Of Aviation), the station became one of America's legendary AM Top 40 Radio giants. And, just prior to that, WING's morning show host was legendary comic Jonathan Winters. Today, it is Dayton's home for ESPN Sports Radio.

In 1935, a three time Ohio Governor who once unsuccessfully ran for President (with Franklin Delano Roosevelt as his running mate) purchased and moved an Oil City, Pennsylvania radio station to the Gem City. He was already the owner of the local newspaper (The Dayton Daily News). In signing on WHIO-AM, former Governor James M. Cox began the Cox Broadcasting empire. For decades, WHIO (now both AM & FM) was and still is "The Voice Of Dayton." One of its' early newscasters was Phil Donahue, who hosted a daily talk show called "Conversation Piece". And WHIO was the home of Lou Emm, whose voice was the familiar "wake up call" to thousands of Daytonians for some five decades.

Dayton was also the home of a radio station that was among the first to attempt to make popular what was then a fairly new format idea...two-way telephone talk and news. Around 1970, WAVI-AM (named for "aviation") launched as one of the early "News-Talk" radio stations and would prove to be its' most successful format. It was the first station in America to feature a program aimed at home computer users.

Radio broadcasting in Dayton had other "firsts", as well. About 1965, WAVI owner H.K. "Bud" Crowl launched America's first FM station aimed exclusively at the African-American community. WDAO-FM became an incredible success. By the 1970's it was a powerhouse for Dayton's youth, in many cases both black and white. WDAO-FM is considered responsible for launching the music careers of such artists as The Ohio Players, Bootsy Collins and others.

WONE-AM began broadcasting in 1949, when former WING staffer Ronald B. Woodyard departed the station, publicly threatening to put it out of business. Unlike most Dayton stations at the time, WONE acted as an independent (non-network station) with local DJ's playing music in a "block programming style": Pop Music: 5 AM to 9 AM (with DJ "Jolly Rogers") Country: 9 AM to 12 Noon Easy Listening: Noon to 3 PM Pop Music from 3 PM on...

The WONE studios were originally located on the second floor of the Second National Bank Building at the southwest corner of East Third and Jefferson Streets. With plans to put Channel 22 (WIFE) on the air, more room was needed for television, WONE and sister station WTWO-FM (WTUE) moved to 380 West First Street. Because of urban renewal and the failure of the television station, the radio stations relocated in mid-1965 to studios at 11 South Wilkinson Street in Dayton. The block programming at WONE changed to middle-of-the road and by 1965 tried to compete with WING with Top 40. After a couple of years,. It then switched back to a middle-of-the-road format. When WONE did not get much audience traction against heritage MOR WHIO-AM, the station flipped to country in 1969. From there, it had a decades long run as Dayton's country music giant. It's FM sister, WTUE-FM, which first began as a top 40 station, flipped to Album Rock in 1975 and has entertained Dayton's rock music fans for over 30 years. In the early 60's, an FM station dominating the radio market was unheard of in most American cities. Not in Dayton. The beautiful music format at WHIO-FM topped the rating charts, and continued to be a powerhouse until it's eventual change to country music in 1989. Today, K-99.1 is still often at the top of the ratings charts.

Dayton was also the home of a station that was early into the "progressive rock" format. WVUD-FM was a commercial station owned by the University Of Dayton. During its' heyday, the station launched the careers of many of today's broadcasters, among the most prominent: talk show host Mike McConnell, and nationally known sports talk host Dan Patrick.

Dayton Television

The original home of the nationally syndicated TV talk show, "The Phil Donahue Show," broadcast for many years from the studios of WDTN-TV, Channel 2. In its' early days (as WLWD-TV), the station was one of the "cogs" in the Crosley Broadcasting Empire beaming daytime live audience variety/talk shows hosted by legendary broadcasters Ruth Lyons, Paul Dixon and, later, Bob Braun.

WHIO-TV began on channel 13, but moved a few years later to channel 7, where you'll find it today. WHIO-TV was (and still is), Dayton's News Leader. It's legendary anchor, Don Wayne (best known for the fact that his delivery was such that many mistook him for Walter Cronkite) was Dayton's favorite anchor for decades. Former WING DJ Jim Baldridge moved into Wayne's anchor chair upon his retirement. Channel 7 was also the home of popular local weathercaster Gil Whitney, whose penchant for forecasting by wooly worms and the Old Farmer's Almanac charmed Dayton TV viewers for years.

Dayton actually had a UHF TV station in the 1950's. It was WIFE-TV, channel 22. Unfortunately, it only lasted a short time, due to the lack of receivers. That began to change around the mid 1960's, UHF television stations were coming on the air more often and TV dealers were selling "converters" to enable those with VHF-only TV's to be able to receive programming from this "new" medium. With that, came the rebirth of Dayton's channel 22 as WKEF-TV. An ABC affiliate, channel 22 often programmed to the youth market also embraced by its' network. "Clubhouse 22", and its' host, Malcolm McCleod (with his "friend", Duffy The Dog) entertained a generation of Dayton-area youngsters. WKEF-TV was also where, late at night, you could watch the horror movies hosted by a station master control operator. His given name was Barry Hobart, but a generation of Dayton TV watchers know him as "Dr. Creep".

Though it signed on as a commercial TV station (as WKTR-TV in studios next to the Cassino's pizza commissary on East Stroop Road), Dayton's WPTD (channel 16) has, for decades been the city's home for Public Broadcasting. Every year, Daytonians pledge thousand of dollars to its' "Great TV Auction", so residents can watch quality programs...and Dayton's children can watch "Sesame Street".

Dayton's last full-power TV station, WRGT-TV signed on as an independent station on September 23, 1984. The station ran a general-entertainment format consisting of cartoons, classic sitcoms, recent off-network sitcoms, old movies, drama shows, and sports before becoming a FOX affiliate in 1986..

There's much more to the history of Dayton broadcasting than is said here. It is our hope to commemorate through this site, the pioneers and individuals who brought and today still bring, generations of great programming to the citizens of Dayton...and the Miami Valley!