A Guide to the WRVA Radio Collection, 1925-2000 WRVA Radio (Richmond, Va.), Records, 1925-2000 38210

A Guide to the WRVA Radio Collection, 1925-2000

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Accession Number 38210


Library of Virginia

The Library of Virginia
800 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219-8000
Phone: (804) 692-3888 (Archives Reference)
Fax: (804) 692-3556 (Archives Reference)
Email: archdesk@lva.virginia.gov(Archives)
URL: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/

© 2002 By The Library of Virginia. All Rights Reserved.

Funding: Web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Processed by: Jay Gaidmore

Library of Virginia
Accession number
Collection, 1925-2000
ca. 52 cubic feet, 637 compact discs, and 1,760 cassette tapes
WRVA Radio
Physical Location
Business Records Collection, Acc. 38210

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

The original verbatim transcript of the dedication of the WRVA transmitter in Varina in 1939 can be viewed, but to read text, please use photocopies. Permission must be requested in writing from WRVA/Clear Channel Communications to reproduce any sound recordings.

Preferred Citation

WRVA Radio Collection, 1925-2000. Accession 38210, Business records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Clear Channel Communications, June 2001.

Biographical/Historical Information

WRVA was officially dedicated on 2 November 1925. Owned and operated by Larus & Brother Company, manufacturers of Edgeworth Smoking Tobacco and other tobacco products, the station initially operated as a community station without commercial revenue and broadcast only two evenings a week. The Corn Cob Pipe Club was one of the many regular programs begun in 1925. It proved so popular with listeners throughout the United States and Canada that by July 1935, almost nine hundred clubs were established in the United States and foreign countries. By January 1926, the station increased its schedule to three nights a week, and by 1929, WRVA was broadcasting day and night seven days a week. Also in 1929, the station increased its power from 1,000 watts to 5,000 watts and became affiliated with the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). In May 1933, WRVA opened new broadcasting studios in the Hotel Richmond, on 9th and Grace Streets. In April 1935, the station built and began using the first all-wood self-supporting radio tower in America. On 27 June 1937, WRVA joined Columbia Broadcasting Systems (CBS) as a full time affiliate. On 17 March 1939, the 50,000 watt transmitter, located in eastern Henrico County was officially dedicated. In March 1940, Sunshine Sue and Her Rangers first broadcast on WRVA. In September 1946, WRVA leased the old Lyric Theater on 9th and Broad Street and the Old Dominion Barn Dance began airing on WRVA. On 28 January 1959, WRVA rejoined NBC. On 29 May 1968, the new WRVA studio, located in historic Church Hill and overlooking Richmond, was dedicated.

In 1968, Larus & Brother Company reorganized and became the Larus Investing Company. In July 1968, WRVA AM and FM became WRVA Radio, Inc. and WRVA-FM Radio, Inc., respectively, subsidiary corporations of the Larus Investing Company. Larus Investing Company sold its entire WRVA stock to Southern Broadcasting Company of Winston, Salem, North Carolina in November 1969. In August 1977, Harte-Hanks Newspapers, Inc., purchased Southern Broadcasting Company, including WRVA-AM and WRVQ-FM. Harte-Hanks Communications, Inc., sold the radio stations to Edens Broadcasting Company, a company formed by the senior managers of Harte- Hanks Radio, Inc., a subsidiary of Harte-Hanks Communications, Inc., in December 1984. In September 1991, WRVA was sold to Force II Communication, L. P., of San Diego. In the Spring 1992, Clear Channel Communications bought WRVA and is the current owner.

Scope and Content Information

The WRVA Radio Collection spans seventy-five years and contains applause letters, minutes, anniversary booklets, program scripts, program guides, newsletters, histories, interviews, employee questionnaires, sales manuals, audience and sales promotions, rate cards, listener surveys, posters, newspaper clippings, FCC applications and reports, drawings, photographs, and sound recordings. This material documents the history of WRVA, the role the station played in Virginia and Richmond for over half-a-century, and the development of radio in Virginia and the United States. The collection is also rich in material on the Larus & Brother Company, including histories, anniversary booklets, photographs of officials, employees, and factories, and promotions.

The sound recordings date from the 1930's to the 1990's and contain news broadcasts of significant local, state, national, and world events and personalities, programs of a local and regional interest, including the Capitol Squirrel, Calling All Cooks, the Radio Scholarship Quiz, and the Quiz of Two Cities, and musical programs, such as the Corn Cob Pipe Club, the Old Dominion Barn Dance, the Sunshine Hour, and the Silver Star Quartet. Selected sound recordings are now available for use on CD. Each CD has been cataloged individually. Search The Library of Virginia Archives and Manuscripts Catalog to find WRVA sound recordings of interest.


Organized into the following series:

I. Correspondence, 1926-1991
II. Minutes, 1956-1978
III. Administrative Files
IV. Sales
V. WRVA Radio Dialog, 1938-1963
VI. New Building (1968), 1963-1969
VII. Subject Files
VIII. Publications
IX. Photographs, 1925-2000
X. Artifacts
XI. Sound Recordings
XII. Films and Videos
XIII. News Tape Morgue
XIV. Special Programs and Airchecks, 1981-1994

Contents List

Series I: Correspondence, 1926-1991
Box: 1
9 folders.

The applause memos contain comments from listeners on the station's programming and document the strength of WRVA's signal. The geographical distribution of applause letters received reveals that WRVA had listeners from the Atlantic Provinces of Canada to California. The correspondence file includes letters, memos, and telegrams regarding matters relating to the running of the station, station policy, the hiring and promotion of employees, and listener responses to programming. Correspondence also documents the transfer of part of WRVA's archives to the University of Virginia. The public service correspondence includes letters from listeners commenting and/or expressing thanks for WRVA programming. In many cases, a response from WRVA is included.

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Series II: Minutes, 1956-1978
Box: 1
11 folders.

Includes minute books from WRVA Radio, Inc. and WRVA-FM, Inc., the subsidiary companies of the Larus Investing Company, the company formed when Larus and Brother Company reorganized in 1968. Also includes miscellaneous minutes and reports of staff, managers, and stockholders from 1956-1968

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Series III: Administrative Files
Box: 2-6

Includes the files relating to the administrative functions of WRVA, including incorporation files, deeds, accounts receivable, FCC renewal applications, and employee benefits.

Organized into the following four subseries: A. Ownership Records; B. Financial Records; C. Federal Communications Commission, (FCC), 1947-1969; D. Human Resources.

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Series IV: Sales
Box: 6-10
121 folders

Contains material used and created by the WRVA Sales Department to attract advertisers, including manuals, advertisements, advertising booklets and displays, client presentations, newsletters, rate cards, and surveys. The advertisements, booklets, and displays were created to convey the listening power of WRVA and the benefits advertisers would received from advertising on the radio. The surveys contain information on the habits and preferences of WRVA's listening audience. The rate cards span from the 1930's to the 1960's and illustrate the costs of advertising on the radio. Also includes copies of WRVAds from 1950 to 1953, the sales department newsletter, which contained information on programming.

Arranged alphabetically

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Series V: WRVA Radio Dialog, 1938-1963
Box: 11-12
47 folders

WRVA Dialog was the program guide for national and local programs airing on WRVA Radio. The guides included highlights of programs, time listings, and numerous photographs. Unfortunately, several significant gaps exist.

Arranged chronologically.

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Series VI: New Building (1968), 1963-1969
Box: 13-15
30 folders and 1 card index box.

Includes files relating to the planning, construction, and dedication of WRVA's new building on Church Hill, such architectural plans and surveys, construction specifications, invitations and RSVP's for the dedication, and the dedicatory remarks of then Governor Mills E. Godwin, Jr. Philip Johnson, a renowned architect, designed the building, which was dedicated in 1968.

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Series VII: Subject Files
Box: 16-31

This series contains advertisements, biographies, booklets, books, brochures, editorials, employee questionnaires, histories, interviews, letters, memorandums, memoirs, newsletters, newspaper clippings, posters, press releases, program guides, programs, promotions, scrapbooks, scripts, and speeches relating to the station's history, the Larus & Brother Company, the many individuals and staff who worked for WRVA, important events and individuals of the twentieth century, and radio programs and commercials. Of note are the files relating to WRVA's many anniversaries; the station's studios and transmitters; announcers, such as Alden Aaroe, Lou Dean, Wayne Lemon, Tim Timberlake, and Big John Trimble; staff, such as Walter R. Bishop, Ted Chezik, Bertha Hewlett, Calvin T. Lucy, Bill McGowan, John Tansey, and Harry Wood; performers, such as J. Robert Beadles, Pat Binford, Homer & Jethro, the Silver Star Quartet, Sunshine Sue, and Holland R. Wilkinson; special characters such as Millard the Mallard; musical programs, such as the Corn Cob Pipe Club, the Sunshine Hour, the Old Dominion Barn Dance, and the New Dominion Barn Dance; public service activities; local, state, and national politics and politicians; publicity and promotions; radio programs, such as Calling All Cooks, the Carl Stutz Show, and the Sports Desk with Bob Smith; and other radio stations, such as WBAZ, WBBL, and WCOD.

Arranged alphabetically.

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Series VIII: Publications
Box: 31-32
16 folders.

Includes books, newspapers, and magazines. The books and magazine primarily relate to broadcasting and the history of radio, including WRVA. Of note is a copy of the Virginia Cavalcade, Autumn 1955, containing the article, "Catwhiskers and Kilocycles: Tuning Virginia Radio Stations During the Twenties." The newspapers have been transferred to the Virginia Newspaper Project, but a list of the newspapers and their dates is included in the folder.

Arranged alphabetically.

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Series IX: Photographs 1925-2000
Boxes 33-66 and Negative Boxes 1-14

This series contains photographs that document the visual history of WRVA from its opening program on November 2, 1925 to 2000. Includes photographs of WRVA's studios and transmitters; staff, announcers, and performers; staff parties; broadcasts; special events; public service and community activities; anniversaries; programs; local, state and national politicians; and Larus & Brother Company. Some of the folders for WRVA staff contain biographical and program information.

Individual folders exist for some staff, performers, and events. However, there are several broad categories the researcher should consult for photographs of staff, performers, and events. Many of the photographs of performers are grouped into Performers or Performers, Early. Staff photographs are grouped together in Staff, Individual or Staff, Group. Events are generally located under Special Events. Photographs of broadcasts can found under Broadcasts or Broadcasts, Remote.

The albums primarily contain 4 x 8 photographs of staff and staff events from 1985 to 2000.

Organized into the following subseries: A. Photographs; B. Albums; C. Negatives; D. Promotion and Events Negatives, October 1985-January 2000.

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Series X: Artifacts
Box: 67-70
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Series XI: Sound Recordings, 1929-1995
Physical Location: CD cabinet
630 compact discs. Duration: 317 hr., 40 min., 38 sec.

Includes recordings of news broadcasts, campaign, dedication and political speeches, anniversary, christening, and dedication events, political conventions, programs of a local and regional interest such as the Alden Aaroe Show, Around Bishop's Cracker Barrel, Capitol Squirrel, Calling All Cooks, Kemp's Konversations, Legislative Roundup, Radio Scholarship Quiz, Sideviews on the News, Quiz of Two Cities, Quiz of Two States, Virginia Legislators' Interview, and Virginia Weekly, and musical groups and programs such the Al Zahlout Family, Corn Cob Pipe Club, Georgia Wildcats, Happy Valley Girls, Old Dominion Barn Dance, The Sunshine Hour, and the Silver Star Quartet. These sound recordings provide a unique perspective into important events in Virginia during the 20th century, including World War II, Massive Resistance and desegregation, Civil Rights, and hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes. NOTE: See Series XIII and XIV for News Tape Morgue (XIII) and Special Programs and Airchecks (XIV) recordings.

In this finding aid, the compact discs are arranged alphabetical by title of recording or last name of person delivering speech or being interviewed. These compact discs are arranged numerically in the CD cabinet.