WBEX-AM Through the Years
Dick Rutherford (driving) and Steven B. Stevens, 1957
While Mike Smith, Dan Ramey and Christina Wolford have been familiar names to WBEX listeners in recent years, there were others who paved the way since 1947. Truman Morris, Dave Logan, Bill Spahr, Bob Dittoe and many others.
September 15th, 2007 marked the 60th anniversary WBEX began broadcasting on what was then termed "1490 kilocycles amplitude modulation".
America was on the heels of World War II when two companies applied with the Federal Communications Commission to have a radio signal licensed to Chillicothe.
Frank Dieringer of Youngstown and his brother-in-law Elmer Roll of Cincinnati filed the original application as the Chillicothe Broadcasting Company in January of 1946. In February, the Shawnee Broadcasting Company, also applied. Eventually, Mr. Dieringer’s name appeared on the license along with the names of J. Harry Callaway, D.C. Summerford and George Walsh to begin broadcasting in 1947.
In a “Gazette” account, the Shawnee Broadcasting Company “invited representatives of local civic and commercial organizations and industries to be guests at a dinner at Highland’s Restaurant Monday Feb. 18, at 6:30pm. J. Harry Callaway, member of the company, said their plans for Chillicothe will be discussed.” Interestingly, “Highland’s” was owned by Walter Highland, Sr., grandfather of Pat Highland, Dan Ramey’s broadcast partner for Chillicothe Cavalier games.
Finally in the fall of 1947, Chillicotheans were able to hear a broadcast on their radios originating from their hometown. Prior to this, they were listening to WLW from Cincinnati, or WHKC (now WTVN) from Columbus.
At that time, the programming spanned a wide variety, from the Sunday morning church services from Walnut Street United Methodist Church (which is still broadcasting today) to local Glee Clubs, “Keyboard Classics”, “Singing Strings” and performances by the Green and Morgan Orchestras. Weekday mornings began with the “Jamboree” followed by Roy Broughton and Jake Noble, hymns and devotions, to the Brush Creek Folks, Paint Street Parade and Teen Age Canteen. There was even time dedicated to Hawaiian Melodies and Opera excerpts. A far cry from today’s News/Talk lineup of shows like “Dan & Mike”, “Rush Limbaugh” and “Glenn Beck”.
The first sports play-by-play broadcast came in the radio station’s first week. The Chillicothe City School Board honored Mr. Callaway’s request to broadcast the CHS football and basketball games. The Cavaliers would travel to Washington Court House, and a Cavalier victory was relayed back to Chillicothe. Although, the Cavs won the game 7-6, before sign off, the final score had been incorrectly reported as 13-6. The game ended on a controversial touchdown which was waved off by the referees when it was determined an interception had been fumbled and ruled “incomplete” as time expired. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the last correction need to be made over 60 years, but it was a great start to following events important to our community. Even the CHS marching band paid tribute to WBEX, spelling out the call letters in its halftime show at the Chillicothe-Linden McKinley game.
What you’ll see is the beginning of a trip down memory lane. We extend our thanks to those who have contributed to our scrapbook, especially the Morris family, owners of the station from 1952-1980, and to Mike Throne, managing editor of the Chillicothe Gazette for the new articles.
If you have photos, audio or stories about how WBEX has impacted you over the years, we want to hear from you. Send us an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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Remember to check back for the latest updates to our scrapbook, dedicated to WBEX memories.
Address: Memories, c/o WBEX, P.O. Box 94, Chillicothe, Ohio 45601.