WMEV-AM began broadcasting from Radio Hill in Marion, VA on December 12, 1948, at 1010 on the AM dial. WMEV-FM "FM94", a pioneer FM station in the Mountain Empire signed on June 21, 1961, at 93.9 on the FM dial from studios on Radio Hill and transmitter high atop Walker Mountain.
In 1948 "Cousin Zeke" went to work for 2 weeks at WMEV to help raise money for the Marion Volunteer Fire Department, and Zeke's popularity with the listeners kept him there for 33 years.
"Cousin Zeke" was so famous as a DJ that he was voted "DJ of the Year" in 1954 during the DJ convention in Nashville, TN and was presented the "Key to the Town of Marion" in 1976.
Zeke emceed for George Jones and Tammy Wynette in Richmond, VA, played in the opening shows for Loretta Lynn and Mel Street, to name a few.
Vivian Price during a Sunday afternoon piano concert in 1955 in the WMEV-AM studios.
The Sturgills Quartet
The stations were founded by Bob and Stella Wolfenden. The Wolfendens were both active in the operation of WMEV stations and the activities of the Virginia Association of Broadcasters (VAB).
Advertising contract being signed by ESSO executives and Manager of WMEV, Robert Wolfenden.
Following Bob's death in 1962, Stella remarried and continued to operate the station until 1982. She was president of the VAB in 1972.
Stella Wolfenden Maloney was presented with an appreciation award for WMEV in 1964.
"Chef" Dick Wayne, on-the-air.
An on-location broadcast in 1959 for the Grand Opening of Park-N Shop, Carl Vaught's Grocery Store in Marion, VA.
On-Location Broadcast at Parks-Belk in Downtown Marion.
On Location Broadcast in Downtown Marion.
In 1982 the stations were acquired by Summit Broadcasting, which was owned and operated by Hugh and Barbara Gwyn, who were also Marion natives. During their tenure WMEV-FM's power was increased to 100,000 watts giving it a broadcast range of over 100 miles in some directions.
WMEV-AM, formerly a daytime-only station, began nighttime service to Marion and Smyth County. It was also during the Gwyn's ownership that FM94!'s "SuperCountry" format and regional image were developed.
Marion native Sam Russell of Russell & Associates, whose original association with WMEV was as an announcer while in high school, managed FM94! during most of the years Summit owned it, was instrumental in developing its current format and audience.
On July 1, 1998, Holston Valley Broadcasting Corporation of Kingsport, TN, became the proud owner of WMEV-AM and WMEV-FM. FM94! remains the Arbitron-rated number one radio station in Smyth and surrounding counties and commands considerable audience in the Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol, TN/VA metropolitan areas as well. FM94! can be heard in five states including Northeast Tennessee, Northwest North Carolina, Southeastern West Virginia, Eastern Kentucky and of course Southwest Virginia.
David Widener, General Manager of WMEV-AM and FM, is also Holston Valley Broadcasting's Vice President for Radio.
Other Holston-owned radio stations include WTFM/98.5, Tri-Cities, and AM stations WKPT/1400, Kingsport; WKTP/1590, Jonesborough/Johnson City; and the oldest station from Knoxville to Roanoke, WOPI/1490, Bristol. 95.9/WRZK/The Hog is also operated by Holston.
Holston Valley Broadcasting is also active in television and is the licensee of the Tri-Cities' ABC affiliate, WKPT-TV, channel 19, and MyNetwork TV affiliate WAPK, channel 36.
Holston's chief operating officer and President is George DeVault, a Kingsport native. The company is wholly-owned by Glenwood Communications Corporation, which is also based in Kingsport, and of which DeVault is also President. William M. Boyd is the Board Chairman.
WMEV-AM and WMEV-FM are the oldest stations on their respective broadcast bands in what is now the I-81 corridor between Bristol and Roanoke. The call letters W-M-E-V stand for "Wonderful Mountain Empire of Virginia."