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December 22, 1928 : WMMN Radio Went on the Air

During the war, performers such as Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper and Lee and Juanita Moore made their base at WMMN. In the 1950s, WMMN turned increasingly toward recorded music.
During the war, performers such as Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper and Lee and Juanita Moore made their base at WMMN. In the 1950s, WMMN turned increasingly toward recorded music.
During the war, performers such as Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper and Lee and Juanita Moore made their base at WMMN. In the 1950s, WMMN turned increasingly toward recorded music.
Credit e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / e-WV
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During the war, performers such as Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper and Lee and Juanita Moore made their base at WMMN. In the 1950s, WMMN turned increasingly toward recorded music.

On December 22, 1928, Fairmont’s WMMN radio station went on the air. The call letters were based on the initials of popular Fairmont attorney and U.S. Senator Matthew M. Neely. Like many other radio stations in Appalachia, WMMN played an important role in the growth of country music.

In 1938, WMMN began hosting a live Saturday night show. The Sagebrush Roundup was broadcast from Fairmont’s National Guard.  It featured some of the bigger names in country music, including Buddy Starcher and Grandpa Jones, who would later become a beloved TV star on Hee-Haw.

During its peak years, the Roundup could be heard throughout the region. The Sagebrush Roundup ended its 10-year run in 1948 due primarily to competition from other stations.

In the 1950s, WMMN turned increasingly toward recorded music. But, it kept some of its local flavor by airing sports broadcasts for West Fairmont Senior High and Fairmont State College. In 1991, the station fell into bankruptcy and went off the air. It was resurrected a little more than a year later by Fantasia Broadcasting and brought back to the airwaves with an all-news format.

Copyright 2016 West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Bob Powell
Bob is West Virginia Public Radio's Morning Edition host and the interim Director of Radio. He first worked for WV Public Radio in 1986 as a part-time announcer, and later returned to host jazz music programs and manage on-air operations in the 1990's. A graduate of Alderson-Broaddus and Marshall Universities; he taught Speech, Broadcasting, and Rhetoric at Alderson-Broaddus University, West Virginia State University, and WV Institute of Technology of WVU. Bob served 21 years in the Army National Guard, and served oversea in Bosnia and Iraq.