The History of The History

Many have asked questions about the website; who created it, who maintains it, and how it came to be. For those enquiring minds that want to know:

This entire project was born one night in 2002 when Pat Garrett went to a Carolina Hurricanes hockey game. Between the first two periods, former WROV personality Bill Jordan (now at Mix 101.5 FM in Raleigh, NC) came out to do a contest. The guy sitting next to Pat mentioned knowing Bill, prompting Pat to say "Yeah? I used to work with him. You have his email address?" With the advent of the internet (invented by Al Gore) Pat, Steve Finnegan and Larry Bly had been staying in touch. Bill had been doing the same thing with Vince Miller and Starr Stevens and soon there we all were swapping emails, old stories, dirty jokes, girlie photos, etc. (Well, what do you expect? We're all DISC JOCKEYS.)

By Fall 2003 we'd set up a listserv (one of those email groups with one address, set up such that when you send something to the group address, it fires off a copy to all the members and also archives the message in a library). Then it quickly became a game of "what ever became of (so-and-so), let's go see if we can find him and get HIM in on this." (Sorry for sounding like a chauvinist there, but other than Barbara Felton, Linda Silver and June Poteat—all of whom we later DID find—there weren't any "hers.") Before long we had Dave Shropshire, Jim Clark, Marty Shayne, Jack Shields, Rich Randall and others in the "group" and were talking about having a WROV reunion (which we did the following summer).

Sometime in Spring, 2004 somebody suggested that we should have a WROV tribute website. Similar sites commemorating other legendary AM stations of the 50s-80s were beginning to appear on the internet so one of us (and I believe it was Rich) suggested that the Rock of Roanoke deserved one as well. Someone suggested that we ask Roanoke pop-culture historian Twig Gravely to do this. Twig had done the Lendy's site and would have been perfect for this job.

But then it was decided that, if somebody was going to write the history of WROV, it needed to be someone who was actually part of the story. As Rich, who'd spent time serving his country during the 1960s put it, "working at WROV was like being in Vietnam in that, if you weren't really there, you can't POSSIBLY know what it was really like." So we began looking within our "group" for someone to take on this job.

And it was decided that it had to be one of two people: Bucky Stover or Pat Garrett. Both were born in the Roanoke area in the late 1950s and grew up listening to WROV through its "heyday" of the 1960s. Both hung out at the station during their high school years, generally pestering the people who worked there to death. And both went on to actually work there in the 1970s and 1980s. Bucky was then an engineer for WDBJ-7 and Pat was a software tester. We decided that Pat would do the site (with Bucky serving as a consultant) because Pat had developed websites before and because he, being a guy who always lugged a camera around during the 70s and 80s, had a ton of old pictures from his days around the station.

Work on the site was well underway by the fall of 2004 when it was discovered that the former WROV studios at 15th and Cleveland Avenue, SW, were imminently going to be torn down. This prompted us all to generally freak out, but from this news several good things occurred. Bucky, along with John Andrews, were able to get into the building prior to its razing and save a few key artifacts and pieces of equipment. And while they were doing this, Pat worked non-stop for about three days creating the first incarnation of The WROV History Website. This, because the WROV demolition was going to be covered by the local media and Bucky had the great idea that we could ride this publicity as a means of launching the website.

And so we did. The article, written by Lois Caliri, appeared in The Roanoke Times on Tuesday, November 9, 2004. And the first initial version of The WROV History Website debuted the same day. Just in time for people to see the URL listed in their morning paper, click on the link and have it work. Truth be known, the last of it was actually uploading about the same time peoples' newspapers were landing in their driveways that morning. Yes, we cut that one awfully close. But we're disc jockeys so we're good at timing things right down to the split second.

After it went online, amazing things started to happen. Several of the WROV alumni including Jack Fisher and Ron Sunshine saw the site, saw we were serious, then started contributing photos and other mementos from their scrapbooks. Many of them sat down for interviews. And as the site began to grow, other long lost brothers & sisters began FINDING US—including Phil Beckman who has since become another content consultant for the website. Listeners began writing in with their memories, as well, and sending us tapes, Musicards, and all sorts of great things. And about that time Pat became good friends with Steve Nelson, formerly Steve Richards of WPXI and webmaster of the Roanoke Radio site and since, both have worked together in trying to document the Star City's rich broadcasting history.

The original WROV History Website was about one-tenth as large as it is now. But it was a start. And upon its inception we set forth a few standards. Quality Assurance, as it were. Chief among them, we decided that the website would be credited to EVERYONE who has contributed to its success. This, because there are a few other radio station tribute sites out there (we won't name names) that appear to be vehicles for the egos of those who created them. Not here. At The WROV History Website, WROV is the star. The sum is greater than all the parts. It is only now, four years later, that we're providing a bit of insight into how it all happened. But only because people keep asking!