After an investment of $150,000 by the Times-World Corporation, WDBJ-FM started a regular schedule of programs on July 11, 1948. The station operated with a power of 11,800 watts and it's frequency was 94.9 mc. It became the most powerful FM station in Southwest Virginia. That didn't last too long*. The first transmitter was located on "Bull Run Knob" near the top of Bent Mountain in Roanoke County. The height was 3,200 feet above sea level. This site was near the Blue Ridge Parkway and the tower was 417 feet tall. Pictured below was the transmitter room. On the left operating engineer Roy Melcher and on the right Chief Engineer, Ed Newman.
On November 25, 1956, the transmitter was moved to Poor Mountain, which is also in Roanoke County. The new transmitter site was about 4,000 feet above sea level, and at the same time the power was increased to 14,350 watts. In 1964 a new transmitter and antenna were installed increasing the power to 50,000 watts of effective radiated power. In November of 1969 the Fishburn family, owners of the Times-World Corporation sold all of their properties. WDBJ-FM was purchased by James L. Gibbons of Frederick, Maryland for $40,000, and the call letters were changed to WPVR-FM. The station went thorough several formats from easy listening to a rock.
In 2000, Mel Wheeler, Incorporated purchased WPVR-FM. There was speculation as to what the new format would become. For several days WPVR played "It's Only Rock'n Roll" by the Rolling Stones over and over. Then suddenly it's call letters were changed to WSLC-FM and the music format was changed to country. For the next several months the station fine tuned it's modern country format to become today's "Star Country".
Things on Poor Mountain started to get complicated. After the purchase of WDBJ-FM, the transmitter was removed from the WDBJ-TV Building to the WSLS-TV building. Then the new owners of WSLS-FM moved their equipment from the WSLS-TV building to the WDBJ-TV building. This was fine for several years until WSLS-TV built a new building and the owner of WSLC-FM, WSLQ-FM, and WXLK-FM purchased the old WSLS-TV building. In the future expect Mel Wheeler Inc. to consolidate all of their Poor Mountain stations to one building.
Over the years Poor Mountain has become a little crowded with five television and four radio Antennas. For a complete tour of Roanoke's towers click here
*WSLQ - Q-99 FM is the most powerful FM station the United States with 200,000 watts of effective radiated power.
The two top pictures were from the book "WDBJ Radio - Roanoke's Premiere Radio Station - 1934 -1969" By James E. Dalmas