WRIS 1410 Khz
Radio listeners found a new spot on the dial February 23, 1953. The operating hours of WRIS were from 4:45 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. daily. According to a Times World article the newest broadcasting station was one of Virginia's strongest stations operating at a power of 5,000 watts.
Programming of an independent type will be heard according to station officials, meaning that WRIS will not be affiliated with any major network. The programs will be designed to offer new independent-type musical shows, special events, local sports and local artists.
Cy N. Bahakel, owner, president and general manager of WRIS, also, operated three other southern stations. Said Bahakel "We believe that we will become the most widely listened-to station in the area".
The first station manager was Frank Tirico; John Strong, assistant manager; Dwight Larick, program director;
Rod Stevens, Chief Announcer; Herm Reavis, Rocky Stoneman, and Ruth Mitchell are the other key employees.
One of the most popular announcers with the teenagers was "Squirming" Herm Reavis. In 1953, a relative who was a radio and television engineer in Roanoke, told Reavis about the newly formed WRIS radio; he applied, was hired and signed the new station on the air in February of that year. He soon became a popular Icon known as "Uncle Herm" with his "Squirm With Herm" boogie and blues radio show gave way to the new bobby sox and drive-in generation which was witnessing the new Rock 'n' Roll revolution.
The new generation came to idolize its radio heroes and Reavis was THE radio personality in Roanoke radio. In the days of block programming, he had a Rhythm & Blues and a country show. His duties included announcing daily "swap shop" programs and obituary columns on the air, by reading funeral announcements from the daily newspaper. Reavis was a "real-gone hip shaker" and a "jive maker" and his fans were told that being "crazy, cool and copasetic" permitted them to "shake, rattle and roll, blow flatted fifths" and to be "hep with pep" at all times. They then became members of the "Squirm with Herm" club. This trend was later picked up by the likes of "Jivin' Jackson" on other Roanoke stations and modern radio was here to stay.
Gary E Cooper (center below), who was the first overnight announcer at WROV, worked at WRIS for over 30 years.
Gary E. Cooper's 1999 Retirement Party - left to right: Craig Richards (currently PD at WZBB-FM); Rick Leighton (currently Production Director for iHeartMedia); Gary E. Cooper; Boomer (currently morning co-host on Star Country); and John Gochenour (currently IT/Engineering for iHeartMedia).
Gary E. Cooper audio link
The WRIS Studios were located in the Pythian building and the transmitter was located on Luckett Street between Roanoke and Salem.
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