On Groundhog Day, 1948 people living around Mount Airy, North Carolina tuned their radios to 740 on the AM dial. After months of anticipation and excitement, they heard the first radio station their area could call its own. WPAQ was the brainchild of Ralph Epperson, a college graduate in his twenties who had been fascinated by radio since his teens. With help from his father Harry, a farmer from nearby Ararat, Virginia, Epperson built the brick-and-timber headquarters which, nearly seventy years later, remains the home of WPAQ. WPAQ presents a combination of bluegrass, old time and gospel music, plus religious programs not too removed from the original 1948 offerings. Station management shows no sign of changing the lineup. According to Wayne Martin, head of the Folklife Section of the North Carolina Arts Council, that makes WPAQ a “treasure”, which legitimizes local culture and reaffirms its value.
Fortunately for his friends and neighbors, Ralph Epperson believed in individualism and he had a mission in mind: to serve his community. In his application to the Federal Communications Commission, the young man pledged to reflect the cultural and musical values of the people in his station’s listening area. He said he would present local talent, and he made good on that promise from the start. Unlike many other station owners, however, Epperson largely stuck to his mission over the next six decades. Live music by local musicians is still presented each Saturday on WPAQ’s Merry-Go-Round program. Epperson himself hosted another program, the Blue Ridge Spotlight, on Saturday afternoons, on which he presented early recordings from the WPAQ archives and other recordings of area musicians and WPAQ’s weekly play lists are peppered with recordings of local musicians. Preachers still broadcast weekday mornings and nearly all day Sunday. Announcers read the obituaries at least three times a day, and the Pet Patrol helps listeners get back together with wandering critters from blue tick hounds to hogs and heifers. The music lurches from old time and bluegrass to easy listening after the evening news. Ralph Epperson explained his philosophy to reporter Michelle Johnson of WFDD this way as she prepared a story about WPAQ for National Public Radio: “If people are doing the same thing in 25 places up and down the radio dial, why should I be number 26?”
After the success of WPAQ, Epperson created a Classic Country Powerhouse with WBRF, Classic Country, 98.1 FM. With 100,000 watts and a transmitter facility over 3,o00 feet above sea level, WBRF reaches hundreds of thousands of people weekly in Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Tennessee. This includes the densely populated areas around Roanoke, the New River Valley of Virginia, and the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina. At WBRF, you won’t hear the same songs played over and over, because we play over 5000 selections spanning more than 50 years of the best in Country music. Start your morning off right with cousin Andy and the Morning Drive. At 5:00 PM Check out the best in Outlaw Country, with the Outlaw Drive at Five From 6:00 PM until 10:30 PM, you can enjoy Bluegrass and Old Time music on The Blue Ridge Backroads Show. In addition, we are the flag-ship station for Wake Forest University, as well as a CBS and NASCAR affiliate. At WBRF, we strive to promote family values and a love for God and Country! Our listeners are a top priority to us and we are one of the few 100,000 watt stations taking call-in requests. Tune in today and find out about the Classic Country difference!
Our sister station WCGX ,The CAT, 1360 AM, is located in the same facility as WBRF and has the same mission to provide quality programming with a local feel. WCGX plays Classic Hits with a mix of 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and expertly selected New Music. WCGX plays the “soundtrack” of your life, with an edge; putting out hits that bring back all those great memories from yesterday. You won’t hear the same tired 20 songs on WCGX; that is our listener guarantee! In addition to great Music, WCGX is home for VA Tech Hokie Sports, and Galax Maroon Tide, broadcast live by our award winning sports braodcastor, Hal Epperson. WCGX The Cat: We Rock The Blue Ridge!
Your comments, questions and concerns matter to us. Feel free to give us your feedback. Here’s who to contact.
General Contact Information:
P.O. Box 838
Galax, VA 24333
325 Poplar Knob Road
Galax, VA 24333
Request/Studio Line: 276-238-0981
Business Phone: 276-236-9273
Sales Department: 276-233-4981 or 276-591-2005