It's a site well worth exploring, even if you don't remember the golden days of "Radio Orange." Anyone curious about radio operation, or life in Central Virginia, or even those just looking for a good story will find lots to look through on the site.
In addition to an overall history of the station, there's plenty of source material documenting day-to-day workings of this small, independent radio station, and even some audio samples. And there's a chat room, which has become something of a living history archive as former employees share experiences and add their information to the site.
Ross Hunter's recently asked for help, putting out the word through letters to several regional newspapers. Hunter writes:
A year from now, in September of 2009, 60 years will have passed since WJMA-AM radio in Orange signed on the air for the first time.
Over the last couple of years I’ve been involved in a project to document WJMA’s history and locate former employees. To date more than 300 former employees have been identified and about half of them have been located. Almost 90 former WJMA staffers are part of a Yahoo list serve exchanging memories about WJMA.
A Web site to collect the history of the radio station has been set up. Information is being adding to the online collection as it becomes available. Go to wjma.radiohistory.net to see what has been collected thus far.
I’m writing today in a effort to locate more WJMA history. Anything you might have: pictures, newspaper ads, newspaper articles, prizes, bumper stickers, audio tape, videotape, movies...it’s all valuable and I’d love to have an opportunity to copy it. Your originals will be returned. Personal stories are also welcome.
Please contact me via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone from 6 to 10 p.m. at (540) 672-2822. And if you are a former employee and have not yet been contacted, please do get in touch.
Much has changed in the broadcast world since WJMA AM first went on the air. In 1949 WJMA was an AM only radio station with just 250 watts of power. While the call letters WJMA now belong to an FM station, the former WJMA-AM is now WVCV, but is still broadcasting at 1340 on the AM dial, just where it’s been since noon on Sept. 10, 1949.
WJMA 1971 to 1986
There's been some response to the letters, but of course, not everyone's still in the area. So I'm happy to contribute some space to help get the word out.
And no, I didn't make a mistake in the title -- that apostrophe's absent for a reason.
Day 99 of the WJMA Web Watch.