Indulge me some personal time today.
Forty years ago, the Raese family owned two radio stations in Morgantown—WAJR AM and FM. The call letters and the AM station had great tradition because of broadcasters like Jack Fleming, Woody O’Hara, Bucky Harris, Jim Slade, Carl Haeberle and more.
However, the station declined in the 70’s. Most of the premiere talent was gone and the programmers were slow to realize the potential of the 50,000 watt FM signal; that all began to change when John Raese hired Dale Miller to run the stations.
Raese and Miller struck a bond early. They were both in their mid-twenties and they loved baseball, particularly the St. Louis Cardinals. They were also brash and willing to take risks.
Miller brought to the rudderless stations a remarkable knowledge of radio for his age—much of it gleaned from listening to legendary St. Louis powerhouse KMOX while growing up—along with a 24/7 work ethic and a passion for excellence.
Miller immersed himself in the job. He turned WAJR AM into a community-minded news/talk station. The tired WAJR-FM was rebranded as 102 WVAQ. Over the years the contemporary hit radio station has won five of the prestigious National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Awards and is nominated for a 6th.
Once Miller got the radio stations squared away, he turned his attention to creating a statewide radio network and MetroNews was born. Today MetroNews delivers news and sports to over 60 affiliates daily. Last month, the MetroNews website had over 860,000 unique visitors.
Together, Miller and Raese have grown West Virginia Radio from the modest two stations to 29. They added Pikewood Creative, an award-winning video production company. Total employment has grown from a handful to 217 people who are paid competitive wages with healthcare and retirement benefits.
Along the way, Dale has been the creative force behind the state boys and girls high school basketball productions, the Mountaineer Sports Network, MetroNews election coverage, Sportsline, Talkline, successful radio formats, dozens of promotions and concerts and much more.
He has often been there with his hands on the controls ensuring that the quality meets his high standard. If he’s not there, he’s listening and ready with a quick phone call when he hears a problem.
I tell you this because you probably don’t know Dale–he’s not an on-the-air guy—and last night we celebrated Dale’s 40th anniversary with the company. We honored him not just for longevity, but for how his guidance, talent and work ethic have fostered something we believe is special.
We are a West Virginia company–working, growing and immensely proud of what we do, and we get to do what we love because Dale creates, hires talent and then watches it blossom. There’s a great joy in going to work when you know your company is committed to excellence.
Yes, we often fall short, but excellence is always our goal. Dale has always been clear about that, and set the example for the rest of us to follow.
So forgive me for the self indulgence, but if you listen to any of our radio stations, follow MetroNews or watch a Pikewood Creative video and you like or appreciate what you hear and see, I want you to know how it all began.
One day 40 years ago Dale Miller came to West Virginia to do radio and the rest, as they say, is history.