Links for news audio are at the bottom of this page.
While WJMA had covered news almost from the beginning in 1949, it was Chet Burgess who put WJMA into news fill time. He came to WJMA from the Washington and Lee journalism school as a news intern in 1973. It was an experiment to see if there was enough going on in Central Virginia to justify the expense of a news department. It didn't take long to realize there was a lot happening. Chet returned in the Spring of 1974 as WJMA's first full time news director. The news department would eventually grow to four with news "stringers" in Madison, Greene, and Louisa Counties. Between 1974 and 1985 the WJMA news department won 18 Virginia Associated Press news awards including Best Small Market News Operation and four Douglas Southall Freeman Awards for Public Service Through Broadcast Journalism. In 1992 Steve Ryerson won Best Spot News Coverage. News Director Phil Goodwin won a national Edward R. Murrow award for feature news in 1994.
When WJMA signed on in the fall of 1949, it was part of the Mutual Broadcasting System. In 1957 a new owner switched to NBC. That lasted until 1961 when WJMA became and independent station. Staff announcers read news from the Associated Press wire. The Virginia News Network brought network state coverage in 1974. In 1984 WJMA affiliated with United Press International for world and national news. Between 1993 and 2003 WJMA had brief affiliations with CBS Radio and CNN Radio. WJMA FM does not currently have any network affiliation and airs almost no world or national news. When WVCV (the former WJMA AM) began simulcasting with WCVA in Culpeper, ABC news made an appearance.
WJMA's news staff
Chet Burgess, intern-summer 1973; News Director June 1974-- July 1976
Bob Barnett, stringer, Madison County
WJMA News Awards
VAB = Virginia Association of Broadcasters
VAPB = Virginia Associated Press Broadcaster
RTNDA = Radio Television News Directors Association
1975 (VAPB)--Chet Burgess, News Director
1976 (VAPB)--Chet Burgess, News Director
1977 (VAPB)--Phil Audibert, News Director
1978 (VAPB)--Phil Audibert, News Director
1982 (VAPB)--Patricia McArver, News Director
1983 (VAPB)--Patricia McArver, News Director
1985 (VAPB) John Lee, News Director
1992-Steve Ryerson, News Director
1994 (RTNDA)-Phil Goodwin, News Director
2003 (VAPB)-Phil Goodwin, News Director
2004 (RTNDA)-Phil Goodwin, News Director
2007 (RTNDA)-Phil Goodwin, News Director
2008 (RTNDA)-Phil Goodwin, News Director
2009 (RTNDA)-Phil Goodwin, News Director
We have been able to locate a few of the WJMA news "sounders" used over the years. After WJMA ended its affiliation with NBC in 1961, the station had to seek its own news sounders.
The oldest was used from sometime in the early 1960s to early in the 1970s. Arch Harrison recalls that the sounder is "the first few bars of an arrangement of the old nursery song Tom, Tom, The Piper's Son".
This second sounder was adopted when WJMA joined the Virginia News Network.
The final sample dates from 1986.
A sample of the 5pm newscast on WJMA from June 6, 1977.
Virginia News Network newscast from Wells Bunyea on October 9, 1974.
Hurricane Agnes struck Central Virginia in late June of 1972. Here's an edited version of WJMA's 5 O'clock News round up story on Agnes. This was in the days before WJMA had a dedicated news department. This edited report runs almost 2 minutes. The full cut runs 9 minutes. It includes Alex Formwalt, Ross Hunter and Arch Harrison.
Monday At One was recognized numerous times by the Associated Press for its contributions to public service through broadcast journalism. This is the opening segment of a Veterans Day Monday At One. The voices, in order, are from veterans Joe Samuels, William H. B. Thomas, Henry DeJarnette, Billy Trimmer, Tommy Brown and program host Phil Audibert.
This story of a balloon ride won an Associated Press award for Best Small Market Feature story for Phil Audibert. Phil Audibert says this is his favorite feature story.
Here's a 1984 newscast voiced by Tom Graves. This sample has been edited for length.
In 1994 Phil Goodwin's feature story "Water Discovered" about the rehabilitation of a drinking fountain on Main Street in Orange was chosen by the Radio Television News Directors Association as the best in the country among small market radio stations. The story first won in RTNDA Region 13 consisting of stations in Delaware, Maryland, The District of Columbia and Virginia. It then went to national competition where it won again. Phil traveled to the national RTNDA meeting in Los Angeles where Andy Rooney presented the award to Phil. As he handed Phil the award, Rooney said "I heard your story. The writing was good." Phil says it was the highlight of his career. Pictures of the Murrow Award at in the Printed Items gallery. To hear the story again, click here.