WVOT (Radio Station: Wilson, N.C.) Collection, 1947-1948

Manuscript Collection #1177

  • Descriptive Summary
    Title: WVOT (Radio Station: Wilson, N.C.) Collection
    Creator: WVOT (Radio station : Wilson, Wilson County, N.C.).
    Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
    Language: English
    Abstract: The WVOT (Radio Station: Wilson, N.C.) Collection is a scrapbook (1947-1948) containing identified photographs and newspaper clippings documenting the organization and early development of a private radio station in Wilson, N.C. At the time, Wilson was well-known for its tobacco warehouses. The photographs depict the station's founders and special events involving the radio station as well as views of Wilson and its tobacco warehouses and business district.
    Extent: 0.5 Cubic feet, 1 box containing a scrapbook, consisting of a scrapbook, photographs and clippings.
  • Description

    The scrapbook is a large, two feet by one and a half feet, shoelace-bound book with the words “The Story of WVOT Wilson’s Voice of Tobacco Land” written across a depiction of a tobacco leaf on the cardboard cover. It contains a total of thirty-four pages, with most displaying two each of the fifty-eight photos in the scrapbook, and others displaying some of the fifteen newspaper clippings in the book. There is also a booklet of the Wilson, North Carolina, Economic Survey from 1948 included. All the photographss have captions, but there are two photographss missing.

    This scrapbook tells the story of WVOT from the planning stages to the first year of broadcasting. The first two pages of the scrapbook have a short history on the founding of the radio station. The next few pages have photographs of the founders planning the new radio station, photographs showing some of the notable areas in Wilson, and newspaper clippings showing Wilson life, including its important tobacco industry. There are a few pictures showing the construction of the new radio station building and many newspaper clippings of ads taken out to congratulate the new station. Several photographs show the staff of the station including, Nick Pieler (Chief Engineer), Tommy Williams (General Manager), Ted Leeper (Farm Director), Joel Lawhon (Program Director), Gene Sink (Sports Director), Bob Brunson (Commercial Manager), Durham Moore, Al Harrington (Traffic), Dan Williams (Engineer), Jackie Daniel (Secretary), Charlie Raines (Staff Photographer), Guy Cox (Staff Photographer), and Hobb W. Anderson (Partner and Business Manager). Many of the remaining photographs illustrate staff interviewing groups in Wilson at the Sears Robbuck Catalogue store, at the Army-Navy store, at groceries, and bike contests. There are photographs of the tobacco market showing interviews with farmers and tobacco sales. Some photographs depict some of the radio equipment and the interior of the radio station while interviews were being done. Sepia Serenade’s quartet contest is also pictured in the scrapbook.

  • Biographical / Historical Note

    Tommy Williams, Ted Leeper, Joel Lawhon, and Nick Pieler had worked for many different radio stations before they all ended up at WPTF, an NBC outlet in Raleigh, North Carolina. All four men had a similar dream of starting their own radio station and in May 1947 they started to plan. The team wanted to stay in the area so they looked at towns around southern Virginia, North Carolina, and northern South Carolina. Eventually they settled on Wilson, North Carolina, as the destination for their new station. It was chosen because it was a trading area and it had very little radio coverage already. They decided to partner with a local business man, H. W. Anderson, to help them set up the business. The application for the radio station was made to the F.C.C. on July 3, 1947, and was granted on November 13, 1947. Construction on the new facilities started the next spring and the first broadcasting was on June 3, 1948.

    The Station was 1420AM and used 1 kilowatt non-directional during the day and 500 watts directional during the night. The radio station managed to last a long time with The Taylor Group, Inc., acquiring it in 1997 with the new location at 103 N. Jackson St. in Wilson. By that time they had changed to mostly 1970’s music with news programing 25 hours a week. In 2017 the F.C.C received a report that the radio station had not been broadcasting for the last 6 years. When the F.C.C. looked into the matter they got no response from anyone connected to the radio station in their files, and the station officially had its license cancelled on December 19, 2017.


    Directory of Radio. American Radio History, 1999, www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-BC-YB/1999/D-Radio-NE-Ter-BC-YB-1999..pdf. Accessed 19 September 2018.

    Operational Status Inquiry. Federal Communications Commission, 2017, http://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/getimportletter_exh.cgi?import_letter_id=80326. Accessed 19 September 2018.

    Public Notice. Federal Communications Commission, 2017, https://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db1222/DOC-348385A1.pdf. Accessed 19 September 2018.

  • Administrative Information
    Accessions Information

    January 6, 2011, 0.50 cubic feet, 1 item; Scrapbook (35 pp., 17" x 24"), circa 1948, entitled “The Story of WVOT: Wilson’s Voice of Tobacco Land.” Contains 8” x 10” and smaller black and white glossy photographs, holograph text and captions, and newspaper clippings pertaining to the organization and early development of a private radio station in Wilson, North Carolina. Photographs depict the station’s founders (Tommy Williams, Ted Leeper, Joel Lawhon, and Nick Pieler) and business partner (H. W. Anderson); the Wilson Tobacco Festival of 1947; aerial views of Wilson; local tobacco warehouses; Wilson’s business district; interior and exterior views of the radio station; special events involving the radio station, including those at local businesses and one depicting Arthur Godfrey; and African American singers participating in the station’s one-hour program for African Americans, “Sepia Serenade.” Also included is an economic survey of the City of Wilson. Donor: Becky Callison.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Becky Callison

    Access Restrictions

    No restrictions

    Copyright Notice

    Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

    Preferred Citation

    WVOT (Radio Station: Wilson, N.C.) Collection (#1177), Special Collections Department, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

    Processing Information

    Processing completed September 19, 2018.

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Sensitive Materials Statement

Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection, without the consent of those individuals, may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which East Carolina University assumes no responsibility.

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