September of 1922 was the beginning. 1200 WOAI radio began during the first days of earphones and home-made crystal sets. San Antonio, Texas, our city of license, is only one of the many rapidly growing south Texas areas served by WOAI. The first WOAI transmitter, a 500 watt unit, was signed on the air at 10:30am September 25, 1922 by Mr. G.A.C. Halff. The frequency was 1190 AM. It was one of the first super powered stations in Texas. As the story goes...Mr. Halff was able to obtain hundreds of small radios to give away in conjunction with his business of the time. The problem which developed was that no one wanted his radios because there was not a station in the area to listen to. Before long Mr. Halff put WOAI on the air and gave away all his radios! The initial programming was a little bit of everything and anything! There were daily presentations featuring violin and piano selections with information on a variety of topics.
In July of 1925, WOAI increased its power to 1000 watts and aired their first commercially sponsored program featuring an orchestra playing Mexican melodies. In 1926 another increase was made to 2000 watts and the requests continued to pour in. The first successful chain broadcast hook-up with seven stations across the United States occurred in 1926. One year later, 1927, the station signed on a 5000 watt transmitter at its new location 1031 Navarro. In July of 1930, WOAI increased its power to the legal limit of 50,000 watts. At this point, WOAI became the only 50,000 watt station in South Texas. The first radio newsroom was built and the quality of news and programming began to improve dramatically. The programming in the 30's concentrated on news on the hour blended with soap operas.
In 1937 the station erected a single 425 foot tower resulting in extended coverage. The site of the new tower was near Selma, 17 miles northeast of San Antonio...a site that was the Selma City Hall (recently purchased and converted into a popular Hooters Restaurant). It was 2 years later, in 1939, that local icon Henry Guerra joined the station as a young news reporter. He became the first Mexican American to broadcast the news over a major radio station. His award winning "13 Days of the Alamo" broadcasts and his daily "Henry Guerra's San Antonio" were an important part of Henry's role of caretaker of the cultural and historical treasure that is San Antonio.
During the war years, the government chose several radio stations throughout the United States to become part of an emergency information system. 1200 WOAI was a part of this broadcast system as were many of the Class 1-A maximum power stations know as "clear channel" stations. Many refer to these clear channel stations as "highways in the sky". Twelve of these stations were unduplicated on their frequencies. WOAI was one of those twelve. On March 29, 1941 the frequency was officially changed from 1190 to 1200AM as they became part of this emergency clear channel system.
Bill McReynolds joined the staff of WOAI as a staff announcer in 1947. He did on air station ID's in and around the soap operas and newscasts. He also served as MC for the "Radio Rodeo Gang", a staff country music band which broadcast live each weekday. In 1951 he began doing the Farm and Ranch programs which he continues today. Bill spent 50 years as WOAI's Farm and Ranch reporter, until retiring in 2001.
June of 1956 marked the inauguration of our midday news anchor, Bob Guthrie. In his career of 50 years on air, he has worked at only two stations...a 250 watt daytimer and 50,000 watt WOAI. Originally Bob joined us on the announcing staff but his forte ended up being news, where he has remained and continued to be cited as the Outstanding News Anchorman in Texas by the AP, UPI and Sigma Delta Chi, the society of professional journalists. Bob has broadcast his award winning morning news block live from national conventions and abroad. Bob retired in May, 2009.
As television began to be a part of life, radio began to change. The soap operas were out and music was back in. The 50's and 60's brought a variety of music including classical and country to 1200 WOAI.
Clear Channel Communications buys 1200 WOAI-AM
1975 was a significant year. Lowry Mays and Red McCombs formed Clear Channel Communications, Inc. and pruchased 1200 WOAI from AVCO Broadcasting Corporation for $1,500,000. The format of 79% popular music with agriculture, news and talk was updated to the present day format of News/Talk/Sports. The talk shows became an integral part of the programming, sports were introduced and the news reporting was increased. The daily farm reports remained as did the agriculture news.
In 1985 WOAI began broadcasting from a new state of the art Continental 316C-2, fifty thousand watt transmitter feeding a 540 foot Franklin antenna. Planning took over 5 years and the project represented an investment of over half a million dollars. The power of information had made great progress!
News Radio 1200 WOAI has been a part of the radio broadcasting world for more than 80 years. The station, each year, garners awards representing the high quality of programming, the creativity of journalism and the integrity of management. WOAI has received the national Edward R. Murrow Award, and was honored with the Golden Mike Award in 1991.
Over the years WOAI has been honored by the Radio and Television News Directors Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Texas Association of Broadcasters, the Texas AP Broadcasters, the Association of Hispanic Journalists and the UPI Broadcasters of Texas. They have also received several Katie awards from the Dallas Press Club, several regional awards from UPI, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the Anson Jones Award. In 2002, WOAI was a national finalist for a coveted Crystal Radio Award for Community Service, and was recognized by the Alamo Area Council of Governments for fundraising efforts during the flood of 2002.
In 2002, WOAI went "Back To The Future", as Clear Channel Communications purchased KMOL-TV, and changed the TV station's call letters back to WOAI-TV.
In 2005, WOAI became one of the first full-time affiliates of Fox News Radio.
Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo joined WOAI has host of San Antonio First News. In August of 2007, Joe became host of his own talk show, “the Joe Pags Show”, still heard Monday – Friday, 5 – 8pm, Joe also hosts a program on KPRC, Houston and is the regular fill-in host for Glenn Beck. When Joe moved to mornings, Charlie Parker returned as host to First News, where he reigns supreme today. In 2007, WOAI affiliated with The Weather Channel to exclusive24/7 coverage, joining the existing partnerships with Fox News and The Wall Street Journal.
In 2008, Clear Channel sold WOAI-TV and ended the official partnership, although both entities still share the www.woai.com url.
In 2009, Bob Guthrie retired.
In 2011, WOAI announced a new long term renewal of its partnership with the San Antonio Spurs, joining its “south Texas flagship” status with the Dallas Cowboys and the University of Texas Longhorns.
Today, as WOAI celebrates – and honors - its 90th anniversary, the power of information, news, weather, and sports is unequaled in South Texas and the world, as WOAI is now heard on multiple platforms, including on air, on the internet, on IHeartRadio in podcasts, and now in HD. NewsRadio 1200 WOAI is proud to serve San Antonio as the most trusted source for information and great entertainment, 24 hours a day, as one of a few select class 1-A FCC designated "clear channel" stations in the United States.