Cox Enterprises is 112 years old, so it is used to marking anniversaries with big numbers. Tuesday, February 9, 2010, the anniversary to observe was the company’s entry into the new field of radio broadcasting 75 years ago.
WHIO-AM Dayton, OH was the first radio station owned by Governor James M. Cox as he built his media empire, which began with the Dayton Daily News. To mark the 75-year milestone, Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell declared Tuesday “WHIO Radio Day.”
Cox Media Group provided some historical perspective. “WHIO Radio began broadcasting with a prayer on 1,000 watts of power at 4 p.m. on Feb. 9, 1935. Later that night, a dinner, attended by the likes of Orville Wright, recognized the day’s importance. Seventy-five years later, WHIO broadcasts on 5,000 watts, is consistently in the top five stations in Dayton and reaches approximately 600,000 listeners weekly. It is home to news, traffic and weather updates and is the voice of University of Dayton football and basketball,” the company statement said.
“WHIO is more than just a radio station, it’s a symbol of our founder’s vision to innovate, to embrace new technology, take risks and to diversify,” said Alex Taylor, Group Vice President at Cox Media Group. “That vision became part of Cox Enterprises’ DNA and drove the decisions we made to invest in television, in Manheim, in Cox Communications and many other businesses over the years. That diversity is the reason we’ve outperformed our peers and why we’re such a strong company today,” Taylor added.
Over the decades, WHIO has claimed several broadcasting firsts, including inviting listeners into the courtroom by employing microphones in Judge Null M. Hodapp’s traffic court. A Montgomery County basketball tournament was also broadcast live as were remote broadcasts of big bands performing at Indian Lake. Signature on-air voices included Lou Emm from 1941 to 1992 and Phil Donahue in the 1960s.
Cox Media Group announced last year the restructuring of its Dayton-based businesses into a single, integrated media organization. The organization is comprised of WHIO-TV, Cox Ohio Publishing (including the Dayton Daily News, Springfield News Sun, Journal News, Middletown Journal, Cox Ohio’s Southwestern Ohio weekly newspapers, its commercial printing and mail operations) and the Cox radio stations in Dayton (WHIO-AM & FM, WHKO-FM and WZLR-FM).