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NAB Marconi Award Finalist Profiles: WHIO(AM)

“We have a very rich history, and continue to thrive in today’s evolving media market”

The National Association of Broadcasters has announced the finalists for the 2015 Marconi Awards, which will be handed out Oct. 1 during the NAB Marconi Awards Dinner & Show taking place during the 2015 Radio Show in Atlanta.

As the start of the 2015 Radio Show approaches, we look to offer a profile for some of the stations that were named finalists for the Marconi Awards. This week, we focus on Legendary Station finalist WHIO(AM) in Dayton, Ohio, as we talk with Jeremy Ratliff, director of branding and programming at the WHIO.

WHIO’s House of Bread Drive With Its Studio Building in the Background

Radio World: Briefly describe your station’s history, current ownership and format?
Jeremy Ratliff : Our station has been on the air in the Dayton [Ohio] market since the 30s, and was started by former Ohio Gov. James M. Cox, who also founded of our company. We are owned by Cox Media Group, and are a news-talk station. We are the home of the Dayton Flyers, broadcasting football and basketball games, and we take our relationship with the University of Dayton very seriously. The host of our morning show, “Miami Valley’s Morning News,” Larry Hansgen is also “the voice of the Flyers.”

RW: What’s the station’s slogan?
Ratliff: Our station’s slogan is “AM 1290 and News 95.7 WHIO.” We are Dayton’s 24-hour news, weather and traffic.

RW: Why do you think WHIO was among the finalists in the Legendary Station of the Year? What makes WHIO stand out from the other finalists?
Ratliff: History, performance and respect in our market. We have a very rich history, and continue to thrive in today’s evolving media market.

RW: What is the radio culture like at the station? What words would radio people who work there use about it?
Ratliff: The culture here is very collaborative and innovative. We work closely with our breaking news team, our digital department, the Dayton Daily News, the Springfield News Sun and WHIO(TV).

RW: What’s the most unusual thing the station has done lately that typifies its personality or mission?
Ratliff: We did a fundraiser for a local organization, “The House of Bread.” Our morning show host, who also volunteers for the nonprofit, hosted a special edition of our morning show to help drive folks to donate to the local group. It wasn’t just radio; we had help from our digital department, WHIO(TV), our morning meteorologist, our promotions team and even folks in the building who wanted to donate. We are more than just folks who read the news, we are a part of our community and have been for years.

RW: Who makes up the Leadership roles at the station — GM, PD, SM, chief engineer, digital platform manager and others?
Ratliff: Our GM is Rob Rohr; our PD is me, Jeremy Ratliff; our Assistant Program Director is Chris Hartley; our News Director is Brittany Otto; and our chief engineer is Dennis Kidder.

RW: Anything else people need to know about the station?
Ratliff: Here is a great, long quote from our morning show host Larry Hansgen, who has been a name and local voice in the community for years.

“In the 1940s WHIO was part of a national network of radio stations airing live dance band remotes, and was the major news source in Dayton for information on the war, including the somber task of reading casualty lists on the air. In 1963, shortly after the assassination of JFK, the mother of Lee Harvey Oswald was interviewed live on the air, and engineers were able to ‘conference’ the call, so that listeners could ask her questions. What is now a common occurrence on radio, was innovative at the time. In 1974 in conjunction with the WHIO(TV) provided not only warnings to the people of Xenia about the approach of a deadly tornado, but in the aftermath provided the only source of information for thousands without power. Ironically, a similar situation occurred in 2008, when Hurricane Ike sent damaging winds north, knocking out power to our listeners, some for as long as two weeks. In November of 1979 Iranian students took over the U.S. embassy in Teheran. A member of the WHIO news team, who spoke French, was able to call the embassy and open up a line of communication with the militants. The State Department then commandeered a production room to maintain, what was then the only communication with the embassy and he outside world. For that WHIO received a national AP News Award.”

See more 2015 Marconi Award finalist station profiles of here.