The Library of Virginia

If the power of its transmitters ensured people heard WRVA, its staff, announcers, performers, and programs made sure that people listened. Over the years, WRVA has offered a variety of programs, including news, special-interest, talk radio, and music and entertainment.

Throughout WRVA's broadcast history, there was considerable emphasis on the state's regional culture, on sporting events, and on special local programming. Special-interest programs included Virginia congressman Vaughan Gary reporting directly to listeners on events in the nation's capital in the 1950s. Closer to home, the Capitol Squirrel editorialized on matters of local concern. And Calling All Cooks featured a live cooking program. The Radio Scholarship Quiz offered competing area high school seniors, while the Quiz of Two Cities pitted Richmond against Norfolk in a popular quiz show. Walter R. Bishop, the station's public relations manager, hosted Bishop's Cracker Barrel, a program largely devoted to stories about Virginia's politicians.


Millard the Mallard's Christmas Cover

Capitol Squirrel

Two of the more unusual personalities on WRVA were Millard the Mallard and the Capitol Squirrel. Millard joined Alden Aaroe's morning show in 1972. The Capitol Squirrel reported on events in downtown Richmond.


WRVA also broadcast extraordinary musical shows, all of them devoted to local performers. Both the Corn Cob Pipe Club, first broadcast on February 25, 1926, and the Old Dominion Barn Dance (1946-1957), were so successful locally that they were syndicated nationally over the networks. The Corn Cob Pipe Club featured local fiddlers, Hawaiian guitar orchestras, harmonica players, comedians, and spiritual singers. Broadcast from the Lyric Theatre on the corner of 9th and Broad Streets, the Old Dominion Barn Dance was a country music variety show featuring Mary Higdon "Sunshine Sue" Workman and her husband, John Workman, as hosts. Among its performers were the Carter Sisters, Grampa Jones and Ramona, the Tobacco Tags, Chet Atkins, and Earl Scruggs. The Sunshine Hour, begun in the 1930s, was also widely popular. Holland R. Wilkinson, known as the singing evangelist, hosted the program, which featured hymnals and gospel music. The Silver Star Quartet began singing religious spirituals on WRVA Radio in 1939 and continued entertaining listeners into the 1990s.

Shoe Fund Brochures

Alden Aaroe Shoes

Associated with WRVA from 1946 to 1993, Alden Aaroe is best remembered for his morning show and for helping to establish an annual shoe fund to provide shoes for children in need.

Brochures soliciting donations to WRVA/Salvation Army Shoe Fund. 1970s.

Alden Aaroe's shoes.

Bertha Hewlett

WRVA Edgeworth Tobacco Station Letterhead

Bertha Hewlett began working for WRVA in 1925 as the station's music librarian and hostess. She also played piano and organ on the Sunshine Hour and the Edgeworth Glee Club Hour. She retired in 1973 as the station's office manager. The traffic board detailed the schedule of programs.

Bertha Hewlett at traffic board. Photograph


At first supported by Larus & Brother, owners of Edgeworth Tobacco, as a non-commercial station, WRVA had a fully operational sales department and national representative by 1928.  Although the station used local talent, in 1929 the station affiliated with NBC, which offered programs at a fraction of the cost the station paid for local performers.

Radio in Virginia

The Development of Radio

WRVA - The Voice of Virginia

Network Radio

Radio Programming

Radio Icon
The Programs and Announcers