20th Anniversary-Richard Blankenship helped get WCHG built, and played along the way

In our collection of stories about 20 years of WCHG and WVLS we’ve spoken with sports fans, farmers, local government representatives, and now, a musician and a farmer. Richard Blankenship was modest about his involvement with getting WCHG off the ground, but soon shared some of his memories of the early days of the two stations in Virginia.

“I would like to say, I guess one of the important things that we did is when my friend Gibbs Kinderman asked our band, my band to come over and play live music on the Frost radio station, and we thought that was big thing, and everybody was excited, and I think that we were the first live musical broadcast to take place on the Frost radio station at that time, so that was a milestone in itself.”

“Can you tell us the name of your band, and who some of the players were, and what instruments they played?”

“Well, at that time the band was the Valley Hayriders, and we had various guitar, banjo, fiddle work, and just local musicians here around in the mountains. And we just played whatever we could, Hillbilly, Rockabilly, Country, whatever we could play, so that’s basically what we did back at that time.”


On an album cover of the Valley Hayriders collections of songs those musicians were listed as: Alfred Smith, Richard Blankenship, Mack Ratcliffe, Tommy Carpenter, Jay Hiner, Willie Smith, Peggy Ralston and Lisa Roberts.

“Later on WVLS was constructed in Monterey, and we were invited up there to do some live music in their studio, and after that time I looked at how small it was, and I said to myself, ‘Well, if we do one in Bath County, we need to have a larger room for musicians and people, and so, that’s what I brought with me when we sat on the board. One of the things that was brought up, you know at the actual building of it, I made the statement, I said, ‘Well, folks we need to make sure this thing is big enough. We may want to have some brass ensembles over from the high school or, and we need to have room for them to play, and Richard Byrd spoke up and said, “We’ll see to it that the money is allotted.” And when WCHG hosted Bluegrass Sunday on a very wet, cold afternoon, there was room inside still for three bands to play one after the other, and all the well-wishers for this Twentieth Anniversary to visit, listen and remember what it took to get here.

“We had volunteer electricians. In fact the banjo player in my band, he was an electrician, and he wired, and John Hart, and we all went up there and roughed in the wiring on the building when it was built.”

Richard Blankenship concluded.

“It was just something a lot of our band members over the years have had the opportunity to go and sing, and play live on the air, and that excites a lot of people.”


“I was real happy to see everything come together in the stations. And tremendous credit is to be given to Gibbs Kinderman for all that he has done, and all he knows about how this stuff operates. Gibbs has always been on my top shelf.”

And Mr. Blankenship, you’re on Allegheny Mountain Radio’s top shelf too. To you, and all the other volunteers who created this network, thank you, and Happy 20th Birthday.


Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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