Doug Hirsh Remembers early Football Broadcasts

As we remember the early years of WVLS and WCHG, we’ve heard about the different needs in the community Allegheny Mountain Radio fills. Early and obvious goals were getting emergency services and agricultural programming out to the public. But residents also love their football. So it wasn’t long before Friday night games became a regular weekly feature during football season.

Doug Hirsh described how some of that came about.

“We were doing the football games, but we had to use the phone system and go through Pocahontas County to broadcast. Ok, that’s what gave Bath County, and we had good teams then, so people who didn’t want to travel to the games could sit home, and listen to the games on the radio.”

This height of Bath Chargers success was in the late eighties, and a Division 1 Virginia High School League Championship in 1995, and another in 2001. There were some exceptional players during those years, as Doug Hirsh remembered.

“In the beginning there, we had the Williams family. We had Timmy Williams, and Timmy, Kevin, and Chris. There were actually four brothers. Two of them played together. The youngest one graduated in ’91. But we were still on the air, not as WCHG, but through the other one. And I think that’s what started everyone thinking, if they want to locate one down here, we’re all for it because we’ve enjoyed so much the games either coming out of the Monterey station, or out of the Frost station.”

After WCHG was well-established there were more good football years.

“Then the Phillips, uh, Jacob and John came in 2000 . . . yeah well, let’s see. If John is in his seventh year in the pros, so I’d say, like 2001 to 2004.”

Yet, even in years when there may not be star players, or a star team, dedicated fans and family members can follow each season through its ups and downs. Now Zach Madison and Louie DuFour cover the games, and in the early days there were some star commentators too.

“Mark Griffin, during the home football games, he would be up in the press box with Johnnie Gazzola, doing all the stat work, but then his dad was Julian who I’d mentioned, who I think was on with DJ Willie.”

Doug Hirsh concluded,

“In a way, you know, sports, is what kind of got behind the radio station.”

Time constraints keep the majority of high school sports from being broadcast live, but Allegheny Mountain Radio is glad to provide a consistent and constructive outlet for as many school activities from sports, to arts, to extra-curriculars as possible. Just be in touch with your county’s news staff.

And as for what AMR continues to do in Bath and Highland, Doug Hirsh said,

“Well, you know I sort of group the radio, and The Recorder as our two hometown means of communication. The Recorder, yes, it comes out of Highland, but it covers Bath very, very well, and so does the radio station whether it’s for community announcements, or entertainment, or sports. The county should support it financially.”

So Bath, Highland, AND Pocahontas, please come celebrate 20 years with us on Sunday afternoon, at the WCHG studio behind the high school.

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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