…The Skinny on Progressive WOWI-FM


WOWIfolkProgressive WOWI-FM 1970-75 was an eclectic, influential Norfolk, Virginia based radio station owned and operated by J. Stewart Brinsfield, Jr. (Brinsfield Broadcasting Co) during its Progressive, Free-Form stage that began full time on May 15, 1971 and ended January 15, 1975 when it was sold and changed formats. The last song played by on-air personality Art Williamson was All Along the Watchtower by Dave Mason

Stewart Brinsfield, a lawyer, bought WRVC on March 16, 1970 and changed the name to WOWI (pronounced WOW-WEE).[2] George Kello became WOWI’s first ‘Curator of Sound’ when his nightly progressive program (8opm – Midnight) on RVC, the ‘Sounds of Life’, carried over on the WOWI airwaves. Kello’s nightly program stayed on WOWI for the rest of the year and interest in the format began to grow. The station switched to a full-time progressive format on May 15, 1971 with program director Chuck Taylor proclaiming, “By progressive, I don’t mean to imply solid acid; rather, a carefully blended mixture of hard rock, hip country, blues, and jazz. [We] don’t want to be a radical, revolutionary voice that widens the already wide gap. I would hope that we can be a bridge over that gap.”

The musical range was vast, mixing the somewhat obscure, well-intentioned, ready-to-be-heard with the slightly familiar. Brinsfield also oversaw the construction of the station’s 50,000 watt tower in Deep Creek, dramatically adding to the station’s coverage. He was also known for sometimes hiring on the spot.

In its short lifespan, Progressive WOWI-FM changed the nature and fabric of music radio in Hampton Roads. We hope that those who brought us all the tunes that made a difference in the world - as well as those impacted by it - will find this website to be a source for warm memories.