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WOWI-FM 2014.png
City Norfolk, Virginia
Broadcast area Hampton Roads
Northeastern North Carolina
Branding "103 Jamz"
Slogan "Norfolk's #1 for Hip-Hop and R&B"
Frequency 102.9 MHz
(also on HD Radio)
First air date 1948 (as WRVC at 102.5 MHz)
Format Urban Contemporary
ERP 50,000 watts
HAAT 150 meters (492 ft)
Class B
Facility ID 69558
Transmitter coordinates 36°45′23.0″N 76°23′6.0″W / 36.756389°N 76.385000°W / 36.756389; -76.385000
Callsign meaning W O W I
former brand name "Wowee"
Former callsigns WRVC (1948-1970)
Affiliations Premiere Networks
Owner iHeartMedia, Inc.
(CC Licenses, LLC)
Sister stations WHBT-FM, WMOV-FM, WNOH
Webcast WOWI Webstream

WOWI (102.9 MHz "103 Jamz") is a commercial FM radio station licensed to Norfolk, Virginia, and serving Hampton Roads and Northeastern North Carolina. It is owned and operated by iHeartMedia, Inc.[1] WOWI airs an urban contemporary radio format. It carries The Breakfast Club, a syndicated morning drive time radio show from co-owned WWPR-FM in New York City.

WOWI's studios and offices are on Norfolk Square in Norfolk.[2] The transmitter is off Martin Johnson Road in Chesapeake, Virginia.[3]


Early Years as WRVC[edit]

In 1948, the station signed on as WRVC at 102.5 MHz.[4] It was owned by Larus and Brother Company, a tobacco company which also owned AM 1140 WRVA and FM 94.5 WRVB (now WRVQ) in Richmond. WRVC simulcast WRVA's local shows and CBS Radio Network dramas, comedies, sports and news, during the "Golden Age of Radio." While WRVA's 50,000 watt signal is audible in the Norfolk area, Larus and Brother wanted this additional outlet for its programs to be heard in the Tidewater region of Virginia, even though few radios at the time could receive FM broadcasts.

In 1958, as network radio was ending, Larus and Brother sold WRVC to the Virginia Good Music Company, which programmed the station with classical music and easy listening.[5] In the 1960s, Virginia Good Music moved WRVC's dial position to 102.9 MHz.

Progressive Rock WOWI[edit]

In 1970, the Brinsfield Broadcasting Company acquired the station, changing the call sign to WOWI.[6] At first it tried a Top 40 format on WOWI (pronounced "Wow-wee"). But from 9 p.m. to midnight, the station experimented with a free form rock format. The late night rock show proved successful and the station became a full time progressive rock outlet the following year. For more on the progressive rock era, see "Progressive WOWI-FM 1970-75."

While the station had a loyal following and was considered influential among rock stations across the country, the progressive format only lasted five years. WOWI was bought by the Metro Communications Corporation in December of 1974. The new owners switched the format back to contemporary hits.

Switch to Urban Contemporary[edit]

The Willis Broadcasting Corporation, with L.E. Willis as president, bought the station the next year, along with AM 1400 WPCE.[7] He installed formats on both stations aimed at Tidewater's growing African American community. The AM station was switched from country music to R&B and black gospel music, while WOWI became the first FM station in Hampton Roads to air a soul music sound.

For the first few years, WOWI was automated, but by 1980, the station had added live DJs. In 1989, The U.S. Radio Company bought WOWI and AM 1350 WBSK in Portsmouth (now WGPL) for $8.3 million.[8] The company was headed by noted African-American radio executive Regan Henry. He owned other urban radio stations around the U.S., including Tampa and Kansas City.

In 1996, the station was sold to Clear Channel Communications, forerunner to current owner iHeartMedia.[9] Since 1975, WOWI has served the African American community as one of the top stations in the Urban Contemporary format, in the Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News radio market.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]