WIS Radio and Television stations in Columbia played an influential role in the development of South Carolina’s media as a result of being among the state’s pioneer commercial broadcasters and locating their studios in the state’s capital city. The last station in the country to be granted a three-letter call sign, WIS Radio signed on the air on the evening of July 10, 1930, from a one-room studio in the Jefferson Hotel in Columbia with speeches by Governor John G. Richards and Mayor L. B. Owens and performances by live musicians. The call sign initials stood for “Wonderful Iodine State”–a slogan born when the station’s initial owners envisioned the ability to advertise South Carolina’s iodine-rich vegetable crop to listeners. In 1931 the station was acquired by Liberty Life Insurance Company.
In 1953 the owners of a few South Carolina commercial radio stations, including WIS, were awarded licenses by the Federal Communications Commission to operate commercial television stations. WIS Television was assigned Channel 10, the only VHF channel in central South Carolina, an advantage that the station maintained for years. Its first broadcast on November 7, 1953, was a live telecast of a University of South Carolina football game in Columbia.
WIS Radio, after an ownership change in 1987, changed its call letters to WVOC (Voice Of Columbia) but continued broadcasting at 560 kilocycles on the AM radio band.
Jarrells, Ralph. “History of Broadcasting in South Carolina: WSPA, WCSC, and WIS.” Unpublished manuscript. South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia.
Lang, Louis DeSaussure. “So Rich a Heritage–Contributions of WIS to Broadcasting Industry.” Louis DeSaussure Lang Papers. South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia.
McNeely, Patricia G. Fighting Words: The History of the Media in South Carolina. Columbia: South Carolina Press Association, 1998.