WSPA in Spartanburg became South Carolina’s first commercial radio station when it signed on the air at 6:45 P.M. on February 13, 1930. It was the beginning of many broadcasting “firsts” that would distinguish WSPA.
Over the years the station established a standard of providing diverse programming to its upstate audience. This was reflected from the first night when it broadcast a speech by Governor John G. Richards as well as musical performances by a classical violinist and a local yodeler live from its studios atop the Montgomery Building. In November 1931 WSPA was the first station in the state to broadcast play-by-play coverage of a sporting event, a football game between Spartanburg High School and Georgia Military Academy. By 1935 the station had established a commitment to upstate news coverage. Regularly scheduled live musical programming became a staple of WSPA. Earl Scruggs, one of country music’s greatest banjo players and a member of the nationally known bluegrass group Flatt and Scruggs, played from the studios. The Blue Ridge Quartet and Arthur Smith and the Crackerjacks were also names synonymous with the station.
WSPA launched the state’s first FM station in 1947, and in 1958–combining both its AM and FM signals–aired the first broadcast in stereo. In 1961 WSPA FM became the first FM station in the Southeast to broadcast in true multiplex stereo. WSPA Television (Channel 7) went on the air on April 29, 1956. The station was the first in South Carolina to broadcast live in color from its studio.
Jarrells, Ralph. “History of Broadcasting in South Carolina: WSPA, WCSC, and WIS.” Unpublished manuscript. 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.