In 1922, the Entrekin Electric Company was awarded the second Federal license for a radio station in Columbus Ohio. They called it WCAH, and Mr. Entrekin built a studio in his living room so he could broadcast the piano stylings of his wife to the growing number of radio owners in Central Ohio.
The Wolfe family, owners of banks, shoe stores and the Columbus Dispatch, didn’t want to be left behind in this new medium called radio. They coughed up the cash to buy WCAH and changed the call letters to better represent their company—Wolfe Banks, News and Shoes—WBNS. (I’ve also heard it referred to as Wolfe Brothers News and Shoes, since there were two of them back in the beginnings of the Dispatch and the shoe store.)
WBNS grew over the years adding an FM and a TV station. WBNS TV did a lot of local programming every day, including Lucy’s Toy Shop in the morning and Flippo the Clown every afternoon (my brothers and I always went on The Flippo Show to hand over our Muscular Dystrophy donations). And it remained owned by the Wolfe family—a remarkable 90 plus years as a locally owned media entity—until today. After selling the Dispatch newspaper back in 2017, they are now selling the Dispatch Broadcast Group for a whopping $535 million.
Included in the sale, per 10TV:
- WBNS-TV (Channel 10, “Central Ohio’s News Leader), founded in 1949 by the Wolfe family of Columbus.
- WTHR-TV of Indianapolis (Channel 13), founded in 1957 by Crosley Broadcasting Corp. Purchased by The Dispatch Broadcast Group in 1975.
- WBNS Radio (1460 AM and 97.1 FM). The original AM station, WCAH, was founded in 1922. The Wolfe family purchased it in 1927 and changed the call letters to WBNS. The modern-day FM station originated in 1957.
- WALV-CD, a UHF and digital channel and a wholly-owned subsidiary of WTHR. Founded in 1988, WALV was converted in 2000 to a local weather service – the SkyTrak Weather Network and is now a MeTV affiliated station.
The new owner, TEGNA, a media company based in Tysons, VA is telling radio station staffers that the sale will have no effect on local operations, including Ohio State. The original deal between WBNS, OSU and IMG Sports that paid the college $110 million (or more) annually expires this year. No worries—according to station sources 97.1 The Fan just signed a new deal to be the Official Buckeye Radio Station for the next 14 years.
Current 10TV employees could not be reached for comment.
TEGNA also own stations in Cleveland and Toledo and claims to serve “two thirds of all television households in Ohio.” (Bet they run a LOT of Elk and Elk ads!)
With FCC and other paperwork, the actual change of ownership won’t happen for a few months. But I’m sure Common Man and T-Bone (97.1 The Fan local afternoon sports and more talk show) will have something to say about it this today.