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WHAS Radio Historical Collection

Identifier: BCA 0216 HC 41

Scope and Contents

This collection is comprised of audio recordings of programs broadcast by Louisville radio station WHAS. The collection is especially strong in documenting a wide range of state, national, and world political figures and news events during the late 1930s, throughout the 1940s, and into the middle 1950s. Entertainment programs include soap operas, musical variety shows, country music, and sporting events such as the Kentucky Derby.

Follow links in each Series list to listen to program recordings.


  • created: 1936-1967


Conditions Governing Access

Recordings can be accessed through the Reading Room, Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Hutchins Library, Berea College.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no known restrictions on the collection other than federal copyright regulations. Please cite all references to this collection.


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Language of Materials



WHAS was the first licensed radio station in Kentucky when it started broadcasting on July 18, 1922. Early programming included news and sports coverage. The station aired the first live broadcast of the Kentucky Derby on May 16, 1925. It was originally part of the Bingham family owned Louisville media empire which most notably included the Courier-Journal and Louisville Times. The station joined with the University of Kentucky in 1929 to broadcast university programming and to create “listening centers” throughout eastern Kentucky.  Broadcasted programs were educational in nature and included music and agricultural news.  Utilizing donated battery-powered radios, the centers enabled citizens of remote areas in eastern Kentucky to receive radio service. (Shadburne, Bettie. (2000). WHAS.  In The Encyclopedia of Louisville. (Pages 935-936). University of Kentucky Press.) During the 1937 Ohio River flood, the station provided non-stop news coverage, transmitting commercial-free for weeks. During this period, WHAS relayed over 115,000 messages to rescue crews as many civil agencies had no other means of communication. On March 29, 1941 the station moved to its current frequency of 840 kilocycles on the AM band and was granted clear-channel status by the Federal Communications Commission making it the only station in the country allowed to use that frequency. In March of 1970 WHAS began broadcasting 24 hours a day. (Shadburne, Bettie. (2000). WHAS.  In The Encyclopedia of Louisville. (Pages 935-936). University of Kentucky Press.)

Arrangement Note

Arrangement is chiefly chronological by year, with a numbering system provided by WHAS.

Other Descriptive Information

Follow links in each Series list to listen to program recordings

Collection Number: BCA 0216 HC 41

Processing Information

The finding aid was completely revised by Sound Archivist Harry Rice and Student Assistant Samantha Sise during the Summer 2018. It had originally been created in April 2014 by John Bondurant, Sound Preservation & Access Specialist, and Lori Myers-Steele, Project Archivist.

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Repository Details

Part of the Berea College Special Collections and Archives Repository

Hutchins Library
100 Campus Drive
Berea Kentucky 40404 US