PIQUA — Radio station 98.1 WPTW (AM 1570) will celebrate 75 years on the air Wednesday, Dec. 7, hosting an all-day open house featuring presentations by the Troy and Piqua Chambers of Commerce.
“It’s a day-long celebration,” Operations Manager Clint Myers said. “We want to celebrate with all the communities of Miami County.”
The open house celebration will be held at the WPTW studios, located at 1625 Covington Ave., Piqua, and will kick-off at 10 a.m. with coffee and donuts provided by the Piqua Chamber of Commerce. The station will be open to the public all day, and the celebration will also include a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by the Troy Chamber of Commerce at 5 p.m.
“It’s open to the public,” Myers said. “Anyone is welcome to stop by during the day and take a tour of the station.”
“We just ask that they bring a non-perishable good,” he said. “We’ll collect and donate those to the Bethany Center; or bring a new unwrapped toy that we can donate to the children of Miami County.”
WPTW is celebrating 75 years of broadcasting from Piqua. “The radio station started in 1947,” Myers said. “It was issued its license Dec. 7, 1947, so this is actually its birthday.”
“This is the oldest station north of Dayton,” he said.
The station started out as AM 1570, which WPTW still uses for its AM broadcasts today. FM radio did not exist yet when the station first started.
“AM 1570 WPTW is where it all started,” Myers said. “It was all AM; I don’t even think FM was out then.”
“What we have now is called a translator,” he said. “FM 98.1 is a translator of the AM. It plays the same thing that’s on the AM (1570).
WPTW’s broadcast area includes all of Miami County. More information can be found online at www.981wptw.com.
“We cover corner to corner, Miami County,” Myers said. “The AM signal goes just a little bit further than the FM.”
Many well-known radio personalities have worked at WPTW over the years, including news director Terry Lafferty, a Hall of Fame broadcaster who also worked at radio station WLW.
“Terry Lafferty worked at WPTW many moons ago,” Myers said. “It’s great to have him back.”
Myers started out at WPTW, and recently returned to the station after several years at Power 107.1 FM in Troy.
“I worked there in the early 90s, and it’s great to be back,” he said of WPTW.
WHIO’s Steve Baker also worked at WPTW in the 1970s; his father C. Oscar Baker purchased a half-interest in WPTW, and brought FM to the station in 1960.
A fire caused the WPTW studios to be totally rebuilt in late 1989 or 1990, Myers said.
“WPTW burnt to the ground,” he said. “There was a big fire. They were doing a building remodel, and added on to the building. When they were doing some pilot holes for the duct work, somehow an electric line got drilled through.”
A malfunction with the back-up generator caused the station to continue broadcasting even as the building was burning.
“The back-up generator kicked in and it went down in flames,” Myers said. “So it was actually on the air while they were pumping water onto it and there were flames on it.”
The station was rebuilt and resumed broadcasting soon after the fire. WPTW has changed ownership several times since then, and was almost closed down in 2011 before it was purchased by current owner, Rick Muzzy, who also worked at WPTW in the 1970s.
“Miami Valley Radio had put the word out that they were going to shut it down permanently if they didn’t find someone to take it over,” Myers said. “When Rick heard about that, he jumped in and bought the station.”
“I don’t see radio ever going out of fashion or falling out of need.” Myers said. “It’s free; it’s for everyone in the public. It’s a great way to stay in contact within a community.”