Turning Back the Dial: Jim Wharton

We speak with Jim Wharton as he remembers his time working at WTAP.
Published: Aug. 26, 2023 at 3:14 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - This year celebrates WTAP’s 70th year in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

In the spirit of celebration, we have invited some familiar faces from the past to celebrate with us.

We sat down with Jim Wharton for this week’s “Turning Back the Dial.”

“...And as a matter of fact, I was actually on the station when I was about 7 years old. There was a show called Fairmont Junior Auction, a children’s show on Saturday mornings, and that was the first interview I ever did on TV— or first appearance on TV.”

Jim Wharton is a native of the Mid-Ohio Valley, who grew up watching WTAP as a child. Later, a graduate from Marshall University, Wharton’s first direct experience with WTAP happened at a fairly young age.

“I was actually on the station when I was about 7 years old. There was a show called Fairmont Junior Auction, a children’s show on Saturday mornings, and it was a game where you would collect cottage cheese lids and bottle caps and use them as a currency to bid on toys, and I had a successful bid on a set of Tonka Trucks and Glenn Wilson was the host. And since I had won the bid, Glenn interviewed me and that was the first interview I ever did on TV, or first appearance on TV.”

As the years went by, Wharton went into the field of journalism, where his journey came full circle.

“When I got out of college in the spring of ‘76, Glenn was the production manager. Sherman Grimm was the general manager. And he set up an interview with Glenn and Glenn hired me in production.”

During his time at WTAP, Jim held many different positions, eventually finding his way to sports.

“May 28th of ‘76 that was made full time. I’d been working part time and then I worked as a camera operator at the start. And then I kind of transitioned from camera operator, to a director, to production manager, to sports anchor sports director here from 1984.”

After 45 years at the station, Wharton retired in 2021 and is enjoying doing the things that he loves, even coming back from time to time to anchor for one of his favorite topics —sports.

“Tonight, I will be helping out on Football Frenzy. I’ll be returning for a couple of weeks, but mostly I’m just enjoying my time off. I like to walk, I like to travel, and I like to go to sporting events. I was at Pittsburgh recently for a weekend series between the Pirates and the Reds, and I also do some football games for the station in the fall. We televise a number of games and I’m looking forward to doing that again this year. Keeps me into it, but I don’t have to work all the long hours and so I get the best of both worlds, doing what I enjoy, which I love doing play by play and also being retired.”

Being a native of the Mid-Ohio Valley, Wharton says that working in the Mid-Ohio Valley pushed him to do well in his position.

“First, there’s a little pressure because I’m from around here and when I started out, I was pretty green, and I made a lot of mistakes on the air before I got better and I knew that my family was watching. My friends were watching and so that was a little bit of pressure, but I was able to just put that aside and just concern myself with the day’s work and not worry about anything, what other people thought or anything like that and just strive to do better.”

After looking back, Wharton says that he remembers his time at WTAP fondly.

“I remember the people, and I remember the things that the station has done and I am very fond and have good memories of the of the people and how the station has grown over the years.”

Wharton wasn’t the only one who grew throughout his time here... WTAP grew with him as well.

“The station has come so far in the last 70 years from little black and white with just no film or very few film stories, very few video stories, and then, when I started, the news department was 3 people and now its grown exponentially. And we had newscasts just six and eleven, five days a week, and now we’ve got newscasts in the morning, at noon, at five, six, 10 and 11. So, this station has fulfilled its obligation as a service and a public service to the community.”

L.V. Hissem for WTAP News. This is Home.