The station went on the air as WSNV on 1989-09-29. On 1990-01-22, the station changed its call sign to WAIS-FM, on 1990-07-23 to the current WSEO. The station first began broadcasting from studios above its parent company's cable studios in downtown Nelsonville until the early 1990s when its owner built a new cinder-block, windowless station on U.S. Route 33 near the Hocking River, housing WSEO and its sister AM station, WAIS. The station was designed to be very secure, with auto-locking, reinforced doors, partially due to its rural setting and overnight unattended operation. The building still has a band of red, white and blue stripes encircling it, with the roof in recent years painted red, white and blue.
The studios were a first of their kind in Ohio in 1993, using an entirely digital production environment for commercial, music and news production. When the station's format was flipped to Contemporary Country in '93, it was programmed with TM Century mix CDs and used TM Century's "Star Spangled Country" jingle package. In 1995, WSEO and WAIS both achieved a #1 ranking in Athens County, Ohio according to Arbitron. A combination of tweaking of music, community information, high school sports broadcasting and tight programming likely led to the ratings.
Its local community service area is unique in that Athens, Ohio is not well-served by a commercial television station, leaving residents to depend on radio for most news. WSEO faced tough competition, due mostly to its weak 3,000-watt signal and an established FM powerhouse two counties away, toward Columbus. Whether or not the top ranking was a fluke, the station retained a majority of its audience, but began to fall slowly until the early 2000s, when major cuts were made because of poor profitability and health problems of its owner and founder.
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