TV Technical Profile: WAFF

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48.1 - NBC
48.2 - Bounce TV
48.3 - The 365
48.4 - Laff
48.5 - Grit TV
48.6 - Defy TV

Transmitter Location:
[map] [street view 1 | view 2] Just off (US-431) Governors Drive atop Monte Santo Mountain. Co-located with WTHV-LD.

Power (ERP):
137 kW
Height Above Average Terrain (HAAT):
1,890 feet
Other Information:
41 dBu protected contour map, from the FCC. (Coverage map from




[Studio] Street View imagery of the station's studios off Lee Highway in Huntsville.

Owned by Gray Television

This information has been skimmed from the WAAY-TV history page. Additional info has been taken from the Huntsville Times TV listings. Special thanks to Tom Alger for contributing to this page.
WAFF-TV 48's history actually begins in Decatur, and on channel 23! July 4, 1954 is when this station came on (originally). The station's first transmitter was located atop Decatur's Mutual Life Building. The station's original call letters, WMSL, referred to "Mutual Savings Life."  (Surprisingly, The Huntsville Times did not begin listing WMSL's program schedule until December 29, 1957. Prior to this date, the Huntsville newspaper only listed TV schedules for distant Birmingham, Chattanooga and Nashville stations.)
For its first nine years, WMSL carried both NBC and CBS programs. By November 1963, WMSL was affiliated with only the NBC network. Then, on September 2, 1967, Huntsville's WAAY-31 became an NBC affiliate. Oddly enough, WMSL remained affiliated with the NBC network through August 31, 1968. The Huntsville-Decatur area had two NBC affiliates, and no ABC affiliate, during the 1967-68 season.  Additionally, Florence's WOWL also had NBC and it had overlapping coverage with much of the Huntsville TV market.  On September 1, 1968, WMSL finally became an ABC affiliate. Also in 1968, the station moved to channel 48 and re-located to the Huntsville area, erecting a 900 foot tower. The calls are changed to WYUR ("YoUR" television station) in 1974. Many years later the station is bought by American Family Life Insurance, when the calls are changed to WAFF (American Family's Finest).
On March 24, 1982, the WAFF-TV studios and transmitter building burned to the ground in an early evening fire. The station returns the air, amazingly, in less than a month from a new location on the Parkway. In an odd anti-competition move, WAAY-TV puts a letter in the newspaper welcoming back to the air.
With the demise of the NBC Weather Plus network, WAFF has replaced the weather forecasts on their digital subchannel with the new, movie-oriented and MGM-backed This TV.  The station held a third subchannel for a long time, which was nothing but a digital clock.  It was removed in mid May 2010.
This station elected to keep analog broadcasts on until the new June 12th deadline.  Although WAFF has a permit to move back to RF channel 48, as of Juny 13th 2009 they have not announced plans to actually do so.  (They finally moved in December 2011.)
WAFF was adversely affected by the 27 April 2011 tornado outbreak that devastated the state of Alabama.  The station lost their Doppler radar unit in East Limestone County to a tornado.  Reports say the entire structure is gone except for the cement base.
A May 2011 announcement by WAFF parent Raycom announced the station will be picking up the new Bounce TV network that's aimed at black American audiences.  The new feed launched 26 September 2011 on 48.3.  In December 2011 the station moved back to RF channel 48 from 49, with a small bump in antenna height and power.  In early January 2012 the station deleted This TV and moved Bounce to 48.2.  In the summer of 2014 the station added the male-oriented Grit TV to 48.3.  
The station received a permit to change channels from 48 to 15, albeit with a drop in power from 48 kW to 24.5 kW.  That was raised to 137 kW in a May 2018 update to the permit.

The station added Laff to the .4 subchannel in August 2018.

Raycom Media and Gray Television Inc. agreed to a merger in June 2016, for $3.6 billion.  The merger was approved in December 2016.

The station moved Grit TV to the .5 subchannel in December 2019, while imposing a graphic on the old Grit TV channel (.3) announcing that a new channel called Circle would be coming soon.

In mid-March 2020, the station signed on their RF channel 15 facility while also still transmitting on RF channel 48.  After a few days' testing, the signal on RF channel 48 was switched off.

The station added Defy TV to the .6 subchannel in late September 2022, although it disappeared shortly thereafter for reasons unknown.  It appears to have returned in February 2023.  This is the second broadcast of Defy in the Huntsville market, after LDTV station W34EY-D.

At the end of December 2023 the Circle network was shut down.  It was replaced with The 365 in January 2024.