TV History Profile: WAAY
The following history
is taken from the very nice and very extensive WAAY-TV
history pages. Please give them a visit! There's in-depth history for
a lot of radio and telelvision in Alabama and Huntsville as well as pictures.
This station started
broadcasting on August 1, 1959, using a 240 kW transmitter, broadcast from
a 125 tower. The calls were WAFG and the station was ABC affiliated. The
owners of this station decided to get out of telelvision when faced with
new competition in the form of channels 19 and 25, neither of which had
been actually built at the time. In 1963, WAAY radio (owned by Smith Broadcasting)
bought channel 31 and changed the calls to WAAY-TV.
The FCC approved the
sale of channel 31 in November of 1963. Also in November, channel 19 comes
on the air. WAAY becomes an ABC affiliate. During the first few years on
air, WAAY-TV is supported by the WAAY radio station, which was doing quite
well in the market.
In 1965 the station
aquired an airplane for shooting footage. Later that month, they shoot
tornado damage from the plane.
January 1968 sees WAAY
changing to NBC affiliation after erecting a 400 foot tower and increasing
power to 1.24 million watts. WAAY begins the first live microwave remotes
in the TVA when it signs a contract with Jackson Way Baptist church in
February. In April of this year, WAAY also becomes the first station in
the valley to broadcast in color, with color video tape (they bought
their video processing chain from WTOP-TV in DC!) and color studio cameras.
By 1970 the station
was broadcasting color film during their newscasts, using Kodak film.
February 1975 has WAAY
getting the first color radar in the state of Alabama. During 1977, WAAY
goes to ABC affiliation (Florence had it's own NBC station, cutting into
the ratings of WAAY), and has just completed work on a 1,000 foot tower.
The station gets its
first helicopter for shooting news from above after going through several
airplanes. This was in March of 1981.
An interesting milestone:
June 8 1992: Station
begins closed captioning of all newscasts, the first in the valley to do
In 1999, Smith Broadcasting
sold channel 31 to Grapevine Communications. Smith Broadcasting cited the
expense of upgrading to HDTV as one of the reasons for selling the station.
Grapevine Communications still uses the WAAY-TV calls.
Channel 31's studios
are still located at 1000 Monte Sano Boulevard, the site of the original