Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Mobile, Alabama
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Small world! I knew Dave and Kip, going all the way back to Dave's radio days with WTBC in Tuscaloosa. I cannot remember if Dave had started with Channel 33 by the time I left, but I think he had. I could be wrong, but I am thinking he co-anchored with Tina Hartman. Tina preceded me at the station. I was at 33 from 1975 until 1977, when I left to take the news director job at channel 8 in Selma. I then had a stint as weekend anchor and weekday reporter with Channel 13, WAPI (now WVTM) from 1977 until starting law school in Tuscaloosa in 1978. I then went back to 33 and read the news for a couple of years while I was in law school.
Channel 8 was a fascinating story. That station was originally put on the air back in the early 60's (maybe the late 50's) by the folks who owned WBAM and WVOK, the Brennans. It is debatable whether Selma was large enough to support a TV station at that time. At any rate, the station burned to the ground and went dark for a number of years. It was not full power when it was on the air. The theory was that the Brennans got licensed as a low power VHF with the idea that they would try to move the transmitter half way between Montgomery and Selma, with a tall tower and full power, and become, in effect, another Montgomery station. They applied for the license changes, but this was back during the time when the FCC was somewhat protective of UHF stations, and Montgomery was in the odd position of having one VHF station (Channel 12) which dominated the market. It was an NBC affiliate. But the first television station to take to the air in Montgomery after the freeze was lifted was WCOV, channel 20, the CBS affiliate. WSFA signed on a few months later. The ABC station, and later a PBS station, were also UHFs. As you know, VHF licenses were coveted in the days of analog TV for their superior coverage.
Some Huntsville investors eyed channel 8 with the same idea that the Brennan's had. They bought the license for channel 8 in the mid 70's and put it back on the air. They populated it with used equipment, including the transmitter, that they scoured the country for. They were good business people and got the station back on the air for something around $800,000, which, even in that day was amazing. And they patiently prodded the FCC with petitions to move the station. In the early 80's, they got that permission. Up went the tall tower, at full power, half way between Montgomery and Selma. They sold the station at a huge profit. The moved station became the CBS affiliate.
All ancient history now. The UHF-VHF battles of the 50's and 60's are now irrelevant in light of the technical preference for UHF frequencies for HDTV. Channel 20 lives on as the Fox affiliate. Guess it got the last laugh!
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