I just had a realization this morning. (yeah, I am slow sometimes)
It has been over ten years now since the major stations in this market turned on their digital signals.Stations in this market started turning on digital signals in late 2001 and by the deadline of May 1, 2002, the only stations not on the air were WCWG (WTWB at the time) and WLXI. WCWG came on in 2003 and if I remember correctly, WLXI came on in 2004. In WGHP's case, we turned on the digital channel 35 signal at 5pm on Monday April 29th 2002. The first program was the FOX8 5 O'clock News. We made no announcement about it and by the next morning, we had received email from several viewers that they were receiving our signal. Back in those days, the FCC did not require stations in our market size to be at full power so no one was. Most ran at half power or even less. The requirement was that you had to at least cover your city of license. In our case, High Point. Because we knew we would need to build a new tower, we opted to put up a 4200 watt signal initially. The catch was it was at 950 ft! We had about 35 miles coverage with it. It would make it to the west side of Burlington over to the west side of Winston-Salem and about to Summerfield north of Greensboro. It did very well for what it was. We ran that configuration until we powered up to full power in late August 2006. Unlike WFMY and WXII, we were 24/7. WFMY signed on at 12:30pm and signed off again at 1:30 pm when the soap opera at that time was in HD and then came back on at 8:00pm when prime time started and stayed on the air until 11:30pm. When Letterman went HD they stayed with Letterman and then signed off. WXII didn't sign on until 5pm and signed off after The Tonight Show.
Back in those days, the stations still had SD analog master controls so the HD network signals were basically run directly to the HD encoders so during prime time on WXII and WFMY, they would nail up the network from 8 to 11 and you never saw any of the local ads. CBS and NBC both had special HD show promos they ran during the local breaks knowing that many stations had no way to switch local to net efficiently so to be sure there was some kind of programming on the air, they would air the promos. On occasion they would forget to switch back to local at 11pm and you would see the prime time line up start again for the west coast! You could develop a technical problem and be off the air for several days and no one would notice! I would jokingly say I was a GM of my own station, the digital, do whatever I want with it and no one cared! We did pass FOX "Digital Widescreen" when available so even though it wasn't HD, it was widescreen. Then when FOX installed the splicer for HD in 2004, we had network HD on the air. Locally we all had SD 4:3 upconverts for anything not network.
It was a really interesting time in broadcasting.
Here is a picture of our first channel 35 transmitter. And yes, we still have it. Not sure what we are going to do with it, but we have a few ideas.