Radio-TV Broadcast History

This page is improperly set up.

Chronology data should be put on the appropriate chronology page ("Chronology of call letters WATE") .

Other material must be reorganized into appropriate categories of articles.

WATE-TV (digital channel 26, virtual channel 6.1), is the ABC television station affiliate in Knoxville, Tennessee. The station is owned by Young Broadcasting.

Knoxville, Tennessee
Branding WATE 6
Slogan The News Station
Channels Digital: 26 (UHF)
Subchannels 6.1 ABC
Affiliations ABC (secondary 1953-1956, primary since 1979)
Owner Young Broadcasting, Inc., DEBTOR-IN-POSSESSION


First air date October 1, 1953
Former callsigns WROL-TV (1953-1955)
Former channel number(s) 6 (VHF analog, 1953-2009)
Former affiliations NBC (1953-1979)
Transmitter power 930 kW (digital)
Height 529.2 m (digital)
Facility ID 71082
Transmitter coordinates 36°0′13″N 83°56′35″W / 36.00361°N 83.94306°W / 36.00361; -83.94306

[edit] Technical information[]

WATE-TV was the first Band I VHF-TV station (analog channels 2-6) in East Tennessee, also referred to as low-band VHF (very high frequency). It was the third Band I VHF station in Tennessee, behind WMC-TV, Memphis (Tennessee's oldest TV station) and WSMV, Nashville (Tennessee's second oldest TV station). WATE-TV is the second oldest Tennessee television station to still be on its original channel behind WSMV (WMC-TV switched from Channel 4 to Channel 5 in 1952). The analog signal for WATE-TV formerly broadcast at 100 kilowatts Horizontal visual ERP (Effective Radial Power), and 10 kilowatts aural, with a non-directional, horizontal polarization antenna, 1,525 feet above the ground on Sharp's Ridge in Knoxville. The station is now broadcasting on digital Channel 26 with 930 kilowatts visual, with its PSIP channel as Channel 6 on all digital converter boxes.

[edit] History[]

WATE-TV, Channel 6 is East Tennessee's first television station, going on the air on October 1, 1953, as WROL-TV, owned by local businessman Paul Mountcastle and a small group of investors, along with WROL-AM 950. The race to be the first television station in East Tennessee on the air was won by WROL-TV, when the 300-foot tower owned by WJHL-TV, Channel 11 in Johnson City collapsed a few months earlier. WJHL-TV would have been first, but WROL-TV claimed the title by only 25 days. Channel 6's first studios were underneath its 800-foot self-supporting tower on Sharp's Ridge, one of the tallest man-made structures in East Tennessee at that time. Later, as was broadcast tradition in the 1950s, sales offices moved to downtown Knoxville, and the studios were moved to a new building on North Broadway. Meanwhile, the self-supporting tower on Sharp's Ridge was dismantled in 1975, when the station built a 1,153 foot broadcasting tower alongside it.

WATE-TV had a role in the failure of its main competitor, WBIR-TV to move its own antenna to a proposed tower on House Mountain (Knox County, Tennessee) in 1965 for better coverage. WATE-TV used a rather ingenious way to force Channel 10 to build a 1,751-foot tower near the mountain at Blaine. Channel 6 simply purchased the top of the mountain from the property owners. With no property for the tower base on House Mountain, WBIR had no choice but to build a much taller tower in the valley 2 years later.[1]

WROL-TV went on the air as a primary NBC affiliate because of sister radio station WROL-AM950's longtime affiliation with NBC Radio, but it also shared ABC programming with CBS affiliate WSKT-TV, channel 26, which later changed its calls to WTVK (it is now WVLT-TV on Channel 8). Channel 26 had gone on the air a few hours later on October 1st. Although NBC held a firm grip on WROL-TV, the DuMont Television Network tried unsuccessfully several times to get a secondary affiliation with WROL-TV when it was not broadcasting NBC and ABC, but WROL-TV opted to fill its non-network schedule with local programming (a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandate); hence DuMont was forced to join WTVK on a secondary basis. CBS also made many attempts to grab a primary affiliation with Knoxville's only VHF station, but the owners of WROL-TV held firm, despite many financial incentives from the other networks, especially CBS. WROL-TV became WATE-TV in 1955, the new call letters not really standing for anything; the program director at the time saying, "those call letters were the next available at the FCC." A year later, the NBC primary affiliate dropped ABC when WBIR-TV signed on and took the CBS affiliation from WTVK. WTVK became the ABC primary affiliate at that time, and for the first time, the three networks had three affiliates in Knoxville. WROL-AM later changed its call letters to WATE-AM 950.

In 1965, Mountcastle and his group sold WATE-TV to Nationwide Communications of Columbus, Ohio. That same year, the station moved into and renovated the historic 19th century Greystone Mansion, now on the National Register of Historic Places. At the same time, WATE-AM, which had changed frequency to 620 kilohertz, was sold off, changing its call letters to WETE; it is now WRJZ AM620.

In September 1979, WATE swapped its NBC affiliation with WTVK and became an ABC affiliate. ABC had become the highest-rated network in the country and wanted a stronger station in Knoxville. At the time, WATE was the market leader with a strong VHF signal in East Tennessee, southwest Virginia and southeastern Kentucky; WTVK's UHF signal on Channel 26 was marginal at best in much of the Knoxville area, and many viewers in East Tennessee and southeast Kentucky had never seen ABC before. Coincidentally, 17 years later, WATE-TV's digital signal would be broadcast on digital Channel 26.

In 1993, Nationwide sold its three television stations--WATE, WBAY-TV in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and WRIC-TV in Richmond, Virginia, to Young Broadcasting.

During its first 50 years, WATE-TV pioneered many locally-produced programs like The Homemaker Show, hosted by Mary Starr. Housewives were glued to their TV sets as Mary showed them the latest recipes and homemaking tips. Star Time, hosted by local businessman Jim Clayton, featured many local country music acts, and The Cas Walker Show, a local country music show hosted by former Knoxville Mayor Cas Walker, who also owned a chain of grocery stores in eastern Tennessee, southwest Virginia and eastern Kentucky. The show featured Dolly Parton before she became famous. In 1981, the station premiered PM Magazine, with MayCay Beeler and Calvin Sneed, the popular syndicated show which highlighted unusual people, places and things from the East Tennessee-southeastern Kentucky area.

In addition to being the first television station in East Tennessee, WATE-TV also pioneered several other firsts in Knoxville. In 1978, it premiered the first noon newscast in town, and later, also premiered the first Saturday newscast in Knoxville, then a year later, the first Sunday newscast in the area. WATE-TV was the first station in East Tennessee to utilize a helicopter for news gathering (Chopper 6), it was the first Knoxville TV station to broadcast a live sporting event (a 1957 Knoxville Smokies baseball game), first in Knoxville to broadcast in stereo, first to use computers for local election coverage, and the first TV station in Knoxville to broadcast a digital signal. The station also hired and eventually promoted Calvin Sneed, the first African-American to co-anchor a 6 and 11 PM newscast in East Tennessee in 1979. The weekday noon newscast was cancelled on January 31, 2008, making it the only station in Knoxville to not offer a news broadcast at noon.

In the late 1960s, WATE assembled the news team of anchor Pete Gardener, weathercaster Margie Ison and sports director Mike Thurman. In the early 1970s, Sam Brown joined the team as news anchor and, together, the team of "Sam, Mike and Margie" became the most well-known news team in the market, with both the Number One 6:00 and 11:00 Nielsen and Arbitron-measured newscasts in the Knoxville area for several years.

During the mid- and late-1970s, WATE-TV's 11:00 ratings often exceeded the combined audience of its two competitors. The powerful on-air team was supported by a qualified team of reporters and photographers, who operated on the premise that many area viewers wanted "hard news" as opposed to the "soft news" offered by those competitors. Reporters Milli Bass, Jack Isenhour, Art Miller, Steve Oglesby and Calvin Sneed were supported by photographers Glen Morgan, Jeff Jernigan and Laura Young in presenting breaking news stories collected from throughout the three-state coverage area. The unofficial goal of the evening news crew was to regularly scoop the Knoxville Journal, the morning newspaper then gaining circulation over the Knoxville News-Sentinel, then published in the afternoons. The 11:00 newscast led into the Tonight Show With Johnny Carson. However, research showed much of Carson's huge audience switched to WATE-TV at 11:00, instead of tuning in between 11:20 and 11:30 (later 11:35).

During the 1970s, WATE-TV contributed frequently to network newscasts. "Let the affiliate's people handle it" was frequently heard in network news assignment desks.

In the early 1980s, WATE increasingly participated in the nationwide TV news trend toward presenting more features and soft news; info-tainment; and packaged segments on cooking, show business and movies, housekeeping, health and medicine, weather and consumer trends and tips.

Currently, WATE has the reputation as the "The News Station", due to its straightforward approach to presenting the top news stories of the day without too much of the "fluff" found in typical local news programs. This hard-news approach has not translated into ratings success, as WATE-TV frequently trails its main rival, WBIR-TV in local news viewership.

[edit] Bankruptcy[]

WATE-TV's parent company, Young Broadcasting, Incorporated emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June, 2010. As a contingency of the reorganization plan, Young Broadcasting has a Limited Management Agreement (LMA) with Gray Television of Atlanta, Georgia, owner-operator of 36 television stations, to allow Gray to manage all of Young's stations, except WATE and KRON-TV, San Francisco. Gray was not allowed to operate WATE, because it also owns WVLT-TV in the Knoxville market.

[edit] The News Station[]

WATE's current slogan reflects its preference for hard news, an alternative to the somewhat softer-edged nature of rival WBIR's newscasts. That approach has never translated into viewership, as WATE routinely ranks second, behind WBIR and ahead of WVLT, in the overall Knoxville Nielsen ratings. The station occasionally enjoys a Number One rating for its 5 PM newscast, because of the high viewership of its powerhouse lead-in "Oprah." (Source: November 2007, Neilsen Media Research, DMA: Knoxville, Tennessee)

[edit] Primary audience[]

WATE casts a relatively wide net of East Tennessee viewers due to the current popularity of ABC shows like Dancing with the Stars, Lost, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, and ABC Sports. However, the station primarily targets women 25-54 (the "Household CEO" as it likes to call the demographic group.)

WATE currently has a consulting firm, WATE Consulting, to help local advertisers create messages to effectively and efficiently reach this rather broad East Tennessee audience.

[edit] Digital television[]

The station's digital signal UHF 26, is multiplexed:

Digital channels

Channel Programming
6.1 main WATE-TV/ABC programming

[edit] News reporters and journalists[]

[edit] Current on-air staff[]

News anchors

  • Lori Tucker 6 and 11pm weekdays
  • Gene Patterson 5,6, and 11 weekdays
  • Kristin Farley 5:30 weekdays and Fox 43 Ten O'Clock News
  • Erica Estep Weekends
  • Bo Williams Good Morning Tennessee
  • Tearsa Smith Good Morning Tennessee
  • Jill McNeal Fox 43 Ten O'Clock News
  • Denae D'Arcy Weekends

News reporters

  • Don Dare
  • Harlow Sumerford
  • Hana Kim
  • Ann Keil
  • Jamie Lynn Drohan
  • Josh Ault
  • Mona Nair


  • Matt Hinkin Chief Meteorologist, 5,5:30,6,10(fox43),and 11PM weekdays
  • Bob Becker Weekend Meteorologist
  • Ken Weathers Good Morning Tennessee Meteorologist


  • Jim Wogan Sports Director, 5,5:30,6,10(fox43), 11PM weekdays
  • Mark Nagi Weekends
  • Prentice ElliottWeekends

[edit] Past on-air staff[]

  • Art Miller, reporter (1971-1979), now Manager-Train Operations, San Luis and Rio Grande/Rio Grande Scenic Railroads, Alamosa, CO and widely known as a Railroad Coordinator working in feature film, commercial, music video, and TV movie production.
  • Bud Veazey, reporter/photographer, weekend anchor, producer (1966-1976). Retired in 2008 after 42 years in TV news.
  • Sonu Wasu, reporter, now with WDTN-TV in Dayton, Ohio
  • Clay Thomas, anchor and reporter
  • Mary Starr, hostess The Homemaker Show, deceased
  • Jim Clayton, host, Star Time
  • Cas Walker, former Knoxville mayor and host The Cas Walker Show, deceased
  • Margie Ison, weather anchor, retired
  • Bob Richards, weather anchor, deceased
  • Sam Brown, anchor and reporter, deceased
  • Mike Thurman, sports director, deceased
  • Calvin Sneed, anchor and reporter, co-host/producer PM Magazine, now Senior News Anchor/Chief Investigative Reporter at WTVC-TV, Chattanooga; Website Manager, the Douglass Alumni Association, Kingsport, TN
  • MayCay Beeler, co-host/producer PM Magazine
  • Lisa McNeal, reporter
  • Paul Sims, reporter, now with RCI Media Training, Atlanta
  • Russ Nunley, anchor and reporter, now with Regal Cinemas
  • Sandy Webb (deceased), reporter, anchor, Assignment Editor, Assistant News Director
  • Bob Gray, anchor and reporter, retired
  • Kim Simmons Thomas, weather, noon anchor and reporter
  • Ben Garrett, reporter
  • Diane May, anchor and reporter
  • Leslie Stewart, reporter
  • Tracie Finley (Potts), anchor
  • Scott Finley, sports anchor/reporter (1986-2000), now at Ethicon, Inc. in Knoxville
  • Rick Benjamin, anchor and reporter, now with the Speed Channel, and WBT-AM, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Yvette Martinez, anchor and reporter, now with TDOT
  • Scott Blalock, weather, (retired from WVLT Knoxville in 2009)
  • Bruce Whiteaker, anchor and reporter
  • Heather Donald, anchor, now at KRON-TV, San Francisco
  • Greg Peterson, sports director 1983-1989, now lead news anchor at WPMI-TV, Mobile, Alabama
  • Brennan Robison, anchor and reporter (1998-2003)
  • Wanda Williams, reporter and fill-in achor (1998-200), [WJLA-TV, Web Content Editor 2005-2006][Graduate Student in History, Research Tech, National Archives and Records, Presidential Papers, Washington, D.C.]
  • Mark Mancuso, weather anchor
  • Mike Cihla, anchor, now morning news anchor, WTOC-TV, Savannah, Georgia
  • Lance Sandstead, anchor
  • Denny (Lloyd) Immel, anchor
  • Marie Michellini, weekend weather
  • Steve Oglesby, reporter, anchor, assignment editor, newscast producer, news director, marketing and promotion manager
  • Jan Petri, reporter
  • Tom Buckley, reporter
  • Pauletta Jackson, reporter and weekend weather
  • Lelan Statom, weather, now noon co-host at WTVF-TV, Nashville
  • Paula Tutman, reporter, now at WDIV-TV, Detroit
  • Suzanne Stevens, anchor and reporter
  • Will McDonald, weekend sports
  • Ann Rollins, anchor
  • Ann Taylor, anchor, now newscaster at National Public Radio, Washington, D.C.
  • Anne Holt, reporter, now main news anchor at WKRN-TV, Nashville
  • Kent Blackwelder, anchor and reporter (he was later a contestant on Big Brother)
  • Pete Gardner, anchor, deceased
  • Denise Dillon, anchor, later with CNN Headline News, and now with WAGA-TV, Atlanta
  • Michael Pomeranz, anchor
  • Debbie Kirby, anchor and reporter
  • Jon Vanderford, anchor, now at KOLN-TV, Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Tanya O'Rourke, reporter, now noon news anchor, WCPO-TV, Cincinnati
  • Gary Weiss, reporter
  • Janet Sims, reporter
  • Cynthia Varner, reporter
  • Lori Golden-Stryer, reporter and anchor
  • Russ Hollingsworth, sports
  • Karla Winfrey (cousin of Oprah Winfrey), reporter
  • Diane Kacmarik, weather, now with Bay News 9, Tampa, Florida
  • Jennifer Darwin, reporter
  • Rob Wilds, reporter, now producer at WNPT-TV, Nashville
  • Sherry Reed, weather
  • Steve Jarriel, reporter, son of former ABC News correspondent Tom Jarriel
  • Rita Stone, reporter
  • Hal Wanzer, anchor, deceased
  • Catharyn Campbell, reporter, now with WSMV-TV Nashville, TN
  • Amelia Daniels, now with Ackerman PR, Knoxville, TN
  • Jeff Lennox, reporter/anchor, now with WESH-TV, Orlando, FL
  • Adam Longo, reporter, now with WKMG-TV, Orlando, FL
  • Melissa Dipane, reporter, now with WOFL-TV, Orlando, FL
  • Whitney Holmes, reporter/weekend anchor

[edit] News/station presentation[]

[edit] Newscast titles[]

  • Marlboro News (1954-1960)
  • Dateline News (1960-1969)
  • Eyewitness News (1969-1980)
  • TV-6 Eyewitness News (1980-1984)
  • TeamSix Eyewitness News (1984-1985)
  • TV-6 Live Eyewitness News (1985-1991)
  • 6 Eyewitness News (1991-2001)
  • Eleven at Eleven (1991-2001)
  • 6 News (2001-present)

[edit] Station slogans[]

  • Suddenly Complete (1979-reflects network switch to ABC)
  • The Area's Leading News Station (1980-1987)
  • Coverage You Can Count On (1991-2001)
  • The News Station (2001-present)

[edit] Newscast music[]

  • WATE 1960s News Ticker by Unknown Composer (19??-1968)
  • WTOP 1968 News Theme by Unknown Composer (1968-1972)
  • The Action News Theme by Unknown Composer (1972-1974)
  • WATE 1974 News Theme by Unknown Composer (1974-1976)
  • KHOU 1976 News Theme by Sam Spence (1976-1977)
  • Move Closer To Your World by Mayoham Music (1977-1980)
  • WATE 1980 News Theme by Unknown Composer (1980-1987)
  • WATE 1985 News Theme by Unknown Composer (1985-19??)
  • WATE 1990 News Theme by Unknown Composer (19??-19??)
  • WATE 1991 News Theme by Unknown Composer (19??-19??)
  • The One for All by Gari Communications, Inc. (19??-1995)
  • More People Watch by Lattitude Music (1995-1998)
  • Image News by Gari Communications, Inc. (1998-2001)
  • This is Your News by Gari Communications, Inc. (2001-present)
  • New Millenium by Gari Communications, Inc. (2002-2006)

[2] This film, television or video-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it with reliably sourced additions.==[edit] References==

  1. ^ John Reece, interview. PM Magazine. WATE-TV, Knoxville, Tennessee. 30 September 1983

[edit] External links[]