Knoxville’s WROL-AM joined with other investors to launch WROL-TV in 1953. It was the city’s first TV station. WROL-TV was a primary NBC affiliate with a secondary ABC affiliation.
WROL-AM-TV became WATE-AM-TV in 1955.
The station built a reputation for local programming in its early days. It featured local country music programs, including “The Cas Walker Show,” which featured a young Dolly Parton before she became famous.
HHere’s an in-depth article about the station’s early years.
WATE-TV moved into its unique home, the renovated 19th century Greystone Mansion, in 1965.
The original owners sold the WATE stations in 1965. Nationwide Communications purchased WATE-TV.
In the late-1960s, WATE-TV assembled a popular on-air news anchor team. By the mid-1970s, WATE’s local newscasts had overtaken WBIR-TV in the ratings. The station also was the first to switch to videotape for news coverage, first to use a microwave truck for live newsgathering and first to use a helicopter for on-air coverage.
In 1979, WATE-TV and rival WTVK swapped network affiliations. WATE became an ABC affiliate.
Young Broadcasting purchased the station in 1993. As of 2014, Media General owns WATE-TV.
Here’s a 2013 story about WATE-TV’s 60th anniversary:
This is a recording of WATE’s Feb. 10, 1983 11 p.m. newscast:
Here’s an aircheck of the Oct. 31, 1984, edition of WATE’s 11 p.m. ”Eyewitness News”:
Source: Wikipedia (WATE-TV)