Meet the TV station manager who helped put NewsChannel 9 on the air in 1958

The WTVC transmitter site on Signal Mountain - the original studios were also located here

In the spring of 1957, Martin Theaters of Columbus, Georgia asked the FCC if it could move its ABC-TV station, WDAK-TV on UHF Channel 28, to a newer, better signal on the VHF frequency. Back then, UHF stations on the old analog band were difficult to receive, and TV sets were not required to have UHF channels.

After engineering studies, the company found that if it could move the VHF Channel 9 already on the air north of Columbus (WROM-TV in Rome, Georgia), WDAK-TV could switch to Channel 9 in Columbus and not have its same-channel signal interfere with the Channel 9 out of Rome.

With FCC approval, Martin Theaters purchased WROM-TV, Channel 9 in Rome, and physically moved that station 70 miles north to Chattanooga, Tennessee. That allowed its Columbus station to switch to Channel 9, and for Chattanooga, Tennessee to get its 3rd VHF TV station, unheard of for a city that size back in the 1950's.

In December, 1957, two men from Columbus headed the move of the offices, studio equipment, and transmitter for WROM-TV from Rome to a new transmitter site on Signal Mountain near Chattanooga, engineers Reeve Owen and Leon Webb. The move was accomplished, working 24-hour days, in just two months, in time for test patterns and on-air transmission to commence on February 11, 1958.

The new Chattanooga Channel 9 asked the FCC for, and received its new call letters: WTVC.

Calvin Sneed sat down with Leon Webb, to reminisce about the exciting move from Rome, Georgia to Chattanooga in the winter of 1957-58, building a TV station from the ground up with new and borrowed equipment, and how exciting it was to put the new station on the air for Chattanooga viewers.

(NOTE: Despite the new city of license, for many years, WTVC, Chattanooga operated under WROM-TV's old FCC license)

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off