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WITN-TV Photos

Late 1955


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WITN Transmitter Sign 1955 WITN Transmitter Building 1955

Sign near Hwy 118 East of Grifton, NC.

WITN transmitter building.  Due to flooding, a few years later an addition was added to the right with the new transmitter floor several feet higher.

WITN Transmitter Control Room 1955

WITN Transmitter Control Console 1955

Transmitter control room.  Transmitter on left.  Equipment racks in background.  Control console had 3 monitors.   Lower one was for video to transmitter, 2 top ones was for studio feed and NBC feed.  Off-the-air monitor was a 17 inch home B/W TV set (not in picture).  I put the first program on the air with the NBC World Series in Color when I faded in the video and audio at 11:45 AM on September 28, 1955. It came up with the American flag and the National Anthem!

Control console where video was switched between studio in Chocowinity and NBC.  Microphone was for 26 Mc (MHz) 2-way communications between transmitter and studio facilities.  White paper on table was the program log that was followed by engineer so he would know when station breaks came.   No color monitor.

WITN-TV was two days late going on the air due to Hurricane Ione hitting a week before sign-on.  The transmitter site was flooded, but there was no flooding at the studio.  The first words on the air were the announcers for the World Series after the National Anthem was played.  The first local words were at 12 Noon signing on the station for the first time by an announcer sent over from the studio. He was placed in a bedroom around the corner where it was quieter.
Back of WITN transmitter building 1954 WITN Guy Wires 1954
Back of transmitter building.  Microwave dish to studio on left, NBC feed from telco on right.  Worker doing finishing touches on tower. View of tower from outside anchor point.  Double guys were used at each point on tower.
WITN Tower 1954 WITN building and tower 154 from guy point
Tower view from front of building.  Lower reflector for NBC and upper reflector was for studio feed. View of tower, building and the two anchor points Southwest of the tower.
WITN old transmitter building cira 2008

Aerial view ( Microsoft) of abandoned building around 2008 with addition on right.  Time marches on! Note the ditch back of the transmitter building.  Since the ditch is naturally at the lowest point in the field, the flood in 1955 came from it.  The building was built at that location to accommodate the tower guy wires.  In the above right picture, standing near the Southwest guy anchor near the highway, you can just see the top of the building in the hole!  A few years later, a dike was built around the building to protect against floods.  The addition on the right was built about 3 or 4 feet higher than the original building and a new transmitter installed in 1961.
The 921 foot tower (common knowledge was that the tower was 919 feet tall and the sign was wrong!) was replaced with at 1549 foot tower with an elevator in 1961 when the new building addition was added.  In 1978, a new transmitter building was built across the road and a 2000 foot tower was erected.   WNCT-TV transmitter in Greenville also move to the location and both stations share the 2000 foot tower to reduce costs. 

Under the picture of the control room above, it states that WITN went on the air with the World Series as the first program on September 28, 1955.  But it was not the first video on the air!  The first video was the night before.  There's a lot more to this story!  A TECHNICAL VIEW ON HOW WITN REALLY GOT STARTED. This is a true story of some of the trials and tribulations of the 1955 beginning of WITN, Channel 7, Washington, NC. At the time, the only station in Eastern North Carolina was WNCT-TV. Opens in new window.

Update June 12, 2009 - Channel Seven went off the air today with their regular programming after 53 years, 8 months and 15 days on Channel 7.  I watched it go off on one of my analog TV sets with an antenna.  WITN now has programming on Channel 32 digital only.  No regular sign-off, just hit the switch.  It didn't have a regular sign-on the first time.   I was there when it went on the air and saw it go off the air.  Kind of sad. 

Update June 26, 2009 - Channel Seven came back on the air about 5 minutes later on June 12 to run Nightlight, a continuous program for how to get digital TV and instructions on setting up digital converters.  It was the only Nightlight station in Eastern NC.  I watched the final sign-off with the announcer giving the standard sign-off with the last part saying "This concludes operation of WITN analog Channel Seven.  Good day and goodbye." Then music was played with color scenes of the United States.  Channel Seven signed on with color scenes from Yankee Stadium.  Channel Seven went off the air for good on June 26, 2009 at 3:03 PM Eastern Daylight Time. That was really sad!

The first 8 pictures on this page were scanned from 35mm slides.

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