Headline of Station premiere

WDEF-TV - Chattanooga's First Television Station Signs on April 25th, 1954.

The Chattanooga Times and News Free-Press heralded the news that Chattanooga would now have a television station ... WDEF-TV providing local programming as well as network programs from CBS and NBC.

The first broadcast, of course, was merely a test pattern. For at least two weeks, anxious Tennessee Valley households tuned their brand-new television sets into Channel 12, and were greeted by an Indian head with various gradiations of grey, and a voice announcing the coming station, and that this was a test broadcast. You'd have thought that test pattern would win an Emmy.

For the first time since there was TV, local residents wouldn't have to strain to pick up grainy Atlanta stations. It was the talk of the valley.

Viewers from all over the tri-state area wrote in to tell our engineers that they were picking up the signal, and would let them know what the quality was like. Some letters surprised our engineers more than others ... such as the Knoxville lady who was able to pick up our signal using only "rabbit ears".


Television in Chattanooga was now a reality, and things would never be the same.



The first studios were located in the Volunteer Life Insurance Building, and the power output was 105,000 watts.

Local programming would be Drue Smith's House Party, Miller Brothers' Style Show, and Henry C. Geiger's Children's Gospel Hour.

Other local shows included the children's variety show, Mr. Chickaroonie, Luther Masingill, Sports Review by Herschel Nation, Drue Smith's Party Line, the Weather Report by "Big Jim" Hill, world news by Mort Lloyd and Scenic Land News by Hal Seigel.

Network programming would include the Colgate Comedy Hour, Jack Benny, Milton Berle - Bob Hope, I Love Lucy, Red Buttons, Judge for Yourself, Eddie Fisher, Arthur Godfrey and His Friends, and I've Got a Secret.

With WDEF radio since 1941, Luther Masingill joined the staff of WDEF-TV. Luther had vowed to keep up his shenanigans in TV as he had in radio.

A staple of morning radio for over a decade already, Luther would bring his wit and warmth to television. Things like Chickaroonie, Mabel and "Stay in your own lane" were all "Luther-isms".

Luther was a stunt-master in radio. He was a source of diversion and amusement to Chattanoogans who listened to him.

For one radio contest, Luther agreed to serve as yardman and man of all chores around the house of the winner. He admits he didn't work hard.

For another occasion, he was rolled around in a wheelbarrow at the front of a parade by WDEF announcer Ernie Feagans.

And ever-so-often, he just wouldn't even show up at the studio, broadcasting his show from "home", wandering around the rooms listening to the crackling of bacon as Mrs. Mary Masingill cooked, or chatting with younger brother Charles.

One of the first locally-produced shows on WDEF-TV was Point of View. Still on the air, it is one of the longest-running local public affairs programs in the United States.

Other shows such as Drue Smith's House Party and Party Line were popular with viewers, for their innovative style and fresh attitude.


The 1970s brought change to TV news. WDEF was no longer the only television station in town, but it was certainly the leader.

With a team of seasoned broadcasters, and a brand new tool ... videotape ... Channel 12 was able to bring the Tennessee Valley the latest news, accurately and quickly.

Mort Lloyd was in the center of it all.

An unlikely hero in the world of TV, Lloyd was one of the most respected faces (and voices) in broadcast journalism.

The history of WDEF-TV is a rich and colorful one. From important leaders to strange personalities (even a wrestler or two), they have all wandered these halls over the years.

Shock Theatre: mixed horror, comedy & political commentary into late night programming in the 70s
Shock Theatre: mixed horror, comedy &
political commentary into late night
programming in the 70s.

We are proud of our history here at WDEF. It is a big part of Chattanooga's history, too. And we would love to hear about your memories, questions or memorabilia. Just drop us a line at News@wdef.com.


Latest Comments
Comments
Kat14 - 9/1/2014 8:12 AM
0 Votes
I hope this monster gets what he gave. There should have been some evidence that this man had the potential for violence. I have four adult children. I never left them with anyone but their father when they were young. You cannot trust anyone, then and now. I feel so bad for this young mother. It looks like she has support from her family. It would be hard not to go after this guy and not give him what he deserves!

mamac - 8/31/2014 11:19 PM
0 Votes
Do not see how he drowned at 3 ... I raised 3 boys and left them in the tub and they NEVER even went under the water one time.. I can see a baby drowning one that had hardly NO control of there body but a 3 year old.Nope don't see it.. Dakota is a cutie..You cannot trust anyone anymore and that is sad.. Dakota is in heaven now and watching over his family. But ever who kills a baby child a human is worse than a monster. If a person commits murder they need to just do the same thing to that person. Cause why they have the right to be able to take up oxygen when they was the one who decided to take that persons oxygen ?

LearningCenter - 8/29/2014 2:22 PM
0 Votes
Times for this event are based on the Central Time Zone.

dathom1971 - 8/29/2014 12:32 AM
0 Votes
He was found safe! Thank you

immickslady - 8/28/2014 10:59 AM
0 Votes
Animal's Details Type Dog Breed Coonhound Cross Second Breed Sex Male Color Black / Tan Spayed/Neutered Unknown Age Size Large Animal Identification Animal ID: 70869 Please take note of the Animal ID before contacting us For further information contact McKamey Animal Center Location 423-305-6500 Address 4500 North Access Rd. Chattanooga, TN 37415

immickslady - 8/28/2014 9:57 AM
0 Votes
Make sure you check all of the shelters, post to FB Chattanooga Lost and Found Pets and post to Craigslist Lost and found. I will keep an eye out. Praying you find him.

winnbrat03 - 8/27/2014 6:04 PM
0 Votes
Rip babygirl. you have your angelwings now. may justice be served for this little girl.

Cara H - 8/27/2014 9:40 AM
0 Votes
This is our baby, Figaro, and we were reunited yesterday, Aug. 26th! We are deeply grateful for the very kind people who cared for him and helped to bring him home! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!! Cara

ead123456 - 8/27/2014 8:29 AM
0 Votes
NO surprise here! He broke into our neighborhood last summer and had 22 charges against him....the courts let gave him 11/29 with time served and he was out less than 11 months later. Before our break ins he was in prison and got out less than 5 months before he ransacked our neighborhood. He has a twin brother that is just like him and they've been doing it since they were teens. Clearly the courts aren't going to stop him because he keeps getting a get out of jail free card. Too bad the homeowner didn't shoot because I'm convinced that is the only thing going to stop this guy. One day his luck will run out! I don't blame our police officers at all, because they do their job, they catch and detain this punk. The courts however fail us miserably by letting him go every time. I know our officers have to be tired of dealing with these constant repeat offenders.

chris9465 - 8/27/2014 4:16 AM
0 Votes
for the xbox one to compete w/PS4 the price needs to be $300.... bundles and limited exclusives are not rescuing this albatross the xbox one has inferior hardware to the PS4...what the exact power differences,are still debatable(am no computer expert just a consumer & gamer)...but it really doesnt matter if its 1% more powerful or 100% more powerful the fact is people dont pay the same price for an inferior products.... inferior hardware means the price needs to drop again..... if dropping the price to 300 is completely unrealistic then the xbox one ever competing with the PS4 is equally unrealistic
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