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
CHS Band - 4/24/2015 10:23 AM
0 Votes
the Car Show and Silent Auction have been postponed till Saturday May 2nd.

brew1969 - 4/24/2015 8:05 AM
0 Votes
Love those smiles!!! Time for Bahamas again!!!

Concerned - 4/23/2015 2:54 PM
1 Vote
I have not for one second doubted this child or any other child that came forward. Do children tells lies on people sometimes? Yep, sure do. But you do not get multiple children making the same accusations and they not be true to some degree. Was he guilty? Not for me to say. Why did he do it? We may never know. But here is what I know. There are people all over the contingent that have very dark secrets. Secrets NO ONE will ever be privy to. In a lot of cases, they are upstanding members of their communities, active in their churches, schools, and civic groups. They are well liked and respected by friends and family. They put on a good show for all. So before everyone that knew this man and want to defend him, please consider what I've said and think about if he fit what I described. Also remember there are no winners here. The families of these children have to help them move forward. This man's family and friends are grieving. Everyone has been hurt by this in one way or another. My hope and prayer is that everyone involved are able to find a way to heal from these tragedies.

mridk - 4/23/2015 9:38 AM
0 Votes
This is a sad endeed story on both sides this happend over a month ago they would of pressed charges already the girl did not say he molested her she said he scared her because of how he would do it. And at forst she said she was the only one then goes on to saying he did it to other kids so wich one is it? This can happend to any person who works with children i see teachers rubbing on the kids tying theyr shoes and even zipping theyr pants look at facts before u judge and look at the change of story too the parents jumped roght into conclusions without paying attention to theyr child like they said they did she never said she was being molested

mridk - 4/23/2015 9:31 AM
0 Votes
Some of you are just plain idiots so quik to judge without knowing the whole story im not ddefending him but im not also saying hes not guilty but to live with that thought and reputation of just being accused it would of ended his career any way im just saying read the reports line by line she did not say he touched her private parts im waiting to hear thw whole story before judging and this suppose to be the bible belt yet mostly hipocrates quuk to judge someone

MamaDragon - 4/22/2015 11:40 PM
0 Votes
That UNLICENSED so called "Computer Teacher" killed himself because a brave little girl FINALLY told on him. That child's reputation is PRISTINE! She has never been known to be a liar and is incredibly community minded and caring for one so young. She is also VERY bright and knows and understands what her allegations meant and stood by them even after intense and intimidating questioning. SHE GAVE COURAGE TO OTHER CHILDREN TO COME FORWARD. This was just a coward's way of giving her brain ONE MORE FONDLE! You people defending him? Better question any of YOUR CHILDREN you trusted this jerk around!

MamaDragon - 4/22/2015 11:39 PM
0 Votes
That UNLICENSED so called "Computer Teacher" killed himself because a brave little girl FINALLY told on him. That child's reputation is PRISTINE! She has never been known to be a liar and is incredibly community minded and caring for one so young. She is also VERY bright and knows and understands what her allegations meant and stood by them even after intense and intimidating questioning. SHE GAVE COURAGE TO OTHER CHILDREN TO COME FORWARD. This was just a coward's way of giving her brain ONE MORE FONDLE! You people defending him? Better question any of YOUR CHILDREN you trusted this jerk around!

MamaDragon - 4/22/2015 11:37 PM
0 Votes
That ASS killed himself because a brave little girl FINALLY told on him. That child's reputation is PRISTINE! She has never been known to be a liar and is incredibly community minded and caring for one so young. She is also VERY bright and knows and understands what her allegations meant and stood by them even after intense and intimidating questioning. SHE GAVE COURAGE TO OTHER CHILDREN TO COME FORWARD. This was just a coward's way of giving her brain ONE MORE FONDLE! You people defending him? Better question any of YOUR CHILDREN you trusted this jerk around!

MaureenK - 4/22/2015 9:12 PM
0 Votes
An innocent person wouldn't kill themselves...He was suspended by the School but not investigated nor charged by the Police so why would you do this.... Guilty person would do this as they know their secret is out and they would have too much to lose. Why assume that a child is lying,very elaborate story for a lie...If lying why not go the whole hog and accuse him of something worse. Seems very valid to me and his actions do nothing but prove he was in the wrong... Hopefully he left two notes,one declaring his guilt..

georgia mom - 4/22/2015 6:04 PM
1 Vote
This is so very sad. Sad if it is true and he did it out of guilt. Even more sad if he was falsely accused and knowing that once accused, people would always look at him as guilty no matter what. How devastating to see suicide as the only solution. Praying for everyone involved.
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