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
Omega watches - 7/2/2015 3:55 AM
0 Votes
Who the crap cares? Really, does anyone have a life? Wake up Americans! This is all but need! The real news is that we need a freaking Revolution in this country. The flags upside down and everyone is worried about what happened at Wal-Mart! Get a clue and open your glazed over media loving eye's!

marilynh - 7/1/2015 4:02 PM
0 Votes
There is always 3 sides to a story! One person never tells the whole truth! Hopefully the tape will be released so we will be able to see who is telling the truth!

rjl3775 - 7/1/2015 10:23 AM
0 Votes
THIS REPORT is total BS! I was there when this happened, this woman was wanting to start a fight with everyone and was screaming at the top of her vulgar lungs! they should have arrested her instead of escorting her out. the news is really going downhill, I would like to know how you can do a piece based solely of what a person tells you , without doing any background on this person...if they did they would see she is not miss goody 2 shoes!

Snoopyradio - 7/1/2015 9:20 AM
0 Votes
I think Dalton has a great police department. The officers put the needs of the community above their own in many cases. I have great confidence in them, and I know if I am pulled over I will be treated fairly.

sjdeb1 - 6/30/2015 9:09 PM
0 Votes
I just want to say Thank you to the Dalton Police Department and all the officer's that put their life on the line every day to serve and protect our community. Keep up the good work!!!

garste1 - 6/30/2015 3:28 PM
0 Votes
The Dalton Police Department is a joke. They blocked off streets for this group of thugs who didn't file the proper paper work to have a parade/procession as they should have! That violates Dalton's city ordinances! They should have arrested these thugs! If this had been black or hispanics having an impromptu procession down the busiest street in Dalton, the Dalton Police Department would have locked them away no questions asked. The Dalton PD is a "good ole boys" network and apparently the self proclaimed Ruff Ryders who took over the streets of our town on Sunday are a part of that network. The Dalton Police Department is a disgrace and should be ashamed for condoning this!!

DawnParsons - 6/30/2015 1:59 PM
0 Votes
Someone found a min pin type dog, a little fuller bodied than most and took him to McKamey.

Horace Gunn - 6/28/2015 8:18 PM
0 Votes
This Mr. Rawlston character sounds like he's projecting his own spinelessness, in direct contrast to real people who actually believe in something important.

Dallas1017 - 6/27/2015 6:50 PM
0 Votes
I am so thankful for Neal Pinkston and the others who are so dedicated to solve these cases. My sons, Dallas Nelson, cold case was a hopeless situation until the Cold Case Unit was established. If there are people who have given up hope about their case, please contact the Cold Case Unit. We also have a support group, Cold Case Families that meet on the last Friday of each month

Here2Opine - 6/27/2015 2:48 PM
0 Votes
It's about time!
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