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
xbeltech - 8/26/2015 8:18 AM
0 Votes
Of course, Murray County DFCS has no comment ! What did you expect !

gumball56 - 8/25/2015 10:22 PM
0 Votes
In many cases, private property owner rights can and do trump the U.S. Constitution--Oddly enough this company can discriminate against her for something she said but a Christian bakery must go out of business and pay huge fines for declining to bake a cake for a gay wedding which is not within their religious beliefs--and the property owner is well within their rights to take the actions they did. Of course, such decisions are not made in a vacuum and are not free for the property owners to make. The general public has the RIGHT to decide to NO LONGER do business with that property management company ANYWHERE for their actions. I have made such a decision and have notified the property owners and the Belk company of my decision. It is up to "We The People" to band together and show solidarity and fight back against these PC companies who seek to take away our rights to our free speech as guaranteed under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. Should we continue to act as "Sheeple" and simply roll over and allow these infringements into our rights, then these companies will continue to take away more and more of our rights! I support Heidi Grubbs and I support he right to express her feelings in whatever manner she desires. Other individuals and groups do not care if they offend US, so it is about time that WE started dishing the same back to the PC crowd! I am steadfast in my decision to NO LONGER patronize Belks or any CBL property. With others joining me and POLITELY telling both companies that they are doing the same thing, I am quite certain that both these companies will see the error of their ways and reverse their decisions!

dawning - 8/21/2015 8:59 AM
0 Votes
Found reports filed under this number at https://www.callercenter.com/202-381-2728.html. I think we can just ignore every call comes from number we don't recognize. If it's important, they will leave messages. If not, just ignore the number or block it if possible.

Aunt Gigi - 8/20/2015 8:53 PM
0 Votes
My husband and I both received calls from this number today. We did not answer them. When we tried to call the number back it says the call cannot be completed. Is there anything we should do to protect ourselves?

Bobby Graves - 8/20/2015 5:57 PM
0 Votes
Too bad the police and security people inside the stadium were telling people to leave after about 1/2 hour into the delay or I would have stayed and got my $400 worth of soccer game. There were thousands that left that we saw as a result when obviously the staff wasn't on the same sheet of music of what decisions were being made. That is also why the stadium declared the game "free" after the delay too. Needed to crowd build again after they run half of the fans off. Why didn't the stadium use the PA system to keep staff and fans informed during the delay?? Thanks for turning that into an awful, disappointing experience Finley event organizers.

Mars Cfl - 8/20/2015 1:00 PM
0 Votes
STREET RACING IS A national problems, our hope is to raise awareness and help open minds everywhere we go. Our son’s paid the ultimate price, there life. To keep their memory alive and to know they did not die in vain, our voice will be an outreach & sharing our stories will be part of our healing. Laurie Broadus MARS CFL INC President Have a plan in place if you choose to street race, and be ready to see Gods face

Concessions - 8/20/2015 11:08 AM
0 Votes
What if we could order our popcorn and drinks right from our seats in these luxury theaters? http://concessionsondemand.com

Lionlover - 8/19/2015 8:35 PM
0 Votes
my son is part of this show. It is not on the road, it is organized and I am PROUD of him.. Racing like this is not racing on the roads.

Marco Ramius - 8/19/2015 7:38 PM
1 Vote
Meanwhile in Iraq and Syria Isis is cutting Christians heads off daily. Isis is throwing homosexuals off roofs and burning people alive,raping little girls all under there Islamic beliefs. Peaceful religion huh?

Shak78 - 8/19/2015 4:37 PM
0 Votes
Her rights were not violated. The Government many not infringe on speech but a private company may and Tennessee is a Right to work state so they can fire her for anything. I used to live in Chattanooga and loved it there, even as a Muslim. She used her free speech and is paying the price for it. With speech comes consequences.
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