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Station History

In the 1950s, a group of rival business interests teamed up to win the first TV license for Chattanooga, Tennessee.

WDEF-TV signed on the air in April 25, 1954. At that point, the station aired programming from four national networks, along with numerous local programs.

One of those shows was hosted by a man who was already a star on radio, Luther Masingill. He continued working on both WDEF TV and radio until his death in 2014 at the age of 92. Luther, as he was known on the air, holds the mark for longest broadcast career at 74 years. He was live on the air for both the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1942 and 9-11 in 2001. He received two Marconi awards, the National Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame and many other awards.

Those early shows ran a gamut of daytime talk shows, teen dance shows, horror movie showcases and even live wrestling in the same studio where we did the news.

After volatile changes in the early days, WDEF settled into more stable ownership. Park Communications (1963-1997), Medial General (1997-2006) and Morris Multimedia (2006-present). In the breakup of Park Communications in 1997, WDEF radio and TV were sold to different companies.

During the Morris era, WDEF has changed to High Definition, Digital broadcasting and added an online presence, including social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn. The station now broadcasts five hours of local news on weekdays, with the market’s only live, local newscast at 7:00PM Eastern/6:00PM Central.

In 2018, WDEF launched a new News set which incorporates local community elements and architectural cues from the Choo Choo, Tennessee Aquarium, and other iconic sites.

In addition to CBS programming, WDEF now broadcasts 5 digital channels.

WDEF continues to serve the community as a dedicated marketing partner offering a full suite of on-air and online services.

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