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Our Television History

Our Rhode Island Television Heritage

WJAR-TV signed on for the first time on July 10, 1949, broadcasting on channel 11. It was Rhode Island's first television station and the fourth in New England. It was owned by The Outlet Company, a department store chain headquartered in Providence, along with WJAR radio (AM 920, now WHJJ; and FM 95.5, now occupied by WLVO). In 1952, after hearing about repeated instances of interference in Connecticut between WJAR-TV and New York City's WPIX (also on channel 11), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s Sixth Report and Order changed the television allocations for Providence and forced the station to move to channel 10, which it did in the spring of 1953. At that time, WJAR's coverage area increased, since the interference with WPIX had been rectified.

WJAR-TV initially carried programming from all four networks of the time (NBC, ABCDuMont, and CBS), but has always been a primary NBC affiliate due to WJAR radio's long affiliation with NBC Radio. Despite this, WJAR only carried a little more than half of NBC's program schedule during its early years on the air; WJAR also broadcast about half of the CBS network schedule and a couple of shows each from ABC and DuMont every week. It lost ABC in 1953 when WNET-TV (channel 16, now WNAC-TV on channel 64) signed on, and lost CBS in 1955 when WPRO-TV (now WPRI-TV) launched. When WNET-TV went dark in 1956, WJAR shared ABC programming with WPRO-TV until WTEV (now WLNE-TV) signed on in 1963. During the late 1950s, WJAR-TV was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.[1] In 1954, WJAR-TV received national attention for its coverage of Hurricane Carol; newsreel films shot by WJAR cameramen of the storm and its aftermath not only appeared on the station, but also fed to CBS and NBC for use on their evening news programs.

Above information credited to Wikipedia


Television History:

Television, hard to find a household, restaurant, doctors office or retail store without one.  Favorite television show, actors and movies are a commonly asked question in small talk, on-line forms and facebook “who we are” section. Local on-air talent brings the same draw.  We each have our favorite newscaster, meteorologist or sports reporter that we invite into our homes each day. 

The word “Television” is derived from the Greek words meaning “far” and “sight”.  The word shortened to reference television was “TV” that started to be heard around 1948.

Electronic television, from the 1930’s used Tubes to transmit images.  Electronic television was the only method of broadcasting until digital and internet based was introduced in the 1990’s.  Electronic television is pretty much a thing of the past now with the digital and internet more prominent.

Television dates back to 1926.  Interestingly, the advertisements did not start airing until around 1941.  The first paid television advertisement aired on WNBT (now WNBC).  The ad was for Bulova Watches and aired just before the broadcast of the Brooklyn Dodgers & Philadelphia Phillies game.

In 1944 the American Broadcasters Company (ABC) formed.  1945 saw National Broadcasting Company (NBC) telecast in the United States. 

1946 introduced the RCA premier of the electronic color television set.  In 1947 families watched Howdy Doody, Kraft Television Theatre and Meet the Press.  The advertisement of DeBeers’ “A Diamond if Forever” aired.  The World Series was broadcast live and the 1st parade ever, The Tournament of Roses was televised.  And in 1948, The Ed Sullivan Show debuted.  1948 the 1st Primetime Emmy Awards were shown.

Over the years there have been so many changes to how we get our news, weather and emergency information.  Social media platforms have taken the world by storm.  But somehow, the age of television never goes away.  It is the heartbeat of our lives when there is tragedy, glory and entertainment.  We go to our television sets to laugh, cry and feel the sense of companionship with the rest of the world.

Lori Needham, President

Rhode Island Broadcasters Association

11 South Angell Street

Providence, Rhode Island 02906




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