History Of Firsts At NewsChannel 5 - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

History Of Firsts At NewsChannel 5


NewsChannel 5 signed on the air as WLAC-TV in 1954.  In 1975, the call letters were changed to WTVF-TV.  August 6, 2004 marked 50 years of excellence for the NewsChannel 5 Network.  Here are just a few of the highlights and milestones through the years:

NewsChannel 5 Network

August 6, 1954

  • The station went on air with call letters WLAC-TV from its studios at 159 4th Avenue North in downtown Nashville .
  • The original owners were T.B. Baker, Jr., Alvin G. Beaman, Jr., and Life and Casualty Insurance Co.
  • WLAC-TV was the 93rd CBS affiliated station in the United States .
  • The station signed on with the first full-height tower in Tennessee .

August 22, 1954

  • WLAC-TV aired its first color telecast when CBS aired The Ed Sullivan Show on closed circuit.
  • The only color telecast from CBS for many years was the "The Red Skelton Show".


  • WLAC-TV hired the first female weather person in Nashville , Jean Hughes.


  • On September 9th, WLAC-TV was the first Nashville television station to use radar in its weather presentation. This was 14 years before any of our competitors.

The Mid 60's

  • The Rhythm and Blues Show "Night Train" was produced at WLAC-TV. It was a popular entertainment show, showcasing famous artists that included Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Gladys Knight, Wilson Pickett, and Otis Redding.


  • WLAC-TV was the first television station to provide statewide live election coverage during a state election.


  • WLAC-TV broadcast the first local news story using color film.


  • On September 28th, WLAC-TV moved to its present location at 474 James Rob ertson Parkway in downtown Nashville.
  • We broadcast news from our first "news set" at the new location.
  • The first locally produced network television program, "The Boots Randolph Show" on ABC, was videotaped at Channel 5 studios.


  • On June 15th, CBS Television bought "Hee Haw", a summer replacement show for CBS. It was taped at Channel 5 until 1980. The show became a network hit and was a highly successful syndicated program.


  • WLAC-TV hired the first African American sportscaster, Bill Perkins, on Nashville television.

1969 - 1970

  • WLAC-TV originated the concept of Snow Watch for reporting school closings during inclement winter.


  • WLAC-TV hired the first female feature reporter in the Nashville area, Ruth Ann Leach.


  • WLAC-TV hired the first female news co-anchor in the Nashville area, Oprah Winfrey.
  • In October, WLAC-TV was the first television station in Tennessee and the second television station in the United States to operate a live microwave news vehicle for news gathering.

December 1, 1975

  • The station was purchased by Channel Two Television, Inc. of Houston, Texas and the call letters were changed to WTVF.


  • WTVF-TV broadcast the first Colorscan radar on Nashville television.


  • WTVF-TV's first satellite antenna was installed.


  • WTVF-TV debuted "Talk of the Town," a midday talk/entertainment program.Twenty-five years later, it is the longest running locally-produced talk show in the country.


  • On September 5th, WTVF became the first Nashville TV station to operate a satellite truck. This step revolutionized our news gathering capabilities.


  • WTVF-TV was the first Nashville television station to broadcast in stereo. On February 25th, The 28th Annual Grammy Awards from CBS aired in stereo.


  • The station was purchased by Landmark Communications, Inc., based in Norfolk, VA. WTVF became Landmark Television of Tennessee, Inc.


  • In October, NewsChannel 5 launched NewsChannel 5 Online, the station's web site. It was one of the first local television web sites in the country.


  • NewsChannel 5 introduced "SKYCAM" - a remote-controlled, live camera covering Nashville from atop Nashville 's tallest building, the BellSouth Building.


  • NewsChannel 5 added a second "SKYCAM" on the BellSouth Building .
  • In September, NewsChannel 5 introduced NewsChannel 5+, an all news and information cable channel.
  • NewsChannel 5 Online was the first local web site to offer school closings online - Snow Watch.


  • On April 14th, NewsChannel 5 launched NewsChannel 5 Radio, featuring live local news and information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


  • On April 16th, NewsChannel 5 witnessed a tornado in Downtown Nashville that took the station off the air. Our engineers were quickly able to get the station back on the air from our transmitter site, where Chris Clark and Ron Howes broadcast live.
  • NewsChannel 5 Online launched streaming video, a first in the Nashville market.


  • WTVF-TV, Landmark Television of Tennessee changed its name to the NewsChannel 5 Network.
  • NewsChannel 5.com provided full-scale coverage of Metro local elections for the first time.


  • NewsChannel 5 launched "Storm Target 5", the latest technology in weather forecasting with 3-D capabilities.


  • In March, the news department launched an additional news bureau called Williamson AM in partnership with the Tennessean.
  • Odetics, a new master control automation system, became fully functional on February 19th.
  • On November 5th, NewsChannel 5 became the first television station in the Nashville market to broadcast a signal in high definition, or HDTV.
  • NewsChannel 5 debuted the first 4:00pm newscast on Nashville TV, NewsChannel 5 at 4:00.


  • NewsChannel 5 Network was the first Nashville television station to have more viewers than any other station in every single newscast in a rating period - and we achieved this twice, in May and July.


  • NewsChannel 5 photojournalist Bud Nelson was named national Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA).
  • The NewsChannel 5 Investigative Unit, Phil Williams and Bryan Staples, were recognized nationally with the George Polk Award for excellence in journalism.
  • NewsChannel 5 Network was recognized as the Television News Photography Station of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association.NewsChannel 5 is the first television station in the state of Tennessee to earn this honor.


  • NewsChannel 5's Joe Fryer and Bud Nelson were recognized with a national Edward R. Murrow Award by the RTNDA.
  • The NewsChannel 5 Investigative Unit, Phil Williams and Bryan Staples, won the duPont-Columbia University Award for broadcast journalism.
  • NewsChannel 5 Network celebrated its 50th Anniversary serving Middle Tennessee.


  • The NewsChannel 5 Network is awarded the Emmy for News Excellence by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Nashville/MidSouth chapter.  The award recognizes the best local news television station in our region.
  • The NewsChannel 5 Investigates team was awarded the prestigious Peabody Award for "Friends in High Places."  The Peabody is the broadcast equivalent to a Pulitzer Prize.
  • NewsChannel 5 Wireless was launched, making NewsChannel 5 one of the first TV stations with a WAP page for smartphone users.


  • NewsChannel 5 is recognized with the News Excellence Emmy for the second straight year.
  • NewsChannel 5 launches Sky 5 - Middle Tennessee's first and only live news helicopter.


  • NewsChannel 5 is recognized with the News Excellence Emmy for the third straight year.
  • NewsChannel 5 begins broadcasting local news in high definition.  We are the first station in Tennessee to broadcast in HD.

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