Channel 6, Omaha
First Air Date: August 29, 1949
Operating Power: 16.2 KW ERP
Original Call Letters: WOW TV
Network Affiliation: NBC
General Manager: John J. Gillin, Jr.
News Director: Soren Munkhof or Harold Baker
Chief Engineer: Joseph Herold
Date of FCC Issue: February 2, 1948
Issued To: Radio WOW, Inc.
Through the Years
May 3, 1944- Radio Station WOW, Inc, Omaha, files application with the Federal Communications Commission for commercial television station construction permit.
May 23, 1946- “Pending further study” of various phases of television, WOW, Inc, requests that its application be withdrawn.
May 27, 1946- FCC grants the May 23rd request.
December, 1946- Radio Station WOW and Creighton University begin an experimental closed circuit TV broadcasting at a studio set up in the Creighton Auditorium.
January 10, 1947- First exhibition of television in Omaha. WOW and Creighton stage a closed circuit of the Creighton-Wichita State basketball game.
May, 1947- First night baseball game telecast, at American Legion Park in Council Bluffs.
May 12, 1947- First surgical telecast in the Midwest, in an operating room at Creighton Memorial St. Joseph’s Hospital to members of the hospital staff gathered in a nearby auditorium.
June, 1947- First series of television spot announcements ever made in Omaha were filmed by WOW-TV technicians for the Perfex Company.
December 26, 1947- WOW Radio, Inc. files application with the FCC for commercial television station construction permit.
January 30, 1948- Construction permit is granted by the FCC.
June, 1948- Nation’s first televised dental operation. Televised before the Creighton University Summer Radio Institute.
August, 1948- Technicians send TV picture via microwave links from Creighton Studio to top of the Blackstone Hotel and relayed to WOW studios at WOW insurance building at 17th & Farnam.
November 1, 1948- Construction is completed on a 527 foot tower at 35th & Farnam.
December, 1948- WOW-TV’s custom-built mobile unit is delivered.
July 1, 1949- Johnny Gillin, President & General Manager of Radio Station WOW, Inc., turns on WOW-TV transmitter at 9:45 p.m. for the area’s first open-circuit experimental telecast. Its the first time television could be viewed by Nebraska TV set owners on an open circuit.
July 19, 1949- First WOW-TV telecast of a program using the WOW-TV cameras.
August 29th, 1949- “TV Day”!! WOW-TV officially begins daily commercial telecasting, becoming the first TV station in five Midwestern states of Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas South Dakota and North Dakota. WOW-TV’s first programming schedule includes operation from 11 a.m. till 1p.m.; from 2pm-4:45pm and from 5:45pm till 9pm….a total of eight hours daily. Station begins broadcasting of NBC-TV Network programs on Kinescope delay.
September 29, 1949- Boystown-Scottsbluff High School football game is telecast.
Johnny Gillin, President and General Manager of WOW, Inc., and broadcasting pioneer, dies while on Wisconsin vacation. In recognition of his years of service to the industry, Mr. Gillin was named in 1954 to the “Broadcasting Hall of Fame,” the first practical broadcaster to be so honored.
August 21, 1950- Frank P. Fogerty, former Vice-President of Paxton Gallagher, Omaha is named General Manager of Radio Station WOW, Inc.
September 1, 1950- WOW-TV joins the Dumont Television Network.
September 30, 1950- WOW-TV was connected via microwave to Chicago and New York for Live NBC programming. Previously, network programs were carried on kinescope delay.
September 29, 1951- Meredith Corporation of Des Moines, IA buys WOW-TV and radio from WOW Radio, Inc.
February, 1953- WOW-TV increases to Maximum power- 100,000 watts video, 50,000 watts audio, and is the first Midwestern station, and only the sixth in the nation to do so.
December 20, 1953- First TV station in the area to broadcast in color.
January 1, 1956- Station changes network affiliation from NBC to CBS.
January, 2, 1957- WOW-TV telecasts the first feature from 700-film MGM package and wins over 90% of the audience with “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.”
April, 1957- WOW-TV wins a Peabody Award along with radio WOW for documentary on water conservations “Regimented Raindrops Two”.
February 19th, 1959- Station purchases Ampex Videotape machine and becomes the first commercial station in Nebraska with this new technology.
July, 1, 1959- Station installs a new transmitter.
July 6, 1959- Plans are announced for a new building addition to house WOW-TV, Radio WOW and WOW-FM under one roof.
August 29, 1959- WOW-TV observes it’s 10th anniversary by breaking ground for the new building at 35th & Farnam.
WOW-TV’s expanded facilities and studios are completed at 35th & Farnam, allowing WOW radio to move into the new building as well.
April 29, 1960- Meredith Broadcasting Co. is formed. Will locate in Omaha with Frank P., Fogarty as Executive Vice-President.
May 9, 1960- New system of individual station managers are announced as C. A. “Al” Larson is named manager for WOW-TV and W.O. “Bill” Wiseman is manager for Radio WOW.
October 17, 1960- First day’s operations in the new facilities.
January 17, 1962- Time Capsule is sealed.
February 25, 1963- Bill McBride is appointed general manager of Meredith WOW, Inc.
August 1, 1963- Howard Stalnaker is appointed vice president of Meredith WOW, Inc.
April, 12, 1965- Stalnaker is elected a vice president and member of the board of Meredith Broadcasting; Frank P. Fogarty is appointed president of Meredith Broadcasting Co.
June, 1965- WOW-TV purchased and installed color film and slide projection equipment
July 5, 1965- WOW-TV inaugurated its color telecasting with a “Color Movie Holiday,” an entire evening of color feature films from 6:30-Midnight.
February 18, 1966- Station received its first color television camera, an RCA TK-41C. First test colorcast of a live program was the 10 pm “TV News Roundup” on March 2nd. Regular colorcasting of live programs began on Sunday, March 6, 1966.
April 27, 1966- Public announcement that the FCC had granted construction permits to three Omaha VHF stations for tall towers on the “tower farm” at 72nd & Crown Point.
June 30, 1966- William O. “Bill” Wiseman retired.
November, 1966- A new 1,358-foot tower was completed on the new 55-acre tower farm with two other Omaha TV stations at 72nd and Crown Point Avenue.
July, 1975- WOW-TV is sold by Meredith Corporation to Chronicle Broadcasting Co. of San Francisco. The call letters change from WOW to WOWT. Normally, Channel 6 would have had to adopt a callsign starting with “K” when it changed its call letters, since the WOW call letters had been assigned before the current K/W dividing line was moved to the Mississippi River. However, Chronicle wanted to continue the WOW calls, and got a waiver from the FCC to retain a “W” in its calls. To this day, WOWT is one of the westernmost stations with a call sign starting with “W.”
August, 1976-Electronic news gathering is introduced to the Omaha for the first time by WOWT as “Action Cam”. WOWT is the first Omaha station capable of doing live news by microwave truck.
WOWT’s State News Bureau opens in Lincoln with a microwave link to Omaha.
January 8, 1980- the 5pm newscast debuts.
September 13, 1982- WOWT goes on the air 24 hours/day, the first Omaha TV station to do so.
June 13, 1985- WOWT becomes the first Omaha TV station to broadcast in stereo.
Station becomes one of just 30 stations in the country to have a satellite news gathering system with a mobile satellite uplink vehicle called “Newstar Six” allowing live reports from anywhere in the country.
June 29, 1986- WOWT leaves CBS and rejoins the NBC Network. CBS goes to KMTV, Channel 3.
January, 1989- WOWT upgrades from 3/4 inch video cassettes and adds Mil stereo commercial cart machine and Mil news camera and playback.
WOWT newsroom is computerized and robotic cameras are installed in the studio.
Closed captioning is now available in local WOWT newscasts for the hearing impaired.
Station launched WOWT.com and became the first TV station in Omaha with a website.
August, 1996- WOWT launches 4pm newscast.
November, 1997- WOWT news starts shooting all news stories on DVC Pro digital video tape.
WOWT transitions from tape-to-tape editing to non-linear video editing for newscast content.
Benedek Broadcasting buys WOWT from Chronicle Publishing Company.
Gray Television purchases WOWT from Benedek Broadcasting.
December, 2002- WOWT begins simulcasting on its’ new HDTV digital transmitter.
October, 2005- WOWT adds its first digital sub-channel as a UPN affiliate.
February 17, 2009- After nearly 60 years of analog broadcasting, WOWT shuts down its analog transmitter and broadcast in Digital going forward.
Station launched Ross Overdrive automation in studio control room allowing one person to operate all aspects of the newscast production including audio, video, graphics and robotic cameras.