WECT celebrates 55 years in the making

Updated: Apr. 9, 2009 at 3:33 PM EDT
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Reported by Bob Townsend - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Happy 55th Birthday, WECT!

History was made in Wilmington in 1954 when WECT, the Port City's first television station, began.

Though a lot has taken place over the year, the initial mission of the station remains the same.

In 1954, Marilyn Monroe was popular in the movies, Elvis was starting his recording career, and Wilmingtonians welcomed television into their homes.

Originally named WMFD, Channel Six began broadcasting five hours per day.  The organization was only the 7th television station in North Carolina during a time when there were only about 10,000 TV sets in the entire viewing area.

From a single studio, on the third floor on the local phone company on Princess Street, WMFD, owned by the Dunlea family of Wilmington, brought the world into about ten thousand households.

Early commercials meant a lot of live commercials, including a lot of appliance sales.

Equipment was limited. There was no remote equipment in those days. For Azalea Festival coverage, the station's single camera was disassembled, lowered out the window, rolled to the parade route, and then returned back upstairs.

It was three years after sign on when the Cameron Family bought WMFD, changed the name to Atlantic Telecasting Company and the call letters became WECT.

We also got a new home on Shipyard Boulevard, a new tower in Delco, and twice the amount of viewers.

Some of the big local news stories in our coverage life have been the opening of the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, intergration of the local schools, interstate 40 coming to the coast, the arrival of the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial, and following the growth and development of a young high school basketball player who rose to greatness in the NBA.

There was also Hurricane Hazel, that hit the area just six months after we signed on.

A new 2 thousand foot tower in Bladen County enabled even more viewers to enjoy more programs from NBC, more news from NBC, and of course, local news, brought to you thru the years by anchors like Bob West, the esso reporter, Ben McDonald with the news, and for many years, by the late Ken Murphy.

Wayne Jackson was one of the first employees at the station, and stayed around for thirty five years.  And who could forget afternoons, with the one and only Jim Burns.

We still cover the news, just like our former employees did in 1954, but now a little easier, thanks for the latest, cutting edge technology, the typewriter long gone, replaced by the computer, the film replaced by tape and now replaced by p-2 cards.

The latest change in television, last year's switch from analog to digital television.

We get the news on quicker, faster, more details, more pictures, more of what you need to know.

But despite the advances, our mission has never wavered: to serve the public. Thanks to the viewers the future looks bright for the future of WECT.

©2009 WECT. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.