NewsChannel 12 History

"On September 7th 1963, New Bern’s new television station WNBE-TV operating on Channel 12, went on the air Saturday morning ; at 7:45 o'clock with a medium amount of technical difficulties."

Most of the technical difficulties actually started in 1954 with the filing of the application.

WNBE New Building
From the New Bern Sun Journal; Tuesday, April 25, 1961:
New Bern’s new television station, WNBE-TV, will soon be a reality, says an announcement made by Nathan Frank, of Henderson, president of the Henderson Broadcasting Corporation and licensee of the new station. Mr. Frank filed the application for the station with the Federal communication Commission in 1954.

Since the application was filed there have been delays in getting site approvals for the antenna, says Mr. Frank. Many hearings and conferences were held during the six years the application has been on file. The problems had to be cleared with the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, airlines, pilot associations, the Federal Aviation Agency, and WRVA-TV, Richmond, VA. Nathan Frank (1954)Originally Channel 13 was assigned to New Bern. On its own motion in 1958, the Federal Communication commission transferred Channel 13 to Norfolk in a move to shift channels, and assigned Channel 12 to New Bern.

In making the channel changes it became necessary to find a new site for the erection of the antenna that would not hinder the operations of the vast military installations which dot the extreme eastern part of North Carolina. The height of the antenna was the biggest objection. WNBE-TV will operate on the same channel as WRVA-TV in Richmond. WRVA-TV objected to New Bern’s operation on the grounds of mileage separation.

In a conference with attorneys for Mr. Frank and WRVA-TV, along with engineers in Washington on April 11, both WRVA-TV and WNBE-TV agreed upon certain engineering conditions. In making the agreement WRVA-TV withdrew all objections previously attached to Mr. Frank’s application.

This removed the last technical problem encountered by Mr. Frank during the six years the application has been on file. In conferences and hearings held by the Air Space Nathan Frank (1963)Committee in Washington, Atlanta and Fort Worth, along with memebers of the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Army, Federal aviation agency, Pilots association and airlines concerned, all other problems had been previously cleared. A full grant for the construction should be ready within a few weeks, says Mr. Frank.

The new station will be housed in one of the most modern buildings designed especially for television. It will have the latest equipment available, says Mr. Frank, including transmitter for color programs. Mr. Frank is known to may New Bernians, having lived here 22 years.

Mrs. Frank is the former Margaret Hurst of New Bern. The Franks have two children, Dr. Claye Frank, executive vice president of the Henderson Broadcasting Corporation which operates WHNC-AM and WHNC-FM in Henderson, and Jo Ann Frank, general manager of the Twin City Broadcasting Corporation which operated WCNF of Roanoke Rapids-Weldon.

Work Underway On Television Station In City

From the New Bern Sun Journal; Wednesday, Jan. 30, 1963:
New Bern’s new television station, WNBE, is well under construction, says Nathan Frank of Henderson, president of the Piedmont Television Corporation which is to be the owner and operator of the new facility.

Foundations of the transmitter building have been laid and flooring and walls are under construction. Tower foundation are in the process of being constructed and should be completed around February 25, at which time construction of the tower will begin. The tower, to support the RCA 12-Bay Super Turnstile antenna, is being manufactured by Stainless, Inc., of North Wales, Pa, under the direct supervision of its engineering department.

Target date for ‘On the Air’ will be announced as soon as possible, Mr. Frank said. Weather factors, he said, must be taken into consideration, particularly the unexpected storms that have harassed this section of North Carolina. The most important construction is being done outdoors with the erection of the tower and antenna that will rise high above the Glenburnie property.

September 1st Is Named For New Bern Television
From the New Bern Sun Journal, Wednesday, July 24th, 1963:
Fast nearing completion, New Bern’s new television station is expected to begin its service to the Greenville – New Bern – Washington area from its location in the Glenburnie Gardens section of New Bern on September 1.

Radio Corporation of America (RCA) engineers are now installing the very latest in equipment produced by their corporation. Included are anchors, the tower base and other necessary installations for the big tower which is expected to reach completion in about three weeks.

Trained professional personnel has been selected during the past week in interviews conducted by the Station Manager, Don L. Pierce, assisted by Pat Arnoux, Program Director for the station. The new building, it is said, is of the most modern design to be found anywhere in the South.

Interior decorators and designers are now working under the direction of Mrs. Margaret Frank in selecting the most complimentary and attractive color schemes for floor tile, draperies and accessories. The total investment here will be over a million dollars and the annual payroll will be over $400,000, says Mr. Frank. More than 32 new families will be brought to New Bern when the station begins full operation.

A completely new world of television entertainment is being promised the people of Eastern North Carolina when the new station is in operation.

WNBE is to be a primary affiliate of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) television network providing news and information as well as entertainment. The promise is a completely new network program schedule with the full programs going into more than a quarter of a million homes in the area. When the new television station goes on the air it will climax ten years of hearings before the Federal Communications Commission and the Air Space Committee and the overcoming of many obstacles which have prevented the earlier erection of the station. All objections have now been met and WNBE-TV is to become a reality on Sept. 1. A few months later the air was alive with the first television signal in the New Bern area.

New Bern Television Station In Operation
From the Sun Journal; Monday, Sept. 9, 1963:
New Bern’s new television station, WNBE-TV operation on Channel 12, went on the air Saturday morning (Sept. 7th) at 7:45 o’clock with a medium amount of technical difficulties, said John Stikes, Promotion Director, today.

Shortly thereafter the television station invited the public to an Open House and Grand Opening on Sunday, September 23, 1963 from 2-5 p.m.

Reportedly there was an enormous turnout
From the Associated Press, Sunday, Sept. 22, 1963:
An estimated 23,000 persons took advantage of yesterday's open house to tour the facilities of television station WNBE-TV in New Bern. Special guests of the station, when went on air September 7th, included mayors of nearby communities, commanding officers of Marine installations at Cherry Points and Camp Lejeune and Adjutant General Claude Bowers of the North Carolina National Guard. The station is owned by Peidmont Television Corperation.

June 15th, 1970
Forms are received back from the FCC approving to change WNBE's call letters to WCTI that will reflect the stations new ownership under Continental Television Incorporated.

The next major development for WCTI was the addition of a new tower.

WCTI Gets New Tower
From the New Bern Sun Journal; Wednesday, April 15, 1981:
Area television viewers will now receive improved reception, thanks to a new transmitter just completed by WCTI television in New Bern.

WCTI’s new tower went into full-time operation Monday, according to the station’s Vice-President and General Manager Bill Jenkins. The station had been conducting test transmissions from the new tower since April 3rd. About 400,000 area viewers will receive a sharper signal, due to the new tower, said Jenkins.

About 218,000 people will receive WCTI-WCTI for the first time, including residents in Wilmington, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Nashville, and this side of Raleigh, he said. The new 2,000 foot tower, located about four miles north of Trenton, will replace the station’s current 1,000 foot tower, located about five miles south of the new facility. The new tower, weighing 1.79 million pounds, employs an RCA tetracoil antenna with ‘circular polarization and a new more powerful Harris transmitter,’ according to WCTI officials.

The multi-million-dollar investment was reportedly the product of over three years of proceedings with the Federal ; Communications Commission.

WCTI would like to thank the Craven Regional Library for the archive materials used herein. We would also like to thank Miss Jo Ann Frank for her help with researching the station’s history.

Miss Frank is the daughter of Mr. Nathan Frank, original owner of the station. Miss Jo Ann Frank was also a hostess for "The Early Show" that aired on WCTI at 9:30 a.m. weekdays.

From the New Bern Sun Journal:
Miss Jo Ann Frank, is the charming and petite emcee of the Early Show, Channel 12, New Bern. She was born in New Bern. Graduating from the Henderson High School. She studied at Woman’s College at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Wake Forest College and is a graduate of Richmond professional Institute of William & Mary College.

Jo Ann has a special appeal to the female viewers and supplies the information that keeps them coming back for more on "The Early Show" at 9 a.m. which is aired every day on channel 12, New Bern and features a full length movie selected especially for the ladies. On Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2:00pm Jo Ann has another show, "Open House." She discusses with your friends and neighbors, historical sites, doll making, flower arrangements, dancing, candle making and many other interesting features."

WCTI is proud of the history it has in Eastern North Carolina, from our start in 1963 to today we will, as Mr. Frank said in 1963, continue "to use the facilities of the new station in the public interest, convenience and necessity."