Within the walls of a 19th-century landmark, 21st-century technology is used to inform and entertain East Tennesseans.
Channel 6 is Knoxville’s first television station. For more than 50 years, it’s been an innovator, leader and trusted source for quality programming and community service. Under the ownership of Young Broadcasting of Knoxville, Inc. that commitment continues today.
WATE began as WROL-TV with its first telecast on October 1, 1953. From the beginning, the station pioneered local programs that served the community, including Mary Starr’s Homemaker Show and TV Classroom Quiz.
WATE quickly outgrew its facilities in those early years. In 1962, the station purchased Greystone, a mansion built for Major Eldad Cicero Camp, a Union officer in the Civil War, as well as a Knoxville lawyer and entrepreneur.
The building is said to be an exact duplicate of President James A. Garfield’s home in Washington, D.C.
Today, Greystone is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is home to more than 100 employees of WATE.
Additions to the building provide room for a state-of-the-art newsroom, a large production studio and high-tech equipment such as satellite uplinks, all necessary to keep WATE on the air 24-hours a day.
WATE was the first TV station in Knoxville to embrace the Internet as a way to communicate information to the public. The station’s Web site, WATE.com, was also the first in Knoxville to provide locally reported news whenever it breaks; complete weather information; and thorough, in-depth coverage of high school sports.
As broadcast television moved from analog to digital technology, WATE continued to lead the way. Years before a new tower was constructed and a digital transmitter was installed, the station had already invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in digital equipment for news-gathering and broadcast.
It was the first area TV station to equip a truck with a digital satellite uplink dish to bring news coverage to East Tennessee from anywhere in the country.
In recent years, WATE has been honored with several prestigious awards. The Society of Professional Journalists, Radio Television News Directors Association, National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and Associated Press Broadcasters have all presented the station with awards for excellence in journalism, including an Edward R. Murrow National Award for Breaking News Coverage in 2009 and several Murrow Regional awards. WATE.com has also won three Murrow Regional awards.
In addition to awards from its broadcasting peers, WATE has been honored by many national and local public service agencies, community groups and charitable organizations. Among them are the Gabriel Award from the National Catholic Association of Communicators and the Russell L. Cecil Award for the Southeastern Region from the Arthritis Foundation.
WATE makes a special effort to cover community issues and needs in its newscasts, programming and public service announcements. WATE broadcasts Tennessee This Week, a weekly half-hour program of information and viewpoints of local interest.
In addition WATE helps in public education and awareness throughout the year by airing telethons, public service campaigns and special programs. Important issues like education, downtown development and medical advances have been explored in these efforts.
Of particular note is WATE’s support of Second Harvest Food Bank. In recent years, more than 1 million pounds of food have been collected through efforts associated with the 6 Shares Food Drive.