The history of the WMC5 in Memphis begins with the birth of WMC Radio. WMC Radio, "Down in Dixie", went on the air on January 20, 1923 as a department of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The studio/transmitter and tower were on the top floor of the old Commercial Appeal building when it was located at 2nd Street and Court Avenue -- overlooking Court Square. Power then was 500 watts. The licensee for the new station was Commercial Publishing Company.
In 1930, a transmitter building and tower were constructed on Highway 70 (The Bristol Highway) near Highway 64. The tower is gone now, but the art-deco transmitter building remains as a boat dealer's headquarters.
In September 1931, new studios were dedicated at Hotel Gayoso, located downtown. As part of the opening day festivities, Milton Berle (later to become early TV's biggest star), was master of ceremonies for a remote broadcast from The Orpheum.
By 1935, power was increased to 2,500 watts daytime, 1,000 watts at night. In 1936, the present transmitter was built on Thomas Road, northeast of the city.
Those are the bare facts -- but the heart of WMC Action News 5 can be found in the record of service to Mid-Southerners and the "can-do" atmosphere.
Over the years, WMC5's building and staff has grown to accommodate 24-hour, 7-days a week, 365 days a year service. Television news has leaped from 16-millimeter, black-and-white silent film to color video tape in a variety of formats, digital still-store and satellite up and down links. But, whatever the method of delivery, WMC5's number on priority remains gathering and telling stories that are important to our community.
When you report, produce, shoot, edit or anchor for an WMC Action News 5 news broadcast, at any single moment, you could be delivering the news of the day to the chief executive officer of the area's largest employer, a single-parent family in a public housing project, a croupier at a Tunica casino, a rice farmer in Arkansas, a professor at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, military personnel at Millington, musicians, researchers at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, tourists, judges, retailers, prison inmates, elected officials, and even the crew of a passing river boat. The list of varied interests, spread over many states is virtually endless.
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