• DTV

     

    Capitol Broadcasting Company has often been referred to as a “Digital Television Pioneer,” and for good reason. In the 1990s CBC led American television stations into the digital age—breaking barriers, setting standards and blazing a DTV (digital television) trail that other stations would follow.

    CBC’s early work with digital television focused on the format known as High Definition (HD). WRAL-TV obtained the first experimental HDTV (high-definition television) license in June of 1996 and became the first commercial television station in the nation to broadcast a HDTV signal a little over one month later.

    By 1998, WRAL’s digital experimentation moved from transmitters to production. On October 28, 1998, WRAL produced the first live news event in HD—John Glenn’s historic return to space. The station followed that up a year later with the nation’s first all-HD documentary—“The Cape Light.”

    In 2000, WRAL-TV was ready to spread HD to its news operation. On Friday, October 13, 2000—WRAL-TV broadcast its entire 5pm newscast in HD from the NC State Fairgrounds. It was the first live, all-HD newscast ever produced. Only months later, on January 28, 2001, WRAL-TV converted all its studio newscasts to HD, making it the world’s first news operation to gather and present high-definition local news on a continuous basis.

    In addition to HD programming, CBC found other innovative uses for the expanded bandwidth of the digital television spectrum. WRAL-TV multi-cast all 64 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament games in 2000, splitting the bandwidth to allow the broadcast of up to four simultaneous games. Sister station WRAZ-TV/FOX 50 soon began broadcasting Durham Bulls home baseball games on its digital channel. And later, WRAL-TV used its new digital channel capacity to launch a 24-hour local news channel and weather channels.
    On September 8, 2008, Capitol Broadcasting Company’s WILM became one of the first four television stations in the country to turn off its analog signal and move solely to digital transmissions.

    Then on June 12, 2009, WRAL took part in the biggest change in broadcasting since the advent of color TV. CBC television stations joined others across the country in turning off their analog signals, completing the official nationwide conversion to digital television.

    During this digital broadcasting transformation CBC brought leading edge technology to its other stations, including radio. WRAL-FM became the first licensed commercial radio station on the east coast to broadcast in HD Radio on December 20, 2002.

     

    • Wilderness North Carolina

      Capitol Broadcasting Company helped establish the first HD digital cinema in the country at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. WRAL, the first HD station in the country, commissioned Art Howard (former WRAL news photographer) to travel across North Carolina to gather images with a high definition camera showcasing the diverse wilderness of our state. WRAL News anchor Bill Leslie hosts this fabulous presentation produced in 2000.

    • WRAL First HD Newscast from the news set 2001

      January 28, 2001. WRAL-TV converted to an all-digital news operation starting with the 11:00 PM newscast. WRAL became the world’s 1st news operation to gather and present high-definition local news on a continuous basis.

    • First LIVE HD Newscast from State Fair October 13 2000 (Short Version)

      This is a short version showing behind the scenes activity of the first HD Newscast by WRAL, the leader in HD broadcasting. On October 13, 2000 WRAL made history by broadcasting the entire 5:00 PM newscast LIVE in HD from the State Fair. The historic newscast was broadcast from a special stage at the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh. The broadcast came just days after WRAL announced it was purchasing equipment from Panasonic to allow the station to gather all of its news stories in the 1080i format. WRAL was the first in the country to convert its entire news operation into HD. This video documents the historic moment from a behind-the-scenes perspective.

      In 1996, WRAL was the first station in the nation to start broadcasting in HD even though most viewers did not have an HD television set.

      The complete 30 minute HD broadcast is available for viewing on this website.

    • HD tower construction including interview with CBC vice president John Greene

      July 13, 1999 marked a milestone in the construction of WRAL-TV’s HD Digital Tower. It is among the tallest towers in the country topping off at 2,000 feet and was built by Doty-Moore Tower Services.
      The video starts with an interview with CBC senior vice president John Greene, talking about the significance of this particular moment in WRAL’s HD development. Later in the video is an interview with Pat Moore, co-owner of Doty Moore Tower Services, a recognized leader in television tower construction.
      Part of the ceremony involved in setting the first section of the tower is placing a “lucky penny” on top of the pin that provides a pivot point for the tower at the foundation. You will hear John say “we lost one, but this one is forever,” which refers to WRAL’s tall analog tower that crumbled to the ground in 1989 due to heavy icing during a winter storm. The HD Tower includes a new technology that allows the tower to pivot on a pin at the base.

    • Jim Goodmon with early HD television

      CBC President Jim Goodmon poses for magazine cover photo. Goodmon has been honored numerous times for being a DTV pioneer who pushed the television industry into the future.

  • Engineering

     

     

    • Videotape engineer 1965

      Engineer Phil Martin works with RCA TR-22 tape machine in 1965.

    • MIX-101.5 remote truck

      WRAL-FM Engineering Director Keith Harrison with radio station remote van

    • Timelapse of expansion of WRAL-TV building

      In November, 1998 WRAL-TV5 broke ground on a multi-million dollar building expansion that now houses its state-of-the-art news department/studio and administrative offices, plus remodeled office space for other WRAL-TV departments. The construction project added 35,000 feet onto the south side of the existing studios

      R.T. Dooley of Charlotte served as the general contractor for the project, and Envirotek of Raleigh was the architect. Devlin Design Group of San Diego designed the news set, and Rees Associates of Oklahoma City served as interior design contractor.

      Before construction could began, WRAL had to dismantle its old 300-foot broadcast relay tower and build a new tower 150 feet northwest of the old location.

    • CBC Trivia “Know Your School Colors”

      Paul Pope, retired VP at CBC, served in a variety of management roles. Paul graduated from North Carolina Central University in Durham. He earned his BA degree in__________? a. Communication b. History c. Art Education d. Engineering   Adele Arakawa
    • Miss NC pageant on television

      WRAL-TV used its remote production equipment to broadcast the 1959 Miss NC pageant to a five-station network across the state.

  • HD

    HD

    There is perhaps no better example of Capitol Broadcasting Company’s technological leadership than in the realm of High Definition Television (HDTV). With WRAL-TV leading the way in the 1990s, CBC pioneered HDTV and became the standard by which other stations were measured.

    WRAL-TV obtained the first experimental HDTV (high-definition television) license in June of 1996 and became the first commercial television station in the nation to broadcast a HDTV signal a little over one month later. As part of that experimental work, CBC conducted extensive testing with the digital signal, using prototype equipment and helping write the manuals that would guide engineers in the future.

    By 1998, WRAL’s experimentation moved from digital transmitters to HD production. On October 28, 1998, WRAL produced the first live news event in HD—John Glenn’s historic return to space. The station followed that up a year later with the nation’s first all-HD documentary—“The Cape Light.”

    In 2000, WRAL-TV was ready to spread HD to its news operation. On Friday, October 13, 2000—WRAL-TV broadcast its entire 5pm newscast in HD from the NC State Fairgrounds. It was the first live, all-HD newscast ever produced. Only months later, on January 28, 2001, WRAL-TV converted all its studio newscasts to HD, making it the world’s first news operation to gather and present high-definition local news on a continuous basis.

     

    • WRAL documentary STATE OF INEQUALITY

      The half-hour WRAL documentary “State of Inequality” examines the wealth divide between people and places in North Carolina. It profiles someone in the top one-percent and someone living below the poverty line. It looks at their common bonds, different paths and their shared view on the issue of income inequality. The documentary also profiles Wake and Bertie counties and examines why they are on opposite ends of the prosperity scale. “State of Inequality” also explores the effects of wealth disparity and possible solutions to lessen its impact.

      “State of Inequality” is hosted by WRAL News anchor David Crabtree. Produced and written by Clay Johnson.

      The documentary was shot in 4K High Dynamic Range and broadcasted in High Definition. Aired Thursday, March 16, 2017.

    • 20th Anniversary of HD Launch at WRAL

      This Saturday, July 23, 2016, will mark the 20th anniversary of WRAL launching HD.  The station began the transmission of full-power digital test signals on the same date in 1996, with authorization granted by the FCC.  Capitol Broadcasting led the
    • WRAL First HD Newscast at State Fair

      WRAL-TV led the nation in the development of High Definition broadcasting. On October 13, 2000 WRAL made history by broadcasting the entire 5:00 PM newscast LIVE in HD from the State Fair. The historic newscast was broadcast from a special stage at the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh. The broadcast came just days after WRAL announced it was purchasing equipment from Panasonic to allow the station to gather all of its news stories in the 1080i format. WRAL was the first in the country to convert its entire news operation into HD. This video documents the historic moment from a behind-the-scenes perspective.

      In 1996, WRAL was the first station in the nation to start broadcasting in HD even though most viewers did not have an HD television set.

    • WRAL HD Newsroom launch promo

      WRAL led the nation in HD television development. WRAL-TV obtained the first experimental HDTV (high-definition television) license in June of 1996 and became the first commercial television station in the nation to broadcast a HDTV signal a little over one month later. In 2000, WRAL converted its entire news operation to HD, including the cameras onboard the news helicopter, SKY 5. This promo informs the viewer of the benefits of watching HD, even though many did not have an HD television set in 2000.

    • Wilderness North Carolina

      Capitol Broadcasting Company helped establish the first HD digital cinema in the country at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. WRAL, the first HD station in the country, commissioned Art Howard (former WRAL news photographer) to travel across North Carolina to gather images with a high definition camera showcasing the diverse wilderness of our state. WRAL News anchor Bill Leslie hosts this fabulous presentation produced in 2000.

  • News

    News

    Capitol Broadcasting has always believed that new technology can improve production and performance.  Nowhere is that more evident than in the coverage of news on television and radio.  CBC has led the way with innovative ideas and uses of technology that have consistently given its journalists better tools to do their job.  Here are some of the highlights:

    • Film - Video

      Like every other television news operations in the 1950s and ‘60s, WRAL-TV’s news department relied on 16mm film cameras for all its early newsgathering.

      At WRAL, the Auricon was one of the more common cameras that went into the field, but the “cameramen” of the day also used Bell & Howells and Bolex cameras to shoot their news footage.

      In those early days, news camera operators used reel after reel of black and white film to capture the news of the day. Eventually they made the transition to color, but film technology still had one glaring limitation – before it could air in a newscast the film stock had to run through a time-consuming chemical processing machine. As a result, news crews had to be back at the station by mid-afternoon to get their film processed in time for the evening newscasts.

      This time constraint set the stage for one of the most revolutionary advancements in the history of the television industry – videotape.

      As always, WRAL would not be left behind. In a 1966 promotional booklet, WRAL boasted that it was equipped with two TR-22 color videotape recorders and one TR-4 machine for tape playback. The booklet went on to expound on the virtues of the new technology: “Immediately after recording, video tape can be shown without chemical processing.”

      These early videotape machines were the size of washer/dryers, so they didn’t exactly lend themselves to the on-the-run gathering of news. WRAL found other uses such as the recording and play back of full-length programs, commercials, editorials and other non-news content.

      It would be the mid-1970s before portable videotape cameras and recorders were small and portable enough to find their way into the WRAL News operation. By the end of the 70s, however, videotape had taken over and film cameras were a thing of the past.

    • LiveStar - ENG Trucks

    • Production

      WRAL’s radio and television stations have always embraced new technology, and that includes the equipment required to produce the on-air programming, newscasts and commercials.

      This innovative spirit began in the 1940s when WRAL pioneered network radio with the advent of the Tobacco Radio Network and the Tobacco Sports Network. Stations across the state were linked by telephone, which was a rudimentary but effective way to deliver simultaneous programming. Live broadcasts of ACC games and special events took listeners on location for the exciting events of the day.

      The networks’ early telephone hookups were eventually replaced by microwave relays, satellite distribution, and later by specialized internet connections.

      During WRAL-TV’s first decade, production trucks equipped with expensive new videotape machines allowed station personnel to produce programs and commercials on location—outside the studio. The TV station often utilized a whole fleet of specialized vehicles to make these remote productions possible.

      Studio production techniques evolved from simple one-camera set-ups to multi-camera shoots with the latest graphics and special effects at the producer’s disposal.

      The CBC technology creed has always been simple – put the best, most modern tools and equipment in the hands of talented people and then let them create content with one goal in mind – excellence. CBC’s production staff has achieved that goal time after time.

    • SKY5

      WRAL-TV’s news helicopter – SKY 5 – was the first helicopter in North Carolina devoted to fulltime television newsgathering. The aircraft went into service on July 31, 1979 and within a very short time it not only covered the news– it became an active participant in many stories. SKY 5 took part in dramatic search and rescues, covered devastating storms and hurricanes, and assisted law enforcement when requested.

      WRAL-TV General Manager John Greene stated in a 1981 article in Tar Heel Aviation magazine, “SKY 5 is no gimmick. What it IS, is another demonstration of our commitment to news. We have set our goal. We want to provide the best coverage, not just in the Triangle, but in the state. SKY 5 is one way of doing that.”

      WRAL-TV serves a diverse 22-county region of North Carolina. The quickest way to cover breaking news is from the air, but with its ability to hover or orbit over a scene–SKY 5 provided an unobstructed, often-exciting visual perspective.

      In selecting WRAL’s first helicopter, John Greene said “We wanted safety and performance.” So after consulting with helicopter pilots and operators, the decision was made to purchase the Hughes 500 D model helicopter. The Hughes’ five-bladed main rotor system provided a very stable platform for a photographer to shoot steady video, plus the 500 D model was fast and maneuverable. In fact, the Hughes 500 helicopter was often referred to as “the Ferrari of the skies.”

      To facilitate use of the new aircraft, WRAL-TV submitted a request for a helistop – a pad without fueling or maintenance facilities – to be located on top of one of its buildings on Western Boulevard. That request was approved by the Raleigh Board of Adjustment. The helistop allowed the pilot to fly SKY 5 from its hangar at the Raleigh/Durham airport to the station so news crews could climb aboard and respond quickly to breaking news.

      The first SKY 5 was turbine powered and routinely cruised at 165 MPH. The helicopter could comfortably carry four people, including the pilot. However it typically carried a photographer sitting up front with the pilot and a reporter sitting in the back seat.

      The color and graphic scheme of the first SKY 5 was unique. The “bumblebee stripes” scheme was one of six available from Hughes Helicopters. The dominant blue color represented the air force of the country the helicopter was originally destined for – Saudi Arabia. However the Saudis reduced their original order, so Capitol Broadcasting Company stepped in to buy the aircraft that would soon become SKY 5.

      WRAL Director of Promotion Steve Grissom created a marketing campaign that generated excitement with TV 5 viewers. Billboards throughout eastern North Carolina said, “The Sky is not the limit!” and “Look Up for SKY 5!” When SKY 5 went into service in 1979, WRAL viewers couldn’t get enough, and soon the state’s first news helicopter was as well-known and popular as WRAL’s on-air personalities.

      The first three SKY 5 pilots were Army aviation veterans. Randy Watkins was the first pilot to fly SKY 5 full time. Randy was a Warrant Officer in the Army and served 12 months in Vietnam, after which he was assigned to Fort Bragg. Watkins left the service in 1976 and flew in the North Carolina National Guard. In 1978 he moved into commercial aviation and ten months later was offered the job to fly SKY 5.

      Watkins flew news crews to locations around the state, providing aerials from scenes ranging from train wrecks to storm damage. He also aided rescue teams looking for lost children. Randy left WRAL at the end of 1981 and continued his flying career in commercial aviation.

      Following Watkins’ departure, WRAL hired veteran pilot Mike Allen in January 1982. As a pilot, Mike brought a face, voice and personality to SKY 5.

      Allen served as a commissioned officer in the US Army for six years. He completed flight training for the UH-1 “Huey” helicopter and later flew the large Chinook helicopters. Captain Allen served in Vietnam from 1968-1969 where he earned the Bronze Star and 21 air medals.

      After Vietnam, Allen entered civilian aviation and flew helicopters for law enforcement/search and rescue operations in California. He also flew forest fire fighting missions throughout the western states as well as geological expeditions to remote regions in Alaska.

      Mike arrived at WRAL-TV in January 1982 with over 11,000 flight hours of experience under his belt. He brought a new dimension to SKY 5 by adding the role of reporter to the job of pilot. During WRAL’s weather segment, Bob DeBardelaben would often talk to Mike while SKY 5 provided a live “weather window” for viewers to see cloud formations or damage from storms.

      Mike Allen left WRAL in early 1984 and continued his flying career before eventually entering the ministry as an ordained Presbyterian minister.

      Frank Beall became the next SKY 5 pilot, joining the WRAL team in late 1984. Beall flew the original WRAL aircraft briefly, but soon took command of the next helicopter bearing the SKY 5 designation. The second SKY 5 went into service on December 7, 1984. It was another Hughes 500 D model, but featured a more powerful turbine engine that made it faster and upgraded avionics to help the pilot navigate to remote locations more easily.

      Like the previous two SKY 5 pilots, Beall learned to fly in the military. U.S. Army Captain Frank Beall flew in Vietnam as a scout pilot in a light observation helicopter, the Army version of SKY 5. Beall’s helicopter was shot down and he was wounded on June 5, 1972. He was picked up by another helicopter which was shot down as well. Beall survived both crashes and earned the Purple Heart. After discharge he flew in civilian aviation until he was hired by WRAL.

      As pilot, Frank was not a regular on-air personality, but on occasion he would offer witty observations from SKY 5 during the station’s weathercasts. He also continued to build a strong relationship with law enforcement agencies and aided officials in search and rescue efforts when necessary.

      Beall left WRAL in 1987 and continued his civilian aviation career in Florida before eventually retiring. He died in 2011 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

      SKY 5’s next pilot arrived in 1988 with a wealth of helicopter flying experience.

      Steve Wiley’s aviation career started in 1980 and for the next three years he flew aircraft all over Northern Ontario, the northwest territories of Canada and Oregon. In 1983 he moved to Pittsburgh as a flight instructor. While in Pittsburgh, Steve started flying news helicopters. His first station was WPXI-TV followed by WPVI-TV in Philadelphia. Steve then moved to WABC-TV in New York City before accepting the SKY 5 assignment and moving to WRAL in 1988.

      Steve flew the Hughes 500 D version of SKY 5 for ten years, but in 1998 helped develop and purchase a bigger, better aircraft that was destined to usher in the modern era of aerial newsgathering at WRAL-TV.

      WRAL-TV’s latest SKY 5 – a Bell Helicopters 407 Model – was purchased in August 1998. It arrived in Raleigh two months later and was then flown to a custom facility in Tennessee for design and installation of the latest high tech equipment.

      In Tennessee, the Bell 407 was equipped with $600,000 worth of video equipment, including two cameras in the cabin, one on the tail, and a powerful gyroscope-controlled HD camera under the nose. Each camera is controllable from the rear of the aircraft by a WRAL videographer.

      Not only was SKY 5 a brand new aircraft – it took on a new FAA designation at the same time. The new FAA tail number, “N553HD,” reflects the helicopter’s television heritage. The first “5” represents WRAL’s longtime analog channel; the number “53” represents WRAL’s first digital channel; while “HD” honors WRAL’s pioneering status in the development of high definition television.

      The custom technical work took half a year to complete, and on June 1, 1999, the new SKY 5 went into service to launch the latest chapter of newsgathering in the skies of North Carolina. SKY 5 and pilot Steve Wiley continue to provide aerial news coverage to WRAL-TV viewers—a tradition that started more than 35 years ago.

    • WeatherCenter

      WRAL’s “Weather Center” was created in 1982 as a way to blend the science of meteorology with the station’s already popular on-air weather presentations. The Weather Center bridged two distinct weather eras at Channel 5 and laid the groundwork for the eventual transition between WRAL’s two weather icons–Bob DeBardelaben and Greg Fishel.

      During WRAL-TV’s first quarter century, the station’s weathercasts were presented by on-air personalities who stressed information and communication, not meteorology. These TV “weathermen” gave viewers the basic weather stats of the day, but relied on the professionals at the National Weather Service “bureau” to provide the science behind the forecast.

      WRAL’s earliest weathercasters were known as “Atlantic Weathermen.” Announcers Bob Knapp and Bob Caudle would don the uniform of an Atlantic-Richfield gas station attendant to present the nightly forecast. Atlantic sponsored weather segments at stations up and down the east coast and WRAL was a part of that network in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

      In 1976 Bob DeBardelaben became the station’s primary weathercaster. DeBardelaben never wore the Atlantic-Richfield uniform, but his friendly style and smooth presentation quickly made him the region’s top weatherman. The fun-loving DeBardelaben was soon known as “the biggest name in weather,” a title that followed him the rest of his legendary career.

      By the early 1980s, WRAL General Manager John Greene and News Manager Steve Grissom saw an opportunity to take the station’s weather content and image to a new level. Central to the plan, WRAL would hire a team of certified meteorologists that would give Channel 5 the most scientific, accurate forecasting capabilities of any television station in the region. The plan was approved and with that, “The WRAL Weather Center” concept was born.

      The Weather Center idea was based on people, science, technology and promotion. Expanding the weather profile of WRAL-TV was a primary goal, but Capitol Broadcasting executives also saw business opportunities ahead as they analyzed the capabilities of the new weather operation.

      In the beginning it was all about people and the Weather Center expansion brought new faces to WRAL-TV. In mid-1981 Capitol Broadcasting began hiring meteorologists; Greg Fishel was first, followed by Mike Modrick and Bill Schmidt.

      This new team of weather scientists gave WRAL the ability to produce forecasts in-house. The scientific staff also provided behind-the-scenes support and meteorological guidance for DeBardelaben, who welcomed the new scientific staff with open arms. The new meteorologists were assigned to anchor WRAL-TV’s morning, noon and weekend weather segments; they also made appearances in the evening newscasts (alongside Bob) during extreme weather.

      CBC put the meteorologists to work in other areas, as well. They began feeding audio weathercasts to WRAL-FM and the North Carolina News Network stations as a form of cross-promotion and new revenue. With the new radio output the Weather Center became CBC’s newest business unit.

      Prior to launch WRAL-TV began promoting the Weather Center with a non-stop campaign based on the slogan “Wired for Weather!” The promos featured a lightning bolt, thunder-clap and announcer voice telling viewers that WRAL-TV was indeed “wired for weather” and ready for anything Mother Nature could throw their way!

      The television station would also undergo change to create a new home for the growing staff of weathercasters. WRAL-TV built a modern, multi-function weather office adjacent to the main anchor desk in the newsroom. This allowed meteorologists to gather data, prepare forecasts and present the weather from one location without having to move to a separate studio. This built-in logistical advantage would pay dividends sooner than anyone could imagine.

      The WRAL Weather Center officially premiered the week of January 11, 1982, and right on cue—North Carolina was hit by a winter storm that dumped half a foot of snow on the Triangle. Bob DeBardelaben, Greg Fishel and the rest of the Weather Center team jumped into action to provide non-stop coverage and scientific analysis from their impressive new quarters.

      The well-timed snowstorm showcased WRAL’s new scientific team and cemented the station’s image as the Triangle weather leader. Not long after the snowfall the manager of another station in the market was quoted saying “I don’t mind competing against WRAL, but there is no way we can compete against God.”

      The Weather Center set the stage for a wave of new technology that would further distinguish the station in the Triangle. WRAL was the first station in the region to buy and operate a state-of-the-art Doppler radar. In 1997 WRAL premiered “Doppler 5000,” which gave Weather Center staffers the ability to track storms and analyze severe weather with their own dedicated radar. The 250,000-watt unit was built by Baron Services in Huntsville, AL; it was installed near the WRAL transmitter facility in Auburn, NC.

      In 2007 WRAL became one of the first stations in the country to deploy a revolutionary dual-polarization Doppler radar. Dubbed “Dual Doppler 5000,” the new unit features one million watts of power—enough to punch through the heaviest rain and snow to give meteorologists an amazing view of the inside of the storm. WRAL put this new capability to dramatic on-air use in April 2011 when meteorologists were able to detect tornadic debris as they monitored severe storms sweeping through the state.

      From the beginning, innovation has been the hallmark of the WRAL Weather Center. WRAL’s six fulltime meteorologists are constantly finding new ways to forecast the weather. WRAL was one of the first TV stations in the country to partner with a university to develop and use an exclusive forecasting model. WRAL and NC State joined forces to develop a complex computer model that was later sold to a weather information company and incorporated into weather forecasts throughout the country.

      Today Weather Center staffers are exploring ways to use computer model ensembles as well as higher-resolution versions of the models other stations use, to explain what the weather is doing and how it will affect viewers. In the end, the WRAL Weather Center remains focused on three primary goals: keeping citizens safe, providing them what they need to know to plan their day, and educating them on the processes by which the weather affects them.

    • Website

      In 1995, Capitol Broadcasting Company President/CEO Jim Goodmon decided that WRAL would become one of the first TV stations in the country to launch a site on World Wide Web. The move was bold considering that this decision was made when the predominant internet browser was Netscape Navigator and Google Chrome was still 13 years away.

      Early hires for the website included John Whitehead, the first webmaster, who built the tools and automation that made what was originally called WRAL OnLine the envy of local media companies across the county. Other original staffers were Graphic Designer Bill Burch, Web Producer Michelle Singer and Managing Editor John Conway.

      WRAL OnLine (originally at http://www.wral-tv.com) went live on Jan. 17, 1996 during the 5 p.m. newscast, with technology reporter Tom Lawrence introducing viewers to the Triangle’s first local news website. The site was delivered by a single Silicon Graphics server from an office just around the corner from the women’s restroom on the second floor of the main WRAL-TV building. (By 2010, WRAL.com was using 25 servers at its north Raleigh data center to deliver content to website visitors – a sign of the tremendous growth that took place in the following 15 years.)

      The original homepage – or front door to the website – was a far cry from the highly dynamic homepage of today. That first homepage was a hand-drawn imagemap of a virtual town dubbed Happy Valley. Visitors navigated the simple site by clicking on the satellite truck for news, the stadium for sports and the sun for weather.

      Less than eight months later, Hurricane Fran took the site offline for more than two days. Most homes lost power and phone connections, and the internet connection between WRAL and Interpath’s hosting facility on Hillsborough Street was severed.

      Whitehead, Jason Priebe and John Conway loaded updates on a disk drive and drove the updated content from Western Boulevard to the 711 Building so that the latest information about Fran’s wrath and the recovery could be pushed out to the small slice of Triangle area residents who had working dial-up access.

      By 1997, the homepage was redesigned to showcase the vast array of content being posted to the site around the clock, including full access to the Associated Press and Reuters wire stories that typically were only seen by newspaper editors. Another redesign followed in 1998, aimed at showcasing images and audio. With some occasional tweaks, it lasted until 2001.

      That year CBC partnered with Internet Broadcasting System in hopes of reducing operating costs while tapping into IBS’ relationships with national advertisers. In May 2001, IBS launched an updated version of WRAL.com and assumed operations of the site for the next five years.

      In 2005, the decision was made to bring control of the WRAL.com website back in house. Jason Priebe, an early member of the technology team that helped build and grow the original site, was hired back to help design the content management system, dubbed Diesel, and new site. On Dec. 16, 2006, the “new” WRAL.com went live shortly after midnight, with Jim and Jimmy Goodmon on hand for the switchover.

      WRAL.com has continued to thrive and grow in the years since. In December 2010, the site hit a milestone, serving more than a billion pages in a single year.

      Today, the site averages about 100 million page views and 4 million unique visitors a month. Staffing also has grown, from four full-time employees in 1996 to 35 in 2014.

      The original site also has produced spinoff sites such as WRALSportsFan.com and HighSchoolOT.com.

      In January 2014, WRAL.com launched a new version of the site to better serve the needs of smartphone and tablet users. The responsive design was the first of its kind in the Raleigh-Durham DMA and one of the earliest nationwide. The project required more than a year of planning and testing.

      Since its inception, WRAL.com has operated under the simple premise that “Content is king.” That can be seen in the tremendous traffic figures, staff growth and awards the site has received.

      WRAL.com was the 2009 winner of the national Edward R. Murrow Award for best local TV Web site.

      In 2010 WRAL.com was named best local TV website in an international competition sponsored by Editor & Publisher.

      In addition to the two national awards, the site has been a frequent winner of regional Murrow Award, including most recently in 2012. WRAL.com also has won numerous best-website awards from the N.C. Associated Press Broadcaster’s Association and from the Radio and Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas.

      Content and interactive graphics produced by the site also have won several Mid-South Emmy awards from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

  • Towers and Transmitters

     

    One of the most recognizable symbols of broadcasting is the transmission tower, those beacons of steel rising above the clouds to beam pictures and sound to audiences below.  And as you will see here, Capitol Broadcasting Company’s towers have carved out a most unique and memorable history over the years:

     

    • Transmitter engineer at work

      Bob Searcy at the controls in the WRAL transmitter building in November 1966

    • WRAL TV Tall Tower Collapse 1989

      Sunday, December 10, 1989 is a day etched in the memory of so many employees at Capitol Broadcasting. It was the day the 2000’ “Tall Tower” crashed to the ground. This WRAL news story by reporter Les Boney.

    • WRAL Tall Tower promo

      WRAL built the 2000 ft broadcast tower, also referred to as a “tall tower” in 1978. The site is located near Garner, North Carolina. The promo tells the viewer what the tall tower will mean to them in terms of reach and picture quality. This tower would fall to the ground on December 10, 1989 after an ice storm. The tower and guy wires were not able to withstand the unevening thawing of ice. on the structure. A new tall tower was built in 1990 and still stands today, although it no longer transmits the WRAL signal. WRAL now broadcasts in HD from a tower that is on the same property.

    • HD tower construction including interview with CBC vice president John Greene

      July 13, 1999 marked a milestone in the construction of WRAL-TV’s HD Digital Tower. It is among the tallest towers in the country topping off at 2,000 feet and was built by Doty-Moore Tower Services.
      The video starts with an interview with CBC senior vice president John Greene, talking about the significance of this particular moment in WRAL’s HD development. Later in the video is an interview with Pat Moore, co-owner of Doty Moore Tower Services, a recognized leader in television tower construction.
      Part of the ceremony involved in setting the first section of the tower is placing a “lucky penny” on top of the pin that provides a pivot point for the tower at the foundation. You will hear John say “we lost one, but this one is forever,” which refers to WRAL’s tall analog tower that crumbled to the ground in 1989 due to heavy icing during a winter storm. The HD Tower includes a new technology that allows the tower to pivot on a pin at the base.

    • WRAL engineer PB Jernigan

      P.B. Jernigan, retired WRAL engineer, started in 1961 and retired December, 2005. P.B. is a man of few words, but his work ethic and vaste knowledge demonstrated his passion for engineering and innovation. If you ever wondered who pulled the switch to light the Christmas tree lights on the tower, now you know.
      P.B. started work during the black and white era of television and continued to work into the high definition/digitial era. In this video, he shares his memories of working at WRAL and Capitol Broadcasting Company, including a few pranks.

  • Web, Mobile & Space

     

    In keeping with CBC’s pioneering spirit, Capitol Broadcasting Company divisions have been among the nation’s leaders delivering content via the internet, mobile channels and satellite. The company is always pushing to discover or adapt the latest technology to better serve our audiences and partners.

    WRAL.com—the pioneering CBC website—is recognized as one of the top local media websites in the nation, serving more than one Billion page views annually. CBC’s Microspace Communications developed disruptive technology in the 1980s that changed an entire industry. And in 2005 the company launched News Over Wireless to build mobile websites across the country.

     

    • LIVE@ with host Brian Shrader and guest Monica Laliberte 5 On Your Side

      LIVE@ was a unique 10 minute program that streamed “live” from a mini-studio/control room on WRAL.com. The program was hosted by Brian Shrader. Most of the guests were staff members of WRAL-TV and WRAL.COM. The program was spontaneous, unscripted craziness! Guests would offer comments on fun happenings in the local community and offer critiques on movies and other entertainment events.

      The guest on June 17, 2009 was WRAL news reporter Monica Laliberte, best known for the consumer reporter segment “5 On Your Side.” Brian and Monica cover a variety of interesting subjects including her volunteer work raising puppies to become future service dogs.

    • LIVE@ with host Brian Shrader and guest WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel

      LIVE@ was a unique 10 minute program that streamed “live” from a mini-studio/control room on WRAL.com. The program was hosted by Brian Shrader. Most of the guests were staff members of WRAL-TV and WRAL.COM. The program was spontaneous, unscripted craziness! Guests would offer comments on fun happenings in the local community and offer critiques on movies and other entertainment events.

      On September 16, 2009 the guest was WRAL Chief meteorologist Greg Fishel. The date marked the 10th anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Floyd which devasted eastern North Carolina.

    • LIVE@ with host Brian Shrader and guest WRAL News reporter Cullen Browder

      LIVE@ was a unique 10 minute program that streamed “live” from a mini-studio/control room on WRAL.com. The program was hosted by Brian Shrader. Most of the guests were staff members of WRAL-TV and WRAL.COM. The program was spontaneous, unscripted craziness! Guests would offer comments on fun happenings in the local community and offer critiques on movies and other entertainment events.

      On October 12, 2009 the guest was WRAL News reporter Cullen Browder who primarily worked with the investigative team. Cullen revealed that his identity nickname is “Talking Bull.”

    • WRAL.com LIVE@ with host Brian Shrader and guest WRAL News anchor Renee Chou

      LIVE@ was a unique 10 minute program that streamed “live” from a mini-studio/control room on WRAL.com. The program was hosted by Brian Shrader. Most of the guests were staff members of WRAL-TV and WRAL.COM. The program was spontaneous, unscripted craziness! Guests would offer comments on fun happenings in the local community and offer critiques on movies and other entertainment events.

      WRAL News anchor Renee Chou was Brian’s guest on September 9, 2009. They noted that the date is full of nines. Renee shared her background starting with the fact that she was able to skip kindergarten and go directly to the first grade. She also talked about how she met the man who became her husband and life in Iowa.

    • WRAL.com program LIVE@ with host Brian Shrader and guest WRAL sports anchor Tom Suiter

      LIVE@ was a unique 10 minute program that streamed “live” from a mini-studio/control room on WRAL.com. The program was hosted by Brian Shrader. Most of the guests were staff members of WRAL-TV and WRAL.COM. The program was spontaneous, unscripted craziness! Guests would offer comments on fun happenings in the local community and offer critiques on movies and other entertainment events.

      WRAL Sports anchor Tom Suiter, semi-retired in 2009, was Brian’s guest on July 23, 2009. Tom fully retired in July, 2016. There is non-stop laughter during this 10 minute interview. Fasten your seatbelts!