WMC-TV, virtual and VHF digital channel 5, is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Memphis, Tennessee, United States. The station is owned by Gray Television. WMC-TV's studios are located on Union Avenue in midtown Memphis, and its transmitter is located between Crestview Drive and Fletcher Creek, near Bartlett. The station serves roughly the western third of Tennessee, northern Mississippi, eastern Arkansas and the southeastern corner of Missouri over the air, on satellite, and on various cable systems.

History[edit | edit source]

The station first signed on the air on December 11, 1948 as WMCT, broadcasting on VHF channel 4 as the first television station in Tennessee. The station originally broadcast from studios located inside the Goodwin Institute Building in Downtown Memphis. It was owned by the E. W. Scripps Company, along with the city's main newspaper, The Commercial Appeal and WMC radio (AM 790 and FM 99.7). As the only television station in Memphis for its first several years of operation, WMCT aired programming from all four national networks of the time: NBC, CBS, ABC and the now-defunct DuMont Television Network. However, it carried NBC as a primary affiliation, owing to WMC-AM's longtime affiliation with the NBC Red Network. It lost CBS programming when WHBQ-TV (channel 13) signed on in September 1953, but continued to share ABC programming with WHBQ until January 1956, when WREC-TV (channel 3, now WREG-TV) launched as a full-time CBS affiliate with WHBQ taking over the ABC affiliation full-time. It lost DuMont when that network ceased operations in 1956. During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.

The station moved to VHF channel 5 on November 23, 1952, because of Channel 4 interference with fellow NBC affiliate WSM-TV in Nashville (now WSMV) also on Channel 4; however, this would later make WMCT short-spaced to another Nashville station, WLAC (now WTVF), when that station signed on in 1954. Since at least the 1950s, WMC-TV's logo has included an illustration of a riverboat, a symbol of the Mississippi River region which the station serves. For many years, the station's sounder included the riverboat's whistle – something which dates to the 1930s on its former AM sister. The whistle is still heard at the opening of WMC-TV's current newscasts. The station was known as "The Showplace of the South" during the 1960s. It dropped the "T" from its callsign (simultaneously tacking on the "-TV" suffix to it) on January 1, 1967 (at the same time, the co-owned FM station changed its call letters from WMCF to WMC-FM). Also in 1967, it began using a "5" logo resemblance to the numerical typeface found on a five-dollar bill, which would be used for over two decades.

The WMC stations moved to their current location at 1960 Union Avenue in Midtown Memphis in 1959 and celebrated with a broadcast hosted by comedian George Gobel. In 1960, the stations broadcast live remotes of John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, who both came to Memphis to campaign for the presidency. When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to Memphis to support the sanitation workers' strike that set the stage for his assassination in 1968, then-station general manager Mori Greiner established an unprecedented program called The 40% Speaks, in an effort to promote racial healing in the community. In an odd illustration of how little real integration had occurred in local television, the first host of this program was news anchor Dave Patterson, who himself was Caucasian. When Patterson left WMC-TV, his replacement was a white professor from Memphis State University, now the University of Memphis.

After many years of solid management, Scripps sold WMC-AM-FM-TV to Atlanta businessman Bert Ellis in 1993. The graphics package that introduced this logo was adopted when the then newly formed Ellis Communications purchased WMC-TV and several other stations in 1993. Ellis was a longtime fan of his hometown's long-dominant station, WSB-TV, and styled his new broadcast group after that station. Under Ellis, channel 5 adopted a blue-and-gold color scheme similar to the one used then as now by WSB-TV. Two of WMC's siblings adopted the logo style as well: KSLA-TV in Shreveport, Louisiana and WECT in Wilmington, North Carolina. All three stations use modified versions of the same logo style today.

Ellis, in turn, sold the stations to a new broadcasting group formed by the Retirement Systems of Alabama, and subsequently named Raycom Media (that also purchased AFLAC's broadcasting unit), in 1996; Raycom sold off the radio stations to Infinity Broadcasting in 2000. (They are now owned by Entercom.)

Sale to Gray Television[edit | edit source]

On June 25, 2018, Atlanta-based Gray Television announced it had reached an agreement with Raycom to merge their respective broadcasting assets (consisting of Raycom's 63 existing owned-and/or-operated television stations, including WMC-TV), and Gray's 93 television stations) under Gray's corporate umbrella. The cash-and-stock merger transaction valued at $3.6 billion – in which Gray shareholders would acquire preferred stock currently held by Raycom – will result in WMC-TV gaining new sister stations in nearby markets, including the Knoxville duopoly of CBS affiliate WVLT-TV and CW affiliate WBXX-TV (currently Gray's only Tennessee properties; also while separating it from WTNZ) and ABC/CW affiliate WTOK-TV in adjacent Meridian, Mississippi, in addition to its current Raycom sister stations. The sale was approved on December 20, and was completed on January 2, 2019.


TV stations in Tennessee
WSMV, Nashville

WMC, Memphis
WRCB, Chattanooga
WBIR, Knoxville
WNBJ-LD, Jackson

TV stations in Western Tennessee, Northwestern Mississippi and the Eastern Delta Region of Arkansas, including Memphis and Oxford
WREG 3 (CBS)
WMC 5 (NBC)
WKNO 10 (PBS)
WHBQ 13 (Fox)
WPGF-LD 17 (ESTRELLA)
WMAV 18 (PBS)
WTWV 23 (Rel)
WATN 24 (ABC)
KPMF-LD 26 (MNTV/AMGTV)
WLMT 30 (CW)
WWTW 34 (Ind.)
WQEK-LD 36 (Cozi)
WBUY 40 (TBN)
W50EA-D 42 (3ABN)
WBXP-LP 44 (SBN)
WPXX 50 (Ion)
WPYM-LD 56 (RTV)
WDNM-LD 59 (Daystar)
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