Celebrating 60-years of broadcasting at WITN

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It was quite a stormy start for WITN back in 1955 as three hurricanes hit that summer, including one in September that flooded the transmitter.

Riley Roberson is the son of WITN founder Bill Roberson Jr. He remembers the difficulties his dad and others battled to get the station on the air.

Roberson says, "Hurricane comes in, the creeks back up and the transmitter site starts to flood. So dad and his brother Phil and everybody else, it's all hands on deck, and they're over at the transmitter putting up sandbags to keep the water out and they were able to do it and they succeeded. But that was quite a baptism."

Despite the obstacles, WITN went on the air September 28th of that year. The first broadcast was the World Series between the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees.

WITN came to life during the golden age of television, and aired many original live local programs. WITNey The Hobo was a big part of that, as were shows like Teen Canteen with Betty Jean Brinson, and Smiley O'Brian.

Roberson says, "He was a country singer and he would bring in all of his bands and they would perform live in the studio. And it was shows like that you meet wonderful people and they have a big time."

As WITN transitioned into the '60s and '70s...more local programs came along, like Almanac with Dick Jones and Hospitality House with Kay Currie.

Currie says, "It was like a talk show. I would get the guests in and ask them questions and we would laugh a little and cry a little and it was fun. If it was fun for us, I figured it would be fun for others."

Looking through an album of old pictures and newspaper clippings, Kay fondly remembers her time working at WITN in the studio, out reporting, making public appearances, and traveling to meet celebrities.

She says, "It was a lot of fun. I just had a ball."

WITN of course has seen many changes over the years...from black and white, to color, to digital TV and high definition in our state of the art studio in Greenville.

WITN Vice President and General Manager, Mark Gentner says, "It's amazing the transformation from those days to these days now and all of the other things that are involved, but it still has a lot of the same things of being applied, so this television station is a local television station, tied to the local communities of eastern Carolina and we're still doing that kind of mission today."

One of the hallmarks of WITN over the years has been providing you information about your community, and there certainly have been a lot of big stories over the years.

One of the more memorable in recent years was Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

And while Floyd was devastating for the east, just as remarkable was the resilience of eastern Carolina to bounce back.

It's that spirit that drives our commitment to public service and community involvement through efforts like Children's Miracle Network.

Gentner says, "They touch 29 counties, we communicate to 29 counties as well, and that partnership for 30-years now has been ongoing and continues to grow and we're very proud about that partnership along with the many other charitable community things that we do."

Perhaps it all goes back to our roots and founder Bill Roberson Jr., whose son Riley says, "He loved WITN and eastern North Carolina and he enjoyed promoting it and it was almost a crusade to him to promote eastern North Carolina."

So as WITN celebrates 60-years, we look back and cherish where we were, take pride in where we are, and look forward to continuing to serve you in the years ahead.


WITN marks 60 years of broadcasting today, September 28th!

WITN signed on the air as Eastern Carolina's second television station in 1955 from our original studio in Beaufort County. We are proud to be the area's breaking news and weather authority, bringing viewers important information each day, now from our new state-of-the-art facility in Greenville.

We have enjoyed interacting with viewers over the years, meeting great people in the community, hearing their stories, and reporting on the issues that are important to them.

There are many people on camera and behind the scenes who strive each and every day to provide fair, reliable, and comprehensive news and weather coverage. We want to thank them all, past and present.

But ultimately, we do it for you! So, we also want to say a big thank you to our viewers for relying on WITN and witn.com over the years for local news and weather coverage!

Check out the WITN 60th Anniversary videos below!