by Dave Miller
WALB-TV was started by the Albany Herald , and its owner, James H. Gray, Sr., in 1954.
The Herald entered broadcasting 13 years earlier, when it built WALB-AM radio. WALB-AM signed on in May of 1941, some six months prior to America's entry into World War II.
In 1953, the FCC granted a construction permit for WALB-TV on Stuart Avenue, which in that era, was a dirt road through a pecan grove.
When the TV station was completed in 1954, the radio staff was brought over from the Dunbar Lane transmitter site, and remained with TV until the radio station was sold to Allen Woodall, Sr., of Columbus, in 1960.
WALB's staff totaled 18 employees.When the station celebrated its 25th birthday, that number was 63. Currently, there are 103 on the WALB staff, including the Valdosta and Thomasville Bureaus.
For its first three years, WALB's signal was 112,000 Watts, and came from the 426-foot tower on Stuart Avenue.
In 1957 a 1,000 foot tower was built at it current broadcast site near Doerun, and the power was raised to 316,000 Watts.
The signal is seen from Monticello, Florida in the South to Pinehurst in the North, and from Blakely in the West, to Douglas in the East. WALB is also seen on over 50 cable systems all over South Georgia.
In March of 1976, the main studio portion of the station burned, but the business offices and transmitter link were saved. Using spare and borrowed equipment, the station got back on the air within a day, broadcasting from its shop building.
The station operated as the flagship of the Gray Communications Corporation until the Liberty Broadcasting Corporation bought the station in 1998.
WALB continues to set the pace in South Georgia television. Our news operation informs viewers seven days a week, with newscasts beginning at 5:30AM.
WALB prides itself on service to the South Georgia community, and devotes a significant portion of air time, in kind services, and promotional support to worthy causes.
updated on February 3, 2006