Seven decades ago, the media landscape in Florida changed as WTVJ-TV became the first television station to sign on and broadcast in the Sunshine State.
On March 21, 1949, the venture owned by Wometco Enterprises became just the 16th television station in the entire country to begin broadcasting, with seven hours of a test pattern before a 25-minute newscast.
The station, Channel 4, carried shows from all four networks at the time – ABC, CBS, Dumont and NBC – before exclusively carrying CBS programming starting in 1957.
From WTVJ’s original home at 316 Miami Avenue, Channel 4 was the news and entertainment leader in South Florida, led by longtime news anchor Ralph Renick. Shortly after graduating from the University of Miami, Renick started a nearly four decades long career at WTVJ and brought in other longtime employees such as sports director Bernie Rosen and weatherman Bob Weaver.
Renick and the original news team brought South Florida plenty of firsts, including interviews with such notable figures as Martin Luther King Jr., Fidel Castro, countless presidents and a long-standing relationship with boxing champion Muhammad Ali.
Along the way, Channel 4 hired the first African American journalist in the area as well as the first female TV sportscaster in the entire country.
Other notable names who have spent time as a member of the WTVJ team include Katie Couric, Jose Diaz-Balart, Larry King, Bryan Norcross, Joe Rose, Tony Segreto and longtime current news anchor Jackie Nespral and South Florida’s chief meteorologist John Morales.
During its tenure with CBS, the station served as the broadcast home of The Jackie Gleason Show when it moved its production to Miami Beach along with bringing some of the more popular stars of the time to South Florida.
In 1989, WTVJ was part of a major switch in South Florida television when it became the new affiliate for NBC, who had purchased the station one year before. In 1995, another change occurred when it switched channel numbers with another South Florida station to become what has been known for over two decades as NBC 6.
The turn of the century marked one more big change in the history of WTVJ as the station moved from their longtime home in Downtown Miami to a state-of-the-art facility in Miramar as part of the continued effort to bring the best news and entertainment to South Florida viewers.