15. March 2010 · Comments Off on PLUNDERING THE PAPERS: DEAD TV IN FREDERICKSBURG, VA · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

October 8, 1973, and an ad appears in the Fredericksburg, VA Free Lance-Star:

69? What?

No, it wasn’t anything rude or suggestive. (Well, maybe suggestive) The ad heralded the launch of Fredericksburg’s very own TV station, WHFV-TV, channel 69, cable 11, at 6 pm that day. It was an NBC affiliate, a redundancy, considering that Fredericksburg, not far down I-95 from Washington, gets a perfectly adequate signal over the air and on cable from NBC’s own WRC-TV in D.C. No matter, Fredericksburg, a city just far enough away to be a small market of its own, had its own TV station.

But not for long. On May 29, 1975, the station shut down. The article about the closing in the Free Lance-Star noted that the station had experienced “10 months of mounting bills and dwindling hopes.” GM Ray McInturff pulled the plug at 5 pm that day — 4:57:45, to be exact — amid slim hopes that another company, Release the World for Christ Inc., would take the station over (although he said that the new company had indicated to him that they weren’t taking over after all). WHFV was $200,000 in the red at the end, having cut staff and pushed all of its operations to one end of the building in an attempt to rent out the other end. And the staff said it hasn’t been paid for the last three weeks of work. The end was a filmed travelogue followed by a taped message from Program Director Monty Smith.

Strangely enough, the paper did carry the program listings for channel 69 that evening, programming that never aired. NBC Nightly News at 6:30, local news at 7, “Country Place” at 7:30, NBC’s prime-time lineup (“Sunshine,” “The Bob Crane Show,” the network movie (“Terror on the 40th Floor”), news at 11, and “The Tonight Show”) after that.

One of the owners of the station was Jerry Wade Leonard, who, coincidentally, died on February 8th of this year.

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