We at WTOK are celebrating 60 years of service to you, our loyal viewers. Over the years there have been many changes on and off camera, but one thing has remained the same. That's our dedication to keeping you informed through what began as a very unique broadcast service.
September 26, 1953, is when WTOK-TV first hit the airwaves, forever changing broadcasting in east Mississippi and west Alabama.
During an interview in 1993 Robert Wright, who founded WTOK-TV, said some people within the broadcasting field frowned upon his venture.
"A vice president of one of the networks in New York told me that anybody who put a station in Meridian, Mississippi is a crazy man," said Wright. "The next time I saw him he was trying to sell me some film."
During its early years WTOK became known as the place for great local programming that would provide information and entertainment such as news, and the show that featured the group, 'Danny and the Dudes.'
Jimmy Crane was one of the members of that group. Four years after joining 'Danny and the Dudes,' he was hired at WTOK where he worked for 24 years.
"Because I worked at the station I was a popular guy. That was big," says Crane. "I remember the first picture that I saw on a monitor in color, and it was a box of Tide washing powder. It was the most beautiful picture that I had ever seen. When it comes to my fondest memory of the station it's the people. We were a family. We were a family."
It's that family touch, both within the station and the community, which has led WTOK to sustain its place as the news leader for east Mississippi and west Alabama.
In Part 2, we'll continue our 60th anniversary celebration by talking with one of the pioneers for the station. Plus, we'll give you a look behind the desk to show you what truly makes WTOK special.