Digital switch is latest technical advance for WRAL-TV

Posted June 12, 2009

—  WRAL joined TV stations across the country in shutting off the analog signal Friday.

When Capitol Broadcasting President and CEO Jim Goodmon flipped the switch, anyone watching TV on rabbit ears lost their signal.

Goodmon brought 53 years of analog television from Ch. 5 to an end with the tap of two buttons.

"Channel 5 is gone," he said somberly. While viewers can still tune in to WRAL-TV on Ch. 5, the analog broadcast at that frequency no longer exists.

The transition to digital is just the latest advance in television technology under Goodmon’s watch. He was there when Ch. 5 went on the air in 1956, standing beside his grandfather.

The station signed on that December, as a full-power NBC affiliate. The Huntley-Brinkley Report debuted the same year.

During the next decade, the station transitioned from black and white to color film and began building a strong reputation for local news coverage.

In 1978, WRAL-TV erected the highest man-made structure east of the Mississippi at the time – a 2,000-foot transmitting tower at Auburn in eastern Wake County.

In 1996, WRAL-TV became the first commercial station in the country to broadcast an HDTV signal.

In 2000, WRAL-TV aired the first all-HD newscast in the world, from the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.

“This is sad to turn off the big 5,” Goodmon said, “But I'm looking forward to the future."

He is passionate about the benefits the digital transition will mean for viewers.

“Perfect picture, no ghost, no snow,” he described. “Remember you'd move your antenna? No more! Now it's a digital perfect picture.”

The switch means WRAL’s TV signal reaches farther. “We have actually improved our coverage,” Goodmon said. “Our estimate is that we have an additional 200,000 people in our coverage area.”

Some viewers called WRAL after the switch to say their picture is better. Those who are not seeing some channels may need to rescan their digital television or converter box. It is as easy as unplugging the TV or converter box, waiting five minutes and plugging it back in.

Viewers using an antenna may also need to re-position it to get the best reception. Moving it just a foot can make a big difference.

Once the blips are worked out, Goodmon says the digital transition opens doors to new technology.

In April of this year, WRAL-TV, put digital television on local transit buses allowing passengers to view WRAL programming. Up next is a plan for similar technology to allow users of mobile phones to watch TV on the go.

Where to get help

You can also get information by calling the FCC's hotline at 1-888-Call FCC (1-888-225-5322) or reading our DTV help page.

To ask questions in person, visit one of the designated DTV help locations listed below.

Best Buy
6101 Capital Blvd
Raleigh, NC 27616

4300 Fayetteville Road
Raleigh, NC 27603

Farm Labor Organizing Committee
4354 U.S. Hwy. 117 South Alt.
Dudley, NC 28333

El Quelite And Wash Time Laundrymat
1790 U.S. Hwy 17
Faison, NC 28341

Amtrak Station
400 W. Chapel Hill St.
Durham, NC 27701

Amtrak Station
320 W. Cabaruss St.
Raleigh, NC 27601

Wayne County Senior Center
100 South John Street
Goldsboro, NC 27865

Franklinton Senior Center
602 East Mason
Franklinton, NC 27525

Elizabeth Memorial Library
213 East Main Street
Murfreesboro, NC 27855

Best Buy
14125 Rivergate Pkwy
Charlotte, NC 28273

Radio Shack
813 Patton Avenue
Asheville, NC 28806

Radio Shack
K-Mart Plaza Shop Center
4 South Tunnel Road
Asheville, NC 28805

Radio Shack
Highland Square Mall
210 Highlands Square Drive
Hendersonville, NC 28792

Radio Shack
Forest Ridge Shop Center
1636 Hendersonville Hwy 4
Asheville, NC 28803

Radio Shack
K-Mart Plaza
1189 Russ Ave.
Waynesville, NC 28786

Radio Shack
Biltmore Square Mall
800 Brevard Road
Asheville, NC 28805


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  • luvmyjackrascal Jun 15, 2009

    I can't get channel 5 or 48. Didn't they scan that they would be channel 48 after the switch? I can get all of the channels except WRAL.

  • Just the facts mam Jun 12, 2009

    I have been using the converter box to get digital for over a year now - I hate it. I live in Cary main and had to purchase a more expensive antenna ($50.00) just to try to get some reception on one TV, 2 converter boxes that I had to pay another $50.00 after coupons for 2 TV's, and I am holding off paying another $50.00 for an antenna for the 2nd TV. So it has been expensive for me - yeah I get a few more channels when they come in, but overall the reception is worse. Heaven forbid a plane fly overhead as airport is couple miles away, or if it is raining or windy. So thumbs down from my point of view!!!

  • NeverSurrender Jun 12, 2009

    "Gee another story with WRAL patting themselves on the back - anyone else surprised?"


    Considering that they've been at the leading edge of the technology curve with several "firsts" to their credit, I'm pretty OK with that.

    My only question is how big a bribe did Monica Laliberte make to be the one reporting at the tower when the signal went down!

    She sure looked like she had the shock of her life when Jim Goodmon sprung his surprise on her letting her power down the filaments after he shut down the plates on the old analog equipment! That was some seriously awesome security on that operation because she did not see that one coming as the "deer in the headlights" look certainly proved. :)

    TV will carry on well enough but those of us who remember analog broadcasts, "snow" (which is an analog-only artifact), the broadcast day actually ending, and FCC-mandated service announcements about aural/visual power output...there is a bit of the old romanticism gone with digital.

  • redmoon Jun 12, 2009

    Same old "5" just cost more to see it, now they need to remove their bias or slant they have..

  • nsj Jun 12, 2009

    @wjharward - "TV 5" will live on. We are now broadcasting in digital on a frequency known as "Channel 48", but digital televisions and converter boxes will re-map channels to the channel numbers we're all familiar with. That's part of why we need to "re-scan" for channels. This process identifies all of the stations available, then re-maps their channel numbers to where they need to be.

  • RonnieR Jun 12, 2009

    It will be on RF channel 48, but the digital box will treat it as 5.1 (Big 5) and 5.1 THIS. Now where did 5.3 the weather channel go?

  • jglusco Jun 12, 2009

    You can direct questions about WRAL reception to DTVquestions@wral.com

  • oldhomeplace Jun 12, 2009

    I have rescanned my tv, but I still can't get WRAL. I get the other channels in digital does anyone know what the problem could be?

  • thx1138 Jun 12, 2009

    I'm curious if this means Tower King will be back swapping antennas on the candelabra tower.

  • wjharward Jun 12, 2009

    With the end of the analog signal, what does this mean for the channel number "5?" Will this number no longer be used, presumably because it was associated all these years with the analog signal, or will there be a new number to replace it? I had heard that the digital number was associated with the number 48. Will that be how Channel 5 will now be known, as Channel 48? Will somebody please let me know? Thanks.