Website celebrates Capitol Broadcasting, WRAL history

Posted December 15, 2014 4:03 p.m. EST
Updated December 15, 2014 6:54 p.m. EST

— Fifty-eight years to the day after WRAL-TV first went on the air, parent company Capitol Broadcasting on Monday launched a website celebrating its history, from the days of Action News 5 with anchor Charlie Gaddy to the pioneering use of high-definition signals.

"This company has one of the most interesting histories you could imagine," said John Harris, director of special projects for Capitol Broadcasting.

Harris led the effort to gather as many videos, photos and stories possible to tell the history of the company, including the former WRAL-AM, which went on the air in 1939 as Raleigh's second local radio station, and Capitol Broadcasting's renovation of the American Tobacco Campus in downtown Durham over the last decade.

Much of the material on the website is from the WRAL-TV archives, including the dance show Teenage Frolics, professional wrestling matches and the Uncle Paul children's show.

"It's amazing how many people you run into who say, 'I marched with Uncle Paul,'" Harris said. "They'll get to see a couple of Uncle Paul shows (on the website)."

But only a couple.

"Videotape in the early days was very expensive, and it was used over and over on a daily basis," Harris said, noting that much of WRAL's history has been lost to time.

Capitol Broadcasting is saving whatever material can be found, he said, and viewers can upload any relevant photos to the website and share stories of their interactions with WRAL or its parent company.

"A television station can document all the things that happen, good or bad, in this whole area," Gaddy said. "That is visual history, and it's so important."