Digital switch is latest technical advance for WRAL-TV

Posted June 12, 2009 4:16 p.m. EDT
Updated June 12, 2009 7:09 p.m. EDT

—  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 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 .

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