WTVM 60th Anniversary: History

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Looking at old pictures of WTVM brings back fond memories for Allan Woodall Jr.

"My father was one of the original founders of WDAK-TV back in 1953, which later became WTVM," he says.

His father, Allen Woodall Sr., was the owner of WDAK Radio. He along with the Martin brothers of Martin Theaters, the predecessor to Carmike Cinemas, got into the T.V. business.

The station signed on for the first time on Oct. 6, 1953, as WDAK-TV on Channel 28. At that time, it was located on First Ave. and 13th St. in Columbus, where Carmike's corporate headquarters are today.

"We had a big window in the front facing First Ave. There would be just crowds of people that would come up," recalls Woodall Jr.

He even worked at the T.V. station while going to school at Columbus High.

"I did everything from answering the phones to running the camera."

Woodall's father eventually sold his interest in the station in 1956 to the Martin brothers. The call letters changed from WDAK to WTVM - M for Martin. It became known as Channel 9 four years later.

Leroy Paul was president of Aflac Broadcast Group when it was purchased in 1989. He says those were really good days.

"We refer to those days in the television business as the Tiffany years," says Paul.

By the time Aflac came into the picture WTVM had been bought and sold several times and had moved to Wynnton Rd. in 1970. That year WTVM became known as Action 9 News.

Still, not much has changed with the building, which Paul last walked through 15 years ago.

"Same spot, same building, same sign out front, same network affiliation, same studio basically that you have here now."

But some things have changed. The tower now has 'WTVM' displayed on all four sides, and the antenna, once the tallest in the world, still stands in Cusseta, and Action 9 News evolved into News Leader 9 in 1996, the brand we are known as today.

After nearly 30 years as neighbors, Aflac sold its entire broadcasting division including WTVM, to the station's current owner, Raycom Media, in 1997.

"It's been a great ride," says Woodall Jr.

And it continues to this day.

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