WMDN - History

History

The station first signed-on June 10, 1968 under the call sign WHTV. It was originally owned by local businessmen Weyman Walker and James Britton. WHTV aired programs from CBS and ABC in a secondary manner that longtime CBS affiliate WTOK-TV presumably turned down. Unfortunately, like many UHF start-ups in a previously VHF market, this channel could not gain a significant foothold in ratings or local advertising and had to go dark on October 13, 1970.

On March 23, 1972, Frank K. Spain bought WHTV and made it a full-time satellite of WTWV (now WTVA) in Tupelo which was affiliated with NBC with some ABC programs such as college football carried at other times. Television guides during this time instructed viewers to consult WTWV's listings for WHTV's program schedule. This changed in 1980 when WHTV became the primary CBS affiliate for Meridian after WTOK became a primary ABC affiliate. In 1982, NBC returned to the market on WLBM (now WGBC) as semi-satellite of WLBT in Jackson. In 1986, WHTV changed call letters to WTZH.

The station went bankrupt in 1991 leaving Eastern Mississippi and portions of Western Alabama without a CBS affiliate. During the gap, Hattiesburg's WHLT and occasionally Selma, Alabama's WAKA were carried by Comcast to provide CBS programming to cable subscribers. Finally, the Spain family returned this channel to the air as WMDN on February 2, 1994. From that year until 1997, the station aired National Football League games from Fox (which had actually acquired these games from CBS).

That was shared with WTOK which also aired some additional programming from the network in late night time slots as a secondary affiliate. In 1995, WMDN entered into a local marketing agreement (LMA) with WGBC. The Spains owned WMDN until January 2008 when Meridian businessman Michael Reed purchased the station along with WGBC, making them full sisters. Reed had to get a "failed station" waiver to buy WGBC because the Meridian market has only four full-power stations--not enough to legally permit a duopoly under normal circumstances.

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