A Guide to the TV Studios where wrestling
was taped for Jim Crockett Promotions
WBTV • WFBC • WRAL
WDBJ • WGHP • WCCB
DISCOVERING WRESTLING ON TV
by Wayne Brower
NEWSPAPER ARTICLES ON TV WRESTLING
PROSPERS ON TV
By Mark Wolf - The Charlotte Observer, March 25, 1978
GREATLY EXPANDED ON TV
By Mark Gillespie,
Charleston Post & Courier, Sept. 23, 1978
TEN POUNDS OF GOLD
A Close Look at the NWA
World Championship Belt
by Dick Bourne and Dave
With the advent of television in the 1940s, the national TV networks were desperate for
inexpensive programming to fill their broadcast schedule. One of the most
successful early forms of programming was professional wrestling, which
typically originated from one of the major broadcast centers like New York
Local broadcasting was quickly evolving in the late
1950s, and a growing
percentage of local programming began originating from the studios of the local
stations. In many cities, local stations followed the examples set by
the national networks when it came to ideas for original inexpensive
programming. One of those lessons learned was the success of locally
produced professional wrestling.
In 1958, Charlotte, NC television station WBTV partnered with local
wrestling promoter Jim Crockett to produce live televised wrestling bouts
in Charlotte. The arrangement was advantageous for both parties. WBTV
needed programming, and Jim Crockett benefited from an effective and far
reaching way to promote his weekly wrestling cards at the Charlotte Park Center.
On Saturday, January 11, 1958, WBTV aired its first live broadcast of
Local newspapers in communities around Charlotte began to spread the word
about the new program called "Live Championship Wrestling."
from the Gastonia (NC) Gazette is included here, at right.)
Both parties used this new arrangement to build loyal audiences that
lasted for decades afterwards.
FURTHER TV HISTORY
In the 1960s, Jim Crockett developed similar arrangements with local
television stations in other cities like High Point and Raleigh NC,
Greenville SC, and Roanoke VA. Each show helped promote local
Crockett cards and provided highly-rated programming for the local
station. Some of these stations taped the wrestling bouts while others continued to
live matches. WBTV began live, and then began taping the live matches on Wednesday
evenings at their studio to be aired on the following weekend.
In the early 1970s, Jim Crockett Jr., now running the family business with
his brothers and sister after the
death of their father, began to consolidate television tapings. WRAL in
Raleigh was chosen to be the central taping location, with tapes of the
shows being distributed to other affiliate stations in the Crockett
network across The Carolinas and Virginia. (See this
affiliate listing from 1977.)
In the 1980s, tapings moved back to Charlotte to the studios of WPCQ
television, and then soon after out into small arenas. Jim Crockett
Promotion's TV network had grown to include parts of West Virginia, Georgia,
and Florida, as well as expansion to selected markets in the northeast like
Baltimore and Philadelphia.
With the purchase of national TV time on cable superstation WTBS out of
Atlanta, Crockett began to also expand the syndicated network nationally.
This expansion, and the costs associated with it, were one of the factors that led
to the sale of the company by the Crockett family to Turner Broadcasting in
A Guide To
TV Studios that were home for Wrestling
in the Mid-Atlantic Area
Live Wrestling is slated on
Gastonia Gazette, January 7,
(ACTUAL CLIPPING SEEN BELOW)
WBTV will kickoff a
schedule of “Live Championship Wrestling” Saturday, Jan. 11 at 3:45 PM
according to an announcement by WBTV Production Manager Rob Rierson.
The weekly Saturday
afternoon matches will originate from the studios of WBTV and are being
televised in cooperation with Jim Crockett Promotions.
“Telecasts of live
bouts have been a big hit in other sections of the country,” Rierson said,
and we feel that they will be just as popular in the sports minded area we
serve. The tremendous success of Jim Crockett’s Monday night cards at the
Park Center gives an indication of the popularity of the sport.”
Most of the top
names of the wrestling trade will be featured on the telecasts. Included
in the group are Mike Clancy, junior heavyweight champion, George Becker
and Dick Steinborn, Southern tag team holders, Doc Gallagher, Kurt Von
Hess, Luigi Macera, Jim Austeri, Tom Bradley, Johnny Heidman, Gypsy Joe,
and the Elephant Boy.
card will pit Irish Mike Clancy against Jim Austeri in the feature bout
with Luigi Macara taking on Gypsy Joe in the windup. Both of the matches
will be the two out of three falls variety with a 30-minute limit on each
The format will be
the same every Saturday, two matches with the two out of three falls,
30-minutes time limit rule in effect.
George Becker and
Dick Steinborn will meet Tom Bradley and Johnny Heidman in a tag team
match in the feature bout Saturday, Jan. 18.
Big Bill Ward, host of
"Live Championship Wrestling"
“Big Bill” Ward,
WBTV’s sports director, and Leo Voss will handle the announcing and color
Wrestling fans who
wish to attend the matches in person can obtain tickets for the television
cards by writing to Jim Crockett Promotions in Charlotte or in care of
Research by Barry Caldwell. Thanks to Barry for sending this clipping and
helping us pinpoint this historic day in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling history.)