WPCQ-36 Charlotte, NC
August 1981 article in
Charlotte Observer about the move to WPCQ.
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RETURN TO THE MID-ATLANTIC GATEWAY
The Birth of
Mid-Atlantic TV Wrestling
During the late summer of 1981, Jim
Crockett Promotions moved their television tapings from their long time
home at WRAL in Raleigh to the
small studios of WPCQ TV in Charlotte. The first taping was Wednesday
night, August 5. The change was brought about when WRAL began carrying
the "PM Magazine" show which required the use of the studio for taping
of the local segments of that show. There was also the issue of the
local news broadcast expanding to an hour, placing more demands on
Reportedly, the move was scheduled for
WCCB-18 in Charlotte, across the
street from the old Charlotte Coliseum, but that plan fell through and
they hastily changed plans and moved to WPCQ.
The WPCQ studios were hardly suited for
wrestling. The ring had to be set in the studio at an angle in order for
there to be
room to fit in the cameras, announce desk and the studio hosts. Everyone
involved reportedly detested these conditions, but regardless, the
small confines were home to Crockett TV wrestling for nearly two years
before moving out into small arenas to tape the weekly shows in 1983.
WPCQ was also the home for the short lived
East Coast Wrestling which showed arena matches and older studio
tapes. The show was hosted by veteran Charlotte wrestling broadcaster
Big Bill Ward.
The final taping at WPCQ was on Wednesday
night July 1, 1983. On Monday July 6, 1983, Crockett held his first
independently produced wrestling taping for TV at the Greenville
Memorial Auditorium in Greenville SC, utilizing his new TV truck, an
operation named NEMO (National Electronic Mobile Operation.)
August 5, 1981
July 1, 1983
WORLD WIDE WRESTLING:
Rich Landrum, David Crockett
EAST COAST WRESTLING:
David Crockett, Sandy Scott,
WORLD WIDE WRESTLING:
done from set)
Bill Ward, David Crockett, others - names unknown.
World Wide Wrestling
East Coast Wrestling
Two photos of NWA World Champion Ric Flair
on the set of both programs taped at WPCQ studios.
(L) Bob Caudle interviews the champ on the
set of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling as co-host Sandy Scott
waits off camera. (R) World Wide Wrestling host David
Crockett interviews Ric Flair. An unidentified wrestler waits for his
match in the ring.
Charlotte Observer, August 1981.
Article by Mark Wolf
The clipping above was found in Johnny
Weaver's personal scrapbook when we visited with him in November of
2007. The 2nd part of the article was not included. At some point, I am
going to try and check the microfilm archives at a library and find the
rest of this article, which provides some good information about the
move from WRAL in Raleigh to WPCQ in Charlotte.
Here is the text of the article (so far):
TV Wrestling Keeps Hold on its Fans
By Mark Wolf
In the corner of WPCQ-TV’s (Channel 36) studio, Wahoo McDaniel is joking
with fans. A group of teenage girls jeers Sgt. Jacque Goulet, who is
watching the preparations through a second-story window. As the floor
manager counts down the final seconds to air time, David Crockett adjust
his tie and Bob Caudle is trying to find the best place to put the
ringside bell just before he says, “Hi wrestling fans. This is Bob
Caudle along with David Crockett….”
Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling is on the air – actually, on tape –
and with its companion show, “Wide World Wrestling,” soon will air on 26
stations in 19 markets. Both hour long programs are taped on a single
(very long) day. Producer Jim Crockett, President of Jim Crockett
Promotions, routinely arrives at the studio at 10 am and does not leave
until 13 hours later.
Wrestling is a venerable television programming staple. In 1948, there
were four live network prime-time wrestling shows weekly. Those died
within a few years, but syndicated wrestling programs still appear in
virtually every television market in the nation. Atlanta’s WTBS
(Charlotte Cable 6) brings three hours of weekend wrestling to its large
national cable audience.
Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling is the oldest syndicated program in
the South and has appeared on WBTV (Channel 3) since 1958, when it was
televised live from the station’s studio. Since, it has been a weekend
fixture (currently 2:30 pm Saturdays). The show is occasionally bounced
around the schedule, but its fans seem to find it. In the past year, it
pulled a respectable 30 share on WBTV. “Wide World Wrestling” has been
on Channel 36 for more than 10 years (now at 5 pm Saturdays). The
ratings are lower than “Mid-Atlantic” but “pretty good for us on
Saturday afternoons,” says program director Nat Tucker. “I think its
audience is very, very loyal.”
Both programs are offered on a barter basis. The stations receive the
shows for free and have a few commercial minutes to sell. In exchange,
the Crocketts get commercial for their matches.
For the past five years, tapings were anchored at Raleigh’s WRAL-TV, but
a crunch on studio time caused by that station’s “P.M. Magazine” and a
proposed hour-long newscast meant there was insufficient time for taping
the wrestling show.
That is how Charlotte’s WPCQ-TV got to be the new home base.
(Thanks to Peggy Lathan for transcribing
the WPCQ newspaper article.)
The old WPCQ studios in what was then the
middle of nowhere. Actually on Hood Road, northeast of town.
Crockett Promotions taped wrestling here for two years in the early
1980s. (Photo from
Satellite Image from Google Maps
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The station signed on in 1968 as WCTU-TV,
North Carolina's first independent station. Jim Bakker began his
television ministry at WCTU shortly after he broke off from Paul Crouch
and TBN. Other than the religious shows a couple hours a day, the
station aired cartoons, sitcoms, old movies and sports. The station hit
hard times financially and was put up for sale in 1972.
Ted Turner bought the station in 1973 and renamed it WRET (after his
initials, Robert Edward Turner). He retained the entertainment format
and made it stronger. He made the station profitable almost immediately,
as he did in Atlanta with what became WTBS.
In 1978, ABC moved its affiliation from WCCB-TV to WSOC-TV. It was
widely expected that WCCB would simply swap affiliations with WSOC and
become the NBC affiliate, but Turner scored a major coup when he won
WRET the NBC affiliation. A few years earlier, the station had been on
the verge of closing down. Turner sold about half of WRET's programming
to WCCB, including cartoons, older sitcoms, and movies. The station also
began a newscast.
Turner sold the station to Westinghouse Electric Corporation (Group W)
in 1980 in order to free up cash to start up CNN. Under Westinghouse,
the station changed call letters to WPCQ-TV, and added more game shows
and talk shows to its lineup. It was the only UHF station owned by Group
W, and the only Group W station without news, which was cancelled
shortly after the purchase. There was virtually no newscast from then
until 1986 aside from hourly cut-ins. Even some of Group W's popular
shows, like PM Magazine and Hour Magazine, were seen on statons other
Renaissance Broadcasting bought the station in 1985, and renamed the
station WCNC-TV (for Charlotte, North Carolina) in 1988. Soon afterward,
it moved to channel 6 on all Charlotte area cable systems and began
promoting itself as "WCNC-TV36, Cable 6." The Providence Journal Company
bought WCNC in 1990, and merged with Belo in 1997. From 1996 until 2003,
the station was known on-air as NBC6, after its cable location. It still
calls itself "channel 6" on-air.
The station stumbled in the ratings for much of the 80s, when it was the
third station it what was essentially a two-station market--even with
NBC's powerful Thursday night lineup. It didn't have a lot going for it,
as its major rivals, WBTV and WSOC, had been on the air since the 1950s.
Also, longer-established NBC stations in Winston-Salem, Columbia and
Greenville were available over the air and/or on cable in much of the
Charlotte market, significantly cutting into ratings. But many of this
station's problems were of its own making. Besides the lack of a
newscast, its signal was much weaker than was usually expected for a
network affiliate, at only 2.1 million watts.
When it restarted a newscast in 1986, it initially scheduled its evening
news for 5:30 pm--Charlotte's first drive-time newscast--knowing at the
time that it couldn't compete with WBTV and WSOC at 6 pm. It expanded
the 5:30 news to one hour in 1987 and boosted its signal to 5 million
watts. It finally added a 6 pm newscast in 1988. However, it still
dragged in the ratings until after Belo assumed control.
When Belo took over in 1997, it invested
large amounts of money in the station by hiring talent away from rival
stations. Belo also invested large amounts of money into new sets, a
news helicopter, a powerful live doppler radar system and other
equipment. For much of the early part of the 21st century, it has waged
a spirited battle with WBTV for second place behind WSOC.
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