There have been relocations of several television stations over the years here in Huntsville. However, there was one situation where a station was forced to relocate after a fire destroyed their studios--WAFF TV 48 had this happen to them in 1982.
Location on the mountain
The television station that would become WAFF TV moved to Huntsville from Decatur in 1968. The station moved to a facility on Monte Sano Mountain south of Highway 431, where it would stay for many years. The station underwent several call letter changes over the years (among those, WMSL TV and WYUR TV). The station would also alternate between being an ABC and an NBC TV affiliate over those years, as well. In 1978, AFLAC would purchase the station, naming it WAFF (American Family's Finest). In 1981, the station would build a new, stronger tower next to the studio facility.
Fire on the mountain
March 24, 1982, was a day of disaster for WAFF-TV. There was a fire at the studios on that evening. Low water pressure, coupled with fire hydrants that were not even connected to the water main grid for Huntsville, caused the firefighters fighting the fire to have problems keeping the fire from spreading, causing the whole studio for the station to disintegrate into a pile of ashes. As a result, the NBC affiliate was off the air in Huntsville, leaving Huntsville without one of the big three networks at a time when there were only three big networks (ABC, NBC, and CBS).
Relocation from the mountain
Cable companies were able to restore NBC network programming in days by picking up rebroadcasts from distant regional affiliates. For over-the-air viewers, however, it was over two weeks before programming was restored, once WAFF began to broadcast again, using facilities shared with another television station. A few months later, WAFF TV would permanently locate to a facility on North Memorial Parkway in a building that had been used previously as a jewelry store, making their decision permanent to relocate away from Monte Sano Mountain. However, their tower, as well as those of all other local stations, remained on the mountain as that is the highest point in the area. During the situation, other local stations showed their support of WAFF TV, even placing advertisements in the local newspapers to show that support (which would be a gesture returned years later when WAAY TV's main tower collapsed during repairs).
WAFF TV's location on Monte Sano Mountain was lost in a fire. However, WAFF TV relocated to a new location, determined to continue its service to the Huntsville area.
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