The History of WTLW TV
1933-’80 | Before it was TV44 it was The Lima Airport
1976-1980| The Beginning: WTGN TV?
In 1976 the vision of Christian television for Lima, Ohio was the passion of Ron Mighell, general manager of WTGN-FM. In 1976, WTGN listeners pledged the initial start up money to bring Christian television to West Central Ohio.
During the lengthy legal process that took nearly 7 years, WTGN ended its interest in creating TV44 however, Ron Mighell continued the fight and reorganized the application creating American Christian Television Services, Inc.(ACTS Inc.) The new board (consisting of ‘Andrea King, Ron Mighell & Larry Sheets) chose the call letters, WTLW, which stands for Witnessing The Living Word.
One of the first steps in launching a new TV station was selecting a building site. The facility WTLW now calls home is the original Lima Airport built in 1933. The building had been abandoned since the mid 1970s and was most recently used as a Christian coffee house called, “The Mustard Seed”. Ron Mighell toured the 80 ft. by 80 ft. hanger and envisioned it as the largest studio in Northwest Ohio. In 1980, scores of volunteers pooled their talents to renovate the dilapidated building into a modern television production facility.
1982-1990 | A Station Of Firsts
After six years of hard work and $1,000,000 in donations, Channel 44 broadcast its first signal on June 13, 1982 at 3:30 p.m. TV44 originally was only on the air from 4:30pm until 10pm each day.
But as support grew so did the broadcast day and the local programs produced by TV44. Everyday TV44 would go live at 6pm with a weathercast, followed by Paul Harvey, then Ron Mighell would host “Behind The Scenes”. Later TV44 would create several local programs ranging from “Tools & Tips” to “Time for You” a live ministry program. We would also produce election night coverage and even air Cincinnati Reds baseball in the mid-1980s.
When the bombs dropped in Baghdad starting the Gulf War, TV44, then a CNN affiliate, was the first station in the area to stay on the air 24/7 and has never turned off the transmitter since.
1990-2000 | Sports & Youth
Founder Ron Mighell resigned in 1990 to launch WLMB Channel 40 in Toledo. Bob Placie served as general manager from 1990 to 1997 and hosted many of the TV44 programs from sign-on through his tenure at the station. He also led WTLW into successful programming avenues such as local news and an expansion of local sports coverage. Placie resigned in 1997 to pursue interests in private enterprise. Kevin Bowers was named General Manager in December 1997 and continues in the position today. TV44 began sports coverage in 1988 with a makeshift operation of a couple of cameras and two announcer:s Mike Schepp and Mark Miller. By the mid-90s TV44 was producing award winning sports coverage with upwards of 6 cameras, instant replay, stereo audio and state of the art graphics, all from a production truck home-built by the engineers of TV44. The success and support of the local sports has been unmatched and in 2010 TV44 launched WOSN (West Ohio Sports Net) creating a 24/7 sports network. TV44 has always emphasized local programming: Turning Point & 44 Magazine were daily shows in the 1980s-2000s, Straight Talk from Teens and countless news and information programs and documentaries. TV44 is the only station in West Central Ohio honored with 4 Emmy Nominations and 1 Emmy to it’s name competing against markets like Cleveland and Indianapolis.
2000-Present | Come Home to 44
TV44 continues to be the station that connects our community. From The Holiday Music Festival, featuring more than 1,000 high school students every Christmas season, to our WHIZ QUIZ program, TV44 remains invested to the accomplishments and future of our local youth. We also highlight local events through Community Datebook and broadcast coverage of the National Day of Prayer.
TV44 can do all of this thanks to the faithful support or viewers in the community. Since 1982, this viewer supported station has been able to Witness the Living Word to West Ohio and beyond.