3:30pm June 13, 1982
It was a sunny Sunday in Allen County. Most of the volunteers and small staff had rushed from Sunday church and changed into work clothes to put the finishing touches of paint on the new sets at the Baty Road Studios. Many were feeling like we’d crossed the finish line at 3:30 pm when Chief Engineer John Marshall pushed the “Plate ON” button, located on the brand new TV44 transmitter, which started the signal from our antenna to be activated.
The fact was it wasn’t the finish line; it was just the start of the race.
Since that day in 1982, TV44’s resume of broadcasting both national and local programs is too long to recite, let alone for us to remember. We would best summarize four decades on the air as “a miracle.”
Starting this spring, TV44 will begin celebrating this milestone with many special segments that will be on air on WTLW and WOSN, bringing back some of those memories. Moments like Bob Placie, who hosted the handyman show “Tools & Tips” and now hosts today’s award-winning talk show, ViewPoint. Over the years so many people have been in our studios that TV44 has been more than just a channel on the dial; it made an impact on our lives.
With hundreds of media options now on our TV and our smartphones, TV44 may just seem like part of the everyday media mosaic of our lives. However, it remains a miracle. And that is a story worth sharing.
Everyone has a story to tell. Throughout TV44’s history, our staff has interviewed and produced amazing stories about how God has saved or healed countless people in our area. But we’ve never told the story of the storyteller. TV44 has a fantastic testimony that has never been told.
Did you know that:
WTLW TV was initially supposed to be WTGN-TV?
Did you know TV44’s studios were originally an aircraft hanger until the 1970s?
That TV44 has made national headlines several times and was praised by Chuck Colson on his radio program?
That WTLW is the smallest market TV station that’s been nominated and won an Emmy?
Rosie Grier, Meadowlark Lemon, Larnelle Harris, Sandi Patty, and the Gaithers are just some of have all been interviewed by TV44?
Did you know that TV44 has produced four nationally syndicated programs?
That TV44 was the first station in our area to go 24/7 when the Gulf War began in 1992?
That WTLW & WOSN were one of the first stations to broadcast in HD in the nation?
The story of TV44 is not unlike so many stories in the Bible. The underdog that everyone said would never amount to anything, that ended up changing so many lives. It’s time to celebrate that, as well as the future.
One of the many people in the studio on June 13, 1982 was John “Owens” Ondo. John began volunteering at TV44, running cameras, later directing and producing many of TV44’s early programs. John continues to contribute to TV44 as a producer; however, he felt God calling him to tell the story of WTLW in a feature-length documentary. Beginning in the fall of 2021, John started to interview TV44’s family, many of which now living all over the world. “The story of TV44 is as powerful of any individual’s story we’ve ever shared,” said Ondo. The documentary “Station Identification: The story of WTLW-TV” is a pull back the curtain look at TV44 and the stories that few people have heard. Featuring never seen before interviews from founder Ron Mighell, who passed in 2014. Ron’s wife Becky and son Matt. Other interviews featuring Andy Lynch, Rod Hembree, Ginger Stache, Jennifer Beck and Andrea’ King.
A new look at the old days
One of the challenges of producing a cinema-quality documentary is using decades-old videotape footage. Ondo has been working for months with new A.I. software, which can clean up the old videotapes from the 80’s and 90’s and convert them to the highest quality possible for 2022. “It’s exciting to see Turning Point and Straight Talk from Teens, looking like it did back when it was live on the air,” said Ondo. The restoration of the old TV44 programs will be a treat to so many people who remember the shows from our early era.
We’ve only just begun
The documentary is in post-production and will debut around the June 13 anniversary. There are also a few surprises that will be announced soon regarding the anniversary celebration. Keep watching this site as we make more announcements.