50 Years Ago: The Final Day of Binghamton’s WNBF-TV – Channel 12
WNBF-TV was the first television in Binghamton. Those well-known call letters vanished from local television screens a half-century ago.
The owners of the WNBF-AM and WNBF-FM radio stations - Clark Associates - made local broadcasting history when they ventured into the exciting world of TV in 1949.
According to The Binghamton Press, WNBF-TV's first transmission consisted of a test pattern that went on the air around 5:30 p.m. October 13, 1949.
The newspaper reported the station's first "live" telecast occurred a few weeks later on November 8, election night. That's when Press reporter Tom Cawley "introduced Mayor-Elect Donald W. Kramer and his family to local television set owners."
Equipment testing and final preparations continued at the downtown Arlington Hotel until WNBF-TV began its regular program schedule on December 1, 1949.
Channel 12 had the Binghamton television market to itself for several years. Many of its on-camera staff, including Bernard Fionte and Bill Parker, became household names and familiar faces to area residents.
In 1972, Triangle Publications - the current owner of the WNBF radio and TV stations - sold its Binghamton properties. WNBF-AM and WNBF-FM were acquired by Stoner Broadcasting. WNBF-TV was purchased by Gateway Communications.
The WNBF-TV call letters could not be retained by the new station owners. So, they rebranded Channel 12 as WBNG. The change occurred on October 28, 1972.
Although the TV station started calling itself "WBNG" fifty years ago, there still are some people in the Binghamton area who refer to it as "WNBF-TV." It seems old habits die hard.
WNBF MEMORIES: Watch this tribute we presented after Bill Parker died in August 2019.
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