About WAVE 3On November 24, 1948, the station went on the air, initially operating on VHF channel 5 with an effective radiated strength of 24,100 watts. WAVE was the first television station in Kentucky to come on, and the 41st in the United States.
Because to its sister radio station's lengthy association with the NBC Red Network, the station has been a major NBC affiliate from its inception; however, it also initially had subsidiary affiliations with ABC, CBS, and the DuMont Television Network. Because the national coaxial cable did not reach Louisville until 1950, NBC programming, as well as national and international news, were broadcast on film.
WAVE-TV was the first television station in the United States to broadcast the Kentucky Derby live on May 7, 1949. The station sent a manufactured newsreel of the event to NBC for national transmission. The show was the first time a Zoomar Lens was used in a televised sports broadcast. Frank Back, the inventor, loaned the lens to WAVE. Not long after the Derby, WAVE obtained its own Zoomar lens, which was routinely leased to WAVE-other TV's stations.
When WHAS-TV (channel 11, currently an ABC affiliate) launched on in March 1950, WAVE-TV lost CBS programming; it later lost DuMont when the network dissolved in August 1956. Channel 3 continued to share ABC programming with WHAS-TV until September 1961, when WLKY (channel 32) went on as a full-time affiliate. Since then, it has remained with NBC, making WAVE the only commercial television station in the Louisville market that has never changed its major network affiliation.
Due to signal interference difficulties with rival NBC station WLWT in Cincinnati, WAVE-TV relocated to VHF channel 3 in 1953. A new 100,000-watt transmitter and 600-foot (183-meter) tower were installed atop a 925-foot (282-meter) (above sea level) knob above New Albany, Indiana. This improved the coverage of WAVE-TV by 66%. WAVE-TV made history again again in 1954 when it became the first station in Louisville to transmit color programs, presenting viewers with a stunning glimpse of the new NBC Peacock emblem.