About WAVE 3The station first signed on the air on November 24, 1948, originally broadcasting on VHF channel 5 with an effective radiated power of 24,100 watts. WAVE was the first television station to sign on in the state of Kentucky, and the 41st to debut in the United States.
The station has been a primary NBC affiliate since its debut, owing to its sister radio station's longtime affiliation with the NBC Red Network; however, it also initially carried secondary affiliations with ABC, CBS and the DuMont Television Network. The national coaxial cable did not reach reach Louisville until 1950, so prior to that, NBC programs were shown on film, as was national and foreign news.
On May 7, 1949, WAVE-TV became the first television station in the United States to present a live telecast of the Kentucky Derby. The station shipped a canned newsreel of the event to NBC to broadcast nationally. The telecast was the first use of a Zoomar Lens in a television sports broadcast. The lens was loaned to WAVE by inventor Frank Back. Not long after the Derby, WAVE acquired a Zoomar lens of its own, which was frequently loaned to the other stations owned by WAVE-TV.
WAVE-TV lost CBS programming when WHAS-TV (channel 11, now an ABC affiliate) signed on in March 1950; it later lost DuMont when the network folded in August 1956. Channel 3 continued to share ABC programming with WHAS-TV until WLKY (channel 32) signed on as a full-time affiliate in September 1961. It has remained with NBC since then, and as such, WAVE is the only commercial television station in the Louisville market that has never changed its primary network affiliation.
In 1953, WAVE-TV moved to VHF channel 3, due to signal interference issues with fellow NBC affiliate WLWT in Cincinnati. The move included a new, 100,000 watt transmitter and 600-foot (183 m) tower atop a 925-foot (282 m) (above sea level) knob above New Albany, Indiana. This increased WAVE-TV's coverage by 66%. WAVE-TV made history again in 1954 as it became the first station in Louisville to broadcast programming in color; viewers were treated to a vivid image of the new NBC Peacock logo.