The station first went on the air on July 1, 1949, as WBRC-TV (standing for Bell Radio Company, after Fountain Heights physician J.C. Bell, founder of radio station WBRC) (960 AM). In June 1999, the "-TV" suffix was removed from the call sign). Although WBRC-TV was the first television station in Birmingham to be licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), it is the second-oldest television station in Alabama, having launched on May 29, little over a month after WAFM-TV (channel 13, now WVTM-TV). The Birmingham Broadcasting Company, managed by Eloise D. Hanna, formerly owned it, along with WBRC radio. M. D. Smith, Hanna's first husband, purchased WBRC radio from Bell in 1928. Her son, M.D. Smith III, who worked in advertising sales at the radio stations before being elevated to program director and vice president, was the television station's operations manager. M.D. Smith IV, his son, then founded Smith Broadcasting, which bought WAFG-TV, Channel 31 in Huntsville, Alabama, in 1963, with himself as operations manager. The call signs were changed immediately to WAAY-TV. M.D. Smith III has also been appointed as a remote General Manager of WAAY-TV in Birmingham.