Signal Comes Full Circle In Tri-Cities

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W. Hanes Lancaster Jr. will be shutting off the analog signal at Media General CBS affiliate WJHL Johnson City, Tenn., Friday at 12:29:30, during the station's noon news.

That's according to station general manager Jack Dempsey, who said WJHL was the first full-power commercial TV station to turn on an analog TV signal in the market.

Lancaster, 85, is the "founder, owner, operator, former GM and evening janitor," according to Dempsey, and the person who turned the power on at age 29 on Oct. 26, 1953.

The station has only had two general managers in those years, Dempsey pointed out. Lancaster retired in 1989, when Dempsey took over.

Dempsey said he decided the station should pull the plug midday and keep the switchboard open until 7 p.m. to handle calls from viewers. He decided Lancaster was the person to do it since "none of us would be here if it weren't for him."

And it won't be a ceremonial switch-off. Lancaster will do the actual turn-off from a laptop computer on the station's news set.

WJHL has been delivering a digital signal since April 2002.