When WBOC TV 16 began broadcasting on July 15, 1954, the name WBOC was already a household word to Delmarva residents. That is because in 1954 WBOC Radio was already almost 14-years-old and it was the first successful radio station on Delmarva.
There had been other attempts, but it was not until a group of prominent local businessmen joined together to form the Peninsula Broadcasting Company did Delmarva enjoy its own, local radio station. And enjoy it they did: by the time WBOC began broadcasting television, WBOC radio was one of the most successful local radio stations in the country, having been on the air since Sept. 13, 1940.
WBOC’S entry into television was as the home team, and when the first black and white signal was broadcast from Salisbury that July 15, Delmarva was more than ready to watch it, support it and make it their own.
Early programming on WBOC was nothing like it is today. Those who were there say the WBOC studios at Radio-TV Park in Salisbury quickly became the cultural and social hub of Delmarva, as the station hosted live variety shows, game shows, talent contests, beauty contests and hours of live, in-studio educational programs.
There was also, for the first time, national television news coverage, and it was on WBOC that Delmarva watched the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s, the assassination and burial of John F. Kennedy in the 1960s, and the Vietnam War in the 1970s.
Originally a part of the Dumont Television Network, WBOC’s management soon found the national networks were very interested in the Delmarva market, and for a time WBOC was an affiliate of all three national networks, CBS, NBC and ABC before finally becoming a CBS affiliate which it remains to this day.
In 1961, faced with a quickly changing industry, Peninsula Broadcasting decided to sell the station to the A.S. Abell Company of Baltimore, publishers of the Baltimore Sun and owners of WMAR TV in Baltimore.
The A.S. Abell company operated the station for nearly 20 years, before selling to its current owner, Draper Communications, in November of 1980. Thomas H. Draper was a very young man when he put together a successful effort to purchase the station, and his hands-on management style and boundless energy revitalized an enterprise that understandably had grown rather set it its ways over the years.
Under Draper's direction, the transmitter was moved and power increased to 4 million watts; departments within the station were streamlined, equipment was upgraded, and Tom Draper made a commitment to local news gathering that continues to this day.
For many years WBOC was the only television station on the Delmarva Peninsula and for many people, it still is. In spite of the number of choices now available, WBOC is still by far the most popular television station on Delmarva. WBOC enjoys that loyalty because it has earned it, through decades of commitment to quality in broadcasting; in news gathering and in public service.
In broadcasting, our engineers have spent decades refining every aspect of our facility, always expanding, always upgrading, always putting the quality of our television products and our broadcast signal ahead of all other considerations.
WBOC’s commitment to news in well-known in the industry and our news department has won every major national award there is to win. We continue to win them, every year. We do not try to win awards, though. We try to gather and report the most accurate, fair and balanced news possible, and that is what wins awards.
The station’s commitment to public service is no secret to the people of Delmarva. Whether it is 24-hour storm coverage during hurricanes to public health and safety promotion, WBOC is there. WBOC has grown from one newsroom to three.
The main newsroom, located in Salisbury, provides coverage for Maryland's lower Eastern Shore and Virginia's two Eastern Shore counties. The station's two other newsrooms are located in Dover and Milton, Del., to provide coverage of Delaware and the upper part of Maryland's Eastern Shore.
You might say that if WBOC has been broadcasting for 50 years, at least 10 of those years have been public service announcements. We are all proud of WBOC and proud to carry on a legacy of excellence in broadcasting.
From one low-power AM signal to two digital television stations and streaming video on the Internet, the mission remains the same: to provide the residents of Delmarva with the very best television possible. That is what this station has always done, and that is what we will always try to do in the future.
Happy Anniversary, WBOC!