WTNH went on the air June 15, 1948 as WNHC-TV Channel 6. It was the first television station in all of Southern New England. It signed on within days of WBZ-TV Channel 4 in Boston. WNHC was the first TV service for Hartford, Springfield, the Hamptons and Eastern Long Island.
WNHC-TV moved to Channel 8 on January 1, 1954. The call letters became WTNH in 1971.
WNHC-TV was the state’s only television station for nearly 5 years. It was also the only VHF-TV station for more than 9 years. (In the 1950s only VHF stations provided wide area coverage of all of Connecticut. UHF Signals were generally limited to the home county or metro area of the city of license in the 1950s).
WNHC was the first station to bring network TV to Connecticut with DuMont network programming the first night. Then it was affiliated with NBC in 1949, CBS by 1949 and ABC by 1950. As a result of the concurrent affiliations, WNHC was able to cherry pick the best TV programs and present them to Connecticut viewers.
WNHC ran top NBC shows such as Milton Berle, Bob Hope, Dragnet, Perry Como, Groucho Marx, the Today show, Mr. Wizard, and the daily News Caravan with John Cameron Swayze, the original evening network newscast.
It ran top CBS shows such as Ed Sullivan. Arthur Godfrey, Lucille Ball, Phil Silvers, Jack Benny, Burns and Allen and Red Skeleton.
It ran top ABC shows such as Ozzie and Harriet, American Bandstand with Dick Clark, Walter Winchell, Lawrence Welk, Leave it to Beaver, the Brady Bunch, Dick Cavett and Nightline with Ted Koppel. In its earliest decades, ABC was oriented to the youth market.
WNHC was the first DuMont affiliate (First day- June 15, 1948) and ran shows like Connecticut Bishop Fulton Sheen’s Life is Worth Living. The 1948 Democratic and Republican national conventions, at which Harry Truman and Thomas Dewey were nominated respectfully, were also broadcast live.
WNHC also produced local and live television show from the studios. A December 1953 advertisement reportedly notes that the station produced no less than 60 news, weather, variety, religious, and educational features from the New Haven studios.
The first educational programs were Mr. Wizard with Don Herbert on by 1951 and eventually University of the Air.
The first color show on WNHC was the Tournament of Roses parade on January 1, 1954.
WNHC was the first high-power TV station with wide area coverage with move from Channel 6 to Channel 8 on January 1, 1954, with 316,000 watts of power from atop Mount Gaylord.
WNHC produced the first live, local bandstand show with rock music. It was called Connecticut Bandstand with disc jockey Jim Gallant. The show had teens come from Connecticut towns each day, starting in October 1956, running until late 1962.
WNHC was also the first with children’s programming. Kukla, Fran and Ollie and Howdy Doody debuted on WNHC. In 1951, WNHC started its own local children’s shows such as Kitdoodle with Kit Adler starting in 1951.
The first major league baseball broadcast aired on WNHC. It covered the Yankees/ Dodgers/ Giants in the late 1940s.
In 1949 WNHC had its first local news program with Camera Headlines and aired the first TV network News Caravan with John Cameron Swayze weekday evenings for 15 minutes.