Group of Alabama TV stations to play national anthem daily
Gray Television stations, including six affiliates that reach Alabamians, will return to a long-held American tradition of playing the national anthem every day.
After completing the purchase of Montgomery-based Raycom Media earlier this year, Gray is now the third-largest television station owner in the country.
The company has announced that its affiliates in 93 American markets will soon begin making The Star Spangled Banner a daily feature.
“It was a tradition for years — the playing of the national anthem at the end of television stations’ broadcast day,” a press release announced.
Now, that tradition is about to be back in a big way.
WSFA in Montgomery, WBRC in Birmingham, WAFF in Huntsville and WTVY in Dothan, will all take part. WTOK in Meridian, MS, and WTVM in Columbus, GA, both of which reach Alabama audiences, will also participate.
Gray Television produced the first version of the anthem that will run across all of the participating affiliates.
WTVY added a 15-second introduction to their version, embracing the idea enthusiastically.
Until television stations went to 24-hour operations, playing the national anthem was traditionally how the country’s television stations went off the air and returned back to broadcasting the following morning.
This aspect of the tradition is being maintained, as most participating stations will air the anthem at the respective times that they use as the official end of one broadcast day and the beginning of another.
For WTVY, this will be 5:00 a.m. each day.
Then, WSFA will air the national anthem shortly before 4:00 a.m. daily,
“I am thrilled that WSFA is joining all of the Gray Television Stations across this country for but one minute and forty five seconds to honor this great country of ours,” WSFA 12 News Vice President and General Manager Mark Bunting said in an article on the station’s website. “Whether one sees it as a fitting way to end the day or a great way to start the next, playing this version of the national anthem so beautifully sung is a perfect way to pay tribute to the greatest country in the world. God Bless America!”
Starting June 18, WBRC will also air the national anthem shortly before 4:00 a.m. each day, again marking the official end of one broadcast day and the beginning of another.
“Alabamians are proud of this country, and of the men and women who serve or have served for us,” WBRC Vice President and General Manager Collin R. Gaston stated. “We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, and it’s important to honor those who sacrificed so much to allow WBRC FOX6 News these liberties. That’s why I am proud WBRC will be joining other stations in the Gray Television family and broadcast the national anthem each and every day.”
WAFF will air the national anthem on a more nuanced schedule rather than at the changing of broadcast days.
That schedule is as follows:
After the 10 p.m. newscast on Monday
After the noon newscast on Tuesday & Thursday
Immediately before the 4:30 a.m. newscast starts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
Immediately before the 5 a.m. newscast starts on Saturday and Sunday
The Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) held a large stake of shares in Raycom – which it helped found – and is now a major shareholder with Gray after the acquisition.
Update 8:45 a.m.:
A reader sent in an example of WAFF’s sign-off from 1979.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn