In 1988, while exploring a hobby in Ham Radio,
Vernon Watson had learned that the amateur ham radio service
also had a amateur ham TV (ATV) service. Since he already had
a hobby in 8mm films production he thought amateur TV would be
a more modern way to continue his past time. While researching
the amateur ham TV service, he came across an article addressing
low power TV. Unknowing to him, amateur TV (ATV) and low power
TV (LPTV) were two very different services.
He quickly learned that Low power TV
(LPTV) was a professional broadcast service similar to the well
known full power TV broadcast service. Anxious to learn more
about amateur TV or this "new thing" called low power
TV, Vernon contacted the author of the article and quickly learned
the different. He also learned that it LPTV was an affordable
way to get into the professional broadcast business at reasonable
costs. He continued his searched to learn all he could about
low power TV.
Vernon learned that low power TV service
was created in 1982, to fill a void in professional broadcasting.
The first reason the federal Communications Commission (FCC)
decided to establish LPTV service was to get full utilization
of the TV broadcast spectrum. You see, full power televison stations
on the same channel must be geographically separated several
hundreds miles apart not to interfere with each other. Therefore,
gaps are left in the spectrum where smaller or lower power TV
stations could operate to fill in the gaps without interfering
with full power stations. Second, LPTV stations were created
for ninche broadcasting in urban areas addressing the need of
minorities, women, or special interest groups and broadcasting
in rural areas where full power stations can't service.
After must reseach and consideration
and hiring consulting engineers to determine if a channel or
spectrum was available in the Pensacola area, Vernon who at the
time was running a part time video production business dediced
to give low power TV a try. Itwas determined that channel 12
was available in this market.
Vernon hired Harry Tootle of Tulsa, OK,
a so called consultant engineer to conduct an engineering study
to determine if a channel was available in this area. During
his research of low power TV, Vernon came across an ad that said
"you can own a TV station for cost of a new car." Vernon
is among the working class and did not have lcapital to invest
into a television station. However, as a hard working individual,
that was employment full time as an EEO Director with the federal
government at the Naval Air Station, part time as an Adjunct
Instructor at Pensacola Junior College, as well as being member
of the United States Air Force Reserves on weekends in addtional
to running his part time video business, he knew he probably
could afford a televsion station if it only the cost of a new
car. He wrote away and sent a check for $25.00 to get Harry Tootle's
audio cassette tape and booklet on "How To Own A Televison
Station For The Price Of A New Car"
The FCC licensed Vernon Watson to broadcast on
channel 12 in Pensacola, Florida in June 1992.
The call sign W12CN
was assigned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
The State of Florida assigned
Watson Broadcasting Of Pensacola as a d.b.a. (doing business
as) and WBOP was created.
Vernon & Mary Lynn Watson
become the first African Americans in Pensacola, Florida and
the State of Florida to own a broadcast television station
Vernon Watson became the first
General Manager of WBOP
From 1992 to 1994, WBOP TV-12
was operated out of the Watson's home, doing only 'broadcasting'
24 hours a day. This made the Watsons to become the first "home
based" TV station.
Local authorities would not allow
normal business transactions such as sales activities, production
operations, and traditional employees in a residential neighborhood
where the TV station was located, therefore very limited revenue
was generated during this period.
Revenue was generated by playing
prerecorded taped local TV shows and commercials that were produced
outside of our TV station. Most shows were local religious programs
and local community events. There were some "live"
broadcasts done out of a make shift studio within the Watson's
The first "live" show
was called "Smith & Smith On Sports". This was
a live weekly show hosted by Michael Smith and Al Smith speaking
on the current events in sports that week
Vernon Wells and Scott Gallowa
were the first salesmen to be hired to work for WBOP TV-12
In 1994, WBOP TV-12 moved
to our current location at 3101 North "R" Street and
started normal business operations and sales activities.
We adopted the motto of: "Dedicated
to the Community We Share"
In 1994, Wilton Daily and Raychelle
Gaston-Shoemoe was hired as WBOP's first salespersons in it's new location.
Carl Suliman and Vernon Watson
performed major renovation to the building during 1994 to create
the broadcast studio as it exist today.
In February 1995, WBOP
held an Open House to celebrate it's new location
In March 1995, WBOP
became the Gulf Coast's first Warner Brothers Affiliate (The
WB Network) .
In July 1995, Donald Ray Watson
was named WBOP's
first Station Manager
In October 1995, we changed our
FCC call sign from W12CN to WBQP
call letters. Contrary to popular
belief, WBOP was never our official FCC sign but rather a
doing business as (d.b.a.) name to resemble a four letter call
sign and to gain instant recognition as an African American oriented
The fact is that the call letters
"WBOP" had been
previously assigned to an African American formatted radio station
in town. WBOP Radio had served Pensacola as the only "voice"
to black community for more 30 years and it went off the air
unexpectedly in 1988. However, WBOP Radio station was not African American owned.
In 1991,unknown to us, the FCC
had reassigned the call sign WBOP to another radio station in Virginia. Since we
weren't licensed to broadcast until 1992, after the WBOP
call sign had been already been reassigned to the Virginia radio
station we did not have any claim to WBOP as a call
Since WBOP was assigned
to a radio station and we were a television station, the FCC
would have authorized the usage of the call sign to both stations.
However, in order for us to use the WBOP call letters
for the television station we had to get "special written
permission" from the radio station in Virginia to use WBOP
as our call letters. They wanted to sell us the usage of the
call sign for $25,000
There were a lot of confusion
with the identify of the "new" television station called
WBOP and the "old"
radio station known for many years as WBOP. Since the
TV station (Watson Broadcasting Of Pensacola, WBOP) had no ownership or affiliation none whatsoever
with the "old" WBOP radio station and to avoid confusion and to
establish our own identify, we decided to changed our name and
call letters to WBQP
During 1994 and 1995, there were
a continuous struggle and fight to be added the local cable system
and to have our TV schedule listed in the local newspaper.
In late 1994, we won the battle
to be listed in Pensacola News Journal's newspaper TV listing
The battle to be added to the
cable system continued even after many pleas from community groups
and the city council. The cable company would not agree to just
add us to system for free like all other broadcast stations,
but finally, opted to lease us a channel at a very expense rate.
Since we were classified a low power TV station and did not qualify
for "must carry" under the FCC's rule like the other
high power broadcast stations, we had no choice but to lease
a channel to survive.
In October 1995, we were finally
added to the Cox Cable system and was
assigned channel 50, which increased our viewer ship an additional
80,000 new cable subscribers households
In October 1996, WBQP TV-12
was denied the renewal of the WB network affiliation in favor
of a small "high power" TV station. The WB network
was assigned to WFGX in Fort Walton Beach, Florida
In March 1996, WBQP TV-12 won
the Pensacola's Chamber of Commerce Minority Business of the
October 1996, H.D. "Peanut"
Crawley was named as the Station Manager
In September 1997, WBQP TV-12
jumps on the World Wide Web with it's own web page at "http://www.wbqp.com"
In 1997, we continued to grow
and prosper as an organization!
In October 1997, WBQP TV-12 adapted
a new motto:
Station That Cares"
In December 1997, WBQP TV-12 incorporated
as Watson Broadcasting, Inc.
In January 1998, Gary Montgomery
was promoted from Sales Manager and assigned as WBQP TV-12's new Station Manager
In February 1998, WBQP TV-12 installed
electronic news gathering (ENG/EFP) equipment to enhance production
by having the capability to do remote broadcasts
In March 1998, WBQP TV-12
became the first TV station in Pensacola to install a Tower Cam/Weather
In April 1998, WBQP TV-12
began broadcasting 24 hours a day on the internet. Web casting
will allow anyone in the world to view WBQP TV-12 broadcasts.
WBQP TV-12 was the first African American owned TV station
to web cast 24 hours a day.
In May 1998, WBQP TV-12
entered into a mentor program agreement with the local ABC affiliate
WEAR TV-3. WEAR TV Channel 3 agreed to mentor WBQP TV-12
for one year to provide managerial and technical knowledge to
help become a professional broadcaster
In June 1998, WBQP TV-12
changed it's cable channel from channel 50 to channel 57 on the
Cox's cable system
In August 1998, WBQP TV-12
will install a bigger TV transmitter that is 10x times more powerful
than the current transmitter.