Hey — the Game’s on TV.
And the Radio
Afew University employees sauntered slowly,
hunched over the floor, collecting the debris
that littered Woollen Gym.
Two stories above them, a gaping hole appeared,
freshly knocked out of the gym’s north wall. Sunlight
streamed through it, reflecting off of the wax-coated
Soon, the body of a large television camera worked
its way snugly into the aperture, extinguishing the natural light but braced to shine a new kind of limelight on
the UNC men’s basketball team.
It was Jan. 8, 1955 — the day of the first broadcast
by WUNC-TV, the 10th educational television station
to hit American airwaves and the first time UNC basketball magically made its way into the living rooms of
Tar Heel fans.
Though its call letters represent the three original
colleges of the Consolidated UNC System — including
Woman’s College in Greensboro and N.C. State College
in Raleigh — the station was owned by Carolina and
based in Chapel Hill from the start. It aired the UNC-Wake Forest game on its first day of operation.
Bill Friday ’ 48 (LLB), who was assistant to the UNC
System president at the time, helped the television crew
pick up pieces of building material from the court floor
in preparation for the telecast.
“It was a strange thing to be doing, but there we
were, knocking it down,” he said of the wall.
Two boxy RCA TK 11 black-and-white cameras
were used to capture the excitement of that ACC
game, in which Coach Frank McGuire’s team upset
Wake Forest 95-78. The camera was restricted to rigid
lateral movements, and the zoom function was limited.
But the accomplishment was not small.
“That’s where basketball broadcasting began in the
South,” said Friday, who watched the game from the
sideline. A microwave tower atop Terrell’s Mountain in
Chatham County beamed WUNC-TV’s picture into
homes within a 100-mile radius.