WSMV-TV, channel 4, is an NBC-affiliated television Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. The station is owned by the Meredith Corporation. WSMV’s studios and transmitter are located on Knob Road in west Nashville.
WSM got on air on September 30, 1950. The Nashville’s first TV station and the second in Tennessee, behind WMCT (now WMC, also an NBC affiliate) in Memphis was in the ownership of WSM, Inc. division of the locally-based National Life and Accident Insurance Company, along with WSM radio (650 AM and 95.5 FM); the AM station is well-known for broadcasts of the country music show The Grand Ole Opry, which has been to the station since 1925. The station gets its call sign from its slogan, “We Shield Millions.”
WSMV-TV, virtual channel 4 (VHF digital channel 10), is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Nashville, Tennessee, United States. The station is owned by the Des Moines, Iowa-based Meredith Corporation. WSMV's studios and transmitter are located on Knob Road in west Nashville.
WSMV first signed on the air as WSM-TV on September 30, 1950, at 1:10 p.m. It was Nashville's first television station and the second in Tennessee, behind fellow NBC affiliate WMCT (now WMC-TV, then also on channel 4) in Memphis. As a result of the WSM-TV sign-on, WMCT was forced to switch to channel 5 to avoid co-channel interference. WSM-TV was owned by WSM, Inc., a subsidiary of the locally based National Life and Accident Insurance Company, which also owned WSM radio (650 AM and 95.5 FM); the AM station is renowned for broadcasts of the country music show The Grand Ole Opry, which has been heard on the station since 1925. The station took its call letters from its parent's slogan, "We Shield Millions."
The television station has been an NBC affiliate from its sign-on, although it also carried some programming from CBS, DuMont, and ABC. Its secondary affiliation with ABC ended in 1953, when WSIX-TV (channel 8, now WKRN-TV on channel 2) signed on as a primary ABC affiliate. WSM-TV shared CBS programming with WSIX-TV for a year until WLAC-TV (channel 5, now WTVF) signed on in 1954 as the market's new primary CBS affiliate, leaving WSIX-TV with ABC. During the first few years of operation, AT&T would not run telephone lines for WSM-TV to receive network programming until there was another TV station in town. This problem was solved by the station running a private microwave relay transmission from fellow NBC affiliate WAVE-TV in Louisville, Kentucky.
Growth into the 1960s and 1970s
WSM-TV's studios were originally located at 15th Avenue South and Compton Avenue in south Nashville, near the present Belmont University. In 1957, the station attempted to a build a larger tower in west Nashville, near Charlotte Avenue. During the construction process, the new tower's supporting wires failed. This caused the tower to collapse, which took the lives of several people. Afterward, WSM-TV purchased its present property on Knob Road (farther west than the previous site, and allowable since WMCT, Memphis had switched to Channel 5 from Channel 4) and built a tower there is a forested section away from potential damage to life and property.
WSM-TV shared its broadcast facilities with noncommercial station WDCN-TV (channel 2, now WNPT on channel 8) beginning in 1962. In 1963, National Life and Accident Insurance built new studios for WSM-AM-FM-TV adjacent to the transmission tower on Knob Road. This left WDCN-TV as the sole occupant of the south Nashville building, where that station remained until 1976. In 1974, NL&AI reorganized itself as a holding company, NLT Corporation, with the WSM stations as a major subsidiary.
The WSM stations' close ties to Nashville's country music business has meant that the Knob Road facility and/or its personnel was, from time to time, used for the recording of network and syndicated programs featuring Nashville-based performers. This was especially the case during the 1960s and 1970s. Most if not all of these shows were packaged by Show Biz, Inc., headquartered in Nashville and a subsidiary of Holiday Inn. Show Biz, Inc. produced The Porter Wagoner Show, That Nashville Music, The Bill Anderson Show, Dolly! and several other programs seen throughout the U.S., especially on stations in the Southern and rural Midwestern U.S. The company dissolved in the late 1970s when its president, Jane Grams, became vice president and general manager of WTVC-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee. However, the Show Biz programs were seen on some stations well into the early 1980s.
Beginning in 1980, Houston-based insurer American General began purchasing blocks of NLT stock, eventually becoming NLT's largest shareholder and setting the stage for an outright takeover. However, American General, which had divested itself of the WLAC stations it owned in Nashville a few years earlier, was not interested in NLT's non-insurance businesses and opted to sell off the WSM division, which included the broadcasting interests, the Grand Ole Opry, the then-decrepit Ryman Auditorium, and Opryland USA. Gillett Broadcasting (operated by George N. Gillett Jr.) bought WSM-TV on November 3, 1981 and changed the station's callsign to WSMV that day (officially modified to WSMV-TV on July 15, 1982), in order to trade on the well-known WSM identity while at the same time separating it from its former radio sisters (the change was brought on due to an FCC rule in place at that time forbidding TV and radio stations in the same city but with different owners from sharing the same call letters; later, the television and radio stations would engage in news department cross-promotions).
Gaylord Entertainment Company purchased the remainder of WSM, Inc. nearly two years later, in 1983. Soon afterward, the radio stations moved out of the Knob Road facility into new studios on the Opryland Hotel campus.
WSMV-TV was sold on June 8, 1989, to Cook Inlet Television Partners, an Alaska-based company which was a subsidiary of Cook Inlet Region, Inc., an Alaska Native Regional Corporation.
Meredith Corporation ownership
Cook Inlet sold WSMV on January 5, 1995 to the Meredith Corporation. WSMV was not part of the affiliation deal between several Meredith stations and CBS (however, two other Meredith stations, then-independent KPHO-TV in Phoenix and then-NBC affiliate WNEM-TV in Bay City, Michigan, were) because the purchase was announced seven months after the affiliation deal had been finalized. As a result, WSMV became the only NBC affiliate in Meredith's present-day station group.
In early March 2009, it was announced that WSMV's master control operations would be rubbed at Meredith-owned sister station WGCL-TV in Atlanta. The new hub operation launched in summer 2009.
On September 8, 2015, Media General announced that it would acquire Meredith for $2.4 billion, with the combined group to be renamed Meredith Media General. Because Media General owned WKRN-TV, and the two stations rank among the four highest-rated stations in the Nashville market in total day viewership, the companies would have been required to sell either WSMV-TV or WKRN to comply with FCC ownership rules as well as recent changes to those rules regarding same-market television stations that restrict sharing agreements. On January 27, 2016, Nexstar Broadcasting Group announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire Media General. This resulted in the termination of the acquisition of Meredith by Media General.