On December 15th, 1985, channel 62 the Hudson Valley's only independent broadcasting television station went on the air, for the first time. It's call letters, WTZA reflected its service area (from the Zappan Zee to Albany). Its studio was based in Kingston, New York and its transmission tower was located on Overlook Mountain, in Woodstock. Its signal was so strong in the region, that even without an antenna, the channel could be tuned in, in many parts of the Hudson Valley.
The programming of WTZA was exceptional; featuring Hollywood movies, off-network reruns, general entertainment programs, children's shows, public affair programs, originally produced programs about local history, and news led by former CNN executive producer Gerry Harrington. Despite its solid lineup, in the early '90s, the station began getting shut out of its ability to obtain the rights for syndicated programs by stations in New York City and Albany. In 1995, the station transitioned to become WRNN, and switched to news-heavy programming, keeping the members of the WTZA news team. WRNN still exists today, but its primary digital channel now largely consists of infomercials, and its main studio is now based significantly closer to New York City, with its target demographic shifted decidedly away from the Mid-Hudson Valley.
The station as WTZA had a profound impact on our region, some of which can still be felt today. As a testament to that, Marist College's library now has all the episodes of its original show On The River, which deeply explored Hudson Valley history, and even this website owes some inspiration for its existence to WTZA's brief, but brilliant concept. Perhaps someday the Hudson Valley will once again have its own broadcast television station, with its focus to entertain and educate its over 3 million people, for free.
To see some clips from WTZA, check out the videos below: