The 51st Holiday Lighting of the WRAL Tower

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Tower Lighting
The WRAL-TV Studios play holiday host to the 51st Annual Tower Lighting on Wednesday, December 1st.
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WRAL-TV turned its 300-foot television tower into a giant Christmas tree at the 51st Annual Tower Lighting on Wednesday, December 1, 2010.   In what WRAL Producer Martha Woodward called “a fantastic night” the evening newscasts included musical performances from The Pitchforks of Duke University and a look back at tower lightings of the past.

Woodward credited WRAL-TV Sales Manager Laura Stillman for hooking WRAL up with the all-male acapella group from Durham.  The Pitchforks entertained viewers with “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” “The Christmas Song,” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” 

“As we counted down till 6:15, we wanted to share the importance of this 51-year tradition with our viewers,” explained Woodward.  “So, we dug through file tapes to capture the best moments.  I loved going through those old tapes.  It was really extraordinary to see how much effort goes into every Tower Lighting.  This year was no exception. Weeks of planning and days of setup led up to a perfect production!” 

Woodward planned the Tower Lighting content from each newscast (5:00, 5:30 & 6:00pm) and made sure it was timed to the second.  She and the rest of the crew had to hit the 6:15 for the tower lighting exactly.

The WRAL-TV tower is once again a beacon of holiday cheer in the Triangle.

“The excitement in the control room really started to build when Sky 5 flew over the station,” Woodward said.  “We could see how many people were outside.  It reminded us of the many more that were watching at home.”

WRAL-TV retiree P.B. Jernigan returned to the station to reprieve his annual role as the engineer of the tower lighting.  He carefully reminded Woodward about flipping the switch in the control room to make the lights come on when WRAL-TV Anchor Debra Morgan & Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel flipped their switch outside.

“The Tower Lighting open rolled with that unforgettable jingle,” Woodward relieved the final moments.  “And, it was time, two minutes on the clock!  Gerald Owens, Debra Morgan and Greg Fishel carried us through our 51-year history and our Coats for the Children campaign. Whew… 10, 9, 8… I counted them down in their ear pieces… 3, 2… with one hand on the IFB panel and the other on the switch… flip ’em on!  Cue The Pitchforks… we had made it!  After weeks of planning and hours of extremely hard work by everyone, it was truly a fantastic night!”

Great job to the entire WRAL-TV crew for making yet another Tower Lighting come off without a hitch!

Thanks to’s Kathy Hanrahan for these capcom photos.

51st Annual WRAL-TV Tower Lighting

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