Work began on launching WATC TV back in 1984 when Dr. James (Jimmy) and Joanne Thompson applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the construction permit for the station. The couple had successfully launched several Christian television stations before, beginning with WGGS TV in Greenville, South Carolina which signed on the air in October 1972. They saw this as a great opportunity to expand into Atlanta.
The FCC initially granted the construction permit for WATC to another broadcast group, but the Thompsons were able to obtain it when the original group was unable to build the station and the permit became available again. So work began on the station and WATC TV signed on the air on April 14, 1996, providing Atlanta with a new broadcast channel featuring a mix of family, Christian and educational programming.
The station initially operated out of a facility in Woodstock, Georgia which was located near the Sweat Mountain transmitter site. Renovation work was underway during that time at its current facility located in Norcross, Georgia.
WATC quickly became known to viewers as the home of Atlanta Live, the station’s nightly live program showcasing local ministries, musicians and civic leaders. This flagship series of WATC, initially hosted by Jimmy and Joanne, premiered in January 1997 at the Woodstock facility. In June of that year, the program moved to the Norcross studio where it is still being produced today.
The station continued expanding its broadcast signal in the late 90s and is now seen over the air throughout the metro Atlanta market and also in over one million cable and satellite homes.
WATC is the home of many original series including The Bobby Hurd Show, Friends & Neighbors, The Gravedigger Show, Seniors Today, Gospel Touch and Babbie’s House. The station has been honored with numerous Angel and Telly Awards for its productions and received its first EMMY Award in 2010.
As a community-minded television station, WATC has been involved in helping meet the needs of the community through its First Works Outreach. For many years, the station has partnered with many non-profit organizations to provide food, clothing and other assistance as needed. In 2008, WATC was recognized for its work in the community by the Georgia Association of Broadcasters.
WATC continues to look at new ways to spread the Gospel. WATC has completed its transition from analog to digital broadcasting and is now expanding into both Summerville, Georgia and Savannah, Georgia. In addition, the station’s programming can be seen around the world via the video streaming feature located on the WATC website. Many of the original programs produced by WATC now air on various broadcast stations and satellite networks across the United States and around the world.
In April 2011, WATC launched it newest channel on 57.2, appropriately named WATC TOO, in conjunction with the station’s 15th anniversary celebration. WATC TOO also carries a mix of family, Christian and educational programming to compliment the program schedule of the primary channel.
On March 3, 2011, Community Television’s co-founder Joanne Thompson went home to be with the Lord after several months of declining health. Co-founder Dr. James Thompson also went home to be with the Lord on May 30, 2011, eighty-eight days after the passing of his wife Joanne. But they built a strong foundation for Community Television to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ through WATC and its programming and their vision lives on.