Columbia, South Carolina
United States
ChannelsAnalog: 25 (UHF)
OwnerRadio Columbia, Inc.
First air date
May 1, 1953 (1953-05-01)
Last air date
January 21, 1956 (1956-01-21)
(2 years, 265 days)
Technical information
ERP15,700 watts[1]
HAAT650 ft (200 m)

WCOS-TV, UHF analog channel 25, was a television station licensed to Columbia, South Carolina, United States. The first television station to broadcast in South Carolina, it was owned by Radio Columbia alongside the WCOS radio stations (1400 AM and 97.9 FM). It operated from 1953 until 1956, when it shut down and sold its assets to competitor WNOK-TV (channel 67) amid a difficult economic environment for UHF television stations.


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved construction permit grants for WCOS-TV and WNOK-TV simultaneously in September 1952.[2] Broadcasting from channel 25 began on May 1, 1953; the television station's studios, in a Quonset hut, and transmitter were located off Two Notch Road.[3][a] It decided to operate with a lower effective radiated power than authorized—15,700 watts—because it had been advised by a manufacturer that a transmitter to operate with its full authorized power would be not be immediately available.[3] At launch, the primary local shows were a daily sports program and weather report.[3]

When it signed on, WCOS was a primary affiliate of ABC. NBC programs aired on channel 25 at the outset.[4] However, this was a temporary arrangement. NBC's radio affiliate in Columbia, WIS (560 AM), had filed for VHF channel 10—the only assignment on the preferred VHF band available in central South Carolina. A competing application from WMSC (1320 AM) held up adjudication of the prized channel until WIS and WMSC merged their applications in February 1953, clearing the way for WIS-TV.[5] That station started up with NBC programs on November 7.[6] By that time, WNOK-TV had also started with CBS and DuMont programs on September 1.[7] DuMont later moved to channel 25 by 1955.[1]

In the days before the All-Channel Receiver Act, the presence of a VHF station in town, even though channel 25 was not Columbia's only UHF outlet, hurt it economically. In January 1956, WNOK-TV purchased most of WCOS-TV's assets (excluding its physical plant). WCOS-TV then ceased broadcasting on January 21; the WCOS radio stations continued in operation.[8] Television Digest noted that the station "simply could not stand the economic gaff".[9] The Shakespeare Road facilities were later used to start the current channel 25 television station in Columbia, WCCA-TV (now WOLO-TV), in 1961.[10] In between, the Quonset hut was operated as a recording studio for the production of radio commercials and jingles; in 1959, "Stay" by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs was recorded there.[11]


  1. ^ This road later became known as Shakespeare Road, though materials from the period of station operation and the Television Factbook list Two Notch Road.


  1. ^ a b "WCOS-TV" (PDF). Television Factbook. Fall 1955. p. 194. Retrieved August 23, 2021 – via World Radio History.
  2. ^ "New FCC Speed-Up Effort: Post-Thaw Authorizations Hit 60" (PDF). Broadcasting. September 22, 1952. p. 65. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "First South Carolina TV Station Goes on Air Today". The State. May 1, 1953. p. 2-E. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  4. ^ "First S. C. TV Station Begins Tests". Asheville Citizen. Associated Press. April 24, 1953. p. 17. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  5. ^ "Rivals Merge; TV License Is Granted Here". The State. February 13, 1953. p. 11-B. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  6. ^ "WIS Television to Start at 1:25 This Afternoon". The State. November 7, 1953. p. B-1. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  7. ^ "New Columbia TV Station Starts Operation". The State. September 1, 1953. p. 4-B. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  8. ^ "WCOS-TV Sold; Leaves Air Saturday". The State. January 18, 1956. p. 1. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  9. ^ "Three new VHF starters..." (PDF). Television Digest. January 21, 1956. p. 8. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  10. ^ "WCCA-TV Goes on Air in October: New Installation Nears Completion". The State. September 2, 1961. p. 10-B. Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  11. ^ DeYoung, Bill (2018). "Oh Won't You Stay". Phil Gernhard, Record Man. University Press of Florida. ISBN 978-0813056777. Retrieved August 25, 2021.