Gray Television Company History Timeline

(758 Jobs)

Established in 1946 with the Purchase of the Albany Herald


1947 The Company entered the television business when it constructed WALB-TV (Albany, GA) to complement its radio station, WALB(AM).


In September 2015, Gray announced that it would acquire the television and radio stations of Schurz Communications for $442.5 million. It also purchased KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa from the locally owned Gazette Company, who owned the station from its sign-on in 1953.


1954 The Company acquired WJDM-TV (Panama City, FL) and changed the call letters to WJHG-TV to complement Mr.

Gray Started Albany's Television Station in 1954

In 1954 Gray started his television station, WALB, in Albany.


1960 The Company changed its name to Gray Communications Systems, Inc. and launched an initial public stock offering . It also acquired KTVE-TV (Monroe, LA/El Dorado, AK).

Gray later bought television stations in Louisiana and Florida, first purchasing WJHG in Panama City, Florida, in 1960, and then KTVE serving El Dorado, Arkansas-Monroe, Louisiana, in the late 1960s.

In 1960, Gray purchased WJHG-TV in Panama City, Florida, and followed it later in the decade with KTVE serving Monroe, Louisiana and southern Arkansas.


However, the acquisition was challenged by the heirs to Garvie Kincaid, who built Kentucky Central into the state's second largest insurance company in 1976.


At the time of his death in 1986, he was putting $3 million of his own money into the Central Square project to revive the city's ailing downtown district.

James Gray's Death in 1986 Affected the Company's Ownership, Fortunes

In 1986 Gray died, leaving his 50.5% share of the stock in a trust for his children with stipulation that they run the business together, sell their stock with each other or sell out together.

It had $4 million in cash, only $600,000 in debt, and a strong record of profitability. It earned $3.5 million in 1986, a 13 percent return on equity.


1990 Barry Lewis, Richard L. Boger and Howell W. Newton joined Gray's Board of Directors, and James H. Gray, Jr. resigned from the Board.


In April 1991 James Gray, Jr., filed two lawsuits to remove Terry P. McKenna from the estate, charging that he was blocking the sale of the estate.

In an attempt to end the Gray's majority interest in the company, the board of directors voted in August 1991 to buy 25 percent of the Gray stock for a fair-market price of $17.50 per share, or $30 million.

In 1991, to break the stalemate, the board of directors had the company purchase 25% of their shares.


1992 Atlanta businessman J. Mack Robinson purchased control of Gray Communications Systems from the estate of James H. Gray, Sr.Mr.

Toward the end of 1992 the board announced it would consider offers for all or part of the assets of the company.

He was formerly circulation manager for the Gwinnett Daily News, which was shut down in 1992 by its parent, the New York Times Co., after attempting to wage a circulation war with the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

It was served by the Gwinnett Daily News until that newspaper was shut down in 1992.

The company put itself-or any part up-for sale by the end of 1992.

The company was then taken public on NASDAQ's small-cap market in the 2nd quarter 1992.


The sale to Gray was subject to the approval of Kentucky's Insurance Commissioner Don Stephens, because the state had taken control of the troubled Kentucky Central in February 1993.

Then in March 1993 Robert Prather, president and CEO of Bull Run Corporation of Atlanta, Georgia, bypassed the board and approached the Grays directly.

The Company announced the passing of its Chairman since 1993, Doctor Billy Mayher, III.

In August 1993 the Grays prepared to sell their remaining 25.8 percent interest in Gray Communications to Robert Prather's Atlanta-based investment group for $13.5 million.

Gray Communications began implementing its strategy of growth through acquisitions in October 1993, when it submitted the highest bids for two television stations in Kentucky that were owned by the failed Kentucky Central Life Insurance Co.

During that period, Gray Television divested all the newspapers and television stations that it owned prior to 1993 other than WJHG. In their place, Gray Television acquired and, in some cases, built from scratch market-leading television stations focused on local communities.

1993 The Company acquired daily newspapers The Rockdale Citizen (Conyers, GA) and The Newton Citizen (Newton County, GA), plus four weekly advertising shoppers and a weekly newspaper in southwest Georgia.

Finally, a major new investor emerged in 1993, and the company began to acquire television stations and newspaper properties in the southeastern United States.

New Investor Emerged in 1993

Gray Communications Began to Grow Through Acquisitions, 1993


On May 31, 1994, Gray acquired its second newspaper, the Rockdale Citizen, based in Conyers, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta.

Gray petitioned the FCC to dismiss the challenge, and in September 1994 a court ruling allowed Gray to complete its acquisition of WKYT and WYMT. WKYT in Lexington, the nation's 69th largest market, gave Gray its first top 100 station.

Gray purchased two TV stations (WKYT-TV and WYMT) from the failed and government seized Kentucky Central Life Insurance Co. in September 1994 after a court challenge to the sale by Kentucky Central builder Garvie Kincaid.

1994 The Company acquired daily newspaper the Gwinnett Post-Tribune (Lawrenceville, GA).

Acquired Second Newspaper in 1994

For fiscal 1994, Gray Communications reported net income of $2.8 million on revenues of $36.5 million.


In January 1995 Gray acquired its third newspaper, the Gwinnett Post-Tribune, for $3.7 million.

1995 The Company acquired WCTV-TV (Tallahassee, FL) and WVLT (formerly WKXT) (Knoxville, TN), as well as satellite and production services and Porta Phone Paging services from John H. Phipps, Inc.

For fiscal 1995, Gray Communications reported net income of $930,969 on revenues of $58.6 million.

In 1995 the company's broadcast division's profit margins were rising as those of the publishing division were falling.

In 1995, the company moved its stock listing to the New York Stock Exchange.


In January 1996, Gray laid off 29 of the Albany Herald's 200 employees.

In January 1996 Gray acquired WRDW-TV, the CBS affiliate in Augusta, Georgia, for $37.2 million.

Just months after doubling the Daily Post's staff, one third were laid off and a quarter of The Albany Herald's staff followed in January 1996.

WRDW-TV was purchased in January 1996.

In February 1996, the Atlanta Constitution observed the transformation taking place at Gray Communications.

Gray sold KTVE serving Monroe, Louisiana-El Dorado, Arkansas, on August 20, 1996, for $9.5 million in cash plus approximately $829,000 worth of accounts receivable.

In August and September 1996, Gray raised additional operating funds by various means.

The purchase price was $183.9 million, and the deal closed in September 1996.

In September 1996, newly named president and CEO Ralph Gabbard died unexpectedly at the age of 50 of a heart attack.

In September 1996 a basket purchase from First American Media, Inc., Gray got two TV stations (WCTV and WVLT-TV), Satellite and Production Business Services, which was renamed Lynqx Communications and PortaPhone paging business.

Also in September 1996, Ralph Gabbard, the newly named president and CEO, died from a heart attack at age 50.

1996 Harriett J. Robinson joined the Board of Directors.

More Television Stations Were Acquired in 1996

For fiscal 1996, Gray Communications reported net income of $2.5 million on revenue of $79.3 million.

The company was considered in 1996 by Fortune magazine as the 81st fastest growing company, having a 48% percent growth rate.


In January 1997 Gray announced its intention to purchase Gulflink Communications, Inc., a transportable satellite uplink business based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

With its additional funds, Gray continued purchasing in 1997 with two announcements in January and February.

In February 1997 Gray continued with its strategy of acquiring broadcast properties in fast-growing markets in the Southeast by entering into an agreement to purchase WITN-TV from Raycom-US, Inc., who was in the process of acquiring the station from AFLAC Broadcast Group, Inc.

The company bought Gulflink Communications, Inc., a transportable satellite uplink business based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in April 1997 to go along with Lynqx.

The acquisition was completed on August 1, 1997.

With Raycom Media acquiring a station from AFLAC Broadcast Group, Inc., forcing them to sell WITN-TV to Gray, which was finalized on August 1, 1997.

Acquisitions Continued in 1997

During 1997 Gray boosted the circulation of the Gwinnett Daily Post by entering into agreements to provide copies of the daily paper to cable television subscribers.

The Gwinnett Daily Post increased circulation in 1997 through a deal with Genesis Cable Communications to provide the paper to its metro Atlanta subscribers at Genesis's expense.


WALB was thus sold to Liberty Corp.'s Cosmos Broadcasting in August 1998.

1998 The Company acquired the Goshen News daily newspaper (Goshen, IN).

At the beginning of 1998 Gray Communications owned eight network-affiliated television stations in medium-size markets in the southeastern United States and was in the process of adding three more stations.

Gray Began Looking for Acquisitions Outside the Southeast in 1998

At the beginning of 1998 Gray Communications owned eight network-affiliated television stations in medium-size markets in the southeastern United States.

In 1998, Gray started to expand beyond its Southeast region.


In 2002, Robinson became Chairman and CEO, his son-in-law Hilton Howell vice chairman, Prather president/COO and Jim Ryan senior vice president.


2003 The Company launched start-up station WCAV-TV in Charlottesville, VA.


2004 Former United States Senator and Georgia Governor Zell B. Miller joined from the Board of Directors.


2005 The Company purchased WNDU-TV (South Bend, IN) from the University of Notre Dame.


2008 Governor Miller resigned from the Board of Directors.

The twin problems caused its shares to trade at its lowest at 16 cents in 2008, thus the NYSE indicated they might delist the company.


Through December 31, 2012, Gray would earn $2.2 million and an opportunity to earn additional specified incentive fees if certain performance targets were exceeded.


2013 The Company announced the passing of “Second Founder” J. Mack Robinson.

Prather left the company in 2013 and Howell took over the president title.


On March 25, 2014, Prime Cities Broadcasting, owner of KNDX/KXND, requested that the FCC dismiss the sale of KNDX/KXND to Excalibur.

The sale was completed on June 13, 2014.

On July 24, 2014, SJL Broadcasting announced that it would sell WJRT-TV and WTVG to Gray, for $128 million.

2014 The Company announced the opening of its Washington D.C. News Bureau.


In July 2015, Gray closed its accounting and human resources offices in Albany (housed in the same building as The Albany Herald), combining them with the corporate offices in Atlanta.

In September 2015, Gray announced that it would acquire the television and radio stations of Schurz Communications for $442.5 million.

2015 The Company announced the promotion of its five Senior Vice Presidents to new roles as Executive Vice Presidents.


In January 2016, Gray Television opened a national news bureau in Washington, D.C., led by former APTV journalist Jacqueline Policastro.

On May 13, 2016, Gray announced that it would acquire WDTV and WVFX in Clarksburg, West Virginia from Withers Broadcasting for $26.5 million.

On June 3, 2016, it was announced that Gray would acquire two stations that were spun-off from the Nexstar-Media General merger; KWQC-TV in Davenport, Iowa and WBAY-TV in Green Bay, Wisconsin for $270 million.

Fortune Magazine announced that Gray Television ranked 77th in its ranking of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in the World for 2016.

2016 The Company announced that it anticipated receiving $90,824,000 in proceeds resulting from the Federal Communications Commission’s reverse auction for broadcast spectrum.


On February 16, 2017, Gray announced that it will acquire WABI-TV in Bangor, Maine and WCJB-TV in Gainesville, Florida from Diversified Communications for $85 million.

On May 4, 2017, Gray announced its intent to acquire WCAX-TV in Burlington, Vermont from Mount Mansfield Television for $29 million.

The Company announced record-setting audience rankings during the November 2017 sweeps period conducted by the Nielsen Company.

Fortune Magazine announced that Gray Television ranked 96th in its ranking of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in the World for 2017.

The Company announced that it was recognized with the Ad Council’s 2017 Crystal Bell Award at Forward 2017, the Television Bureau of Advertising’s (TVB) annual leadership conference in New York City.

2017 The Company wins 19 Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for excellence in journalism.


On May 21, 2018, Gray Television entered into an agreement to acquire KNHL from Legacy Broadcasting for $475,000.

On June 25, 2018, Gray Television announced its intent to acquire Raycom Media for $3.65 billion, pending regulatory approval.

Gray would divest nine stations in markets where Gray and Raycom both already owned stations, including WTNZ, WTOL, KXXV, WTXL, WFXG, KWES-TV, WPGX, WSWG, and WDFX-TV. The sale was approved by the FCC on December 20, 2018.

The National Association of Broadcasting Educational Foundation chose Gray's WJRT (ABC) in Flint, Michigan, as the winner of its 2018 Service to Community Award in the Media Market category and WCTV (CBS) in Tallahassee, Florida, as the winner in the Small Market category.

InvestigateTV was launched in 2018 and provides innovative, original journalism from a dedicated investigative team and key partners.

2018 Gray closes on its acquisition of Raycom Media, Inc. and all required divestitures.


On January 2, 2019, Gray Television completed its acquisition of Raycom, transforming it from a small, regional broadcaster to a leading media company with nationwide scale.

The transaction completes Gray's transformation from a small, regional broadcaster to a leading media company with nationwide scale based on high-quality stations with exceptional talent in attractive markets. (January 2nd, 2019)

2019 On January 1, Circle officially launches.

Gray announced on April 24, 2019 a joint venture with an as yet unnamed country music service with Grand Old Opry Entertainment Group, a subsidiary of Ryman Hospitality Properties, a former owner of The Nashville Network.

Gray Television’s Chairman and CEO, Hilton H. Howell, Jr. is named Broadcast & Cable’s Broadcaster of the Year (2019).


The Circle TV network made its launch on January 1, 2020.

Company Founded
Atlanta, GA
Company Headquarter
James Gray
Company Founders

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