Frank K. Spain brought Ft. Pierce’s WTVX Ch. 34 into the big leagues

In February 1979 Frank K. Spain, a pioneering engineer in the field of television, purchased WTVX Channel 34 in Fort Pierce. Over the next few years Spain would spend a reported six million dollars upgrading the CBS affiliate with a new 1,600-foot broadcast tower farther south and five million watts of power to extend its over-the-air signal to the lucrative Palm Beach County market. With the improved signal came a significant beefing up of its news department, including a studio and news bureau in a West Palm Beach high-rise office building, and bright orange sports jackets for its anchors. Former news anchor Jim Hughes told the Stuart News, “Under his ownership, the station became a major player. Channel 34 dominated the Treasure Coast,” and made inroads into Palm Beach County.
Spain, a native of Tupelo, Mississippi, was fascinated by electronics, which led to a successful career in the emerging television industry. He worked for NBC in Washington, DC, where he helped devise the first television feeds from the White House, Capitol, and the 1949 presidential inauguration of Harry S. Truman. Moving to New York with NBC, he helped develop the technology for color television. Still keeping his hometown roots, he established the first television station in Tupelo.
WTVX Frank K. SpainIn 1974 he started a new hobby, acquiring and restoring vintage automobiles, which would take him and his wife, Jane, around the world in search of cars and adventures. Spain’s collection of more than one hundred classic cars is now parked at the Tupelo Automobile Museum. (Photo from his later years at the museum.
Ten years after he purchased WTVX, Spain’s Fort Pierce station would suffer a major blow when it lost its CBS affiliation as part of The Big Switch—the largest swap of network affiliations in television history.
(Coming soon–tough years ahead for WTVX.)

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