70 years of WINK TV

Reporter: Lois Thome
Published: Updated:

We are marking a milestone at WINK: 70 years of coming into your living room and delivering the news of Southwest Florida to your television set.

Nowadays, we also bring it to you through streaming, online, and even in the palm of your hand. Throughout those 70 years, WINK has remained a family-owned business focused right here in Southwest Florida.

As our area has grown and continues to develop, we have been and will be here with you every step of the way.

The Broadcast Center on Palm Beach Boulevard is home to WINK-TV, several radio stations and the nerve center of a newspaper and magazines.

Our roots began in radio in 1939.

But on March 18, 1954, WINK-TV debuted, becoming the first television station in Southwest Florida.  

WINK turns 70

Frank Nodine helped launch WINK, anchoring the newscast. A crew interviewed him in 1977 for the 23rd anniversary of the station.

“We were the fourth station on in the State of Florida. I can remember we used to think we were heroes if we hit our 8 p.m. show at 8:45,” reflected Nodine.

Tim Hennigan’s father, Larry, worked at the station in the 50s.

“Him and Frank were good buddies. They tipped a few beers together,” recalled Hennigan.

WINK turns 70
Photo of Larry Hennigan CREDIT: Tim Hennigan

“He put the transmitters together. He put everything, the cameras, everything together. Cape Coral wasn’t even here,” said Hennigan who was 10 years old when his father would bring him to the station.

If it happened on the Gulf Coast or beyond, WINK brought it right into your home.

All of it is a living piece of history in the Wolfson Archives at Miami Dade College. WINK donated its film collection to the school.

A vintage WINK TV logo. CREDIT: Wolfson Archives

And looking back through that footage, we covered it all: local government, tourism, money matters, education.

From the shoreline to outer space with NASA’s Viking project mission to Mars in the mid-70s.

“We’re seeing many of the features on Mars, and we’re looking at the great volcanoes,” stated a man who worked with NASA.

Ironically, many of the issues of yesterday mimic those of today.

“I’ve been having a very hard time getting a doctor,” one woman said during an interview in the ’70s.

Development, roads, the construction of Interstate 75 and Alligator Alley were also major ongoing topics.

Gov. Reuben Askew takes questions from WINK News at Edison Mall in 1976. CREDIT: Wolfson Archives.

“It’s I-75’s turn, and I’m doing everything humanly possible to accelerate that construction,” said Reuben Askew, Florida’s Governor at the time. He made that statement at Edison Mall in 1976.

When Sept. 11 happened, we were there as President George W. Bush got word of the attack while at a school in Sarasota.

President George W. Bush at a Sarasota school on Sept. 11. CREDIT: WINK News.

Then, who can forget the hurricanes? Andrew, Charley, Irma and Ian, to name a few.

More than one and a half million people now call our area home.  

And, as Southwest Florida continues its recovery and growth, we are growing with you. We welcome you into our studio with 13 hours of news each weekday and look forward to the future.

Thank you for all the years of watching. 

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