I'm active on a Facebook group called “You've lived in ATL a long time if you remember....”, which is dedicated to people, places, and things from Atlanta's relatively recent past. Most of the posts are about subjects from the 1950s through the 1970s. There is an interesting ongoing conversation about the history of Atlanta television. This discussion brought back my earliest memories of television, when there were only three stations, WSB, WAGA, and WLWA, and I decided to put together their timeline.
The first TV station in Atlanta was WSB-TV, a sister station to WSB radio, an NBC affiliate. WSB began broadcasting on September 29th, 1948, and the first day of broadcasting included music by a Baptist choir, a newscast, and a marionette show by Don and Ruth Gilpin. It was originally on channel 8 on the dial. They began broadcasts from their current site on West Peachtree, although the facilities have changed considerably. In 1955 they built and occupied a replica of an antebellum mansion, which became known as “White Columns on Peachtree”. In 1998 they moved into their more modern facility, and demolished White Columns.
Atlanta's second station was WAGA, which began broadcasting on March 8, 1949. It was a CBS affiliate, but had a secondary affiliation with the now defunct Dumont network, giving the station access to both CBS and Dumont national programming. WAGA (and WSB) could even get ABC programming prior to the founding of ABC's local affiliate. WAGA originally broadcast from a facility on West Peachtree, and moved into their current building on Briarcliff Road in the mid-1960s.
The final station of the original three was WLWA-TV, which is now called WXIA-TV. It actually began broadcasting in 1951, under the call sign WLTV, on channel 8, which had previously been the dial position of WSB. In 1953 they were bought by Cincinnati's Crosley Broadcasting Corporation, and moved to Channel 11, for exactly the same reason as WSB's move, to avoid interference with a station in Rome, Georgia. WLWA was affiliated with ABC until the early 1980s when Atlanta stations began a shuffling of network affilations.
These three stations were all we had in Atlanta in the 1950s, aside from a brief experiment in UHF by WQXI in 1953, which failed because television sets were by default VHF-only, and watching UHF required the purchase of a converter box.
In the 1960s through the present the proliferation of UHF stations, and later cable TV and the internet, brought about the wide range of choices we have now. But my earliest memories of TV are of WSB's Channel 2 as an NBC affiliate, WAGA's Channel 5 with CBS, and WLWA's Channel 11 affiliated with ABC.
Most of the information for this post was gathered from the following sites:
Station History (on WXIA's site)
The wikipedia article History of Television in Atlanta