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Georgia On My Mind

Still frame from old GPTV signoff video.
Still frame from old GPTV signoff video.

Georgia Public Broadcasting, in its original incarnation as WGTV, first went on air on May 23, 1960. It was in September of that year that Ray Charles released his classic recording of the 1930 Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell song, “Georgia On My Mind.” There are a few vicious rumors that their song might possibly have been about a certain woman who shares a name with our state, but that hasn’t stopped Georgia from adopting it in 1979 as the official song of the state.

GPB’s name is far more recent than our organization. We’ve been known as Georgia ETV, GPTV, Peach State Public Radio, and various other names and call signs. Back then, our television programming ran until about 1:30am and started again at about 6:00am. In 2004, the decision was made to become a full 24 hour a day station on both television and radio, and a new single name was adopted by all of our platforms- GPB, Georgia Public Broadcasting.

But prior to going 24 hours a day, GPTV needed something to end each day--the classic television signoff. The natural choice was the classic Ray Charles recording of Georgia On My Mind. The video was of scenes from around Georgia, starting at the coast, moving into the mountains, flying over the busy city of Atlanta, and ending on back on the coast. Do you remember this?

Now unless Georgia used to have a dramatically different geography, this “sunset” scene at the end is just a sunrise scene with a different filter, but who’s counting. I’m told that the videography for this was what we call “b-roll”, or unused footage, from a documentary shot in the early 1980s. I’ve still not discovered the name of it.

Special thanks to Associate Producer and unofficial GPB historian Sammy Jones for tracking down a copy of this. He has a pretty good treasure trove of some of our older television material that we hope to get online one day.

The classic signoff did get a special one-time encore in 2009 when we signed off our analog stations for good and began exclusively broadcasting in digital. If you are interested in learning a little bit about our history, you might want to check out this article from the debut issue of the Your GPB digital magazine. And if you want to shuffle around our dusty stacks of old programs, we’ve got a place on the web site you should check out. Nothing fancy, but as we have time to digitize our content we’ll be dropping it off here so that you can watch some of these older programs again.