Jesse Helms and “Viewpoint”

Helms delivering “Viewpoint.” Image from WRAL.On November 11, 1976, WRAL-TV broadcast the last segment of Viewpoint, a nightly series of political editorials, which ran on the station for nearly 16 years.

One of the first televised outlets for punditry in North Carolina, Viewpoint was a springboard for the growing conservative movement. For Jesse Helms, it became a podium to spread his own politically conservative views on topics such as integration and national defense, as the world around him was changing drastically.

The first page of a “Viewpoint” transcript from 1968. Image from the North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill.Viewpoint’s nearly 3,000 episodes aired on Raleigh’s CBS affiliate every weekday after the evening news broadcast and again the next morning. The program was also syndicated to the Tobacco Network, which then included more than 60 radio stations statewide.

Viewpoint helped usher in political change across the state. In 1970, Helms announced on Viewpoint that he would be changing his party affiliation from Democratic to Republican, boosting the political shift in North Carolina’s electorate.

The final broadcast of Viewpoint aired four years after Helms left television to campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in 1972.

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