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WAGT is the NBC-affiliated television station for Augusta, Georgia. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 30 from a transmitter southeast of Beech Island, South Carolina near U.S. 278. Owned by Schurz Communications of South Bend, Indiana, the station is operated through joint sales and shared services agreements by Media General as sister to ABC affiliate WJBF. WAGT has studios on Broad Street (U.S. 25 Bus) in Downtown Augusta. Syndicated programming on the station includes: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Dr. Phil, The Doctors, and Judge Joe Brown.

WAGT
[1]

[2]

Augusta, Georgia
Branding NBC Augusta 26 (general)

NBC Augusta 26 News CW Augusta (on DT2)

Slogan Straight to the Point.
Channels Digital: 30 (UHF)
Subchannels 26.1 NBC

26.2 The CW

Owner Schurz Communications (operated through JSA and SSA by Media General)

(WAGT Television, Inc.)

First air date December 24, 1968
Call letters' meaning We're Augusta's

Great Television

Sister station(s) WJBF
Former callsigns WATU-TV (1968-1981)
Former channel number(s) 26 (UHF analog, 1968-2009)
Transmitter power 400 kW
Height 483 m
Facility ID 70699
Transmitter coordinates 33°24′20.7″N 81°50′0.5″W / 33.40575°N 81.833472°W / 33.40575; -81.833472
Website nbcaugusta.com


[edit] Digital programming

It operates the area's CW affiliate on a second digital subchannel. Known as CW Augusta, this can also be seen on Knology channel 12 and Comcast channel 23. WAGT-DT2 gets all of its programming from The CW Plus.


Channel Programming
30.1 main WAGT programming / NBC HD
30.2 WAGT-DT2 "CW Augusta"

[edit] History

The station began operations on Christmas Eve in 1968 as WATU-TV, the third television station in Augusta. Two Washington, D.C.-based men, Harold Twisdale and David Steel, were the leaders of the original ownership group. [1] Airing an analog signal on UHF channel 26, it was an NBC affiliate from the start. Unfortunately, the station became another of numerous UHF start-ups of that era to fail to obtain a foothold against long-established VHF competition. Despite the presence of WATU, NBC continued to keep a secondary affiliation with ABC affiliate WJBF and CBS affiliate WRDW-TV (as it had since October 1, 1966). In fact, it was not unusual for tape-delayed NBC programs to air on both WJBF and WRDW between 7 and 7:30 p.m. before their respective networks' prime-time feeds began for the evening. WJBF also aired NBC's Today and Tonight shows. It did not help matters that most of the South Carolina side of the market got a better signal from WIS in Columbia.

Mainly because of those situations, WATU went dark in 1970. It stayed off-the-air for four years until the station was able to secure a full NBC affiliation and return to the air. Twisdale and Steel sold WATU to local businessmen Thomas Jones and Francis Robertson, operating as Augusta Telecasters Inc., in the late 1970s. [2] Jones and Robertson, in turn, sold to current owner Schurz Communications in 1980. WATU changed its call letters to WAGT in late 1981 and the station moved to its present downtown Augusta location.

For much of the late 1980s and early 1990s, it used the branding "26 Power". In early 2007, WAGT once again changed its identity to prepare for the digital phase-out of channel numbers in February 2009. This time it became "NBC Augusta" which resulted in the complete phase out of the channel number. In 2008, the station began branding in several voice promos and during newscasts referring to themselves as "NBC Augusta 26". However, there were no major graphical changes due to the new "NBC Augusta" graphics being created by Giant Octopus. In 2009, the bug logo on the newscasts introduced a modified "NBC Augusta" logo with a bold Century Gothic typeface "26" off to the right of the logo. There have been several voice-over sequences within promos and graphics that have updated the branding to "NBC Augusta 26" without a change in graphics. However, the main station graphics, its website, and the station's weather cut-ins during programming hours still brand as "NBC Augusta". At this point, WAGT brands as either "NBC Augusta" or "NBC Augusta 26". Newscast graphics were redesigned in 2009 to reflect the new "NBC Augusta 26" brand, however the website still brands as "NBC Augusta".

On January 24, 2006, The WB and UPN announced that they would end broadcasting and merge. The new combined network would be called The CW. The letters would represent the first initial of its corporate parents, CBS (the parent company of UPN) and the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner. On February 22, News Corporation announced that it would start up another new network called MyNetworkTV. This new service, which would be a sister network to Fox, would be operated by Fox Television Stations and its syndication division Twentieth Television. MyNetworkTV was created in order to give UPN and WB stations, not mentioned as becoming CW affiliates, another option besides becoming independent. It was also created to compete against The CW. WRDW offered UPN on its second digital subchannel which was announced as becoming part of MyNetworkTV. Meanwhile, the area's WB affiliate was cable-only "WBAU". Although it was originally operated by a separate entity, WAGT began to manage and promote that station. As a result, it received rights to carry The CW. WAGT decided to do away with the fictional call sign upon launching a simulcast of the station on a new second digital subchannel.

In October 2009, the parent companies of WJBF (Media General) and WAGT (Schurz Communications) announced that they would enter into joint sales and shared services agreements in January 2010. This resulted in the two combining their news operations and their sales and other operational services. It was later announced that WJBF would control all of WAGT's news and advertising operations while this station handles programming and the maintaining of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations. Most WAGT employees will be reassigned different positions including the layoffs of several managers. [3] Initially, the station will continue to be operated from its Broad Street studios while WJBF expands its facilities on Reynolds Street. Once this is complete, WAGT will move to that station's studios. [4]

[edit] News operation

[3][4]WAGT's news open.On September 21, 1995, its newscasts debuted under the name 26 News starting with a weeknight 11 o'clock broadcast. The launch of weekday morning and weeknight 6 o'clock shows followed. Before this, WAGT had virtually no local news aside from cut-ins during Today and Top 'o the Day, a thirty-minute weekday noon news and lifestyle show. The midday program was first hosted by Judith Upchurch and Reese LeRoy. Upchurch was later replaced with Kathy Marks who was one of the main anchors at WJBF in the 1980s.

Over the years, WAGT changed its branding adopting variations including 26 Action News. It finally re-branded in 2003 as WAGT News. Between 2003 and 2005, Action News was completely phased out along with the "3D Weather" a.k.a. "3 Degree Guarantee" weather segment. In 2005, the newscasts were branded NBC 26 News phasing out the call letters "WAGT" in most but not all station graphics and logos. This was due to the fact the graphics package by Television By Design was less than a year old and still carried the WAGT News moniker. Along with this re-brand came new changes such as updates to the news set, graphics, and weather radar.

In June 2003, it became the first station to air a two-hour long weekday morning show. It added a midday newscast at 11 on September 10, 2007. Cable-only "WBAU" launched WB 23 News at 10 on weeknights in 2004 which was produced by WAGT. That same year, the broadcast began to compete with Fox affiliate WFXG whose nightly 10 o'clock show was and continues to be produced by WJBF. In 2006 after the switch to The CW, WAGT continued this broadcast that was now called CW Augusta Now. As is the case with the network, the newscast was tailored towards a younger audience. On April 23, 2007, the CW Augusta Now title and format was discontinued and replaced with NBC Augusta News at 10, a more traditional newscast. As of April 2008, the broadcast was discontinued completely. WAGT-DT2 continues to air the nationally syndicated morning show The Daily Buzz on weekdays from 6 to 9.

The longest serving current personality on the station is Chief Meteorologist Jeff Rucker who joined the station in 1999. Chris Kane, Sports Director from 1997 to 2006, left to join The Golf Channel but returned to Augusta in 2008 as weekend sports anchor on rival station WJBF. A few months later, the longest running sports anchor in the area's history (Stan Byrdy) joined WAGT as Sports Director and served that position until July 2009. At the same time in just as big a surprise, popular weather forecaster Jay Jefferies (who had just left WRDW-TV after a decade on-air) took a full-time position at this station. These changes along with moving Bridgett Williams to weeknights and hiring Georgia native Trent Butler as weeknight co-anchor gave the station a long needed boost in experienced players until late-2009. During weather forecasts, they use live NOAA National Weather Service radar data from several regional sites. This is known as "Storm Tracker ESP: Live". News and weather updates are provided to WBBQ-FM 104.3.

[edit] WJBF and WAGT merge

In December of 2009, WAGT-TV and WJBF partnered under a shared services agreement, with Media General acquiring WAGT from Schurz Communications. WAGT staff was given first choice to continue their positions under WJBF's management. Unfortunately for a number of loyal viewers this meant the loss of both Bridgett Williams and Trent Butler, 6 and 11pm anchors, who chose to anchor at stations elsewhere. Gradually a number of WAGT's reporters also left the station and WJBF's reporters began appearing on air. Viewer favorites Jeff Rucker, Jay Jefferies, and Liz Hill are still with the station.

Current WJBF reporter Paige Tucker is the face of WAGT's 6, 7, and 11pm newscasts. As a result of becoming operated by WJBF, WAGT dropped its weekday 11 a.m. show in favor of a prime time broadcast weeknights at 7. This is Augusta's first prime time news since WJBF aired one in the time period during the 1980s and 1990s. WJBF's reporting team can be seen in some news stories on WAGT since the two stations now share video.

Plans are currently in the works for a new state of the art facility that will combine both WJBF and WAGT under one roof, with the ground breaking scheduled for February 2011 at a location that has yet to be made public. Both WJBF and WAGT have had a strong presence in downtown Augusta, However each station's current buildings are unable to sustain the much needed expansion to house both stations, WJBF's was built 1956-57, and WAGT moved into their building in the 1970s. Both buildings show signs of wear and the new building is greatly needed.

[edit] Newscast titles

  • TV-26 News (1981-1986)
  • 26 Power News (1986-1995)
  • 26 News (1995-1998)
  • Action News/26 Action News (1998-2003)
  • WAGT News (2003-2005)
  • NBC 26 News (2005-present, still used occasionally to shorten "NBC Augusta 26" branding, slowly transitioning back to brand)
  • NBC Augusta (2007-present)
  • NBC Augusta 26 (2008-present)

[edit] Station slogans

  • "We're Augusta's Great Television" (general station slogan, used sporadically)
  • "Georgia Carolina's News Leader" (2004-2007)
  • "Straight to the Point." (2008-present)

[edit] News team

+ denotes personnel from WJBF

Anchors

  • Liz Hill - weekday mornings and "26 Women to Watch" segment producer
  • Paige Tucker - weeknights
  • Navideh Forghani - weekends and reporter

Storm Tracker Meteorologists

  • Jeff Rucker (AMS Seal of Approval) - Chief seen weeknights and "Good Question" segment producer
  • Jay Jefferies - weekday mornings and "Where in Augusta is Jay Jefferies?" segment producer
    • "Kids Say What?" segment producer
  • Rich Rogers - weekends and web editor

Sports

  • Jason Folk - Director seen weeknights
  • TBD - weekends

Reporters

  • Christine O'Donnell - "Celebrate Aiken!" segment producer
  • Stacy Johnson - "Money Talks" segment producer
  • Jonathan Davis - Associate Producer
  • Ashley Campbell
  • Tina Terry
  • George Eskola
  • Fraendy Clervaud
  • George Eskola
  • Archith Seshadri
  • Kait Rayner
  • Kimberely Scott
  • Barclay Bishop

Former on-air staff

  • Judy Alley, morning anchor/reporter (?)
  • Andy Andersen, chief meteorologist (1995-1998, now at KCEN-TV, Waco, Texas)
  • John Appicello, sports director (1995-1997, now at WSLS-TV, Roanoke, Virginia)
  • Ben Baker, sports anchor/reporter (2002-2004, was at WCIV-TV)
  • Jeff Bidwell, sports anchor/reporter (now in Paducah)
  • Dustin Blanchard, general assignment reporter (2007-2009)
  • Bob Bonner, sports anchor/reporter (now at WECT, Wilmington)
  • Jason Boyer, general assignment reporter (2006-2007)
  • George Brown, consumer reporter/anchor (1997-2001, now at WREG-TV, Memphis)
  • Trent Butler, weeknight anchor/reporter (2006-2009)
  • Stan Byrdy, sports director (2006-2009)
  • Michael Buczyner, investigative/general assignment reporter (2005-2008, now at WBFF-TV, Baltimore, Maryland)
  • Arielle Clay, weekend anchor/reporter (2008-2009)
  • Rich Everitt, anchor/reporter (2001-2004, now owner of local production company)
  • Brooke Foster, meteorologist (2005-2006, now at KECI-TV)
  • Stacy Fronczak, weather forecaster (1999-?)
  • Neil Gordon, consumer reporter/anchor/reporter/news director (hosted "Buzz on Biz" segment on WRDW-TV and show on WNRR-AM until 2009. Returned to WAGT with "Buzz on Biz" in 2009 and moved to WRDW-AM)
  • Chrystina Head, general assignment reporter (2003-2005, now at WITI-TV)
  • Jesse Horne, morning editor/photographer,(1999-2000, now at KUSA-TV)
  • John Impemba, general assignment reporter (2006-2006, died in fall of 2006)
  • Danielle Johnson, general assignment reporter (?-2008)
  • Mechelle Jordan, anchor/reporter (1995-2003, now at KYTX)
  • Chris Kane, sports anchor/sports director (1997-2006, now at rival ABC station, WJBF)
  • Diane Keller, meteorologist (1996-?)
  • Tom Knight, meteorologist (?-2003)
  • Steve Kuzj - weekend anchor/reporter (2008-2009)
  • Cassandra Lawton (IMDb), anchor/Reporter (1995-?, while at WAGT appeared in a bit (news anchor) role in That Darn Cat 1997 remake, scene filmed at WAGT studios)
  • Richard Lom, morning anchor/reporter (1997-2000, Out of The Biz)
  • Chris Maddox, meteorologist (2000-2005, now freelance meteorologist with WAAY, Huntsville, Alabama)
  • Stephanie Maxwell, reporter/anchor (2001-2003, now at WHNS-TV)
  • Leon Moore, weekend anchor/reporter (2001-2004)
  • Will Nunley, now owner of WNRR-AM
  • Steve Parrett, anchor/reporter (1995-?)
  • Mike Petchenik, weekend anchor/reporter (2001-2005, now at WSB-TV)
  • Jim Pinkerton, anchor/reporter/assistant news director (2002-2006, now a spokesman for the Indiana Dept. of Transportation)
  • Ben Peine, morning meteorologist (2005-2008, now at WHAS-TV)
  • Joshua Quinn, general assignment reporter (2002-2006, now at WISN-TV)
  • Danielle Reese, anchor/reporter (1997-2004 Now Out Of The Biz)
  • Brendan Robertson, weekend sports
  • Creshon Saunders, weekend anchor/reporter (?, now at WRBL-TV)
  • Dave Terlizzi, meteorologist (?-2005)
  • Tina Terry, weekend anchor/reporter (2003-2008)
  • Darin Wernig, sports anchor/reporter (?-2006)
  • Bridgett Williams, morning anchor/reporter, later weeknight anchor/reporter (2004-2009)
  • Clint Wilson, general assignment reporter (2004-2005)

References

  1. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1969
  2. ^ Broadcasting Yearbook 1979
  3. ^ http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/2009/12/30/bus_561276.shtml
  4. ^ http://www2.wjbf.com/jbf/news/special_reports/article/wjbf_wagt_enter_into_partnership/28655/

External links

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