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WIAT
Birmingham, Alabama
Branding CBS 42 (general)

CBS 42 News (newscasts)

Slogan The Names You Know... The Experience You Trust
Channels Digital: 30 (UHF)
Subchannels 42.1 CBS42.2 Untamed Sports TV42.3 Weather
Translators 42 (UHF) Tuscaloosa(construction permit)
Affiliations CBS
Owner New Vision Television, Inc.

(NVT Birmingham Licensee, LLC)

First air date October 17, 1965
Call letters' meaning It's About Time[1]
Former callsigns WBMG (1965-1998)
Former channel number(s) Analog:

42 (1965-2009)

Former affiliations Secondary:NBC (1965-1970)
Transmitter power 1000 kW
Height 426 m
Facility ID 5360
Transmitter coordinates 33°29′4.5″N 86°48′25.4″W / 33.484583°N 86.807056°W / 33.484583; -86.807056
Website www.cbs42.com

WIAT is the CBS affiliate in the Birmingham/Tuscaloosa/Anniston, Alabama television market. It is a UHF television station licensed to Birmingham, on digital channel 30, although through the use of PSIP technology the stations channel number is displayed as 42.1. Its transmitter is located on Red Mountain, just by the city's southern edge.


History

As WBMG

The station signed on October 17, 1965 as WBMG (standing for BirMinGham).[1] It was owned by Bill DuBois, a local investment banker. A minority owner was Southern Broadcasting, owners of radio station WSGN.

As was the case at the time with most UHF stations in markets served by at least two commercial VHF stations (NBC/CBS affiliate WAPI-TV, now WVTM-TV; and then-ABC affiliate WBRC-TV), WBMG experienced considerable competitive disadvantages from the outset. Many households did not have TV sets capable of viewing UHF signals without a converter. Television set manufacturers had only begun including UHF tuning a year earlier, per a 1962 directive from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The station's signal also left much to be desired, particularly given central Alabama's hilly-to-mountainous terrain. At the time, UHF stations usually didn't get good coverage in areas with rugged terrain. As a result, only Birmingham itself and some inner-ring suburbs over Red Mountain received channel 42 clearly.

As a result, although on paper WBMG took the CBS affiliation from WAPI, CBS continued to allow channel 13 to air some of its more popular programming. WBMG was left with numerous lower-rated CBS shows, and filled the schedule with some NBC shows that WAPI-TV turned down. One of them was, strangely given its popularity elsewhere in the country, The Tonight Show. Another example is the Heidi Game, the infamous American Football League game played in 1968.[2] One benefit, though, was that the CBS Evening News returned to Birmingham after several years' absence. After the networks expanded their national newscasts to half an hour, NBC's The Huntley-Brinkley Report was the only national newscast seen in Birmingham for much of the 1960s. Both stations listed their affiliation as "CBS/NBC." By 1970, though, WAPI's owners, the Newhouse family, opted for an exclusive contract with NBC, leaving WBMG to take a full CBS affiliation more or less by default.

With a poor signal, the lack of sets with UHF capability and two of the South's oldest and most respected stations as competition, WBMG found the going very difficult. But many of WBMG's problems were of its own making. Its newscasts often--inadvertently or not--became comedy shows. Examples of this include mid-1970s sportscaster (and local radio personality) Tommy Charles wadding up scripts and tossing them over his shoulder after reading them, as well as even letting balloons fly around the set for no apparent reason.

Furthermore, CBS' decision in 1971 to cancel many of its rural-oriented sitcoms and variety shows, especially the country music showcase Hee Haw and shows hosted by Sylacauga native Jim Nabors, in order to comply with the Prime Time Access Rule may have hurt WBMG's ability to attract viewers in rural Alabama, where those programs were highly popular among viewers.

Still, WBMG gained publicity in central Alabama for some local shows, such as live studio wrestling, and the children's show Sergeant Jack, which featured former WSGN radio disc jockey Neal Miller, who donned the uniform of a sheriff's deputy (and actually was sworn in as an honorary deputy by the Jefferson County sheriff himself) and engaged in fanciful banter with puppets. Sergeant Jack ran on weekdays from 1965 to 1976 and on weekends from that point until 1982. Mother Angelica, who would later launch the Christian cable network EWTN from Irondale in 1981, began her career by taping faith-related programs at the WBMG studios for distribution on the station and other cable networks.

Park Communications bought WBMG in 1973[3]. Park significantly boosted the station's signal, erecting a new tower in 1974. It also tried to professionalize the newscasts, with little success. WBMG had no local newscasts at all from 1980 until 1987, aside from hourly cut-ins. During this time, the station broadcast syndicated shows at both 5 and 10 p.m. Even when local news returned in 1987, WBMG had no luck whatsoever competing with WVTM and WBRC. It was perennially one of CBS' weakest affiliates, in marked contrast to its competitors, who were two of their networks' strongest affiliates. It even trailed WTTO, an independent station (and later a Fox affiliate) that had only been on the air since 1982.

Since WBMG's signal was still rather weak after the signal boost, many cable systems in the western and eastern portions of the market wouldn't carry it. As a result, CBS retained affiliation with two other stations in central Alabama, WCFT-TV in Tuscaloosa and WHMA-TV (later WJSU-TV) in Anniston. Both stations, started during WBMG's formative period, reached some Birmingham homes with UHF rooftop antennas. WCFT and WHMA/WJSU regularly trounced WBMG in their respective regions. This was especially true in Anniston since WBMG's signal didn't cover east central Alabama well at all during that period, again because of high elevations from the Appalachian foothills.

By the early 1990s, WBMG was only ahead of WABM in the Birmingham ratings. Despite this, the station managed to make a name for itself while John Harrod was news director. He launched a very aggressive and hard hitting news department, concentrating exclusively on local stories and investigative reporting. During his time as news director from 1990 through 1995, the station won awards from the Associated Press for its reporting. Unfortunately, critical acclaim was not rewarded with a ratings win.

In 1995, Fox purchased WBRC. ABC's affiliation with WBRC did not expire until September 1996, so Fox continued to run WBRC as an ABC affiliate while ABC looked for a new affiliate in the central Alabama area. It first approached WTTO, but broke off talks after WTTO would only offer a secondary affiliation, carrying just prime time and sports. ABC's second choice, WBMG, at least had a news department and ABC even offered to buy the station. Instead, WBMG re-signed a long-term deal with CBS. ABC then opted for a unique arrangement with WCFT and WJSU. The two stations would combine to act as full-powered satellites of WBMA, a low-powered station whose signal did not carry outside of Jefferson and Shelby counties.

The switch took place in September. At that time, CBS decided to affiliate with yet another central Alabama station, WNAL-TV (now WPXH) in Gadsden, which put a fairly decent signal into the eastern portions of the Birmingham area, as well as eastern Alabama. However, WNAL simulcasted WBMG's newscasts during this time.

As WIAT

In 1997, Park Communications merged with Media General. However, WBMG stayed in the ratings basement with a mere 1% market share, trailing not only WVTM and WBRC but also WTTO and at times even WABM.

After only a few months, new general manager Eric Land decided to revamp WIAT's news department. On New Year's Day 1998, all newscasts were canceled and the news department was shut down. Over the next month, channel 42 rebuilt its news department from scratch. During that time, the station showed a picture of a countdown clock at 5 and 10 p.m. -- the slots where news would air once the product was re-launched. In order to signify a new start, Media General had the station's callsign changed to WIAT, which stood for It's About Time, the station's new slogan. The new format debuted on February 5, 1998 -- the same day as the start of the Winter Olympics--with a new name, "42 Daily News". Land was seen just before the countdown clock expired speaking to an unseen audience, then throwing a switch that blew up an image of the WBMG logo, with the new WIAT logo emerging.

The station did not have any on-air reporters; instead all stories were narrated by the anchors. Strict time limits were imposed on story lengths, leading to segments such as "Top Story in a Minute," "Weather Minute," "Neighborhood Minute," a "2-Minute Drill" sportscast, etc.

The new anchor team was mostly made up of talent from out of town, except for the two-person sports team. Sports Director Paul Finebaum's established popularity from his highly-opinionated newspaper column and radio show sparked some interest from sports fans. However, his sportscasts were often seen as incomplete since he had only two minutes to convey the day's sports. Weekend sports anchor Sam Smith was the only on-air WBMG staff member to survive the transition to WIAT; however, he soon departed.

Even with the time constraints, WIAT was seen as making a more credible effort at news than ever before. Ratings increased immediately but were still not enough to overtake the competition. However, that year the station received its first two Emmy Awards in station history. The station later updated its image to become "News 42." It also began adding reporters, and gradually eased its strict time limits on story lengths.

In 2003, Bill Ballard, who took over as President and General Manager, created a new path for the station which included numerous changes such as stronger programming like Dr. Phil, Jeopardy!, Entertainment Tonight, and Wendy Williams and a much more aggressive approach to news coverage. The moves which were implemented have dramatically altered the landscape of Central Alabama television.

In April 2006, Media General bought four NBC owned and operated stations, including WVTM. Since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not allow one company to own two of the four largest stations in a single market, Media General opted to keep the then higher-rated WVTM and sell WIAT to another owner. On August 2, 2006, New Vision Television, LLC announced its purchase of WIAT and sister station KIMT in Mason City, Iowa for $35 million. The sale was finalized on October 12, 2006.[1]

Previous owners of Channel 42

Digital television

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Digital channels


Virtual

Channel

Physical

RF Channel

Video Aspect Programming
42.1 30.1 1080i 16:9 Main WIAT programming / CBS HD
42.2 30.2 480i 4:3 Untamed Sports TV SD
42.3 30.3 480i 4:3 CBS 42 Weather SD

Untamed Sports TV was added on a subchannel in 2009. WIAT promotes 42.2 as a separate channel on the air and the station's website. [4] In addition to Untamed Sports, 42.2 also carries live and tape-delayed local high school sports and the Rick and Bubba show.

On April 5, 2010, the FCC granted WIAT a construction permit for a digital fill-in translator on their pre-analog allotment Channel 42.[5] The translator will serve the Tuscaloosa area.

News operation

Unlike most CBS affiliates in the Central Time Zone, WIAT does not air local news during the weekday noon timeslot. In October 2005, WIAT teamed with former WB affiliate WTTO, now a CW affiliate (as of September 2006) to begin producing a 9 p.m. newscast. Using the same set and anchors as WIAT and a modified graphics package, the CW21 News at 9 (formerly WB21 News at 9) aired seven days a week. However, the newscasts were discontinued on October 13, 2006, after the finalization of the Media General/New Vision deal, therefore leaving WTTO with no evening newscasts, as WVTM opted not to continue them under the previous Media General agreement.

In August 2007, the station began Wake Up Alabama, a morning newscast. It has also made several high-profile hires of major Birmingham television personalities. These include Cynthia Gould, formerly a long-time anchor at rival WBRC; Mark Prater, who previously held meteorologist positions at WBRC and WBMA; former long-time WVTM sports director and news anchor Jim Dunaway; and Ken Lass, another well known alumnus of WVTM. The station now also has the largest on-air sports team in Alabama. WIAT's 10 p.m. newscast often finishes at the top of the ratings for individual newscasts and continues to grow.

The change has been dramatic in all facets of the station. In 2007 and 2008, WIAT won more Alabama Broadcasters Association Awards than any other station, as well as numerous Associated Press Awards, including the following:

  • Best Anchor: Sherri Jackson
  • Best Reporter: Stephen Hauck
  • Best Website: www.cbs42.com
  • Best Feature News Story (twice running)
  • Best Station Promotion
  • Best Commercial Production (twice running)
  • Best Public Service Announcement
  • Best Web Journalism

On April 9, 2010, WIAT began broadcasting its local newscasts in High Definition, making WIAT the third station in the Birmingham-Tuscaloosa-Anniston market after WVTM and WBRC to do so. The news set and the graphics were also redesigned in the transition to HD.

Ratings

WIAT has seen some of the largest ratings gains in its history since this sale, posting higher late news ratings than WVTM since 2006. WIAT is now considered one of the strongest overall CBS affiliates in the nation; only a decade ago, it was one of the weakest. Additionally, CBS' broadcasts of Southeastern Conference football garner higher ratings on WIAT than anywhere else in the nation. The ratings continue to climb in all dayparts, and as the other stations in Central Alabama continually lose household ratings from sign on to sign off, WIAT is the only station to post household growth year to year.

News/station presentation

Newscast titles

  • 42 News (1960s-1974 and 1992-1998)
  • 42 NewsPlus (1974-1980)
  • Metro News (1980-1987)
  • Action News (1987-1992)
  • 42 Daily News (1998-2004)
  • News 42 (2004-2007)
  • CBS 42 News (2007-present)

Station slogans

  • The Best is Right Here on TV-42/TV-42 is Easy on the Eyes (1973-1974; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • See The Best....TV-42 (1974-1975; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • The Best In View: Channel 42 (mid 1970s)
  • Catch the Brightest Stars on TV-42 (1975-1976; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • TV-42, We're The Hot Ones (1976-1977; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • There's Something in Air, on TV-42 (1977-1978; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • TV-42, Turn Us On, We'll Turn You On (1978-1979; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • We're Looking Good, on TV-42 (1979-1980; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Looking Better Than Ever (1980s)
  • Looking Good Together on TV-42 (1980-1981; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Reach for the Stars on TV-42 (1981-1982; local version of CBS ad campaign, used durung the news opening)
  • Great Moments on 42 (1982-1983; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • We've Got the Touch, You and 42 (1983-1984; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • You and 42, We've Got the Touch (1984-1985; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • We've Got the Touch on 42 (1985-1986; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Share the Spirit on 42 (1986-1987; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • 42 Spirit, oh yes (1987-1988; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • You Can Feel It on 42 (1988-1989; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Get Ready for 42 (1989-1991; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Birmingham's News for the '90s (1990-1992)
  • The Look of Birmingham is 42 (1991-1992; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • This is CBS, on 42 (1992-1994; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • I am 42 Birmingham People (1994-1995; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • The Look of Birmingham (1992-1995; unrelated of 1991-1992 "The Look of America is CBS" ad campaign)
  • You're on WBMG 42 (1995-1996; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Coverage You Can Count On (1996-1997)
  • Welcome Home to CBS42 (1996-1997; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • CBS 42, Welcome Home (1998-1999; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • It's About Time (1998-2007)
  • The Address is CBS 42 (1999-2000; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • CBS 42 It's All Here (2000-2005; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Everybody's Watching CBS 42 (2005-2006; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • We Are CBS 42 (2006-2009; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • The Names You Know... The Experience You Trust! (2009-present)
  • Only CBS 42, Only CBS (2009-present; local version of CBS ad campaign)

News Music Packages

Music Package Composer Year Used Other Notes
Lorelei Styx 1976-1979 Comissioned by WBMG
WJZ 1975 News Theme Unknown 1979-1980
I Feel Love Donna Summer 1980-1981 Comissioned by WBMG
Production Music Raw Nerve Robert Hall Productions 1981-1990 Only First station to comissioned package
WSLS 1988 News Theme JDK Music 1990-1991
WBMG 1991 News Theme Unknown 1991-1992 Comissioned by WBMG
Production Music The Visionary Soundtrack 1992-1995 First station to comissioned package
Symphony Stephen Arnold Music 1996-1997
Total News Non-Stop Music 1998-2004 WBMG Renamed WIAT
U-Phonix Stephen Arnold Music 2004-2007
The CBS Enforcer Music Collection Gari Communications Inc. 2007-Present

On-air staff

Current on-air staff

Anchors

  • Cynthia Gould - weeknights at 5 p.m.
  • Stephen Hauck - weekday mornings Wake Up Alabama (5-7 a.m.)
  • Emily Ingram - weekday mornings Wake Up Alabama (5-7 a.m.)
  • Sherri Jackson - weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Alexa Jones - weekday mornings Wake Up Alabama (5-7 a.m.)
  • Ken Lass - weeknights at 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Nicole Wyatt - Saturdays at 6, Sundays at 5:30 and weekends at 10 p.m.

CBS 42 Weather Team

  • Mark Prater (AMS/NWA Seals of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Kalee Dionne - weekday mornings Wake Up Alabama (5-7 a.m.)
  • Charles Daniel - Meteorologist; Saturdays at 6, Sundays at 5:30 and weekends at 10 p.m.
  • David Neal - Fill-in Meteorologist

Sports Team

  • Brad Radice - Sports Director; Saturdays at 6, Sundays at 5:30 and weekends at 10 p.m.
  • Jim Dunaway - Sports Anchor; weeknights at 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Abby Chin - sports reporter and fill-in anchor
  • Scott Griffin - sports analyst
  • B.J. Millican - sports producer

Reporters

  • Kim Carapucci
  • Rick Jackson - morning reporter
  • Mike McClanahan - general assignment reporter
  • Shanisty Myers - general assignment reporter
  • Phillip Ohnemus - general assignment reporter/video journalist
  • Kim Rankin - general assignment reporter
  • Al Ratcliffe - general assignment reporter
  • Beverly Tanner - general assignment reporter
  • Brittany Woodby
  • Leigh Garner

Former on-air news staff

  • Fred Barnhill - meteorologist
  • Doug Bell - sports director (??-1997; husband of WCFT/WJSU news anchor Brenda Ladun; currently doing freelance sports reporting)
  • Sarah Black - meteorologist
  • Barbara Bolding - anchor
  • Bill Bolen - anchor (1965-1969, left to join WBRC, where he remained until his retirement in 2010)
  • Declan Cannon - meteorologist (1998-2002)
  • Lynida Cardwell - anchor
  • Valorie Carter - anchor (??-1997: currently on WSFA in Montgomery)
  • Keith Cate - anchor (1998-2000; currently at WFLA-TV in Tampa)
  • Tommy Charles - sports anchor (1970s; better known as a local radio personality on WSGN, WYDE, WAQY, WVOK, WRKK/WQUS and WERC)
  • Tim Coleman - meteorologist
  • Ki Sanders Corley - anchor
  • Ken Daily - meteorologist
  • Don Davis - meteorologist
  • Paul Finebaum - sports director (1998-2001; currently hosting syndicated sports talk show based at WJOX)
  • Hank Erwin - anchor (late 1970s-early 1980s; later became a news reporter on WYDE, now a member of the Alabama State Senate representing Shelby County)
  • Catherine Gee - anchor/meteorolgist
  • Ryan Goswick - meteorolgist
  • Julie Golden - weather reporter, then news anchor (late 1980s)
  • Bob Greene - sports anchor
  • Melony Johnson - anchor
  • David Lamb - anchor (2000-2006; currently morning drive announcer on WDJC)
  • Andrea Lindenberg - anchor (currently morning anchor on WVTM-TV)
  • Marianne Matthews - anchor (late 1980s)
  • Myke Motley - meteorologist (deceased)
  • Bonnie McLaughlin - meteorologist (1998-2002; married to former meteorologist Declan Cannon)
  • Kate Mundy - weekend anchor
  • Bill Murray - meteorologist
  • Richard Ortner - meteorologist (1996-1998; last at KMGH in Denver)
  • Paul Ossmann - meteorologist (late 1980s: currently on WXIA and WATL in Atlanta)
  • Steve Ross - anchor (late 1980s)
  • David Sawyer - meteorologist (2004-2009; now at WNCT in Greenville, North Carolina)
  • Chris Schauble - anchor (now at KNBC Los Angeles)
  • Ben Smith - meteorologist (currently at WHNT in Huntsville)
  • Sam Smth - weekend sports anchor
  • Emily Stroud - anchor
  • Chip Tarkenton - sports anchor (late 1980s; currently at WRIC in Richmond; nephew of former NFL quarterback Fran Tarkenton)
  • Jim Tice - meteorologist
  • Tom Whitley - sports anchor (late 1970s)
  • Charley Wideman - weather reporter (1960s)
  • Herb Winches - sports anchor (2005-2006)

Station Logos

Wbmg42 70slogo2

42 logo from 1970s

Wbmg4284

WBMG 42 logo from 1984

WIAT 1998

WIAT 42 CBS Logo from 1998 until 2004

Cbs 42

cbs 42 logo from 2004 until 2007

Webplaceholder

CBS 42 News current logo

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