|Channels||Digital: 29 (UHF)|
|Branding||CBS 58 (general)|
CBS 58 News (newscasts)
|Owner||Weigel Broadcasting |
(WDJT-TV Limited Partnership)
|WBME-CD, WMLW-TV, WYTU-LD|
First air date
|November 10, 1988|
Former channel number(s)
Call sign meaning
|"Weigel, Debra Jackson, and John Torres"|
(launch/current ownership and original license holders)
|HAAT||351 m (1,152 ft)|
Public license information
WDJT-TV (channel 58) is a television station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States, affiliated with CBS. It has been owned by Weigel Broadcasting since its inception (and is the company's only CBS affiliate), and is sister to Racine-licensed independent station WMLW-TV (channel 49), Class A MeTV station WBME-CD (channel 41), and Telemundo affiliate WYTU-LD (channel 63). The stations share studios in the Renaissance Center office complex on South 60th Street in West Allis (with a Milwaukee postal address), while WDJT-TV's transmitter is located in Milwaukee's Lincoln Park.
The station first signed on the air on November 10, 1988, operating as an independent station. Its call letters were selected in honor of its original owners, Debra Jackson and John Torres, the former of whom died before the station took to the air. With the banks skittish about the station's prospects due to Jackson's death, Torres sold controlling interest to Weigel Broadcasting in order to get more financing. Weigel bought out Torres' interest shortly before the station signed on, retaining the call letters, unchanged. Originally branded as "Classic 58", its programming fare consisted of older sitcoms, lower-tier first-run syndicated shows, a couple of rejected network programs from NBC affiliate WTMJ-TV (channel 4) and then-CBS outlet WITI (channel 6), and a mix of public domain and lower-demand studio films. The locally based show The Bowling Game also moved to the station in 1989 after a two-year hiatus from WVTV (channel 18), airing intermittently until 1991. It operated from a bare-bones facility on the top floors of the Marc Plaza Hotel (now the Hilton Milwaukee City Center), using a transmitter atop the hotel that had once been used by WVTV and low-power WMKE-LP (then-channel 8, now channel 21).
As an independent, WDJT found the going difficult against WVTV and WCGV-TV (channel 24). Although Milwaukee was big enough on paper to support what were essentially three independent stations (Fox affiliate WCGV was essentially programmed as an independent, as the network would not air a full week's worth of programming until 1993), there simply was not enough programming to go around. Most of the stronger first-run and off-network syndicated programs had been picked clean not only by WVTV and WCGV, but also the market's three network affiliates. It was also hampered by a weak signal that effectively limited channel 58's coverage area to Milwaukee and its inner-ring suburbs such as Cudahy, Waukesha and West Allis. The few syndicators who otherwise would have been willing to air their programming on channel 58 largely shied away due to its weak signal. Additionally, it was near the top of the UHF dial; generally until the cable age, most southeastern Wisconsin households never tuned past WMVT, the area's secondary PBS member station on channel 36. The station also came to the air three years before must-carry rules were put into place.
In January and February 1992, WDJT carried full-day coverage of the criminal trial of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer fed and produced by WITI. This allowed WITI to carry the CBS lineup without preemption, while giving Milwaukee an over-the-air venue for the full trial.
Until 1993, many area cable systems chose not to carry it due to a lack of compelling programming, poor signal quality or inadequate viewership—most notably Marcus Cable (now part of Charter Communications), the largest cable provider in Milwaukee's outer suburbs. On the systems that did carry it, it was relegated to a lower-tier slot; it aired on channel 29 on Milwaukee's Time Warner Cable system, and on channel 48 in outlying areas. Only with the requirements of must-carry launching that year was Weigel able to start the procurement process of more prominent cable coverage, though its channel position was still at the whim of each provider under that provision.
In May 1994, New World Communications announced that most of its stations, including Milwaukee's WITI, would become Fox affiliates. CBS approached all four of Milwaukee's other major stations–WTMJ-TV, WISN-TV (channel 12, which was affiliated with CBS from 1961 to 1977), WVTV, and WCGV (which to that point carried selected CBS programs that WITI chose not to carry). None of those stations were interested, although WVTV's then-owner, Gaylord Broadcasting (which had by that time had ceded operational control to WCGV), switched two of its other stations (KTVT in Fort Worth, Texas and KSTW in Tacoma, Washington) to CBS. This left CBS to negotiate with the city's lower-profile independents, WJJA (channel 49, now WMLW-TV) and WDJT, as well as religious station WVCY-TV (channel 30). After negotiations with both WJJA and WDJT fell through, CBS made an abortive attempt to buy WVCY before station owner Vic Eliason, in consultation with VCY America's board, decided not to sell.
With just days before WITI was to join Fox, CBS was faced with having to pipe in affiliate WISC-TV in Madison, or its two owned-and-operated stations in the region, WFRV-TV in Green Bay (now owned by Nexstar Media Group) or WBBM-TV in Chicago (the latter being receivable over the air in the southern portion of the market), for cable subscribers while it found a new affiliate in Milwaukee. Out of desperation, CBS agreed to affiliate with WDJT, despite its subpar signal and the lack of a news department. CBS faced similar situations in Atlanta, Austin, Cleveland and Detroit. In all these cases, the longtime CBS affiliates all switched to Fox. While CBS was able to land on higher-profile stations in Atlanta, Austin and Cleveland, it was unable to do so in Detroit or Milwaukee; in both cases, even the former Fox affiliates there who turned down CBS joined the United Paramount Network (UPN) instead. This would be one of two 11th-hour affiliation deals Weigel landed with a Big Three network; a year later, its low-powered outlet in South Bend, Indiana; W58BT (now WBND), signed on as an ABC affiliate after longtime affiliate WSJV switched to Fox.
On December 11, 1994, WDJT became the sixth station in Milwaukee to carry CBS. The network first aligned with WTMJ secondarily from 1947 to 1953, followed by now-defunct WCAN-TV (channel 25) from 1953 to 1955, WVTV (then known as WXIX, itself then owned by CBS, experimenting with UHF operations) from 1955 to 1959, WITI from 1959 to 1961, WISN-TV from 1961 to 1977, and WITI again from 1977 to 1994. The first CBS program to air on channel 58 that day was CBS News Sunday Morning. Some existing syndicated programming on WDJT's schedule which would otherwise air in CBS-designated timeslots was either moved to overnight slots on the station or turned over to sister station W65BT (now WBME-CD, channel 41) to fulfill contracts.
Not even Weigel had expected WDJT to replace WITI as Milwaukee's CBS affiliate. For the next year and a half, channel 58 was thus forced to make do with a hastily made logo of WDJT's italic Times New Roman '58' of the time in red (and later yellow) to the right of the CBS Eyemark, and a bare-bones image campaign using default CBS graphics (even up to 1999, it utilized the music of CBS' "Welcome Home" imaging campaign of the time for its newscasts). Meanwhile, the station began searching for a new studio befitting its new status, as well as building a news department. Until the 2009 digital television transition, WDJT was the only CBS affiliate in Wisconsin that broadcast on the UHF band, but retains the highest PSIP channel number out of the state's CBS affiliates post-transition.
WDJT's CBS affiliation sent the area's cable systems scrambling to add the station or give it a higher profile slot. It took until March 1995 for some portions of Marcus Cable's service area to pick up the station, though outer portions of the market had access to WISC, WFRV or WBBM as a second CBS signal depending on their location. Viewers in these areas who did not have set-top antennas thus missed several major events to which CBS held the rights, including the PGA Tour, the Grammy Awards, the Daytona 500, Big Ten Conference basketball, and the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments.
Despite these issues, the affiliation move to WDJT immediately resolved several scheduling issues CBS had while with WITI. The Young and the Restless, which had aired on a one-day delay at 9 a.m. weekdays since the early 1980s on WITI, began airing in the network-mandated timeslot for the Central Time Zone of 11:00 a.m. on WDJT, without a delay. The station also cleared CBS This Morning for its full two hours; WITI had preempted the first hour. WDJT also picked up the Late Show with David Letterman, which had aired on WCGV after WITI passed on it (one of the few CBS affiliates to do so).
Donahue moved to the station in September 1995 for its last season from WTMJ as WDJT's first true high-profile syndication acquisition. However, outside of network hours, the station's schedule resembled that of a minor-network affiliate or a lower-tier independent; it consisted mostly of low-profile sitcoms, first-run syndicated programs turned down by the other Milwaukee stations, and second-run syndicated fare.
WDJT eventually acquired a near-universal channel 5 cable slot on most area systems, but several complications (including systems which didn't carry it on cable channel 5, mainly those in the northern part of the market) disallowed WDJT from utilizing an alternate "CBS 5" branding, including likely confusion with then-CBS O&O WFRV-TV in Green Bay, which broadcast on (and continues to use as its virtual channel) channel 5.
In early 1996, WDJT moved to a new studio in a converted commercial building which was part of the former Allis-Chalmers manufacturing complex on South 60th Street, right on the line between Milwaukee and West Allis. The station launched a news department, and its first newscasts aired on March 18, 1996, three days before that year's NCAA tournament. WDJT also had one of the first local news websites in the state, and it was among the first in the nation to be a digital-only news operation on-air from launch, mainly running on AVID systems.
That year, WDJT also began to carry freshman series Judge Judy, which gave the station its first ratings traction outside of network hours, though it moved to WITI by September 1998 as that station decided to move away from an afternoon schedule dependent on "tabloid" talk shows. Three years later in 1999, the station's current Lincoln Park transmitter was put into service, giving the station an over-the-air signal comparable to Milwaukee's other major commercial stations. Weigel would use this tower to bring WDJT's two low-powered sister stations on an even footing in the market with all the market's main stations transmitting from the same area.
The station scored a major coup in early 2004 just before Ken Jennings started his record Jeopardy! winning streak, when the perceived costs and demographics of syndication of that show, along with Sony Pictures Television/King World companion show Wheel of Fortune, led to WTMJ-TV deciding not to renew rights to either series. Channel 4 had aired the syndication version of Wheel of Fortune since its premiere in 1983, and had aired Jeopardy! since its 1984 premiere. WDJT snapped up the rights for both game shows beginning in September 2005, and decided to schedule them in their traditional block scheduling setup between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. before prime time; the station had dropped its 6 p.m. newscast several years before to carry the first two seasons of The Ellen DeGeneres Show at 6 p.m., which later moved to WISN-TV. Jeopardy! then gained ratings being led in by the CBS Evening News rather than low-tier programming such as American Journal in its former 3:00 p.m. berth on WTMJ. With both programs united in the pre-prime time slot, they have continued to do well on WDJT, easily outrating their competition of 6 p.m. local news on the other three Milwaukee stations, along with entertainment newsmagazine programming at 6:30 p.m. WTMJ has since struggled with either lower-tier entertainment newsmagazines or local newscasts in the 6:30 p.m. timeslot.
In 2007, WDJT gained national attention after its live news truck broke through ice on Big Muskego Lake in Muskego while covering a story on ice safety. The estimated cost of repair was $250,000. A week later, the station began airing a public service announcement on ice safety which premiered during CBS' Super Bowl XLI coverage, making light of the situation by referring to their news department as providing "the most in-depth coverage in Milwaukee."
The station asked CBS to allow it to carry as many New York Jets games as were available for the 2008 season, since that team acquired former Packer quarterback Brett Favre on August 7, 2008, and expected high viewer interest from Milwaukee viewers for Jets games. Since CBS holds the rights to the AFC contract, the majority of Jets games are carried on that network. Station general manager Jim Hall asserted that the Jets were the station's "adopted team" for that season (the Jets traded Favre to the Minnesota Vikings in the 2009 off-season).
On August 29, 2008, WDJT became the first commercial television station in Milwaukee to produce a local program in high definition without the assistance of Milwaukee Public Television or other stations in the Hearst Television chain, as WISN had done in the past—when it aired the hour-long special 105 Years in the Making, which was produced in conjunction with Harley-Davidson's 105th Anniversary celebration that weekend. In late May 2010, the station became the fourth commercial station in the market begin airing its syndicated programming in high definition, a process which was completed in the fall of 2014 with an all-HD schedule of local and syndicated programming (outside of paid programming). The station began to air internal promos in HD at the start of the 2011–12 television season, and outside advertising in the format in January 2012 in concert with the station's conversion to HD news. In 2010, one of WDJT's live trucks drove away from a scene with its telescoping mast raised and into high voltage electrical transmission lines. The two occupants of the vehicle were able to escape unharmed. Another WDJT truck had previously hit electrical wires in nearby Waukesha in April 2005, causing the top of the mast to snap off.
On July 22, 2010, the Milwaukee area experienced a major flash flooding event which caused major damage in several parts of Milwaukee County. Although Weigel's West Allis studios did not suffer any damage, the Lincoln Park transmitter, located only a few hundred feet from Lincoln Creek suffered flooding damage within the transmission shed, forcing the station off the air for the majority of three days while the equipment was dried out and repaired. WMLW-CA's analog transmitter was used to relay WDJT's signal in some form to viewers; WTMJ offered the use of its 4.3 subchannel to transmit WDJT's programming to a majority of the Milwaukee market as gratitude for a 2009 incident in which WTMJ was taken off-the-air due to a lightning strike and Weigel offered the station the use of a WBME subchannel temporarily. This TV and Shorewest TV were also off-the air until July 25, when WDJT resumed full operations over the Weigel transmitter.
For many years, WDJT had been one of CBS' weaker affiliates. However, the station's syndicated schedule, including the Sony game show block, has placed WDJT in a better ratings position than CBS-affiliated UHF stations in Detroit and Atlanta, and the station is well competitive in prime time and late night due to the network's high ratings. The station also has retained the same "CBS 58" branding since December 1994, compared to Detroit and Atlanta, where the branding and newscast direction (in the case of Detroit, lack of newscasts) has shifted for each station multiple times. As such, it has fared relatively well compared to most of the other former independent stations and Fox affiliates that affiliated with CBS or another "Big Three" network during the 1994–96 affiliation switches. As of August 26, 2014, WDJT became the longest-tenured CBS affiliate in the Milwaukee market, passing WITI's 19 years and 8½ months of service over two separate stints.
The affiliate switches it made in Milwaukee and South Bend eventually gave Weigel Broadcasting the push to expand beyond its Chicago base; by establishing a strong relationship with CBS through its WDJT affiliation, along with a number of experiments on its stations, it would eventually lead to the launch of several strong networks in the age of digital subchannels, including MeTV, MeTV+, Heroes & Icons, Start TV, and in joint ventures with the current-day ViacomCBS and Fox Corporation, Decades and Movies!.
On October 30, 2014, the station debuted its first major imaging change to its logo since 2001, retiring its Eurostile numerical logo which had been revised once in September 2011 in favor of a news graphics and openings package used by CBS owned-and-operated stations. The new logo's silver CBS Eyemark and gold channel numbers in bold Helvetica resemble those of CBS' Los Angeles flagship KCBS-TV. The new imaging also saw the end of the all-day use of the Ten at 10:00 format with weather closing out the starting 'A block' outside of the morning newscast with an 'on the 1's' format with traffic reports. The station's weather reports now are part of the traditional midpoint 'B block' of each newscast. The station unveiled a new set on October 12, 2015, after a two-month process where the separated newsroom (which was used as a combined set from the news department's launch until 2011) and news studio space introduced in 2011 were combined during a large-scale remodeling. A new secondary set space with exposed brick walls and wood columns from the building's Allis Chalmers days is used for other purposes, including food drive programming, musical and arts performances, an intimate space for interviews, and the station's local version of Sunday Morning.
WDJT was the originating station of Me-TV Milwaukee, which carried a lineup of classic television series modeled after the MeTV format introduced by Chicago sister station WWME-CA in 2005. It launched on March 1, 2008, on digital subchannel 58.3. In mid-April 2008, Weigel acquired Racine-licensed home shopping station WJJA (channel 49, now WMLW-TV), and immediately began moving MeTV programming to that station, changing the station's callsign to WBME-TV. The simulcast was maintained until October 30, 2008, after a new digital transmitter for WBME on the Weigel tower was turned on in mid-October.
On August 7, 2012, MeTV (in its national network form) returned to WDJT on channel 58.2, as WBME and WMLW-CA swapped their programming between the two stations' prior channel allocations to allow WMLW to air HD programming on a full-power signal; WMLW had been carried on 58.2 since 2004, both to provide a signal of that station receivable in the entire market and a quality feed of the station to local cable providers. In this form, the station carries most of the national feed of MeTV with some minor variations in non-critical hours for license maintenance concerns such as E/I programming, along with a late-night rebroadcast of WDJT's 9 p.m. newscast on WMLW.
On November 1, 2008, Weigel launched the digital multicast network This TV in Milwaukee on WDJT-DT3 in cooperation with MGM Television, which provides the network with films and television series from the MGM library. The introduction "man on the street" promotions for the network were recorded throughout Milwaukee, and This TV's original imaging voice was Robb Edwards, former radio host at WTMJ (620 AM) and WOKY (920 AM), and the public address announcer at Miller Park, making it one of the few This O&O stations in the Weigel era of the network. This TV remained on the subchannel as of November 1, 2013, despite Tribune Broadcasting (which assumed ownership of WITI eight weeks later when its acquisition of Local TV was finalized) taking over operations of the network until 2021; Weigel maintained rights to the network on WMLW, then WYTU-LD2, until the launch of Start TV in September 2018. Tribune chose to continue offering an affiliation in the market for the network instead due to WITI's channel share with WVCY-TV, and currently the network is carried by WIWN on its fifth subchannel.
On March 3, 2015, Weigel moved This TV to WMLW's third subchannel in order to consolidate their owned subchannel networks onto WDJT, and shuffled Heroes & Icons, which had launched on September 29, 2014 on WMLW-DT3 locally with a format of action, crime and western programming targeted towards men, to WDJT-DT3.
H&I moved to WMLW-DT3 on January 8, 2018, as part of a wide-ranging number of moves involving the sale of the WMLW spectrum to the FCC in the 2016 spectrum auction. On that date, a full-market 16:9 widescreen standard definition simulcast of WMLW's main signal was added to WDJT-DT3.
Brookfield-based Shorewest Realtors created Shorewest TV in October 2005, as an offshoot of earlier local cable shopping channels that often featured their listings along with those of other agencies, as digital cable and video on demand became commonplace and allowed Shorewest the ability to buy their own channel slot on Time Warner Cable.
In the form of the cable channel, basic pictorial tours of local homes and real estate classified by region or house types were presented using information compiled on a database used by both the channel and Shorewest's website, with narration given by agents encouraging viewers to call for more information on the property presented, along with limited advertising for partner contractors and programs from local homebuilders and mortgage providers. The VOD version of Shorewest TV (except for homes in Rock County, which is outside the Milwaukee viewing area) was discontinued with the launch of 58.4 in order to encourage viewership of the over-the-air channel and a common schedule allowing easy DVR recording of a regional block. Independent agencies affiliated with Shorewest (such as Sheboygan's Shorewest-United Realtors) continued to maintain a presence on their local VOD systems.
On October 13, 2009, Shorewest and Weigel Broadcasting launched Shorewest TV over digital channel 58.4 under a time-lease arrangement in order to increase Shorewest TV's audience throughout southeastern Wisconsin. Charter Communications, which already carried the video-on-demand version of the service, also added the subchannel in this form to its systems. As is the current case with many digital subchannels (including This TV and others in the Milwaukee area), the channel was not carried over Dish Network or DirecTV.
The format of Shorewest TV remained the same over-the-air, although to address license concerns regular breaks featuring public service announcements were taken (intermixed with promos for Weigel's Milwaukee stations), while Shorewest TV carried the E/I-compliant program Green Screen Adventures, which was produced by WCIU, seven days a week at 7 a.m. In the past, Shorewest TV was moved to WBME-DT2 during NCAA multicasting periods to address multicasting bandwidth concerns and does see quality reductions at some times to allow WDJT to devote more bandwidth to certain CBS programming. Since July 2010, some paid programming slots were offered throughout the day over 58.4, usually at times where main channels had more viewership, and not for more than a half-hour every few hours.
At 5 a.m. on July 1, 2013, Shorewest TV ended as the time lease by the agency ended for the channel space in order to focus on Shorewest.TV, a new venture which features on-demand viewing of properties by location, price range and building type. In its place, WDJT-DT4 launched TouchVision, a national network which launched in beta form on the station with a national rollout beginning as Weigel prepared to transfer its interest in This TV, and is programmed from Weigel's Halsted Street studios with a separate LLC under the management of former radio and Tribune executive Lee Abrams, the network provides a looping presentation in widescreen of world and national news through pictures and video, mainly adapted from wire services, along with other information such as local weather and sports score cut-ins and several original feature segments. A three-minute automated weather segment featuring a loop of mapping and forecasts from the station's weather computers and skycam network, or a three-minute local news capsule alternate at the bottom of the hour.
On January 12, 2015, the station stopped carrying TouchVision on WDJT-DT4 and began to carry Heroes & Icons temporarily; Touchvision would remain carried as an hour every morning in the market on WMLW and nationally on H&I, but was discontinued with little notice on January 14, 2016. The next day, Weigel Broadcasting announced that WDJT-DT4 would be among the charter stations that would carry the "soft launch" block of marathon programming for the four months leading up to the May 25 launch of Weigel and CBS' joint venture network Decades, which has most of its carriage through CBS-owned stations. The soft launch began at midnight on January 16 with a binge marathon of The Millionaire.
Decades moved to WBME-CD2 on January 8, 2018, as part of a wide-ranging number of moves involving the sale of the WMLW spectrum to the FCC in the 2016 spectrum auction, and their channel merger onto WBME's spectrum. On that date, the full-market simulcast of WYTU-LD and the Telemundo schedule was moved to WDJT-DT4 from its former berth on WMLW-DT4.
With WYTU-LD3, WDJT's fifth subchannel was activated at the start September 2018 as a charter affiliate of Weigel's newest network, Start TV.
Syndicated programming on WDJT includes The Drew Barrymore Show, Inside Edition, Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune and Dr. Phil, along with NCIS and NCIS: New Orleans on weekends, all distributed by CBS Media Ventures.
Weigel's Milwaukee news operation, branded as the CBS 58 News, presently broadcasts 48½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 8½ hours each weekday, 2½ hours on Saturdays, and 3½ hours on Sundays) across WDJT itself (which carries 33½ hours itself) and sister station WMLW (carriage of 18 hours per week, with 3 hours on weekends simulcast with WDJT), along with a weeknight forecast rundown during the half-hour break for The Late Late Show with James Corden. In addition, WDJT produces the public affairs program Eye to Eye (which airs Sunday mornings) as well as a nightly local 10 p.m. Spanish-language evening newscasts for co-owned Telemundo affiliate WYTU-LD; several of WDJT's reporters are bilingual and present news stories for both stations, and Telemundo anchor Carlos Vergara anchored as a substitute on WDJT's newscasts in the past. The 10 p.m. newscast is rebroadcast overnights on WBME-CD to meet the station's Class A license local programming requirements and allow a 10 p.m. news encore in some form. WDJT also produces a nightly weather forecast segment using its meteorologists for its Chicago sister station (and Weigel flagship) WCIU-TV. As of the 2017 season, the station provides a pre-game news segment, and pre-game and post-game "ride home" weather segments for the Milwaukee Brewers as its official weather forecast provider, which are carried on the scoreboard at Miller Park, along with a logo placement on the bottom left-hand corner of the scoreboard at all times, which formerly featured WTMJ-TV's logo when they were the official weather provider for the team. The station also presents a "Weather Day" event for area school children in late April every year, which occurs at Miller Park before a Brewers day game where those area schools receive free tickets to that game, following a broad and educational scientific meteorological presentation by WDJT's weather staff.
The station also gathered most news for CBS Radio in Milwaukee until the start of 2016 (WTMJ radio now currently holds a dual CBS Radio/ABC Radio News affiliation and also provides coverage to CBS Radio), due to the lack of any area radio station airing the network's hourly newscasts (which were broadcast by WOKY, which had no news division, until a September 2008 format change); it also has a forecast and advertising agreement with the stations of the Milwaukee Radio Alliance, which include WLDB (93.3 FM), WLUM-FM (102.1 FM) and WZTI (1290 AM). WDJT maintains a traffic car where a photojournalist with a 4G connection back to the studios with a dashboard camera (branded by the station as iCAM) traverses the area's freeway system where possible each morning and on some evenings to report current traffic conditions or nearby breaking news, in lieu of a news helicopter. The station began to utilize two drones collectively known as "SkyDrone 58" in 2016.
WDJT's newscasts have fared somewhat better than those of other former independents and Fox stations that joined a Big Three network through the 1994–96 affiliation switches. This is remarkable considering the station barely registered in the ratings prior to joining CBS and did not even have a news department for over a year after aligning with the network. Indeed, the only other such stations who've had success in starting up a news department have either been owned by E. W. Scripps Company (KNXV-TV in Phoenix, WFTS-TV in Tampa, and KSHB-TV in Kansas City) or, in the case of Raycom Media-owned WOIO in Cleveland, going to a controversial tabloid format in order to garner ratings. (WOIO has since switched to a traditional format.) While it has spent the last two decades in fourth place, in recent years its news ratings at 10 p.m. have come close to (and at times surpassed) WITI, WTMJ and WISN-TV on some nights (especially during past carriage disputes between Time Warner Cable, Hearst Television and Journal Communications, that resulted in weeks long removal of WISN and WTMJ). Reporter/anchor Mike Strehlow has been with the station since the news department was launched, with former anchor Paul Piaskoski staying with the station 19 years until his mid-2015 departure. Unlike the situation in Atlanta with WGCL-TV, which has gone through multiple shifts in personnel on both sides of the camera, most staff turnover at WDJT has been of the traditional move of talent to higher markets, which is to be expected given Milwaukee's status as a mid-major market and its close proximity to Chicago.
When the station's news department began in March 1996, WDJT carried newscasts at 5 p.m. Monday through Saturdays, 5:30 p.m. on Sundays, 6 p.m. weeknights and at 10 p.m. seven nights a week. Unlike most CBS affiliates, WDJT does not have a weeknight 6 p.m. newscast; the station carried a newscast in that timeslot from the news department's launch until it aired The Ellen DeGeneres Show in the slot from its September 2003 launch, and continued to do so when Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! moved to WDJT in September 2005, when the station chose to air both shows during that hour. Although this is unusual scheduling in the Central Time Zone due to the reduction of one hour from early prime time, it is the common default scheduling for stations in the Eastern and Pacific time zones (Green Bay Fox affiliate WLUK-TV also carries both shows in the 6 p.m. hour). WDJT is also currently the market's only Big Four affiliate without a newscast on weekend mornings, since WITI reinstated the weekend edition of its WakeUp News broadcast in April 2011 after a two-year suspension (local weather inserts are taped after the Friday and Saturday 10 p.m. news for broadcast during the Saturday edition of CBS This Morning and CBS News Sunday Morning, except during ongoing severe weather events). The station opted to fill the noon half-hour with a lower-profile syndicated show from the debut of its news operation until it launched a noon newscast on September 12, 2011.
The station used the Ten at Ten format for its late newscast until November 2014, emphasizing the top stories and weather in the first 10 minutes of the program. WDJT has won regional Emmy awards, along with honors from the Associated Press for best newscast presentation. In 2009, the station began to carry the syndicated Mr. Food cooking segments on its morning newscast (the segments had not been seen in the Milwaukee market since WITI had dropped it in 2006). During the 2007 World Series, WDJT produced a 9 p.m. newscast for WMLW-CA, in an attempt to attract non-baseball viewers who would normally watch WITI's newscast in that timeslot, which was subjected to delays because of the games. The 9 p.m. newscast on WMLW became a full-time program on January 1, 2008. On January 18, 2015, the 9 p.m. newscast was expanded to a full hour nightly.
The station formerly produced an 11-minute late evening newscast for ABC-affiliated South Bend sister station WBND-LP called News at 11:00, featuring video shot locally in South Bend and then edited and written by anchor Michele McCormack and executive producer Adam Wilhelm in Milwaukee (WBND launched its own in-house news department in April 2011, though the imaging and format for its newscasts is very similar to WDJT's).
On July 25, 2011 (after a two-day test by WYTU's news segments the week before), the station's news department moved to a newly built extension of the Weigel facility, including a new set and fully equipped weather center optimized for HD broadcasts. The station became the fourth (and last) television station in Milwaukee to begin broadcasting its newscasts in high definition on January 8, 2012 at 10 p.m. after a one-day news hiatus for technical work (WDJT originally planned to upgrade in mid-September 2011, but that target was not met as the station installed its new master control and graphics software by December 9, then acquiring the HD field equipment; the WMLW and WYTU programs switched to HD in August 2012); some field video and national satellite stories continue to be presented in standard definition. In the spring of 2013, WDJT-TV also launched a network of four skycams through a sponsorship agreement with Aurora Health Care's St. Luke's Hospital (located respectively at the station's West Allis studios, on the Lincoln Park transmitter tower, atop St. Luke's, and at local furniture superstore Steinhafels on Waukesha's northeast side). Though it was the last in the market with a camera network, its system is the first to record live video in native widescreen without the need to stretch or crop the picture to fit the 16:9 frame. On September 23, 2013, WDJT expanded its weekday morning newscast a half-hour early to 4:30 a.m., extending the program to 2½ hours, resulting in Weigel's syndicated financial news program First Business being moved to WMLW for its last year on the air. As of September 2014, WDJT's weekend 5 p.m. hour newscasts now air on WMLW if they are preempted due to CBS Sports coverage, or are simulcast even if no sports event is scheduled by CBS Sports.
At the start of April 2015, WDJT began to further expand their newscasts with the cancellation of The Queen Latifah Show at 3 p.m. months earlier. As of March 30, an hour-long 4 p.m. newshour began to air on the station on weekdays with a focus on in-studio interviews with local newsmakers, with Dr. Phil moving to 3 p.m. WDJT also expanded their newscasts to weekend mornings for the first time, starting with an hour-long newscast on Sunday mornings preceding CBS News Sunday Morning beginning April 5, which shares that program's template of long-form light reporting and features in local form, though is pre-recorded for air; the traditional 7 a.m. programming, including Eye to Eye and local time-lease religious program Time of Grace, moved to other timeslots through the weekend. CBS 58 Sunday Morning is hosted by Mike Strehlow. A one-hour weekday extension of WDJT's morning newscast was added to the WMLW schedule on February 3, 2020, giving WITI its first local competition in the 7 a.m. hour. The same week saw WDJT's 10 p.m. newscast extended to a full hour on weekends. On April 26, 2021, the morning news extension on WMLW was expanded to two hours.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|58.1||1080i||16:9||WDJT-HD||Main WDJT-TV programming / CBS|
|58.2||480i||MeTV-SD||Simulcast of WBME-CD / MeTV|
|58.3||WMLW SD||Simulcast of WMLW-TV|
|58.4||WYTU SD||Simulcast of WYTU-LD / Telemundo|
|58.5||StartTV||Simulcast of WYTU-LD2 / Start TV|
WDJT has, in the past, used a fourth and fifth digital subchannel for multicasting games during the early rounds of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in mid-March. From 2008 to 2010, when CBS restricted stations to only one multicast, the station aired the additional game over WDJT-DT3 (in 2008 as MeTV, and 2009 and 2010 as This TV Milwaukee), and removed 58.4 from service. This multicasting of games was discontinued in 2011, due to CBS and the Turner Broadcasting System's TBS, TNT and TruTV sharing the broadcast rights to the tournament under a new broadcast contract that began that year. Digital subchannels 58.4 and 58.5 returned to use in May 2009 and were added permanently into channel maps on digital converter boxes and television sets for the possibility of future use.
Dish Network began carrying the station's high definition feed on October 28, 2010; the provider had not carried it until then as Weigel's retransmission consent pricing was higher than Dish would agree to (though what terms Dish came to Weigel are unknown). In June 2012, WDJT began to flag its standard definition presentation on 58.1 with the AFD#8 code, so SD viewers see the station's 16:9 picture in full on a 4:3 screen without letterboxing, thus causing some vertical stretching with that picture.
The station has carried a second audio program channel since the Lincoln Park transmitter went into service in 1999, both in the station's analog and digital forms, and provides all CBS programming available with DVS, along with NFL on CBS coverage featuring Spanish-language audio, regardless of FCC regulations over the years.
In June 2016, WDJT added a near full-time stream of the main signal for viewers in the Milwaukee market (outside of sports blackouts) as a part of CBS All Access (which became Paramount+ in 2021), the network's paid over-the-top service.
WDJT-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 58, at 11:59 p.m. on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal continued to broadcasts on its pre-transition UHF channel 46. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 58, which was among the high band UHF channels (52–69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition. On-air, the station identifies as WDJT-DT (for digital television) in station identifications despite holding the "-TV" suffix in its FCC correspondence.
After its analog signal was shut down, WDJT began to relay its programming schedule over sister station WYTU-LP (channel 63) at 9 a.m. that day; Telemundo programming ran exclusively over WYTU-LP's digital signal on channel 17 and on WMLW digital subchannel 49.4 from then on. This was to provide some kind of "lifeline" service under special dispensation by the CBS network to those who had not yet made the conversion. On December 31, 2009, the simulcast on channel 63 was discontinued at the end of the dispensation, and WYTU-LP was converted to an analog translator of WBME's main schedule.