WLTZ
WLTZ Local NBC 38 logo.png
Wltz dt2 2010.png
Channels
BrandingLocal NBC 38; The CW Ga-Bama (DT2)
Programming
Affiliations
Ownership
Owner
OperatorGray Television
WTVM, WXTX
History
First air date
October 29, 1970
(51 years ago)
 (1970-10-29)
Former call signs
WYEA-TV (1970–1981)
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog:
  • 38 (UHF, 1970–2009)
Technical information
Licensing authority
FCC
Facility ID37179
ERP50 kW
HAAT377.2 m (1,238 ft)
Transmitter coordinates32°27′28″N 84°53′8″W / 32.45778°N 84.88556°W / 32.45778; -84.88556
Links
Public license information
Website

WLTZ (channel 38) is a television station in Columbus, Georgia, United States, affiliated with NBC and The CW Plus. It is owned by SagamoreHill Broadcasting, which maintains a shared services agreement (SSA)[1] with Gray Television, owner of ABC affiliate WTVM (channel 9), for the provision of certain services. Gray also operates Fox affiliate WXTX (channel 54) under a separate SSA with owner American Spirit Media. WLTZ's studios and transmitter are located on NBC 38 Drive in the Vista Terrace section of East Columbus (postal address is actually Buena Vista Road in Columbus). Master control and most internal operations are based at WTVM and WXTX's shared studios on Wynnton Road (GA 22) in the Dinglewood section of Columbus.

WLTZ went on the air in 1970 as WYEA-TV. An NBC affiliate from its first day on air, it has traditionally been a distant third in local news ratings in the Columbus market, despite attempts from several owners—most notably locally based insurer American Family Corporation—to improve the situation.

History

WYEA-TV: Early years

In late 1966 and early 1967, three groups applied for television stations in Columbus, which at the time had two VHF outlets.[2] One—Coastal Television—amended its application to specify channel 54 and received a construction permit, but it was never built.[3] The other two, the Inland Broadcasting Company (a consortium of Georgia and Alabama residents) and Gala Broadcasting Company (led by Charles F. Grisham, owner of WHNT-TV in Huntsville, Alabama), merged their bids on the latter's application in July, opening the door for a construction permit to be issued in mid-August[4] to what became known as the Eagle Broadcasting Company.[3] It was obvious what the likely programming would be for the station. WTVM was a primary ABC affiliate and had first call rights on NBC programs, but CBS affiliate WRBL-TV (channel 3) also aired some NBC programming on a secondary basis.[4]

A building permit was issued in December 1969 for a site on Buena Vista Road,[5] and ground was broken in early May.[6] While it was intended for the station to start in time for the 1970 World Series, and WTVM had already discontinued airing NBC programs with the start of the new season, WYEA-TV was not completed on time because of a strike at RCA, which was fabricating the antenna; as a result, WTVM had to petition to carry the World Series.[7]

WYEA-TV began broadcasting on October 29, 1970.[8] The station's second-floor offices suffered heavy damage in a January 1975 fire; the newsroom took water damage, and unprocessed news film was lost, but the station was back on the air within a day.[9]

American Family ownership

The locally based American Family Corporation (headquarters building pictured) owned WYEA-TV from 1978 to 1981.
The locally based American Family Corporation (headquarters building pictured) owned WYEA-TV from 1978 to 1981.

The locally based American Family Corporation, the parent of insurer AFLAC, announced in July 1977 that it would buy Eagle Broadcasting for $1.5 million and another $1.7 million in assumption of debts, making WYEA-TV its first broadcasting property with intentions to add more.[10] Under the subsidiary of American Eagle Broadcasting, American Family took ownership on March 1, 1978.[11]

John B. Amos, president of American Family, had been looking into a media buy for some time, having analyzed a possible purchase of WRBL-TV and narrowly missing out on purchasing the Mutual Broadcasting System radio network. WYEA-TV would prove to be a challenge as the group's first property, a station that was a distant third with only five full-time news staffers and just one newscast a day facing audience erosion from a new tower that had been erected by WSFA, the NBC affiliate in Montgomery, Alabama, which had upgraded its signal to reach some parts of channel 38's viewing area.[12] Under American Family, WYEA-TV opposed a proposed television station licensed to Albany, WJFT-TV (channel 19), which had proposed a transmitting facility that would have also covered Columbus.[13]

Lewis ownership

By the start of 1981, American Family owned six stations, WYEA-TV and five outlets in larger markets. Citing its audience share, market size, and signal strength, American Family opted to sell WYEA to Julius Curtis Lewis Jr., whose Lewis Broadcasting owned WJCL-TV in its headquarters of Savannah and WLTX in Columbia, South Carolina.[14] Years later, Leroy Paul, who presided over AFLAC's broadcast division, quipped, "We learned we could never become the city's news leader on a UHF station."[15] AFLAC would return to the Columbus market in 1989 with the purchase of WTVM.

Lewis took control on July 1, 1981; the station's 11 p.m. newscast was immediately cut,[16] along with several staff dismissals in the news department.[17] The station changed its call sign to WLTZ, beginning to brand as "Z-38", on August 31.[18]

A 1995 attempt to sell WLTZ to Piney Creek Broadcasting, headed by Ruth Allen Ollison, fell through when a tax certificate program that allowed minorities to buy broadcast stations was ended by Congress; under this deal, Jack Pezold, owner of Fox affiliate WXTX (channel 54), would have run WLTZ under a local marketing agreement (LMA).[19]

SagamoreHill ownership

Lewis kept WLTZ until 2007, when it was sold to SagamoreHill Broadcasting; it was the last television property owned by Lewis.[20]

WLTZ has been digital-only since February 17, 2009.[21] That same year, the station added The CW to a subchannel after the network discontinued its relationship with Pappas Telecasting, owner of WLGA (channel 66), then the region's CW affiliate.[22]

News operation

The first newscast aired by the station was a 5:30 p.m. newscast, 1st Edition News, chosen specifically to avoid the 6 p.m. broadcasts from WRBL and WTVM and counterprogram their offerings.[23][24] Over the years, the station focused on counterprogramming the two larger stations and also attempted to lure viewers with personalities that left those stations. In one extreme instance, the team presenting WLTZ's evening newscast in 1976 was the same four people that had presented WTVM's News Hour in 1969.[25]

Under American Family, the station briefly made a major overhaul of its local news. It adopted the name NewsCenter for its newscasts, and in 1979, it debuted the station's first-ever 11 p.m. newscast.[26] However, many of these changes were later trimmed back for economic reasons by Lewis.[16][17] Under Lewis, the station briefly had the first Black anchor on Columbus television, Ed Harbison.[27] The lack of a late newscast or weekend newscasts, plus many resources their competitors had and the frequent confusion of their reporters with those from other stations, slighted the channel 38 news staff: Mick Walsh, the television writer for The Columbus Enquirer, called WLTZ "the Rodney Dangerfield of local news".[28] In one instance, WLTZ passed on the opportunity to send a media member to witness an execution because it would have been too late on a Friday to have a story for any newscast; it was the first time that a media representative had failed to show up for an execution in Georgia since 1976.[29]

After shutting down its news operation, WLTZ offered syndicated shows with brief news updates taped in advance that ran for three minutes in length.

In November 2007, the station brought back weeknight newscasts (seen at 6, 7, and 11; or 5, 6, and 10 Central) in partnership with the Independent News Network (INN) of Davenport, Iowa. Originally, the early evening shows aired in traditional half-hour formats while the late newscast was shown in an update version. The news anchor, meteorologist, and sports personality were based at INN's studios on Tremont Avenue in Davenport (where production of the broadcasts took place) and other personnel would fill-in when needed. WLTZ maintained two reporters locally in Columbus that contributed local content to the shows which were taped in advance and then transmitted back to the station to air.

On May 29, 2008, WLTZ became the first station in Columbus and third in Georgia to upgrade local news to high definition. The change came after INN added HD capabilities to its centralized production studios. In a report in the Macon, Georgia Telegraph, it was announced the centralized news service filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on December 31, 2008, and would end all productions (including those for WLTZ) by January 9, 2009.[30] However, a later report in the Ledger-Enquirer on January 6 indicated this station's newscasts would not be affected by the bankruptcy filing.[31]

In April 2010, WLTZ replaced the 7 O'Clock Report with Alabama First News. Unlike the other two weeknight broadcasts, this reformatted show now focused on Eastern Alabama because that state, which is in the Central Time Zone, is an hour behind Georgia. Therefore, this was the only local newscast catering to viewers on the Alabama side of the market airing at 6 Central. Viewers in those areas also have access to stations from Dothan and Montgomery offering local news geared for their time zone. The format change for WLTZ's show was also made in conjunction with sister station WNCF in Montgomery after that outlet expanded its news department and outsourcing agreement with the Independent News Network. Newscasts would regularly feature WLTZ's reporters covering Eastern Alabama since Montgomery and Columbus have market areas that border each other. After a change in WNCF's operational ownership took effect in July 2011, personnel from WLTZ were dropped from the Montgomery station.

At some point in Fall 2011, WLTZ's weeknight show at 7 was moved to 11 but retained the Alabama First News branding. NBC 38 News at 6 now solely focused on Columbus and other areas in Georgia while the late news (now expanded to 35 minutes in length) offered coverage specifically from the greater Auburn, Phenix City, and Opelika areas in Alabama. Also at this point, there began to be local news and weather cut-ins on weekday mornings during Today from 7 until 11 (seen at :25 and :55 past the hour). Under this arrangement, the news anchor was normally live in Columbus while the weather forecast was still taped and originated from INN's headquarters.

On February 5, 2012, WLTZ introduced an expanded news operation based out of its Columbus studios complete with news anchors and a sports personality. However, weather was still produced by INN meteorologists and featured segments recorded in advance. Corresponding with the change, NBC 38 News at 6 was renamed Georgia First News on February 6. In December 2012, WLTZ launched a new weekday morning show known as Starting Today with anchor Kirsten Delgado and weather forecaster Miller Robson. It originally aired for an hour beginning at 6 and then for an additional half-hour at 7 on WLTZ-DT2 (which currently only shows the first hour of The Daily Buzz from 6 until 7). In Fall 2013, WLTZ's morning show was expanded further to two hours (running from 5 to 7 a.m.) while retaining the half-hour portion on WLTZ-DT2. The Independent News Network only provided taped weather segments on weeknights.

In July 2014, WLTZ built an in-house weather department with Meteorologists Matt Wintz and Miller Robson, severing its last links to INN.

The station introduced Sunday evening newscasts in August 2015 that aired at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET each Sunday. WLTZ further expanded their news programming the following year with a midday 30-minute newscast at noon as well as another half-hour show at 5 p.m. ET. In December 2018, the station scaled back its news programming and no longer aired the midday, 5:00, or Sunday evening shows.

On November 24, 2020, television industry website FTVLive.com reported that WLTZ produced its final newscast on November 20, and many employees were then laid off. WLTZ now simulcasts newscasts produced by sister station WTVM.[32]

WLTZ-DT2

In December 2012, WLTZ launched a weekday morning show on this second digital subchannel called WLTZ First News Today on the CW Ga-Bama. It aired for 30 minutes beginning at 7 a.m. ET, but like the midday, 5:00, and Sunday evening shows, was nixed in December 2018.

A separate 10 p.m. ET newscast was also launched on the DT2 channel in 2016. The final 10 p.m. newscast on The CW Ga-Bama aired on November 6, 2020, giving that time back to the network to air Seinfeld.

Technical information

Subchannels

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Subchannels of WLTZ[33]
Channel Video Aspect Short name Programming
38.1 720p 16:9 NBC Main WLTZ programming / NBC
38.2 CW The CW Plus
38.3 480i 4:3 Antenna Antenna TV
38.4 16:9 CourtTV Court TV

References

  1. ^ "WLTZ Shared Services Agreement (Redacted)" (PDF). Public Inspection Files. Federal Communications Commission. September 1, 2020. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved November 16, 2020.
  2. ^ "Third Firm Seeking OK on TV Station". The Columbus Enquirer. Columbus, Georgia. February 4, 1967. p. 26. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ a b Capes, Reggie (October 5, 1967). "Eagle Broadcasting Company Applies to FCC: Columbus May Get UHF TV Station Affiliated With NBC". The Columbus Ledger. Columbus, Georgia. p. 15. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ a b "FCC Grants TV Station Channel 38". The Columbus Enquirer. Columbus, Georgia. August 17, 1967. p. 29. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ Vaughn, Nancy (April 27, 1970). "Purse Strings". The Columbus Enquirer. Columbus, Georgia. p. 18. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ "For New TV Station: Ground Is Broken". The Columbus Enquirer. Columbus, Georgia. May 7, 1970. p. 27. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ "World Series Coverage for Columbus Is Being Requested by WTVM Staff". The Columbus Enquirer. Columbus, Georgia. September 12, 1970. p. 22. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "WYEA-TV: New TV Station Now in Operation". The Columbus Ledger. Columbus, Georgia. October 30, 1970. p. 4. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ Harasim, Paul H. (January 20, 1975). "Blaze Hits WYEA Studios". The Columbus Enquirer. Columbus, Georgia. p. A-1, A-6. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ Rowe, William (July 27, 1977). "Owners Plan Sale Of WYEA". The Columbus Ledger. Columbus, Georgia. p. B-1, B-2. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ "3 Take American Eagle Posts". The Columbus Ledger. Columbus, Georgia. March 29, 1978. p. B-2. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ Swift, Jack E. (October 23, 1977). "The TV Man". The Columbus Ledger. Columbus, Georgia. p. B-1, B-7. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  13. ^ "WYEA Asks Agency to Deny Erection of Transmitter". The Columbus Enquirer. Columbus, Georgia. November 12, 1980. p. 5. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ Birmingham, Nita (February 10, 1981). "American Family Sells WYEA-TV". The Columbus Enquirer. Columbus, Georgia. p. A-3. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  15. ^ Walsh, Mick (November 5, 1995). "WLTZ Ready to Be 'Player' in TV Lineup". Ledger-Enquirer. p. D7.
  16. ^ a b Gardner, Greg (July 1, 1981). "New Owners Drop WYEA's 11 p.m. News". The Columbus Enquirer. Columbus, Georgia. p. B-1. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  17. ^ a b Gardner, Greg (July 2, 1981). "More Changes Are Made By WYEA-TV Owner". The Columbus Enquirer. Columbus, Georgia. p. B-6. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  18. ^ Okamoto, Sandra (August 30, 1981). "WYEA Makes Changes In Name and Format". Sunday Ledger–Enquirer TV Book. Columbus, Georgia. p. 12. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  19. ^ Walsh, Mick (April 6, 1995). "Sale of WLTZ Falls Through". Ledger-Enquirer. p. C7.
  20. ^ Eggerton, John (April 27, 2007). "WLTZ-TV To Change Hands". Broadcasting & Cable. Archived from the original on April 17, 2021. Retrieved August 12, 2022.
  21. ^ "Turning Off Analog. WLTZ Goes Digital". WLTZ. February 17, 2009. Archived from the original on February 25, 2009. Retrieved February 17, 2009.
  22. ^ Hernandez, Andrea V. "WLTZ's parent firm to carry CW Network in Columbus". Ledger–Enquirer. Archived from the original on June 18, 2009. Retrieved April 3, 2009.
  23. ^ "Channel 38 Tower Erection Slated". The Columbus Enquirer. Columbus, Georgia. September 17, 1970. p. 2. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  24. ^ "All the star studded shows coming soon: Channel 38, WYEA-TV". Sunday Ledger–Enquirer Magazine. Columbus, Georgia. September 13, 1970. p. 28. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  25. ^ Houston, Jim (March 19, 1976). "TV News Team Familiar Faces". The Columbus Enquirer. Columbus, Georgia. p. B-1. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  26. ^ "WYEA Readies Late Newscast". The Columbus Enquirer. Columbus, Georgia. April 25, 1979. p. A-5. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  27. ^ Walsh, Mick (January 22, 1986). "Area's 1st Black Anchorman Recalls Days at 38". The Columbus Enquirer. Columbus, Georgia. p. A-11. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  28. ^ "No Respect: WLTZ Feels Like Rodney Dangerfield of Local News". Ledger-Enquirer. Columbus, Georgia. January 22, 1987. p. B-8, B-9. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  29. ^ "WLTZ: Execution Too Late in Week to Cover". The Columbus Ledger. Columbus, Georgia. June 3, 1987. p. B-10. Archived from the original on August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  30. ^ "Future of Macon TV station's nightly newscast uncertain". Macon Telegraph. January 5, 2009. Archived from the original on January 27, 2009.
  31. ^ "Bankruptcy filing doesn't impact Columbus' WLTZ". Ledger-Enquirer. January 6, 2009. Archived from the original on January 9, 2009.
  32. ^ Redmond, Tyler (November 23, 2020). "Some WTVM News Leader 9 Newscasts Will Be Seen On WLTZ NBC 38". wltz.com. Archived from the original on October 20, 2021. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  33. ^ "RabbitEars TV query for WLTZ". RabbitEars. Archived from the original on March 13, 2020. Retrieved August 12, 2022.