WOOD-TV
CityGrand Rapids, Michigan
Channels
BrandingWOOD-TV 8; News 8
Programming
Affiliations
Ownership
Owner
WOTV, WXSP-CD
History
First air date
August 15, 1949 (74 years ago) (1949-08-15)
Former call signs
  • WLAV-TV (1949–1951)
  • WOTV (1972–1992)
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog: 7 (VHF, 1949–1953), 8 (VHF, 1953–2009)
  • All secondary:
  • CBS (1949–1960)
  • ABC (1949–1962)
  • DuMont (1949–1955)
  • UPN (1995–1999)
Call sign meaning
Furnwood Broadcasting (calls came from radio sister station, which was funded originally by furniture manufacturers)[citation needed]
Technical information[1]
Licensing authority
FCC
Facility ID36838
ERP30 kW
HAAT288 m (945 ft)
Transmitter coordinates42°41′14.7″N 85°30′35″W / 42.687417°N 85.50972°W / 42.687417; -85.50972
Translator(s)see § Translators
Links
Public license information
Websitewww.woodtv.com

WOOD-TV (channel 8) is a television station licensed to Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States, serving as the NBC affiliate for West Michigan. It is owned by Nexstar Media Group alongside Battle Creek–licensed dual ABC/CW affiliate WOTV (channel 41) and Class A MyNetworkTV affiliate WXSP-CD (channel 15). The stations share studios on College Avenue Southeast in Grand Rapids, while WOOD-TV's transmitter is located southwest of Middleville.

In addition to its main signal, WOOD-TV operates Class A digital translator WOGC-CD (UHF channel 25), licensed to Holland with a transmitter in Zeeland. There is also a digital repeater on channel 34, also licensed to Grand Rapids, with a transmitter in the Wolf Lake section of Egelston Township.

History

The station signed on the air on August 15, 1949, as WLAV-TV, originally broadcasting on VHF channel 7; it was the fourth television station in Michigan and the first located outside of Detroit. The station was originally owned by Grand Rapids businessman Leonard Adrian Versluis, who in 1940 had also signed on Grand Rapids' second radio station, WLAV (1340 AM, now WJRW). In 1951, Versluis sold the television station to Grandwood Broadcasting for $1.37 million. The Bitner Group subsidiary was also owner of WOOD (1300 AM), the first radio station in Grand Rapids.[citation needed]

Grandwood had originally applied for its television license back in 1948, but the application just barely made a deadline prior to the Federal Communications Commission's freeze on new television construction permits. In fact, the application for WLAV-TV had been one of the last construction permits issued before the freeze. Grandwood eventually grew tired of waiting and cut a deal with Versluis to buy the station. On October 19, WLAV-TV changed its call letters to WOOD-TV to match its radio sister and began airing from a new transmitter in northeastern Grand Rapids.

During the FCC's licensing freeze the commission developed channel allocation and separation to eliminate interference between stations with the same frequency. As a result, WOOD-TV was reassigned to channel 8 to avoid interference with WLS-TV and WXYZ-TV on channel 7 in Chicago and Detroit. It moved to channel 8 and increased its transmitter power from 28,000 to 100,000 watts on December 8, 1953. The channel change was promoted as "Mark the date: We move to Channel Eight on December Eight". In 1955, it moved to its current facilities in the Heritage Hill section of Grand Rapids, where its new studios replaced the Bissell mansion (of Bissell vacuum fame) and are across the street from the Voigt House Victorian Museum. All of the Bitner Group's stations were then sold, for a then-record-breaking $16 million, to Time-Life, Inc. in 1957.[2]

WOOD-TV has been an NBC affiliate from the very beginning, although it had a secondary affiliation with CBS until WKZO-TV (channel 3, now WWMT) in Kalamazoo expanded its signal to cover the greater Grand Rapids/Tri-Cities area, turning West Michigan into one vast television market. It also had secondary affiliations with ABC and DuMont; however, the DuMont affiliation would end in 1956 when that network ceased operations, and the ABC affiliation was terminated in 1962 when WZZM-TV (channel 13) began operations.

Due to a now-repealed FCC rule in place at the time (which prohibited TV and radio stations in the same market but under different ownership from sharing the same callsign), the station's call letters were changed to WOTV on July 1, 1972,[3] when WOOD radio was sold. Time-Life also sold most of its television stations to McGraw-Hill that year (initially intending to include WOTV in the deal,[4] though it was retained), but held on to WOTV until 1983 when it was sold to LIN Broadcasting. On June 1, 1992, the station reclaimed its original WOOD-TV callsign with WOOD radio's permission (the above-mentioned FCC callsign rule had been repealed by that time). The station then donated the WOTV calls to WUHQ, the ABC affiliate for the southern portion of the Southwestern Michigan market with whom it had recently signed a local marketing agreement (LMA).

In 1994, LIN Broadcasting spun off its television division into a separate company known as LIN TV Corporation, but WOOD-TV was not included in the transaction. Instead, the station became wholly owned by AT&T (which also owned a 45 percent interest in LIN TV at the time), when that company absorbed the remainder of LIN Broadcasting in 1995; however, LIN TV continued to manage both WOOD-TV and WOTV. LIN TV reacquired WOOD-TV and its LMA with WOTV in 1999 when AT&T sold-off its stake in the company to Hicks, Muse, Furst, and Tate (now HM Capital). LIN TV eventually purchased WOTV outright in 2001.

On March 21, 2014, it was announced that Media General would acquire LIN.[5] The deal closed on December 19, bringing WOOD, along with WOTV and WXSP-CD, under common ownership with CBS affiliate WLNS-TV in Lansing.

On January 27, 2016, Media General announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Nexstar Broadcasting Group. The combined company will be known as Nexstar Media Group, and will own 171 stations, including WOOD-TV, serving an estimated 39% of households.[6][7] The acquisition was completed on January 17, 2017.[8]

On December 3, 2018, Nexstar announced it would acquire the assets of Tribune Media (owners of Fox affiliate WXMI) for $6.4 billion in cash and debt. Nexstar is precluded from acquiring WXMI directly or indirectly, as FCC regulations prohibit common ownership of more than two stations in the same media market, or two or more of the four highest-rated stations in the market. As such, Nexstar was required to sell either WXMI, WOOD and/or WOTV to separate, unrelated companies to address the ownership conflict. A sale of WXSP-CD was not required, as WXSP does not rank among the four highest-rated stations in the Grand Rapids–Kalamazoo–Battle Creek market and is not subject to FCC duopoly rules as it is licensed as a Class A low-power station.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18] On March 20, 2019, it was announced Nexstar would keep both the WOOD-TV/WOTV duopoly and WXSP-CD and sell WXMI to the Cincinnati-based E. W. Scripps Company, as part of the company's sale of nineteen Nexstar- and Tribune-operated stations to Scripps and Tegna Inc. in separate deals worth $1.32 billion.[19][20]

News operation

24 Hour News 8 remote van.

WOOD-TV presently broadcasts 44 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with seven hours each weekday and 4+12 hours each on Saturdays and Sundays); in addition, the station produces a half-hour public affairs program To the Point with Rick Albin, which airs Sundays at 10:00 a.m.; a 25-minute sports highlight program Sports Overtime, which airs Sundays after the 11:00 p.m. newscast; and Football Frenzy, a weekly highlight program on Friday nights during the fall which covers high school football games as well as other sports news of the day (the 11 p.m. newscast is shortened to allow Football Frenzy to air during the regular time slot).

WOOD-TV had the distinction of being one of the last remaining broadcast television stations in the United States to use the "24 Hour News Source" format, which was popular in many markets during the early 1990s, and has been used by the station since 1990. The only other stations still using the format (as of 2015) are CW affiliate WISH-TV in Indianapolis and ABC affiliate KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

For most of the time since the mid-1980s, channel 8 has led the Nielsen ratings in West Michigan.[citation needed] However, for most of the 1990s, it waged a spirited three-way battle for the ratings lead with WWMT and WZZM. One reason is that it is the only major station whose news department equally covers all of the vast Grand Rapids–Kalamazoo–Battle Creek market,[attribution needed] WWMT has historically focused on the southern portion of the market (being based in Kalamazoo), while WZZM focuses mostly on the northern portion.[attribution needed]

WOOD-TV has many firsts in the market. It was the first West Michigan station to broadcast in color. It was the first West Michigan station to use electronic news gathering, in 1975. Five years later, it was the first area station to air live news from outside its studios. In 1983, it introduced the area's first television helicopter to assist in coverage. WOOD-TV's weekday morning newscast premiered in 1984 and aired for a half-hour at 6:30. This was expanded to a two-hour format in 1995 along with the weekday noon and weekend 6 p.m. newscast expanding to an hour. As a result, NBC Nightly News is preempted on weekends.

After taking over WOTV's operations, WOOD-TV then began simulcasting some of its newscasts on that station as well as airing specially produced newscasts covering Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. That station had shuttered its separate news department in 1990; despite serving the market's second-largest city, Kalamazoo, it had long been plagued by weak viewership as its reach was limited to the southern portion of the market. Since then, WOTV has largely functioned as WOOD-TV's Kalamazoo/Battle Creek bureau. In 1992, WOOD-TV launched a separate news department for WOTV. However, despite having WOOD-TV's resources behind it, it made no impact in the ratings. LIN TV finally decided to shut down WOTV's news operation permanently in August 2003. Since then, the station has simulcast some of WOOD-TV's newscasts (currently its weekday morning, 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts), but this time without any separate opens or segments.

On October 21, 2007, WOOD-TV began offering a nightly prime time newscast at 10 p.m. on WXSP-CD, joining the longer-established 10 p.m. newscast on Fox affiliate WXMI (channel 17) and CW affiliate WWMT-DT2. The entertainment and lifestyle magazine show eightWest premiered on October 5, 2009, and airs weekday mornings at 11 a.m. for an hour, as well as being streamed live on the station's website. Also on that date, WOOD-TV became the second station in southwestern Michigan to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in 16:9 widescreen enhanced definition. Although not truly high definition, the broadcast matches the ratio of HD television screens. The simulcasts on WOTV were included in the upgrade. On October 22, 2011, WOOD-TV became the third television station in southwestern Michigan (behind Fox affiliate WXMI and CBS affiliate WWMT) to broadcast local newscasts in high definition.

On September 20, 2016, WOOD-TV began a half-hour newscast at 7:00 p.m., becoming the first station in Grand Rapids to do so; as a result, Access Hollywood moved from WOOD-TV to sister station WOTV.

Downtown studio

Starting in September 2011, WOOD-TV began broadcasting all of its newscasts during ArtPrize from a temporary studio built inside the Grand Rapids Art Museum. During the live broadcasts, people were encouraged to come downtown and get a behind-the-scenes look at WOOD-TV's news operation. People standing outside the museum made up the backdrop behind the anchor desk. In 2017, the station made it a year-round studio when it partnered with the Grand Rapids Art Museum to launch the Media Arts Center. The noon newscast is anchored daily from the streetside studio. Also in 2017, WOOD-TV opened a streetside studio in downtown Kalamazoo overlooking Bronson Park. The station invites school groups to both studios during the school year for the "Storm Team 8 Weather Experience," an educational multi-media show hosted by Storm Team 8 meteorologists who teach kids about weather and science.

Notable former on-air staff

Controversies

In July 2022, WOOD-TV was one of two Michigan television stations to inadvertently publish test results related to the state's primary election. The webpages were picked up by conspiracy theorists as "proof" that some were engaging in "election fraud" in the state. The mock results came from the Associated Press, which transmitted them on the AP news wire as part of a test.[21] WOOD-TV news director later confirmed the test results were published on the station's website by accident.[22]

On June 13, 2023, WOOD-TV assistant news director Amy Fox sent a newsroom-wide memo urging reporters to curb their coverage of Pride Month events in the Grand Rapids area, noting that the station's prior coverage that week had upset conservative viewers.[23] The memo also said, "If we are covering Pride events we need to consider how to make the story balanced and get both sides of the issue."[24] The memo was picked up by several blogs, which caused a firestorm of social media backlash against the station and prompted a number of WOOD-TV journalists to affirm they had ignored the memo. Later that week, WOOD-TV news director Stanton Tang admitted he urged Fox to write and distribute the memo; journalists at the station called for his firing.[25] The controversy ultimately prompted Nexstar to issue a formal apology, and Fox and Tang were removed from discussions about WOOD-TV's future Pride Month news coverage.[26] Two weeks after the investigation started, Fox and Tang were fired, along with Madeline Odle and Luke Stier, two longtime executive producers who disagreed with the memo.[27]

Technical information

Subchannels

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Subchannels of WOOD-TV[28]
Channel Res. Aspect Short name Programming
8.1 1080i 16:9 WOOD Main WOOD-TV programming / NBC
8.2 480i REWIND Rewind TV
8.3 TheGrio TheGrio
15.1 720p 16:9 MyNet MyNetworkTV (WXSP-CD)
  Broadcast on behalf of another station

Translators

Analog-to-digital conversion

WOOD-TV became the first station in the market to broadcast a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 7 on August 14, 1999. The station shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 8, at 10 a.m. on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television.[29] The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition VHF channel 7, using PSIP to display WOOD-TV's virtual channel as 8 on digital television receivers.

References

  1. ^ "Facility Technical Data for WOOD-TV". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission.
  2. ^ "Editorials" (PDF). Time Life Broadcast. pp. 9, 14, 23, 25, 27, 54. Retrieved September 13, 2023.
  3. ^ "WOTV New Call Letters" (PDF). Lowell Ledger-Suburban Life. Lowell, Michigan. June 29, 1972. Retrieved March 2, 2018. Effective July 1, 1972 WOOD-TV, Grand Rapids, Michigan will change its call letters to WOTV.
  4. ^ "McGraw-Hill Buys Time's TV Holdings". The Spokesman-Review. October 31, 1970. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
  5. ^ Sruthi Ramakrishnan (March 21, 2014). "Media General to buy LIN Media for $1.6 billion". Reuters. Retrieved March 21, 2014.
  6. ^ "Nexstar-Media General: It's A Done Deal". TVNewsCheck. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  7. ^ Picker, Leslie (January 27, 2016). "Nexstar Clinches Deal to Acquire Media General". The New York Times. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
  8. ^ "Nexstar Completes $4.6B Acquisition Of Media General". deadline.com. Deadline. January 17, 2017. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  9. ^ "Acquisition of Tribune Media Company" (PDF). Nexstar Media Group. December 3, 2018.
  10. ^ Mark K. Miller (December 3, 2018). "Nexstar Buying Tribune Media For $6.4 Billion". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheck Media.
  11. ^ Peter White; Dade Hayes (December 3, 2018). "Nexstar Confirms $4.1B Tribune Media Acquisition To Become Leading Local TV Station Owner". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation.
  12. ^ Gerry Smith; Nabila Ahmed; Eric Newcomer (December 3, 2018). "Nexstar to buy WGN owner Tribune Media for $4.1 billion". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Publishing. Bloomberg News.
  13. ^ Arjun Panchadar; Sonam Rai (December 3, 2018). "Nexstar to buy Tribune Media for $4.1 billion". Reuters.
  14. ^ Jon Lafayette (December 3, 2018). "Nexstar Announces Deal to Buy Tribune for $6.4B". Broadcasting & Cable. NewBay Media.
  15. ^ Adam Jacobson (December 3, 2018). "It's Official: Nexstar Takes Tribune In Billion-Dollar Stock Deal". Radio-Television Business Report. Streamline-RBR, Inc.
  16. ^ Harry A. Jessell; Mark K. Miller (December 3, 2018). "Nexstar To Spin Off $1B In Stations". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheck Media.
  17. ^ "Nexstar Media Group Enters into Definitive Agreement to Acquire Tribune Media Company for $6.4 Billion in Accretive Transaction Creating the Nation's Largest Local Television Broadcaster and Local Media Company". Nexstar Media Group. December 3, 2018. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  18. ^ "Nexstar Media Group Enters Into Definitive Agreement To Acquire Tribune Media Company". Tribune Media. December 3, 2018. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  19. ^ Mark K. Miller (March 20, 2019). "Nexstar Selling 19 TVs In 15 Markets For $1.32B". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheck Media.
  20. ^ Nabila Ahmed; Anousha Sakoui (March 20, 2019). "Nexstar to Sell Stations to Tegna, Scripps for $1.32 Billion". Bloomberg News. Bloomberg, L.P.
  21. ^ "Release of test election results fuels unfounded fraud claims". AP NEWS. July 27, 2022. Retrieved June 21, 2023.
  22. ^ Frick, Melissa (July 25, 2022). "Error in election-data test by TV stations prompts statement by West Michigan clerks". mlive. Retrieved June 21, 2023.
  23. ^ DeVito, Lee (June 15, 2023). "WOOD-TV asks reporters to tone down Pride Month coverage because of conservative viewers". Detroit Metro Times.
  24. ^ News directors at Michigan TV station ousted after telling staff to 'get both sides' of Pride coverage, CNN, June 30, 2023, Archive
  25. ^ Keys, Matthew (June 15, 2023). "Michigan TV newsroom revolts over anti-gay memo". TheDesk.net.
  26. ^ "The Holland Sentinel". www.hollandsentinel.com. Retrieved June 21, 2023.
  27. ^ Keys, Matthew (June 29, 2023). "Exclusive: Nexstar fires WOOD-TV News Director Stanton Tang over anti-gay memo". The Desk. Retrieved June 30, 2023.
  28. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WOOD
  29. ^ List of Digital Full-Power Stations