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WABC-TV, channel 7, is the flagship station of the Walt Disney Company-owned American Broadcasting Company, located in New York Citymarker. WABC-TV is best known in broadcasting circles for its highly successful version of the Eyewitness News format and for its morning show Live with Regis and Kelly, syndicated nationally by corporate cousin Disney-ABC Domestic Television.

In the few areas of the eastern United States where ABC programming is not available over-the-air, WABC-TV is seen via satellite through DirecTV. As of March 4, 2009, WABC is once again available to Dish Network customers as part of All American Direct's distant network package.

History

The station signed on August 10, 1948 as WJZ-TV, the first of three television stations signed-on by the American Broadcasting Company during that same year, with WENR-TV (now WLS-TVmarker) in Chicagomarker and WXYZ-TVmarker in Detroitmarker being the other two. Channel 7's call letters came from its then-sister radio station, WJZ (770 AM, now WABCmarker). In its early years, WJZ-TV was programmed like an independent station, as the ABC television network was still, for the most part, in the planning stages; the ABC-owned stations did air common programming during this period. The call letters were changed to WABC-TV on March 1, 1953, after ABC merged its operations with United Paramount Theaters, a firm which was broken-off from former parent company Paramount Pictures by decree of the U.S. government. The WJZ callsign has since been reassigned to the CBS owned stationmarker in Baltimore, Marylandmarker, although that station was a former ABC affiliate by coincidence until 1995.

On September 11, 2001, the transmitter facilities of WABC-TV, as well as eight other local television stations and several radio stations, were destroyed when two hijacked airplanes crashed into and destroyed the World Trade Centermarker towers. Transmitter maintenance engineer Donald DiFranco died in the attack. In the immediate aftermath, WABC-TV fed its signal to several UHF stations that were still broadcasting (notably WNYE-TVmarker), before establishing temporary facilities in Alpine, New Jerseymarker. The station eventually established transmission facilities at the Empire State Buildingmarker.

Studio Fire

On May 27, 2007, WABC-TV's studios suffered major damage as the result of a fire that knocked the station off the air shortly before the start of the 11:00 p.m. newscast. According to preliminary reports, the fire may have been ignited by a spotlight coming into contact with a curtain inside the news studio; the WABC-TV website later reported the cause as an "electrical malfunction". The station's building was evacuated and the fire was brought under control, though there is said to have been "extensive damage", including smoke and water damage, to the studio. [10294] WABC-TV resumed broadcasting at around 1:00 a.m. on May 28, 2007 (initially carrying the network's 10:00 p.m. West Coast feed of Brothers & Sisters, followed by the full version of World News Now).

Due to the fire, Channel 7 broadcast Eyewitness News from the newsroom's update desk, while Live with Regis and Kelly, whose set was also affected, shared a studio with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Starting with the 5:00 p.m. newscast on June 20, 2007, the station resumed Eyewitness News and Live... broadcasts from their main studios.

Digital television

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Digital channels
Channel Name Video Aspect Programming
7.1 WABC-DT 720p 16:9 Main WABC/ABC programming
7.2 WABC-DT2 720p 16:9 Live Well HD Network
7.3 WABC-DT3 480i 4:3 Eyewitness News Now


Analog-to-Digital Conversion

WABC-TV ended programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 7, on June 12, 2009 at 12:30 p.m. as part of the DTV transition in the United States. The station had been broadcasting its pre-transition digital signal over UHF channel 45, but returned to channel 7 for its post-transition operations.Initially, over-the-air digital signals from WABC were difficult to receive in NYC. The explanation given is that WABC was requested by FCC to broadcast at less power; WABC is among many stations which have found it necessary to increase power to restore coverage to the same level as its old analog signal. On June 29, 2009, WABC did file an application to the FCC to increase power from 11.69 kW to 27 kW. At this time, it has yet to be granted.

News operations

WABC-TV is best known for popularizing the Eyewitness News format, in which reporters present their stories directly to the viewers. News director Al Primo brought the format to WABC-TV in 1968 from KYW-TVmarker in Philadelphiamarker, but added a twist—a degree of conversational chatter among the anchors, known as "happy talk." Primo used the "Tar Sequence" cue from the musical score from the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, composed by Lalo Schifrin, as the theme music. The score included a telegraphic-like melody appropriate for a newscast. The Eyewitness News format and theme music were quickly adopted by ABC's other four owned-and-operated stations at the time—WLS-TV in Chicago, WXYZ-TV in Detroit, KABC-TVmarker in Los Angelesmarker, and KGO-TVmarker in San Franciscomarker (though KGO-TV and WXYZ-TV did not use the Eyewitness News title for their programs).

The format quickly rejuvenated a station that had long been an also-ran to WCBS-TVmarker and WNBC-TVmarker. Within a year, channel 7 had shot to first place in the ratings for the first time in its history, displacing longtime leader WCBS-TV. It spent most of the decade going back and forth with WCBS-TV for first place. For a time in the 1980s, it fell into last place, but still fought with WNBC-TV for second place.

In 1985, the station lured WLS-TV's news director, Bill Applegate, from Chicago to New York. Applegate claimed credit for taking WLS-TV from last to first in only two years, and ABC hoped he could work the same magic at the flagship station. Their hopes were rewarded in 1987 when Channel 7 surged back into first place. It has been the ratings leader in New York since then, and has grown to become the most watched broadcast television station in the United States.

For sixteen years starting in 1970, Roger Grimsby and Bill Beutel were the faces of Eyewitness News. Grimsby came to channel 7 in 1968 from KGO-TV, and was the station's lead anchor when Eyewitness News was introduced. He was known for his opening tagline, "Good Evening, I'm Roger Grimsby, here now the news", and his closing line, "Hoping your news is good news, I'm Roger Grimsby." Beutel had previously anchored at channel 7 from 1962 to 1968 (shortly before ABC moved Grimsby to New York) before spending two years as the network's London bureau chief. The duo were split up for the first ten months of 1975, as ABC had reassigned Beutel to its new morning show AM America. Upon its cancellation (and replacement with Good Morning America) he was re-teamed with Grimsby.

In the wake of declining ratings, Grimsby was fired on April 16, 1986, a move for which Applegate drew considerable fire, and Grimsby was quickly hired by rival WNBC-TV. Beutel stepped down from the anchor desk in 2001, two years before his retirement, which concluded the longest tenure for a main anchor in New York television history.

While banter among anchors is still part of the 5:00 a.m. and Noon weekday broadcasts, the modern-day Eyewitness News has abandoned much of the chattiness of its predecessors. WABC's news department is respected for its straight-forward presentation (especially during breaking news). For the last decade, it has waged a spirited battle for first place with WNBC, but for most of the time has held onto the lead, helped in part by lead-ins from highly-rated talk and entertainment shows. Since December 1986 the 5:00 PM Eyewitness News lead-in has been The Oprah Winfrey Show at 4:00 p.m., and its strong ratings at helps the 5:00 p.m. newscast.

WABC-TV cooperates with sister station WPVI-TVmarker in Philadelphia—popularizer of the Action News format—in the production and broadcast of statewide New Jerseymarker political debates. When the two stations broadcast a statewide office debate, such as for governor or U.S. Senate, they will pool resources and have anchors or reporters from both stations participate in the debate. Additionally, the two stations cooperate in coverage of news from New Jersey where their markets overlap, sharing reporters, live trucks, and helicopters.

Eyewitness News airs four and half hours daily, three hours on Saturdays and four hours on Sunday. The newscasts are replayed on one of channel 7's digital subchannels, which also carries a local weather and news channel. WABC-TV's website has a link for live streaming video of "Eyewitness News Now", which offers live local and national weather updated from AccuWeather. Local news headlines and updates are also provided. The format of "Eyewitness News Now" is similar to the defunct NBC Weather Plus.

On December 2, 2006, WABC-TV began broadcasting newscasts in High Definition, becoming the second station in the New York market to do so.

Personalities

(as of 2009)

Anchors


Weather


Sports
  • Scott Clark – sports director seen weeknights 6pm and 11pm
  • Rob Powers - Weekend sports anchor
Other


Reporters


Westchester
  • Marcus Solis


New Jersey


Long Island


Medical


Politics


Features


Investigative


Entertainment


Education


Consumer


MetroTraffic


Newscopter 7 HD
  • John Del Giorno - AM Photojournalist
  • Shannon Sohn - PM Photojournalist
  • Ed Hughes - Fill in Photojournalist


Notable alumni





News/station presentation

Newscast Titles

  • John Daly with World News (1953-1956)
  • John Cameron Swayze & the News (1956-1962)
  • The Big News (1962-1965)
  • Channel 7 News (1965-1968)
  • Channel 7 Eyewitness News (1968-present)
  • ABC 7 Eyewitness News (1998-present, secondary)


Station slogans

  • We're Still Having Fun, Channel 7's the One, Still the One (1977-1980; localized version of ABC campaign)
  • You and Me and Channel 7 (1980-1981; localized version of ABC campaign)
  • Now is the Time, Channel 7 is the Place (1981-1982; localized version of ABC campaign)
  • Come on Along with Channel 7 (1982-1983; localized version of ABC campaign)
  • We're With You, on Channel 7 (1984-1985; localized version of ABC campaign)
  • You'll Love It on Channel 7 (1985-1986; localized version of ABC campaign)
  • Together on Channel 7 (1986-1987; localized version of ABC campaign)
  • Number One in New York (1995-present)
  • The News Leader (only heard in news opens; 1995-present)
  • TV is Good, on Channel 7 (1997-1998; localized version of ABC campaign)
  • We Love TV, on Channel 7 (1998-1999; localized version of ABC campaign)


Other news theme music

In 1984, the station started using "News Series 2000", an updated version of the original Cool Hand Luke theme by Frank Gari, that had been originally commissioned by WLS-TV. The original Cool Hand Luke scores returned for a time from 1986 through 1988. In 1993, Schifrin raised his royalties for using his theme and its variations to a level that effectively priced it out of the local news market (though Australia's Nine Network still uses cuts from that theme). Gari was commissioned by WABC-TV to compose a new music package called "Eyewitness News." This package, based slightly on Cool Hand Luke, has been updated several times. As of 2009, WABC-TV uses the "Series 4" version, which was specifically updated for the station.

WABC-TV's version of the Eyewitness News Theme is reminscent of a typewriter typing out a news story, while WABC's west coast sister KABC-TVmarker Los Angeles and WEWS-TVmarker in Cleveland use a more faster paced and more of a rock music version of the Eyewitness News Theme.

Movie umbrella titles

  • The Night Show (1956–1963)
  • The Goodnight Show (1961-1963)
  • Sunday Night Movie (1958–1960 & 1971–1987)
  • The Best of Broadway (1963–1971)
  • The Big Show (1963–1966 & 1968–1969)
  • The 6 O'Clock Movie (1966–1968)
  • The 4:30 Movie (1969–1981)
  • Saturday Night Movie (1971–1987)
  • Prize Movie (1969–1973)
  • The Morning Movie (1973–1977)
  • The Movie in the Morning (1977–1983)
  • Spring Cinema (1983)
  • The Movie Matinee (1971–1979)
  • Channel 7 Movie (1979–1998, primary & 2004-present, secondary)
  • ABC 7 Movie (1998–present, primary)


News Music Packages



Office locations

The original WABC-TV offices were located at 77 West 66th Street, with studios at 7 West 66th Street. There was an underground tunnel that links ABC studios at 7 West 66th Street to the lobby of the Hotel des Artistes, a block north on West 67th Street. There was another studio inside the Hotel des Artistes that was used for Eyewitness News Conference.

As part of ABC's expansion program, initiated in 1977, ABC built 7 Lincoln Square on the southeast corner of West 67th Street and Columbus Avenue, on a site of an abandoned moving and storage warehouse. At about the same time, construction was started at 30 West 67th Street, on the site of a former parking lot. Both buildings were completed in June 1979 and WABC-TV moved their offices from 77 West 66th Street to 7 Lincoln Square.

Live with Regis and Kelly

WABC-TV also produces the nationally syndicated talk show Live with Regis and Kelly, broadcast live at 9:00 a.m. (Eastern time). The program originates in the same ground-floor studio at 7 Lincoln Square as Eyewitness News, thus creating a situation which forces local news updates broadcast during Good Morning America and Live to be produced from the WABC-TV newsroom, and the morning show's presence also limits the size of the Eyewitness News set (WNBC-TV and WCBS-TV have comparatively large sets).

The show began as a local morning show in 1983, aptly titled The Morning Show (using the "Circle 7" logo in the actual text for one of the "o"s) and was originally hosted by Regis Philbin and Cyndy Garvey. In 1985, Kathie Lee Johnson (who would marry Frank Gifford a year later) became Philbin's co-host. Buena Vista Television (now Disney-ABC Domestic Television) began syndicating the show in 1988 as Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. Kathie Lee left the show in 2000 and was eventually replaced by current host Kelly Ripa. The franchise celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2008.

See also



References

  1. http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-06-1082A2.pdf
  2. FCC DTV status report for WABC
  3. WWOR-DT FCC Form 387, Exhibit 4, September 15, 2008
  4. https://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=101319333&formid=301&fac_num=1328
  5. Nielsen ratings


External links







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