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WBAL-TV, channel 11, is an NBC-affiliated television station in Baltimore, Marylandmarker. It is the flagship of Hearst Television, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Hearst Corporation, which also owns sister radio stations WBALmarker (1090 AM) and WIYYmarker (97.9 FM). The three stations share a studio and office facility on Television Hill in the Woodberrymarker section of Baltimore, near the transmitting tower WBAL-TV shares with WIYY and four other Baltimore television stations.


WBAL-TV began operations on March 11, 1948 from its original studios on North Charles Street in Downtown Baltimore. It was owned by Hearst Corporation along with WBAL radio and two newspapers, the Baltimore News-Post and the Baltimore American (which later merged as the Baltimore News-American before shutting down in 1986). It is one of two Hearst-owned stations to have been built from the ground up by the company (the other being Pittsburghmarker's WTAE-TVmarker), and the oldest to be continuosly owned by Hearst through their various television subsidiaries through the years.

At its launch, WBAL-TV was an NBC affiliate. Early programming include Musical Almanac, Look and Cook, and Know Baltimore, along with news and sports productions. In the 1950s, the station introduced Romper Room, Baltimore's first live morning variety show. This show eventually became a nationally franchised program. Another long-running show of the 1950s was the weekday Quiz Club, co-hosted by local personalities Brent Gunts and Jay Grayson. Baltimore Sun columnist Jacques Kelly described it at the time of Grayson's death in June, 2000, as "pure 1950s live television ... executed on a low budget ... the genial hosts ... ruled the 1 p.m. airwaves".

WBAL-TV produced several local bowling shows in the 1960s and early 1970s, including Strikes and Spares, Pinbusters, Duckpins for Dollars, Bowling for Dollars, and Spare Time. The station even went as far as building bowling alleys at its studios. It also launched several children's entertainment shows during this period, such as Rhea and Sunshine, Pete the Pirate, P.W. Doodle, Heads Up, and the teen-oriented Kirby Scott Show.

WBAL-TV's first stint as an NBC affiliate ended on August 30, 1981, when the station swapped affiliations with WMAR-TVmarker (channel 2), then owned by the Baltimore Sun, and became a CBS affiliate. CBS was not pleased with WMAR-TV's frequent pre-emptions and low news ratings. As a CBS affiliate, however, channel 11 pre-empted an hour of the network's daytime schedule everyday, as well as half of its Saturday cartoon lineup. Channel 11 also did not run CBS's late night programming. Baltimore viewers who wanted to see the entire CBS line-up could do so through WDVM-TV/WUSAmarker in Washington, D.C.marker, which was available over-the-air in most of the Baltimore area and pre-empted little network programming.
The WBAL-TV studio and office facility, on Television Hill in Baltimore.
In 1994, the E.W. Scripps Company, the present owners of WMAR-TV, negotiated with ABC to affiliate with its Baltimore station as part of a multi-station deal. In response, CBS and Westinghouse Broadcasting formed a partnership, resulting in the CBS affiliation moving from WBAL-TV to Westinghouse's WJZ-TVmarker (channel 13), Baltimore's longtime ABC affiliate. Largely by default, channel 11 rejoined the NBC network on January 2, 1995, and has remained the market's NBC affiliate since then.

In August, 2005, WBAL-TV launched a 24-hour local weather channel, WBAL-TV 11 Insta-Weather Plus, broadcast over-the-air on digital channel 11-2 and by cable in much of Maryland on Comcast channel 208.

The station was a prominent feature in the movie Diner, set in Baltimore. One of the character's girlfriends works there, and another character watches College Bowl, an NBC program aired on WBAL-TV.

WBAL-TV lent meteorologist Sandra Shaw to Hearst-Argyle sister station WDSU-TVmarker in New Orleans on September 1, 2008, to assist with the Louisiana station's coverage of Hurricane Gustav.

WBAL only carries the first three hours of NBC's Today Show on weekdays.

Digital television

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Digital channels
Channel Name Programming
11.1 WBAL-DT main WBAL-TV/NBC programming
11.2 WBAL-DT2 WBAL Plus

Analog-to-Digital Conversion

WBAL-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 11, on June 12, 2009 , as part of the DTV transition in the United States. The station had been broadcasting its pre-transition digital signal over UHF channel 59, but returned to channel 11 for its post-transition operations. Several VHF digital stations received permission for a power increase later that month after stations experienced signal problems as a result of changing their digital channel from UHF to VHF. WBAL-TV chose to test its equipment before making a commitment.


WBAL Plus Logo
WBAL Plus is WBAL’s digital sub-channel. It is broadcast over the air on WBAL 11.2, on Comcast digital channel 208, and Verizon FiOS channel 460. Programming on WBAL Plus consists of WBAL 11 Insta-Weather Plus, news casts, and other special programming.


WBAL Plus originally carried NBC Weather Plus until it dissolved at the end of 2008. After that WBAL continued to broadcast 11 Insta-Weather Plus, which was the same as NBC Weather Plus except without the national feed. In April of 2009 WBAL 11 Insta-Weather Plus changed to WBAL Plus. Currently WBAL Plus still carries WBAL 11 Insta-Weather Plus, except with other special programming.


For many years, WBAL-TV had waged a spirited battle for first place in the ratings with WJZ-TV. For example, In 1974, WBAL introduced the Action News format to Baltimore. Characterized by short, usually 90 second, news "packages" and upbeat introductory news themes, Baltimore's Action News briefly replaced Channel 13 as the number one news station in Baltimore during the mid-seventies. The architect of the success was news director Ron Kershaw, who had come to Baltimore from Texas and was considered somewhat ahead of his time. He brought in talented anchors like Sue Simmons and Spencer Christian and streamlined the news operation. Kershaw later brought other innovations to WNBC-TVmarker in New Yorkmarker and WBBM-TVmarker in Chicagomarker as news director at those stations. Since the late 1980s, it has been branded News 11, WBAL-TV 11 News, or just simply 11 News.

From the early 1960s through the 1970s, WBAL-TV was the ratings leader in Baltimore. WJZ-TV took the lead in the 1970s and held it for 30 years, but WBAL-TV was a strong runner-up for most of that time. In recent years, WBAL-TV's newscasts placed first at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.; however, preliminary ratings data taken since the debut of The Jay Leno Show showed that WBAL fell precipitously from a two-way battle for first to a distant second behind WJZ although the official November 2009 Nielsen Ratings sweeps period has just begun.

On January 3rd, 2009, WBAL-TV became the second station in Baltimore (behind WBFF-TVmarker) to launch local news in high definition.


Current On-Air Talent

  • Kate Amara
  • Marianne Banister
  • Mindy Basara
  • Sarah Caldwell
  • Mellisa Carlson
  • Kerry Cavanaugh
  • David Collins
  • John Collins
  • Kim Dacey
  • Rod Daniels
  • Jennifer Franciotti
  • Pete Gilbert
  • Donna Hamilton
  • Sally Kidd
  • Laurie Kinney
  • Tony Pann
  • Lowell Melser
  • Jayne Miller
  • Traci Mitchell
  • Jim Nichols
  • Lisa Robinson
  • Rob Roblin
  • Gerry Sandusky
  • Sandra Shaw
  • John Sherman
  • Darrielle Snipes
  • Barry Simms
  • Stan Stovall
  • Tom Tasselmyer
  • Roy Taylor
  • Tim Tooten
  • Deborah Weiner

Former personalities

WBAL-TV's Action News team in 1981: (l.-r.) Vince Bagli, Mike Hambrick, Rudy Miller, Stan Stovall, and Norm Lewis

News/Station Presentation

Newscast Titles

  • Action News 11 (1974–1985)
  • News 11 (1985-1991)
  • WBAL-TV 11 News (1991-1995)
  • 11 News (1995-present)

Station Slogans

  • Hello, Baltimore (1978-1985; used during period station used Frank Gari's "Hello News")
  • Reach for the Stars on WBAL (1981-1982; tagged with Frank Gari's "Hello News" campaign when the station was about to switch to CBS)
  • We'll Take You There (1981-1982; used image campaign by Frank Gari)
  • On Your Side (1985-1991)
  • You Can Feel It On 11 (1988-1989; local version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Your 24-Hour News Station (1991-1993)
  • Live. Local. Latebreaking. (1995-present)

Awards and achievements

WBAL-TV has boasted many television firsts, including:

  • the first Baltimore television station to broadcast in color;
  • the first station in Maryland (and the eighth in the world) to acquire a videotape cartridge machine;
  • the first station in Baltimore to acquire a mobile satellite news-gathering system (dubbed "NEWSTAR 11");
  • the first Baltimore station to hire an African-American news anchor and an African-American news director.

In addition, WBAL-TV became the first Baltimore TV station to win a Peabody Award for local news coverage (and the first Baltimore television station to win the award in any category in more than fifty years). WBAL's "11 News" was also awarded as one of the top three Best Television Newscasts by the National Headliners Association, alongside WFAA-TVmarker in Dallasmarker, and sister station WCVB-TVmarker in Bostonmarker.

Other awards include:


External links

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