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WBZ-TV is a CBS owned-and-operated television station, located in Boston, Massachusettsmarker, broadcasting mainly a high-definition digital signal on channel 30. WBZ-TV's studios and office facilities are located in the Allston-Brighton section of Boston, and its transmitter is located in Needham, Massachusettsmarker.

History

As an NBC affiliate

WBZ-TV began operations on June 9, 1948, as the first commercial television station in Boston and New Englandmarker. The station was founded by Westinghouse Radio Stations (later to become Westinghouse Broadcasting, also known as Group W), a subsidiary of the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, along with WBZ radiomarker (1030 AM). The station immediately joined NBC owing to WBZ radio's long affiliation with NBC Radio. It is the only television station to have been built from the ground up by Westinghouse.

The station was knocked off the air August 31, 1954, when Hurricane Carol toppled the station's self-supporting tower over its studios. A temporary transmitter was installed on a nearby tower and later on the original tower of WNAC-TV (channel 7, now WHDH-TVmarker). In 1957, WBZ-TV began broadcasting from a 1200-foot (366 m) tower in Needham. The tower site is now known as the CBS Digital Television Broadcasting Facility, and is used by several Boston-area television stations, including WGBH-TVmarker (channel 2) and WCVB-TVmarker (channel 5).

Channel 4 nearly lost its NBC affiliation in 1955 when Westinghouse balked at NBC's initial offer to trade sister stations KYW radiomarker and WPTZ-TV (now KYW-TVmarker) in Philadelphiamarker in exchange for the network's radio and television combination in Cleveland, Ohiomarker. In response, NBC threatened to yank its programming from both WBZ-TV and WPTZ unless Westinghouse agreed to the trade. The swap was made in 1956, but Westinghouse immediately complained to the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S.marker Justice Departmentmarker about NBC's extortion. In 1965, the FCC ordered the swap reversed without NBC realizing any profit on the deal.

WBZ-TV (sometimes informally referred to as "BZ" both on- and off-air) was a pioneer in Boston television. In 1948, it began live broadcasts of Boston's two Major League Baseball teams, the Red Sox and the Braves, broadcasts that at first were split with WNAC. It was also the first Boston station to have daily newscasts, starting with the station's very first night on the air.

In the mid-1960s, it adopted the Eyewitness News format that had been pioneered at KYW-TV.

The station also broadcast many locally-produced programs over the years. One of the most beloved was the long-running Big Brother Bob Emery show, hosted by veteran radio performer Emery, who first did the show on Boston-area radio in 1921 and who in 1947 hosted the first five-times-a-week children's show on network television on DuMont. For nearly two decades, from 1956 until 1974, Rex Trailer hosted a popular weekend-morning children's show called Boomtown. For part of that time, Boomtown originated from an outdoor "western town" set built next to WBZ-TV's studios. In 2005, WBZ aired a special documentary film directed by Michael Bavaro titled "Rex Trailer's Boomtown" featuring old clips and interviews with childhood fans like Jay Leno, Steven Wright, Tom Bergeron, Jimmy Tingle, and many others. The broadcast master in now part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Television & Radio in New York City.

From 1977 to 1990, Evening Magazine aired on the station. The original co-hosts were Robin Young and Marty Sender; later, Barry Nolan and Sara Edwards co-hosted the program.

People Are Talking, (1980–1993) a live early-afternoon talk show aired on WBZ, as it did on some other Westinghouse stations. In Boston, it was originally hosted by Nancy Merrill and later by Buzz Luttrell, but the best-known host was the program's last, Tom Bergeron.

Screengrab of WBZ-TV 4 promo from 1989.


As an NBC affiliate, the station was known to preempt several hours of network programming a day — a common practice among Group W stations. This was significant, since WBZ-TV was NBC's second-largest affiliate in the Eastern Time Zone. It primarily preempted several daytime morning programs. On January 3, 1983, when People Are Talking expanded to one hour, WBZ-TV dropped NBC's Another World, which would move to WQTV (now WBPXmarker) until the fall of 1987, when the show moved to WHLL (now WUNI-TVmarker) and later to WMFPmarker in the early 1990s. The station also dropped many Saturday morning cartoons in 1990, even though NBC later abandoned such programming in favor of live-action, teen-oriented shows, such as Saved by the Bell.

NBC has traditionally been less tolerant of preemptions than the other networks and had to find alternate independent stations to air whatever programs that BZ did not air. Despite this, NBC was generally satisfied with WBZ-TV, which was one of NBC's strongest affiliates. As a sidebar, sister station KYW-TV in Philadelphia (then NBC's largest affiliate) also heavily preempted NBC programming, but it spent most of the 1980s and 1990s as NBC's weakest major-market affiliate.

In the early 1980s, WBZ-TV lost its longtime spot as Boston's highest-rated news station to WCVB, but even then was a strong second for more than a decade. Its evening news team — anchors Liz Walker and Jack Williams, meteorologist Bruce Schwoegler and sportscaster Bob Lobel — was the longest-running news team in New England from 1980 until Walker moved to the noon newscasts in 2000. Other personalities who came to channel 4 during this time were entertainment reporter Joyce Kulhawik and political reporter John Henning. Williams is still at channel 4 today; Walker gave up anchoring duties in 2005 and hosted a Sunday morning talk show for several years before leaving the station in October 2008.

Transition

In 1994, sister station WJZ-TVmarker in Baltimoremarker lost its affiliation with ABC after that network announced a deal with the E.W. Scripps Company to switch all but two of Scripps' television stations (including its Baltimore outlet, WMAR-TVmarker) to ABC. Westinghouse felt betrayed by ABC's decision, and as a safeguard began shopping for affiliation deals for the entire Group W television unit. Group W eventually struck an agreement to switch WBZ-TV, KYW-TV, and WJZ-TV to CBS (Westinghouse's two other stations, in Pittsburghmarker and San Franciscomarker, were already CBS affiliates).

The Boston market's third network affiliation switch took place on January 2, 1995. After a 47-year relationship with NBC, channel 4 became the third station in Boston to align with CBS. The network had originally affiliated with WNAC-TV in 1948, then moved to channel 5 (then known as WHDH-TV) in 1962. It then returned to WNAC-TV (the current WHDH-TV) in 1972 and stayed there until the switch. As a CBS affiliate, WBZ-TV airs the entire CBS schedule with no pre-emptions except for local news emergencies, as per Westinghouse's agreement with CBS.

When Westinghouse purchased CBS outright in early 1996, WBZ-TV became a CBS-owned and operated station. As a condition of the merger, CBS had to sell recently-acquired WPRI-TVmarker (channel 12) in Providence, Rhode Islandmarker. The two station's signals share similar coverage areas in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and FCC regulations at the time did not allow common ownership of two or more television stations with overlapping signals.

WBZ-TV was the first former Group W station to drop the channel number in Group W's Anklepants font, and WBZ-TV introduced a then-new logo in 1997.

As a CBS-owned station

Although the station tends to rank #1 in daytime and primetime ratings, Channel 4's local news ratings have suffered since the switch in network affiliations. This is partly because at the time of the switch, CBS was well behind NBC in the network ratings. Taken as a whole, its local news is the lowest rated of Boston's "Big 3" affiliates, having dipped behind a resurgent WHDH-TV as well. In January 2006, attempting to bolster its local news ratings, Channel 4 reinstated its 5 pm news and dismissed its former lead anchor Josh Binswanger, leading to the return of long-time anchor Jack Williams to the prime-time newscasts. In addition, Ed Carroll's contract was not renewed and in October 2005 the station hired Ken Barlow from KARE-TVmarker in Minneapolis, Minnesotamarker, to replace him as chief meteorologist.

In late August 2006, WBZ-TV ended its 4 pm weekday newscast and hired anchor Chris May from WHDH-TV. May, along with Sara Underwood, anchored the 5 pm weekday news on WBZ-TV. May has since moved to sister station KYW-TV in Philadelphia, and Underwood's contract with the station was not renewed. She left the station on March 4, 2008. As of September 18, 2006, WHDH now airs the only 4 PM weekday newscast in the Boston area.

In January 2007, the station launched Project Mass, a commitment to cover the community's top concerns in government, transit, healthcare, education, finance, and the environment. The initiative kicked-off with an online town meeting.

Channel 4 has changed its news and station branding continuously since the affiliation switch, from "Eyewitness News" to "WBZ News 4" to "News 4 New England" to "WBZ 4 News". On February 1, 2004, WBZ rebranded itself as "CBS4," as per the CBS Mandate.

The "CBS4" branding was phased-out during the first quarter of 2007 and, as of February 2007, the station's newscast title was reverted from "CBS 4 News" to "WBZ News". The return of "WBZ-TV" and "WBZ News" took place Sunday, February 4, 2007, during the station's coverage of the Super Bowl. This makes the station the first station owned by CBS to depart from the CBS Mandate standardization since. It joins sister stations KDKA-TVmarker in Pittsburghmarker, WCCO-TVmarker in Minneapolis-St. Paulmarker, WWJ-TVmarker in Detroitmarker and WJZ-TVmarker in Baltimoremarker in not following the Mandate currently. General manager Ed Piette told The Boston Globe that he decided to ditch the "CBS4" branding when he arrived in Boston for his first day of work and a cabbie asked him, "Whatever happened to WBZ?" Piette hopes to reemphasize WBZ-TV's local identity--a strategy that worked well when he was general manager at WCCO-TV, ironically another station that doesn't follow the CBS Mandate.

After the 2000 acquisition of CBS by its former subsidiary, Viacom, WBZ-TV's operations were merged with that of Boston's UPN affiliate, WSBK-TVmarker, and later with WLWC-TVmarker, the UPN affiliate in nearby Providence. Today, the operations of WBZ-TV and WSBK-TV are co-located at WBZ's studios in Brighton. WLWC was sold in 2006 to the Four Points Media Group, a broadcaster controlled by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management.

WBZ's on-air staff continued to change in late 2007, when longtime morning anchor Scott Wahle was re-assigned and replaced by former WFXTmarker anchor David Wade. In January 2008, longtime morning and midday meteorologist Barry Burbank was re-assigned to the weekend programs. He was replaced by meteorologist Todd Gutner.

On February 29, 2008, it was reported that the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike caused a significant loss in viewers during the late news. WBZ-TV finished with an average of 157,800 total viewers, down from 177,800 viewers in 2007.

On April 1, 2008, CBS' owned-and-operated television stations division ordered widespread budget cuts and staff layoffs from its stations. As a result of the budget cuts, roughly 30 staffers were released from WBZ-TV and WSBK-TV, including longtime sports director Bob Lobel, entertainment reporter Joyce Kulhawik, and WSBK anchor Scott Wahle. Lobel left channel 4 on May 16, while Kulhawik and Wahle left on May 29 and 30, respectively. Steve Burton is now the new sports director, while the position that Kulhawik held was eliminated. Jack Williams filled in for the 9pm spot in the interim. It was announced on June 6 that reporter and now former-weekend anchor Kate Merrill will anchor the news, along with general assignment duty weekdays at 5/6pm. Lobel and Kulhawik are now with NECN, also Lobel recently became "Guest" Co-Host of the morning show on CBS Radio owned WODS "Oldies 103.3", though whether this position is to be a permanent one has yet to be known.

Even with the budget cuts at CBS, WBZ-TV's 11 pm newscast has been number one in its time slot in the last three ratings periods.

Coverage area

WBZ-TV's transmitter and antenna are located in Needham, Massachusettsmarker on the same tower as WCVB-TV, WGBH-TV, WGBX-TVmarker and WSBK-TV's HDTV transmitter. In fact, the tower and site are owned by CBS itself. Its signal covers Greater Boston, southern New Hampshiremarker, northern Rhode Islandmarker and northeastern Connecticutmarker. WBZ-TV is also one of six local Boston TV stations seen in Canadamarker to subscribers of the Bell TV satellite service, and is also seen on most cable systems in Atlantic Canadamarker.

Special events

Over the past few years, WBZ-TV and parent CBS have co-produced a live telecast of the annual Boston Pops' July 4 concert at Boston's Hatch Shell along the Charles River. The entire concert is broadcast live locally by WBZ. The CBS network joins the show in progress at 10 p.m. to show the Pops' signature versions of "1812 Overture" and "Stars and Stripes Forever," as well as the fireworks over the Charles. Live coverage of the event was broadcast in high-definition for the first time beginning in 2007. However, in 2008 and 2009 the special returned to standard definition.

For several years, the station has aired exclusive First Night Boston coverage on New Year's Eve, showcasing festivities from Boston, New England, and the world.

Also the Boston Marathon (see Sports section below).

Digital television

After the analog television shutdown and digital conversion on June 12, 2009, WBZ-DT continued on channel 30. However, through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers will display WBZ-DT's virtual channel 4.

Lottery

WBZ-TV was also the first station to air daily Mass State Lottery drawings in Boston, starting in 1975. Tom Bergeron credits one of his early TV jobs to hosting lottery drawings on Channel 4. The station holds the record for having the rights to the games the longest (12 years), before passing the torch to Channel 7 (then known as WNEV-TV) in 1987. Eleven years later, Lottery Live would return to WBZ with long-time host Dawn Hayes still at the helm. Due to new limited contacts permitting the local stations to carry Lottery Live for only three years at a time, WBZ moved the games to sister station WSBK-TVmarker in 2001.

Sports

WBZ-TV has aired local sporting events over the years. Besides the Braves (1948 until they moved to Milwaukeemarker before the 1953 season) and the Red Sox (1948–1957; 1972–1974, and a handful of games in 2003 and 2004), WBZ-TV also broadcast the Boston Celtics from 1972–73 through 1984–85. In 1980, WBZ-TV was the first Boston television station to broadcast live wire-to-wire coverage of the Boston Marathon; the station has done so every year since, and was the only Boston station to do so in 2007 and 2008. Most New England Patriots regular season and playoff games have aired on WBZ since 1965, with NBC holding the rights to the American Football League from 1965 to 1969, and then the American Football Conference from 1970 to 1997. CBS would pick those rights up in 1998, three years after the affiliation switch. Two of the Pats' six Super Bowl appearances have aired on the station--Super Bowl XX in January 1986, which they lost to the Chicago Bears, and Super Bowl XXXVIII in February 2004, where they defeated the Carolina Panthers.

Logos

In the early 1960s, WBZ unveiled a new stylized "4" logo, using a distinctive font that had been designed especially for Group W. The logo became italicized in the late 1980s, but remained the same font. It kept this logo for over 30 years until it unveiled its first "News 4 New England" logo in September 1996. The old logo was the longest-used numeric logo in New England television history until WCVB's stylized "5" crossed the 31-year mark in 2003.

The "Circle-4" logo that replaced the original "News 4" logo in 1998 was often referred to on-air by WBZ sports anchor Bob Lobel as "The Circle 4 Ranch." As of 2007, WBZ has dropped the CBS-mandated "CBS4" logo and branding and now refers to itself simply as "WBZ-TV".

Newscasts

WBZ operates a Bell LongRanger 206LIV called "Sky Eye". In addition to its main studios, the station operates two other news bureaus. The "Worcestermarker Bureau" is located on Main Street in that city. The "New Hampshiremarker Bureau" is located on Elm Street in Manchestermarker. The station's weather radar known as "WBZ Doppler Live" is located at Worcester Regional Airportmarker. Along with other CBS-owned stations, WBZ offers a web-only "@ Your Desk" newscast available live and on-demand. WBZ produces a weeknight 9 o'clock newscast for sister station WSBKmarker. On September 15, 2008, the station was in the process of upgrading its news set for high definition broadcasts. During that time, all newscasts originated from the on-air area of the newsroom. The renovations lasted for at least six weeks.[64442] [64443]

On December 11, 2008, during their 5:00pm newscast, WBZ became the fourth station (behind WCVB, WHDH and WLVI) to broadcast news in high definition. Their sister station, WSBK-TVmarker followed suit later that night.

News/station presentation

Newscast titles

  • Eyewitness News (1965-1993)
  • WBZ News 4 (1993-1996; WBZ used this newscast after the switch from NBC to CBS.)
  • News 4 New England (1996-2000)
  • WBZ 4 News (2000-2004)
  • CBS 4 News (2004-2007)
  • WBZ News (2007-present)


Station slogans

  • We're 4 (1976-1978)
  • We're 4 You (1978-1979)
  • The One 4 All (1979-1980; used during period station used Frank Gari's "The One For/4 All")
  • Today's 4: A Whole Lot More (1981-1982)
  • TV-4, Just Watch Us Now / We're Today's 4, Just Watch Us Now (1982-1983; local version of NBC ad campaign)
  • We're Today's 4 (1982-1985)
  • TV-4 There, Be There (1983-1984; local version of NBC ad campaign)
  • We're 4 Today (1984-1985)
  • TV-4, Let's All Be There (1984-1986; local version of NBC ad campaign)
  • Come Home to Channel 4 (1986-1987; local version of NBC ad campaign)
  • Come on Home to Channel 4 (1987-1988; local version of NBC ad campaign)
  • Come Home to the Best, Only on Channel 4 (1988-1990; local version of NBC ad campaign)
  • Your 24-Hour News Source (1990-1993; news slogan)
  • New England's Channel 4 (1990-1993; general slogan)
  • The Stars are Back on Channel 4 (1993-1994; local version of NBC ad campaign)
  • The Tradition Continues (1994-1996)
  • The Most Local News on TV (1996-1998)
  • Working for You (1998-2000)
  • Boston's Television Station (2000-2003; general slogan)
  • Boston's Choice for News and Information (2000-2003; news slogan)
  • Your Local News Station (2003-2007)
  • Welcome to Curiosity. Welcome to WBZ. (2007-present)
  • Stay Curious. (Late 2008-present, continuation of their "Curiosity" Campaign)


News Music Packages

  • The One For All (1979-1982)
  • We're 4 1980-1982)
  • Today's 4 (1982-1985)
  • Catch 5 (1983-1989)
  • WBZ News (1985-1990)
  • WBZ 1990 News (1990-1992)
  • WBZ-TV News Package (1992-1994)
  • WBZ 1994 News (1994-1995)
  • WBZ/WSBK 1994 News (1995-1996)
  • Newsworks (1996-1998)
  • WBZ Channel 4 News (1998-2000)
  • CBS Boston News Package (2000-2003)
  • Adrenaline (2003-2005)
  • Newstime (2005-2007)
  • Pride Collection (2007-present)


News team

Anchors
  • Jonathan Elias - weekdays at 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
    • reporter
  • Paula Ebben - Weekday Mornings and Noon
  • David Wade - Weekday Mornings and Noon


  • Lisa Hughes - Weeknights at 5, 6 and 11
  • Jack Williams - Weeknights at 6 and 11
  • Kate Merill - Weeknights at 9
    • reporter
  • Ken MacLeod - Weekend Mornings and Evenings
    • reporter
  • Dawn Hasbrouck - Weekend Evenings
    • reporter


Meteorologists
  • Ken Barlow (AMS Seal of Approval) - Chief seen weeknights
  • Todd Gutner - weekday mornings and Noon
  • Sarah Wroblewski - weekend mornings
  • Barry Burbank (AMS Seal of Approval) - weekend evenings and fill-in


Sports

Reporters
  • David Robichaud - weekday morning "Conversation Nation" segment
  • Rich Kirkland - weekday morning traffic
    • "Sky Eye" breaking news seen weeknights at 5 and 6
  • Scott Pike - weeknight traffic
  • Bruce Adams - weeknight traffic fill-in
  • Joe Shortsleeve - Chief Correspondent seen weeknights
  • Kathy Curran - general assignment and investigative
  • Bill Shields - Cape Codmarker focus
  • Karen Anderson - New Hampshiremarker Bureau and general assignment
  • Ron Sanders - Worcestermarker Bureau and general assignment
  • Jon Keller - political analyst seen weeknights and heard on WBZ-AMmarker 1030
  • Dr. Mallika Marshall - medical and "Health Watch" segment
  • Yadires Nova-Salcedo - "Centro" segment producer
  • Liz Walker - host of Sundays With Liz Walker
  • Beth Germano
  • Christina Hager
  • Peg Rusconi
  • Paul Burton
  • Eileen Curran
  • Sera Congi


Notable alumni



External links



References


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