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WVTM-TV is the NBC affiliate television station in the Birminghammarker-Annistonmarker-Tuscaloosamarker, Alabamamarker television market. The station is owned by Media General. Its transmitter tower is located atop Red Mountain in Birmingham.

History

The station signed on the air on May 29, 1949, as WAFM-TV, owned by The Voice of Alabama, Inc. along with radio stations WAPI) (AM 1070), and WAFM (FM 94.5, now WJOX). It is Alabama's oldest television station. It was originally a CBS affiliate with a secondary ABC affiliation.

In 1953, the Birmingham News bought the Voice of Alabama and changed WAFM-TV's calls to WABT (for Alabama's Best Television). A year later, WABT swapped primary affiliations with WBRC-TVmarker and became an NBC affiliate. In 1956, the Newhouse newspaper chain bought the News. The station changed call signs again in 1958 when it became WAPI-TV to match its sister radio stations. (The calls stood for Alabama Polytechnic Institutemarker, which owned WAPI radio from 1925 through 1932.)

WBRC-TV took the ABC affiliation on a full-time basis in 1961, forcing WAPI-TV to shoehorn both NBC and CBS programs into its schedule. This was rather unusual, since in most two-station markets ABC was relegated to secondary status on either one or both of the existing stations. The Birmingham market is a fairly large market geographically, stretching across nearly the entire width of the state. It also has some areas of fairly rugged terrain. Both of these factors made prospective station owners skittish about putting one of the available UHF allocations on the air, even though Birmingham was big enough even then to support three full network affiliates. Although there were two other VHF channels in the market, they had both been allocated to Alabama Educational Television.

While channel 13 tried to carry the most popular NBC and CBS shows, a lot of quite popular shows did not air in Birmingham because of this arrangement. One of the more popular CBS shows that WAPI-TV did not carry was The Ed Sullivan Show, meaning that central Alabama viewers missed The Beatles' American debut unless they were lucky enough to pick up stations in Atlantamarker, Huntsvillemarker or Montgomerymarker. Oddly, one of the NBC shows that channel 13 turned down was The Tonight Show. WAPI-TV strongly favored NBC for news, so when CBS and NBC expanded their news programs to 30 minutes in the early 1960s, the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite wasn't seen in Birmingham for several years. This was due, of course, to both networks' feeding their newscasts to affiliates at 5:30 p.m. Central Time (like today). Channel 13 had its local newscast at 6 p.m. Central time, and prior to 1971, prime-time network programming began at 6:30 p.m. Central time. This left no room on the schedule for the CBS Evening News to air, even if the station management had wanted to broadcast it.

When WBMG-TV (channel 42, now WIATmarker) started operations in 1965, it nominally had a CBS affiliation, but CBS allowed WAPI-TV to continue airing its higher-rated programming. This was largely because WBMG had only started one year after the Federal Communications Commission required that new television sets include all-channel tuning. To fill out the schedule, WBMG aired some NBC programming that WAPI-TV turned down (such as The Tonight Show). Both stations listed "CBS/NBC" as their affiliation. However, in May 1970, for a number of reasons, WAPI-TV became the exclusive NBC affiliate, sending all of CBS's programming to WBMG. At the same time that channel 13 became an exclusive affiliate of NBC and WBMG aligned with CBS, WCFT in Tuscaloosamarker and WHMA in Annistonmarker also affiliated with CBS. Prior to that time, the primetime schedule of WCFT and WHMA virtually mirrored that of WBMG.

The Newhouse company, Advance Publications, withdrew from broadcasting in the early 1980s. WAPI-TV was sold to Times-Mirror Broadcasting in 1980, and as a result the station became WVTM (for Vulcan Times-Mirror), and remains with those call letters to this day.

In the early 1990s, the station was purchased by Argyle Broadcasting. In 1994, New World Communications, which had recently cut an affiliation deal with Fox Broadcasting Company, agreed to purchase WVTM along with its sister stations KTVImarker in St. Louis, Missourimarker, KDFWmarker in Dallas, Texasmarker, and KTBCmarker in Austin, Texasmarker. However, New World also decided to purchase several stations from Great American Broadcasting, including WBRC. Great American agreed to exclude WBRC from its deal with New World, and to sell WBRC directly to Fox instead. As such, WVTM retained its NBC affiliation, while KTVI (the former St. Louis ABC affiliate), KDFW (the former Dallas/Fort Worth CBS affiliate), and KTBC (the former Austin CBS affiliate) became Fox affiliates. Fox operated WBRC as an ABC affiliate until 1996.

New World sold off all its stations in late 1996. Its Fox affiliates were sold to Fox outright, while its two NBC stations (WVTM and KNSDmarker channel 39 in San Diego, Californiamarker) were sold to NBC.

WVTM was one of four NBC-owned stations in smaller markets that were put up for sale on January 9, 2006, along with WJAR-TVmarker in Providence, Rhode Islandmarker, WCMH-TVmarker in Columbus, Ohiomarker, and WNCNmarker in Raleigh, North Carolinamarker. On April 6, 2006, NBC Universal and Media General announced that Media General would purchase WVTM-TV as part of a $600 million four-station deal between the two companies[95607]. Media General has announced that it will sell its existing station in Birmingham, WIAT, since the FCC does not allow for one company to own two of the four largest stations in a single market. Media General closed the deal on all four stations on June 26, 2006 - after the FCC granted the company a temporary waiver allowing it to keep both WVTM and WIAT for six months. On August 2, it was announced that Media General sold WIAT to New Vision Television. [95608]

For several months after Media General acquired the stations from NBC Universal, WVTM's Web site and those of the other three stations remained in the format used by the Web sites of NBC owned & operated stations. In December 2006, the Web sites for all four of the stations were redesigned. They now credit Media General in their copyright notices, and they are no longer operated by the Internet Broadcasting company.

Digital television

In 2008, WVTM added the Retro Television Network to one of its digital channels, replacing the defunct NBC WeatherPlus. [95609]

High Definition

On October 17, 2007, WVTM began broadcasting local news in high definition (HDTV). WVTM was the first station in Alabama to broadcast local news in HD.

WVTM is currently one of only three stations in Alabama who broadcast their local newscasts in High Definition, with the other being WSFAmarker and WBRCmarker.

Analog-to-digital conversion

The analog television shutdown was on June 12, 2009, but WVTM-TV moved back to channel 13 before the mandatory DTV date.

Previous owners of WVTM



Chronology

Date Call Ch City of
License
Main
Studio
Network ERP (W) Altitude RCAGL Tx Latitude/Longitude Owner
29 May 1949 WAFM-TV 13 Birminghammarker Birminghammarker CBS/ABC The Voice of Alabama, Inc. July 1953 WABT 13 Birminghammarker Birminghammarker CBS/ABC The Birmingham News Company 1954 WABT 13 Birminghammarker Birminghammarker NBC/ABC 316000 311 m 154 m The Birmingham News Company 26 Jan 1956 WABT 13 Birminghammarker Birminghammarker NBC/ABC 316000 Advance Publications 1958 WAPI-TV 13 Birminghammarker Birminghammarker NBC/ABC 316000 Advance Publications 1961 WAPI-TV 13 Birminghammarker Birminghammarker NBC/CBS 316000 Advance Publications 6 Dec 1965 WAPI-TV 13 Birminghammarker Birminghammarker NBC 316000 Advance Publications 28 March 1980 WVTM-TV 13 Birminghammarker Birminghammarker NBC 316000 Times-Mirror Company 24 June 1981 WVTM-TV 13 Birminghammarker Birminghammarker NBC 316000 297 m 303 m Times-Mirror Company 14 May 1993 WVTM-TV 13 Birminghammarker Birminghammarker NBC 316000 297 m 303 m Argyle Television Holding 1 April 1995 WVTM-TV 13 Birminghammarker Birminghammarker NBC 316000 297 m 303 m New World Communications 27 July 1996 WVTM-TV 13 Birminghammarker Birminghammarker NBC 316000 297 m 303 m NBC 23 June 2006 WVTM-TV 13 Birminghammarker Birminghammarker NBC 316000 297 m 303 m Media General


News Operation

The station also went through numerous name changes from NewsCenter13, to NewsWatch13 and its AM newscast 13 Alive to 13 Action News and then 13 and You, an ode to NBC and You to Alabama's 13, People Who Care, NBC13, We've Got You Covered, to today's NBC13, Accuracy Matters. WVTM, currently known on air as NBC13, runs more than 35 hours of local news a week along with NBC network news.

In 2004, WVTM became the first television station in Alabama to obtain a 1-million watt Doppler weather radar system originally dubbed "Skywatch Doppler One Million", "WeatherPlus Doppler One Million", now called "NBC13 Live Doppler Radar", located on Bald Rock Mountain in St. Clair County, Alabamamarker.

Personalities

Current On-Air Staff

Current Anchors
  • Bettina Boateng - Saturdays at 6, Sundays at 5 and weekends at 10PM (also reporter and fill-in weathercaster)
  • Rod Carter - weekday mornings "Today in Alabama" (4:30-7AM) and 11AM
  • Andrea Lindenberg - weekday mornings "Today in Alabama" (4:30-7AM) and 11AM
  • Gina Redmond - weeknights at 5, 6 and 10PM
  • Mike Royer - weeknights at 5, 6 and 10PM


Reporters
  • Lisa Crane - traffic anchor and general assignment reporter
  • Jon Paepcke - investigative reporter
  • Chris Pollone - general assignment reporter
  • Brooke Smith - Daytime Alabama host
  • Linda White - Education reporter


NBC13 Weather Team
  • Jerry Tracey (AMS Seal of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 6, and 10PM
  • Richard Jacks - Meteorologist; Saturdays at 6, Sundays at 5 and weekends at 10PM (also fill-in)
  • Stephanie Walker (AMS Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekday mornings "Today in Alabama" (4:30-7AM) and 11AM


Sports Team
  • Don Hawes - Sports Director; weeknights at 5, 6, and 10PM


Former On-Air Staff

  • Dick Breit - midday weather reporter
  • Jenny Burleson - medical reporter
  • Bob Chumley - anchor
  • Matt Coulter - sports anchor
  • Fran Curry - anchor
  • Carl Daniels - midday anchor
  • Jim Dunaway - sports anchor, later morning anchor (currently at WSPZ radio and WIAT-TVmarker)
  • Theresa Durden - anchor
  • Bill Fitzgerald - reporter (formerly at WNCNmarker in Raleighmarker/Durhammarker)
  • Scott Griffin - weekend sports anchor, now at WIATmarker
  • Wendell Harris - anchor
  • Pam Huff - anchor (currently at WBMA/WCFT/WJSU)
  • Bob Jones - anchor
  • Renee Kemp - weekend anchor
  • Joe Langston - anchor
  • Ken Lass - sports anchor, later morning news anchor, now news anchor at WIATmarker
  • Gene Lively - anchor
  • Rosemary Lucas - weather anchor
  • David Mattingly - reporter (currently on CNN and NPR)
  • Terri Merrimman - anchor (currently at WSMVmarker in Nashville)
  • Juliette Meeus - reporter
  • Mike Moore - anchor (currently at WGCL-TVmarker in Atlanta)
  • Larry Nobles - meteorologist (left to become a Southern Baptist minister)
  • Scott Palmer - sports anchor
  • Trevor Pettiford - weekend anchor
  • Steve Phillips - sports anchor (currently at WBIR-TVmarker in Knoxville, TN)
  • Jay Prater - meteorologist (currently at KAKEmarker-TV in Wichita, KS)
  • Teresa Racine - weekend anchor
  • Tom Roberts - news anchor and reporter, currently on Alabama Crimson Tide football broadcasts
  • Janice Rogers - reporter (now at WBRCmarker)
  • Phil Rozen - anchor
  • Buddy Rutledge - sports anchor (deceased)
  • Gary Sanders - sports anchor
  • Steve Sanders - reporter (currently at WGN-TVmarker in Chicago)
  • Ken Snow - anchor
  • David Smith - reporter (1981-1989; now with Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta)
  • James Spann - meteorologist (currently at WBMA/WCFT/WJSU)
  • Rene Syler - anchor
  • Herb Winches - sports anchor (was at WJOX-AM from 1990-2006; later worked at, and then resigned from WIATmarker-TV)
  • Jennifer Hale - reporter/weekend anchor; now reporter at WVUEmarker in New Orleans


News/Station Presentation

Newscast Titles

  • NewsCenter 13 (early 1970s-1974)
  • NewsWatch 13 / 13 Alive (morning newscast) (1974-1979)
  • Action News 13 (1979-1980)
  • Channel 13 News (1980-1991)
  • Alabama's 13 News (1991-1995)
  • NBC13 News (1995-present)


Station Slogans

  • Alabama's Leading News Station (late 1970s-1980)
  • 13, Proud as a Peacock! (1979-1981; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • Birmingham's Leading News Station (1981-1985)
  • Come Home to the Best, WVTM (1988-1990; local version of NBC ad campaign)
  • 13 and You (early 1990s)
  • Alabama's 13, People Who Care (early-mid 1990s)
  • The Newscenter of Alabama (1995-1996)
  • We've Got You Covered (1996-2006)
  • Accuracy Matters (2006-present)


References



External links




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