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Jackson, Mississippi
Branding WLBT 3 (general)
WLBT News (newscasts)
Slogan On Your Side
Channels Digital: 7 (VHF)
Subchannels 3.1 NBC
3.2 WX+
3.3 This TV
Owner Raycom Media
(WLBT License Subsidiary, LLC)
First air date December 19, 1953
(current license dates from June 14, 1971)
Call letters’ meaning We're Lamar
(former owner)
Sister station(s) WLOX, WDAM-TV
Former callsigns WJBT (1953-1954)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
3 (1953-2009)
Former affiliations Secondary:
ABC (1953-1970)
Transmitter Power 10.3 kW (digital)
Height 393 m (digital)
Facility ID 68542
Transmitter Coordinates 32°12′49.4″N 90°22′57.4″W / 32.213722°N 90.382611°W / 32.213722; -90.382611

WLBT (digital channel 7) is the NBC affiliate in Jackson, Mississippi. WLBT transmits its signal from an antenna 1,929 feet (588 m) in height, located near Raymond.



The station was founded on December 19, 1953 as WJBT by Lamar Life Insurance Company. It is Jackson's second-oldest television station, following WJTV (channel 12), which debuted in January 1953. Channel 3 is also Mississippi's third-oldest television station, (WTOK-TV in Meridian went on the air three months earlier). A few weeks after its debut, the station was renamed WLBT - which stands for Lamar Broadcasting Television - because the original call letters sounded similar to WJTV.

It has always been an NBC affiliate, though it shared ABC with WJTV until WAPT-TV (channel 16) started broadcasting in 1970. During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.[1]


Opposition to civil rights

The station attained significant notoriety for its aggressive support of racial segregation in Mississippi in the 1950s and 1960s. Lamar had close ties to the state's white political and business elite, as well as with segregationist groups, such as the White Citizens' Council. It even went as far as to coordinate opposition to civil rights with these groups.[2] It was rumored that the station even displayed segregationist literature in the lobby of its studios in downtown Jackson.

For the most part, the station ignored the Civil Rights movement, cutting out coverage of it from the NBC News feed (largely by pretending that technical problems were the cause of interruptions). It also pre-empted NBC programs that even mildly referred to racial justice or featured African American actors prominently. At the same time, it provided a platform on its local newscasts and public affairs programs for individuals advocating resistance to efforts by the federal government to enable African Americans to vote and gain access to basic amenities such as non-segregated public schools. Allegedly, the station even sold airtime to the Ku Klux Klan. In all truth, WLBT generally did not acknowledge that African Americans even existed, even though African-Americans make up 35 percent of the population in central Mississippi.

Many television stations in the South often felt chagrin at network coverage of the Civil Rights movement. For instance, WBRC-TV in Birmingham, Alabama switched its affiliation from CBS to ABC in 1961, in part because CBS News had become increasingly supportive of Civil Rights. Also, Raleigh, North Carolina's WRAL-TV during most of the 1960s ended the ABC Evening News ten minutes early in order for future U.S. Senator Jesse Helms to give commentaries opposing the movement, precluding local broadcast of the network's newsmen's commentaries in favor. However, WLBT went farther than any other Southern station to oppose civil rights. It kept its NBC affiliation even though that network has historically been very intolerant of local pre-emptions and many NBC personalities, like Bonanza's Pernell Roberts, were speaking out on behalf of civil rights. This was largely because WLBT's only competition was WJTV, a situation that lasted until 1970, when the market gained full-time ABC (WAPT-TV) and PBS (Mississippi Educational Television) affiliates, well behind the rest of the country and even the region.

Over the years, civil rights groups and the United Church of Christ (represented locally by the Woodworth Chapel at nearby Tougaloo College) sent numerous petitions to the Federal Communications Commission to complain of WLBT's flagrant bias.[3] The FCC issued several warnings to Lamar, but these went unheeded. The issue was contested in court, with the U.S. Court of Appeals forcing the FCC to revoke the station's license in 1969.[4] Lamar appealed, but lost in 1971. That June, control of the station was given to a bi-racial, non-profit foundation called Communications Improvement, Inc. The group promised to make the station a beacon of tolerance. While most WLBT employees were retained, a new group of managers, including some of the first African American television executives in the South, recreated the station as a far more neutral news source.

To this day, WLBT remains the first of only two television stations that has ever lost its license for violating FCC regulations on fairness. The other station's license, that of WJIM-TV (now WLNS-TV) in Lansing, Michigan, was re-instated on appeal. The case is widely noted in communications textbooks and is itself the primary subject of at least two books: Changing Channels: The Civil Rights Case that Transformed Television ISBN 978-1578065196 and Watching Jim Crow: The Struggles Over Mississippi TV, 1955-1969 ISBN 9780822333418.

WLBT today

Since the 1970s, WLBT's news department has been quite aggressive. It exposed the activities of the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, the arm of 1960s governor Ross Barnett to suppress civil rights activity in the state. The station's strong news coverage soon made WLBT the dominant news operation in Mississippi.

WLBT was one of the first television stations in the South to devote a significant block of airtime and dedicated personnel to the production of local investigative, documentary style news. "Probe" was a 30 minute program that aired weekly. It garnered numerous awards, including a George Foster Peabody award in 1976 for a segment called "Power Politics in Mississippi." [5]

On January 9, 1980, Communications Improvement sold WLBT to TV-3, Inc., a group of five companies who had competed for the license. In 1984, Frank Melton (who later became mayor of Jackson) formed Civic Communications and bought WLBT. Under his watch, the station continued its first place run in the ratings.

From 1982 to 1991, the station operated a low-powered satellite in Meridian, Mississippi, WLBM; that station is now a stand-alone station, WGBC.

In 2002, Melton sold the station to Liberty Corporation, who in turn merged with Raycom Media in 2006.

As its primetime ratings dropped in 2008, WLBT announced that it would begin a 4 o'clock newscast on weekdays. This will be the first of its kind in the Jackson, MS television market. [6]

Tower Tragedy

On Thursday, October 23, 1997, three Canadian men from Canada's LeBlanc & Royal were preparing to replace the guy wires of WLBT's 1,999-foot (609 m) transmission tower near Raymond when the tower collapsed, killing them all. The workers were at the 1,500-foot (460 m) level and held on to the tower as it fell.[7]

The tower's collapse knocked WLBT and the local PBS/Mississippi ETV Network affiliate WMPN off the air for several hours. WLBT was able to resume broadcasting on a 100-foot (30 m) secondary tower, which only reached about half of its normal viewing area until a new 2,000-foot (610 m) tower was completed in 1999.

The 1,999-foot (609 m) tower was actually the second WLBT transmission tower to fall at their Raymond site. WLBT's original transmission tower collapsed on March 3, 1966 when the Candlestick Park Tornado, one of only two F5 tornadoes in Mississippi's history struck the tower and transmitter building. [8] WLBT engineers salvaged what they could of the transmitter and operated on the same stand by tower as it would operate with later after the second tower collapse. When the 1,999-foot (609 m) replacement tower was completed later in 1966, the new tower was one of the tallest structures east of the Mississippi River and was in service until the second collapse in 1997.

WLBT is one of ten television stations that air consumer reports from John Matarese of ABC affiliate WCPO in Cincinatti.

Digital television

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:


WLBT-DT broadcasts on digital channel 7.

Digital channels

Channel Name Programming
3.1 WLBT-DT main WLBT-TV/NBC programming
3.2 WLBT-DT2 WLBT Weather Plus
3.3 WLBT-DT3 This TV

Post-Analog Shutdown

After the analog television shutdown on June 12, 2009 [9], WLBT-TV moved its digital broadcasts to channel 7 [10] using PSIP to display WLBT-TV's virtual channel as 3.

WLBT is in the process of moving from VHF channel 7 to UHF channel 30, because of viewers having difficulty receiving their signal on their current allotment. [11] [12] No date has been announced when the switch will occur.

News team

Current personalities


  • Roslyn Anderson - Weekends at 5 & 10PM/Reporter
  • Howard Ballou - Weeknights at 6 & 10PM
  • Stephanie Bell Flynt - Noon/Health Reporter
  • Bert Case - Weekdays at Noon & 5PM
  • Cheryl Lasseter - Weekend Mornings
  • Katina Rankin - Weekday Mornings and Midday Mississippi
  • Julie Straw - Sunday at 5 & 10:30PM/Reporter
  • Wendy Suares - Weekday Mornings/Reporter
  • Marsha Thompson - Weekdays at 6PM
  • Maggie Wade - Weekdays at 4, 4:30, 5, & 10PM


  • Barbie Bassett - Chief Seen Weeknights at 4, 4:30, 5, 6, & 10PM
  • Paul Williams - Weekday Mornings, Noon and Midday Mississippi
  • Eric Law - Weekend Mornings & Evenings, and fill-in meteorologist


  • Rob Jay - Director Weeknights 6 & 10PM
  • Scott LaPeer - Weekend Sports Anchor

Reporters & Photojournalist

  • Walt Grayson - General Assignment
  • Monica Hernandez - General Assignment
  • David Kenney - General Assignment & Crime Stoppers
  • John Matarese - Consumer Reporter (based out of WCPO in Cincinatti)
  • Jerome DeLoach - Photojournalist
  • Jim Duncan - Chief Photojournalist
  • Mike Evans - Photojournalist
  • Eric Fowler - Photojournalist

News/Station Presentation

Newscast Titles

  • WLBT News (1980s-present)

Station Slogans

  • Mississippi's #1 News Team (1990-1995)
  • Your #1 News Team (1995-2002)
  • Top Story. Total Coverage. True Commitment. (2002-2008)
  • 3 On Your Side (2008-present)
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See also


External links


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