(semi-satellite of WCSH
|Branding||WLBZ 2 (general)
|Slogan||Maine's Information Center|
|Channels||Digital: 2 (VHF)
|Subchannels||2.1 NBC HD
2.2 Local News
2.3 NBC SD
|Translators||WGCI-LP 4 Skowhegan
W57AQ 57 Calais
|Affiliations||National Broadcasting Company|
(Pacific and Southern Company, Inc.)
|First air date||September 12, 1954|
|Call letters’ meaning||taken from former
sister station WLBZ-AM
|Former callsigns||WTWO (1954-1958)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
|Former affiliations||CBS (primary, 1954-1955)
NBC Weather Plus (on DT2, 2005-2008)
|Transmitter Power||3 kW|
WLBZ is the NBC-affiliated television station for Bangor, Maine. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 2 from a transmitter on Rider Bluff in Holden. Owned by Gannett, the station has studios on Mount Hope Avenue in Bangor. On cable, it serves as the default NBC affiliate for the Presque Isle market as that area does not have an affiliate of its own. WLBZ is sister station and semi-satellite of Portland's NBC affiliate, WCSH. Although the two stations are based in different locations and serve different media markets, they essentially operate as one station. With their combined resources, this allows statewide coverage that no other station in Maine can offer. For the most part, WLBZ simulcasts WCSH during network and syndicated programming that includes Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and Judge Alex. However, this station airs its own station identifications and commercials.
The station's signal is multiplexed.
|2.1||WLBZ-DT||main WLBZ programming / NBC HD|
|2.2||WLBZ-DT2||"NewsCenter Weather Plus" (loop of news headlines and weather)|
|2.3||WLBZ-DT3||WLBZ programming / NBC SD|
In addition to its main signals, WLBZ operates a low-powered analog translator and repeater. WGCI-LP has an application to broadcast a low-powered digital signal. W57AQ has an FCC-issued construction permit to broadcast a low-powered digital signal on channel 8. WLBZ is used for transmitting WGCI-LP and is the main feed for Time Warner Cable systems in Skowhegan, Millinocket, and Lincoln.
|Call letters||Channel||City of license||Transmitter location|
|WGCI-LP||4||Skowhegan||Larone section of Fairfield|
The station began broadcasting on September 12, 1954, had the call letters WTWO (sometimes rendered as "W-TWO"), and was owned by Murray Carpenter. It aired programming from all three networks but was a primary CBS affiliate. It switched its primary affiliation to NBC in 1955. In 1958, the station was sold to the Rines family's Maine Broadcasting System (owners of WCSH-AM-TV in Portland). They also owned WLBZ-AM 620 and changed WTWO's call letters to WLBZ-TV to match its new radio sister. Early the next year, the station dropped all remaining CBS programming. WLBZ-TV continued to share ABC with WABI-TV until WEMT-TV (now WVII-TV) signed on in 1965. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the station was best known as the home of Eddie Driscoll.
He hosted many programs on the station and was known for his improvisation skills and sense of humor. Driscoll died on September 24, 2006 after suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. Also in the 1970s, the station added an outlying transmitter in Calais. That allowed cable systems in Atlantic Canada to distribute WLBZ by a microwave link from the border. This doubled or even tripled the station's coverage area and viewership. Most Canadian cable systems dropped WLBZ after 1996 once U.S. television signals became available to them by satellite, with the last one doing so in 2004. In the 1980s, WLBZ-AM was sold off and renamed WZON owned by author Stephen King. The Maine Broadcasting System sold WLBZ-TV and WCSH to Gannett in 1997. That same year, WLBZ dropped the -TV suffix from their call sign. In October 2005, WLBZ began offering NBC Weather Plus on its second digital subchannel. It was also seen on Time Warner digital cable channel 166 and on the websites of WLBZ and WCSH. Along with WLBZ meteorologist Steve McKay, the entire WCSH weather team was featured on "NewsCenter Weather Plus". In late-December of 2008 after the network shut down, WLBZ-DT2 and WCSH-DT2 shifted to a format featuring a loop of news headlines and weather forecasts. The two channels continue to simulcast each other, are known by the same name, and can still been seen on digital cable. On June 12, 2009, WLBZ terminated their analog operations on Channel 2. However, they kept their digital operations on UHF channel 25 until September 10 when they moved back to their pre-analog allotment on digital channel 2.
For many years WLBZ operated its own, separate news department and produced local newscasts from their Bangor studios. However in 1989, the station reduced its news staff and started simulcasting WCSH's local newscasts that were prepared with a statewide view. Since the start of the 21st century, only the weeknight 5 and 6 o'clock broadcasts have been locally produced from WLBZ's studios. Otherwise, statewide coverage is offered in all other newscasts. To correspond with WCSH, WLBZ also uses the NewsCenter branding. Weeknights at 5:30 and 11, WLBZ meteorologist Steve McKay provides weather cut-ins from Bangor. The weeknight 6 o'clock sports report on channel 2 features a sports anchor reporting from WCSH's studios. The statewide newscasts that originate from channel 6 tend to take on a regional feel with news coverage from Portland, Bangor, or wherever news occurs from around the state.
Even before it began simulcasting WCSH, WLBZ spent most of its history as a distant runner-up to long-dominant WABI-TV. In late-2002, the station began to co-produce with WCSH a nightly 10 o'clock newscast, called NewsCenter At 10 on Maine's WB 51, on Portland's WB affiliate WPXT. During the week, news and sports were broadcasted from WCSH's studios while weather forecasts originated from Steve McKay at WLBZ in Bangor. On weekends, the program aired entirely from Portland. As is the case with WLBZ simulcasts of WCSH news, WPXT's newscasts took on a regional feel with news coverage from Portland, Bangor, and the state of Maine. In September 2006, this broadcast became known as NewsCenter at 10 on The CW Portland after WPXT switched to The CW. On November 6, 2008, WCSH moved the 10 o'clock news to their NBC Weather Plus subchannel. As a result of this change, the WLBZ and online feed switched over to the national Weather Plus broadcast from 10 to 10:30 while WCSH-DT2 aired the newscast.
Also, local Portland news began to be covered more and Steve McKay no longer provided the weeknight weather forecast. Just like their sister station WCSH, WLBZ used Frank Gari's "Good News" music package since the theme's inception in 1986 until October 22, 2008 when the stations dropped the theme (with the exception of "Storm Center") in favor of standardized music and graphics that is also used by other Gannett stations. An outdoors and human-interest program, called Bill Green's Maine, airs Saturday nights at 7 on WLBZ (it is simulcasted on WCSH). In 2003, WCSH launched 207 (a local magazine show) that airs weeknights at 7 on that station. It airs the next morning at 4 on WLBZ and WCSH. 207 Weekend premiered on September 2, 2007 and airs on Saturdays nights at 7:30 (following Bill Green's Maine) on both stations. The "207" name comes from Maine's only telephone area code. In addition to their main studios, WLBZ shares two news bureaus with WCSH. The Lewiston / Auburn Bureau is on Main Street in Lewiston and the Midcoast Bureau is on Camden Street in Rockport. The statewide weekday morning and Noon newscasts are streamed live on the WLBZ and WCSH websites.
+ denotes news personnel based at WLBZ
Sports (all are seen on 5th Quarter)