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For the television station in Detroit known as WWJ-TV from 1947 to 1978, see WDIV-TV.
WWJ-TV
WWJTV.png
Detroit, Michigan
Branding WWJ-TV
CBS Detroit
Slogan Driven By Detroit
Channels Digital: 44 (UHF)
Virtual: 62 (PSIP)
Affiliations CBS
Owner CBS Corporation
(CBS Broadcasting, Inc.)
First air date September 29, 1975
Call letters’ meaning Named for sister AM radio station WWJ, whose call letters were FCC issued
Sister station(s) WWJ, WKBD-TV, WOMC, WVMV, WXYT, WXYT-FM, WYCD
Former callsigns WGPR-TV (1975-1995)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
62 (UHF, 1975-2009)
Former affiliations Independent (1975-1994)
Transmitter Power 200 kW
Height 323 m
Facility ID 72123
Transmitter Coordinates 42°26′52.5″N 83°10′23″W / 42.447917°N 83.17306°W / 42.447917; -83.17306
Website www.wwjtv.com

WWJ-TV, Virtual channel 62 (digital channel 44), is the CBS-owned and operated station in Detroit, Michigan. It is co-owned with Detroit's CW station, WKBD-TV (channel 50), and the two stations share a studio in Southfield, Michigan, a Detroit suburb.

The station broadcasts its signal from a transmitter located in Oak Park, Michigan. WWJ-TV serves as a CBS programming source for several Canadian cable systems. The station is one of five local Detroit television stations seen in Canada on the Shaw Direct satellite service.

Contents

History

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As WGPR-TV

Channel 62 signed on air September 29, 1975, as WGPR-TV (for "Where God's Presence Radiates"). It was owned by WGPR Incorporated, formed by the Detroit-based International Free and Accepted Modern Masons. WGPR was the first wholly African American-owned television station in the United States, and was marketed towards Detroit's urban audience. At the time, WGPR's emergence was hailed as an advance for African-American enterprise, with the "color line" having been broken by the station's establishment. Station President William V. Banks, together with Jim Panagos and George White, sales and programming managers respectively of co-owned WGPR-FM (107.5 FM), were the management team at the station's outset. Prior to WGPR-TV's sign-on, the channel 62 frequency had been dark for three years. WXON (now WMYD) began operations there in 1968 before moving to channel 20 in 1972.

WGPR station ID, 1980s.

WGPR-TV aired shows from NBC and CBS that were pre-empted by the original WWJ-TV, now known as WDIV (channel 4) and WJBK-TV (channel 2) respectively, as well as older cartoons, a number of religious shows, brokered programs, programs aimed at the black community, R&B music shows, low-rated off-network dramas, and low-rated barter syndicated shows. Channel 62's most popular and well-known show was a Middle Eastern variety show called Arab Voice of Detroit, which was broadcast late Saturday nights. Also popular was a nightly dance show titled The Scene, similar in content to the nationally syndicated Soul Train, that aired from October 13, 1975, to December 31, 1987. A similar lower-budget dance show, called Contempo was initially The Scene's replacement in 1988. It aired on Friday evenings and was hosted by several different personalities from WGPR radio, and featured local artists. But lackluster ratings caused the show's cancellation in early 1990 and eventually it was replaced by The New Dance Show which was hosted by R.J. Watkins, aired from 1988-1996 . The station was also home to the horror show host Ron "the Ghoul" Sweed during the late 1970s.

The socially laudatory aims of the station did not immediately translate into good business. During its tenure as an independent station, WGPR-TV was one of the lowest-rated television stations in Detroit, with only a niche viewership within its target audiences. The owners did not reckon with the existence of several already marginal independent outlets available to southeastern Michigan viewers. Neither of these outlets had many choices for top-tier syndicated programming, most of which went to WKBD-TV and WXON. Channel 62 faced an additional problem in the form of CBET (channel 9), the CBC-owned station in Windsor, which owned the Detroit rights to other syndicated programs.

WGPR was also hampered by an inadequate signal. It only broadcast at 800,000 watts. By comparison, WKBD broadcast at 2.3 million watts and WXON broadcast at 1.5 million watts. Its signal was so weak that it could only be seen over the air in Detroit itself and the inner northern suburbs (Southfield, East Detroit, Redford, Warren, Royal Oak, Livonia, Mount Clemens, etc.). The signal could not reach the outlying suburbs such as Clarkston, Lake Orion and Richmond. Until late 1994 when it became a CBS affiliate, it was the only Detroit station not carried in the Flint-Lansing Edition of TV Guide, which, in the Detroit market, was sold in Sanilac, Lapeer, western and northern Livingston, and northwestern Oakland Counties.

By the 1990s, WGPR's on-air look had become very primitive. It was the only local station which still used art cards instead of CGI for its sponsor announcements and newscasts. Further, a character generator manufactured in the 1970s remained in use for some graphics for many years. By the early 1990s, WGPR aired informercials for most of the day.

Purchase by CBS

WGPR's situation changed in 1994, when New World Communications made an affiliation deal with the Fox Broadcasting Company in which almost all of its stations switched their affiliations to Fox. One of those stations was Detroit's longtime CBS affiliate, WJBK-TV. CBS then approached each of Detroit's four remaining major commercial stations—WDIV, ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV (channel 7), soon-to-be former Fox outlet WKBD, and WXON—for an affiliation. WXYZ was taken out of consideration when its owner, the E.W. Scripps Company, agreed to a group affiliation deal with ABC. None of the remaining stations were interested, thus leaving CBS with only two realistic choices for a new Detroit affiliate: WGPR and another independent station, Mount Clemens-based WADL (channel 38). WADL was thought to be the frontrunner at first, but CBS broke off negotiations after WADL's owner started making unreasonable demands. CBS faced similar situations in Atlanta, Austin, Cleveland and Milwaukee. In all cases, the longtime CBS affiliates, Atlanta's WAGA-TV, Austin's KTBC-TV, Cleveland's WJW-TV and Milwaukee's WITI-TV, also switched to Fox. While CBS was able to land on higher-profile UHF stations in Atlanta, Austin and Cleveland, it was unable to do so in Detroit or Milwaukee.

With literally days to go before WJBK was due to switch to Fox, CBS, out of desperation, cut a deal to buy WGPR. However, the plans hit a snag when leaders of Detroit's African-American community spoke out against the sale. Most of the community's ire was directed toward the Masons, who were criticized for agreeing to sell to a mainstream network broadcaster. Opponents of the deal feared that an important local voice would be lost if CBS gained outright ownership of WGPR-TV over an affiliation contract. CBS and the Masons, and their local supporters, contended that they were engaged in a fair business transaction.

There was growing sentiment to block the sale of WGPR-TV to CBS in favor of selling it to a locally-based broadcaster. Spectrum Detroit Inc., an investment group led by Lansing-based real estate investor and broadcaster Joel Ferguson, made a counter offer to buy the station outright, or at the least convince CBS to enter into a joint-ownership venture. When those efforts failed, the group sued CBS in a last-ditch effort to block the sale. However, Spectrum Detroit could not stop CBS from moving its programming from WJBK to WGPR on December 11, 1994.

After a court ruled in favor of CBS, it was able to close on its purchase of channel 62. On July 24, 1995, CBS changed the station's call letters to WWJ-TV after WWJ radio (950 AM), which CBS has owned since 1989. The WWJ-TV calls had originally appeared on what is now WDIV from 1947 to 1978; the two television stations are not related. CBS officially closed on its purchase of channel 62 on September 20, 1995. Shortly after the switch from being an independent station to a CBS affiliate, CBS started an advertising campaign with actor Bill Cosby (among others) promoting the station, in an effort to attract viewers to this previously little-heard-of UHF station. This advertising campaign ended around 1998, with mixed results.

WWJ-TV today

CBS initially made a large investment into channel 62. It moved the station into a state-of-the-art studio at Stroh River Place in downtown Detroit soon after taking control. It also brought back some limited original programming, having dropped all local programming soon after the purchase. In 1999, WWJ-TV activated a new tower and transmitter in Oak Park, boosting its effective radiated power to five million watts, the strongest signal in Detroit. Until the power boost, many viewers in Detroit's outer-ring suburbs watched CBS by way of three VHF stations from surrounding areas -- WTOL (channel 11) in Toledo, WLNS-TV (channel 6) in Lansing or WNEM-TV (channel 5) in Bay City. WNEM-TV had long been an NBC affiliate, but CBS had persuaded it to switch networks in 1995 in order to ensure viewers in the far northern portion of the Detroit market continued to get a city-grade signal.

Viacom, which owned then-UPN affiliate WKBD, purchased CBS in September 1999, shortly after WWJ-TV activated its new tower. WWJ-TV and WKBD merged their operations, and WWJ-TV moved into WKBD's studios in Southfield. WKBD is the senior partner in this duopoly since it was longer-established. The CBS affiliate is the senior partner in the other CBS/CW duopolies. Since then, despite its powerful signal, WWJ-TV has largely become a "pass-through" for computerized programming from CBS.

Sports

As a CBS affiliate, WWJ-TV broadcasts CBS Sports telecasts, including CBS's coverage of NFL football. Although most regular season Detroit Lions games air on Fox because they are in the NFC, as of the 2008 season WWJ-TV would become the new flagship station of the Detroit Lions Television Network in place of sister station WKBD-TV.[1] The station also airs the weekly program The Ford Lions Report, produced by the Detroit Lions during the regular season, and also airs pre-season games for the team. WWJ-TV also simulcasts all Lions games permissible that are broadcast on the NFL Network or ESPN per NFL television rules. (By NFL rule, all cable games are broadcast by a local television station in the team's primary market.)

WWJ-TV, as per CBS's contract, broadcasts Detroit Lions regular season games when they are hosting an AFC opponent, including the traditional Thanksgiving Classic game on even-numbered years.

Digital television

WWJ-TV ceased analog broadcasting on channel 62 on June 12, 2009.[2]

WWJ-DT continued on current pre-transition channel number, 44.[3] However, through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers will display WWJ-DT's virtual channel as 62.

Newscasts

As WGPR-TV, the station produced a low budget newscast titled Big City News, which served as a launching pad for several news personalities such as Amyre Makupson (née Porter), who later became the lead anchor and Public Affairs Director at WKBD; and Sharon Crews, who later became a multi-award-winning broadcast journalist. The WGPR-TV news operation was shut down in the late 1980s.

In the fall of 1996, WWJ-TV presented a news special on the annual "Devil's Night" fires in Detroit. It served as the pilot for what would become "InDepth Detroit", a news magazine that aired on Sunday evenings from early 1997, through March 2001.

In April 2001, WWJ-TV launched 62 CBS News at 11, the only regular news program on the station. The stripped-down newscast was produced by WKBD, which had long produced its own newscast at 10 PM. Initial efforts tried to brand channel 50's newscast (known as UPN Nightside) as a younger, hipper program and channel 62's as a more straightforward, traditional major-network-owned newscast. However, WKBD and WWJ-TV relied on the same pool of reporters and anchors, and even broadcast from the same studio. Similarly, resources such as ENG trucks, cameras, writers and editors were used on both broadcasts, although each broadcast generally had its own producer. Not surprisingly, the two newscasts came to mirror each other closely on most nights; a 2002 article from the Detroit News called the similar newscasts "attack of the clones".

Despite the link to WKBD's long-successful news department, WWJ-TV never came even close to competing with WDIV, WJBK, and WXYZ. The newscast was dropped in December 2002 after WKBD agreed to shut down its own news department and allow WXYZ to produce its newscasts. This move made WWJ-TV the only CBS-owned station not to produce local news. (In sharp contrast, WWJ radio is the only All-News radio station in the Detroit area.) It is also the largest major-network affiliate (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) without a news department. Although WWJ-TV does not produce local news of its own, it still airs national news programming from CBS News.

Instead of local news programming, WWJ-TV currently airs Family Feud at Noon, Judge Joe Brown (two episodes) and The Insider from 5:00 until 6:30 p.m., and Two and a Half Men at 11:00 p.m. Recently, WWJ-TV promoted this programming under the tagline Where No News is Good News with promos resembling newscast promotions, making fun of the fact that they do not air news at all during these time periods. However, on January 7, 2008, the station began airing weather updates during The Early Show and the "WWJ-TV First Forecast", a short weather report at 11:00 p.m. before Two and a Half Men.[4] The station debuted a morning show on May 5, 2009, called First Forecast Mornings; while the program primarily focuses on weather and traffic reports, news headlines are also included via a partnership with the Detroit Free Press, effectively marking WWJ-TV's return to airing a local newscast.[5] WWJ-TV is the largest of a group of major-network stations that do not air regular local newscasts. This group also includes ABC affiliate KDNL-TV in St. Louis, Fox affiliate WUTV in Buffalo, New York, NBC affiliate WTWC-TV in Tallahassee, Florida, and CBS affiliate WEVV in Evansville, Indiana, among others.

Coverage area

WWJ-TV adequately covers most of Metro Detroit, including Ann Arbor, Michigan, as well as Windsor, Leamington, Chatham-Kent, Ontario, and the Port Huron-Sarnia areas as well. During good television reception conditions, it can be picked up as far away as the Flint area. The station is carried on most cable outlets in Southeast Michigan and Southwestern Ontario and via satellite on Shaw Direct, Dish Network and DirecTV (most of whom carry it in HDTV). The Shaw Broadcast Services CANCOM satellite feeds are in turn used to feed cable television systems in communities such as Ottawa, Ontario which lack a local CBS affiliate.

CBS Mandate and station branding

From 1995 to 2001, the station was branded as Detroit's 62 CBS. In 2002 it was rebranded as CBS Detroit in part due to the perceived embarrassing nature—especially considering the size of the Detroit market—of being a CBS-owned station operating on one of the highest channel numbers on the television dial (and the highest of any Big Four network O&O) during the analog era. As a CBS owned-and-operated station, WWJ-TV would theoretically be branded under the CBS Mandate as CBS 62 or a more tolerable CBS 15, referring to its locations on cable in Detroit and Windsor.

On January 7, 2008, the station dropped the CBS Detroit name in favor of simply using its call letters on-air, part of a campaign to brand itself as a "hometown" station.[4] WBZ-TV in Boston, WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, and WJZ-TV in Baltimore are other CBS-owned stations with similar branding. The CBS Detroit branding has since been reinstated on a secondary basis.

The use of a three-letter callsign on a UHF TV station is rare as these date from the earliest days of AM radio broadcasting; WHP-TV in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and WHA-TV in Madison, Wisconsin, are the two others to identify in this manner, although in those examples both of those stations were in areas that were "UHF island" cities where a VHF allocation was unavailable, and both have identified by those calls since their first sign-on in the 1950s.

News/Station Presentation

Newscast Titles

Station Slogans

  • Detroit's 62 CBS, Big Time TV (1995-2002)
  • Straight to the Point (2001-2002)
  • Everybody’s Watching (2005; also CBS network slogan)
  • We Are CBS Detroit (2005-2007; localized version of former CBS slogan)
  • Where No News is Good News (2006-2008)
  • Driven By Detroit (2008-present)
Television.svg This film, television or video-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it with reliably sourced additions.

Recommended reading

  • TV Land Detroit by Gordon Castelnero (University of Michigan Press, 2006): This book on the history of locally produced Detroit television programs of the 1950s through 1980s includes a chapter on WGPR-TV's popular local dance show, The Scene.

References

External links



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