|WBMA: Birmingham, Alabama WCFT: Birmingham/Tuscaloosa/Mount Cheaha, Alabama WJSU: Anniston/Oxford/Gadsden, Alabama|
|Branding||Alabama's ABC 33/40 (general)
ABC 33/40 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Alabama's News Leader|
|Channels||Analog: WBMA-LP: 58 (UHF) Digital: (See table below)|
|Owner||Allbritton Communications Company
(TV Alabama, Inc.)
|First air date||September 1, 1996|
|Call letters' meaning||See table below|
|Former callsigns||WBMA: W58CK (1996-1997) WJSU: WHMA-TV (1969-1984)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
WCFT: 33 (1965-2009) WJSU: 40 (1969-2009) Digital: WCFT: 5
|Former affiliations||WCFT:Independent (1965-1970)CBS (1970-1996)WJSU:|
|Transmitter power||See table below|
|Height||See table below|
|Facility ID||See table below|
|Transmitter coordinates||See table below|
The station's brand name, "ABC 33/40", comes from its two full-power remote transmitters:WCFT-TV (channel 33) in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa & Mount Cheaha and WJSU-TV (channel 40) in Anniston, Oxford & Gadsden. Although this makes it appear that WCFT is the main station, low-powered WBMA is officially Birmingham's ABC affiliate. WBMA's signal does not extend outside of the immediate Birmingham area. Many Birmingham viewers and cable providers obtain the signal from the higher-power WCFT/WJSU stations. Their combined power carries the ABC 33/40 signal to all of central Alabama from the Alabama-Georgia state line westward to Columbus, Mississippi.
The station is owned by Allbritton Communications through its subsidiary, TV Alabama, Inc. WJSU was formerly owned by Flagship Broadcasting and operated by Allbritton under a local marketing agreement until Allbritton bought it outright in 2008. WCFT/WJSU operates bureaus in Tuscaloosa and Anniston at the locations of the former independent stations.
WCFT started operating as western Alabama's first-ever television station in October 1965, broadcasting on UHF channel 33. The original licensee, Chapman Family Television, was a consortium of eight Tuscaloosa businessmen who saw the benefits of a television station, in both business and community service. WCFT began as an independent station, but because it did not return a profit suitable to the original owners, they sold the station to Hattiesburg, Mississippi-based Service Broadcasters in 1967.
The new owners rejuvenated the station by pumping money into it, purchasing new equipment, and improving the station's image. Like WBMG-TV in Birmingham, WCFT picked up in its first few years CBS and NBC programming not cleared by WAPI-TV (channel 13, now WVTM-TV). In 1970, WCFT became an official CBS affiliate, as did WBMG (and WHMA below, for eastern Alabama). Even though Tuscaloosa is less than an hour west of Birmingham, CBS opted to retain affiliation with WCFT because channel 42's signal was painfully weak at the time. As such, many cable systems in the western part of the market opted to carry WCFT instead. WCFT regularly trounced WBMG in that portion of the market.
In 1977, Arbitron made Tuscaloosa its own television market, ranking below number 170. Service Broadcasters sold WCFT to Allbritton in 1995. Its transmitter is located near Windham Springs, Alabama, in rural Tuscaloosa County.
On October 26, 1969, WHMA-TV began broadcasting on channel 40 as a primary CBS affiliate with a secondary NBC affiliation. The station was operated by the Anniston Broadcasting Company, which was owned by members of the family of Harry M. Ayers (the station's namesake). The Ayers family also owned the Anniston Star newspaper and WHMA radio (1390 AM and 100.5 FM, now WNNX-FM inAtlanta). The station's inaugural general manager, Harry Mabry, came to Anniston from Birmingham, where he had been news director ofWBRC in Birmingham for several years. Mabry already was familiar with Anniston, though, having been an announcer on WHMA-AM over fifteen years earlier.
WHMA-TV ultimately served approximately 100,000 households in east central Alabama, and management fought almost constantly to maintain its own Arbitron market between Birmingham and Atlanta. This was a maneuver critical to the station's survival. Despite being the only station located within the Anniston/East Alabama market (other than Alabama Public Television translator WCIQ), WHMA faced immense competition from the "spill-in" (grade B signal) coverage from larger stations in the nearby larger markets. Its ratings victories garnered it access to numerous national advertisers, a rarity for small-market stations of that time. In 1970, WHMA, along with WBMG and WCFT (above), dropped NBC programming in favor of full-time CBS coverage after WAPI became the sole NBC affiliate for all of central Alabama that year. As was the case with WCFT, CBS opted to retain affiliation with WHMA because of WBMG's weak signal at the time. In fact, channel 42 was all but unviewable in much of east central Alabama, which is in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains; UHF stations don't get good reception in rugged terrain. Many cable systems in the eastern part of the Birmingham market opted to carry channel 40 as the local CBS affiliate.
In 1984, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) forced the Ayers family to break up its media empire. Later, in a mid-1980s deal that concerned tax avoidance more than profit, the Ayers sold the station to Jacksonville State University, who changed the call letters to WJSU-TV. The station was ultimately sold in the 1990s to Flagship Broadcasting.
WBMA/WCFT/WJSU as an ABC affiliate
In 1995, Birmingham's longtime ABC affiliate, WBRC, was sold to Fox. However, WBRC's contract with ABC did not expire until September 1996, giving ABC a year to find a new affiliate in Birmingham. ABC reached a unique deal with Allbritton. Both WCFT and WJSU would become ABC affiliates; however there was a snag. Under Nielsen rules, neither station would likely appear in the Birmingham ratings books because they were both considered to be out of market stations. Allbritton's solution was to purchase W58CK, a low-powered station in Birmingham that began operations on November 18, 1994. W58CK would serve as the primary station for ratings purposes. While the channel 58 purchase was not a condition of the deal between ABC and Allbritton, it did pave the way for Anniston and Tuscaloosa to be merged back into the Birmingham market. WJSU and WCFT would end separate operations and combine to act as full-powered satellites of W58CK. Both stations also ceded exclusive CBS rights in all of central Alabama to WBMG, which had recently boosted its signal to full power. Under this arrangement, Allbritton assumed control of WJSU's operations under a local marketing agreement. This lasted until Allbritton bought WJSU outright in 2008.
The new station debuted on September 1, 1996 from studios in the Riverchase office complex in Hoover. Its first slogan was "We're Building Our Station Around You," which was also used on WKYC-TV in Cleveland for some years. Unlike most advertising catchwords, the phrase was quite accurate because the station's programming consultants surveyed numerous numbers of people across central Alabama to literally built a new station from the ground up.
W58CK officially changed its call letters to WBMA-LP on September 23, 1997; it had been unofficially using the WBMA calls since it began operations. For a time in the mid-1990s, WCFT served as the default ABC affiliate for the Columbus/Tupelo market.
|Station||City of license||Channels||VC1||First air date||[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call_sign Call letters’
|Facility ID||Transmitter Coordinates|
|WBMA-LP2||Birmingham||58 (UHF)40 (UHF)||September 6, 1996||AlaBaMA||1.13 kW15 kW||255 m
|40||October 26, 1969||JacksonvilleStateUniversity||
- 1: Virtual channel (PSIP).
- 2. WBMA-LP used the callsign W58CK until 1997.
- 3. WCFT-TV was an independent station from 1965 to 1970, and a CBS affiliate from 1970 to 1996.
- 4. The Broadcasting and Cable Yearbook says WCFT-TV signed on October 27, while the Television and Cable Factbook says it signed on October 29.
- 5. WJSU-TV used the callsign WHMA-TV from its 1969 inception until 1984. It was a CBS affiliate from 1969 to 1996, with a secondary NBC affiliation from 1969 to 1970.
The digital signals of WCFT-TV and WJSU-TV are multiplexed.
|33.1/40.1/58.1||33.1/9.1/40.1||720p||16:9||Main WCFT/WJSU/WBMA programming ABC HD|
WCFT and WJSU shut down all analog transmissions June 12, 2009 for the digital television transition. WCFT moved its digital broadcasts back to its previous analog channel number 33, while WJSU remained on its pre-transition channel 9. However, through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display WJSU's virtual channel as 40. Even though WBMA-LP is not obligated to shut off its analog signal, as the law currently exempts low-powered stations from the switchover, the FCC has encourage low-power stations to vacate from their out-of-core allotments (channels 52 to 69). On December 3, 2010, the FCC granted WBMA a construction permit to flash-cut their analog signal on channel 58 to digital channel 40 (formerly occupied by the analog signal of WJSU). WBMA-LP had a permit to operate on channel 11, but due to possible interference with WTVM & WTOK-TV, the station decided to move to channel 40.
In September 2006, WBMA/WCFT/WJSU moved the popular soap opera All My Children from 10 a.m., to 12 Noon. WBRC had aired All My Children on one-day tape delay since its days as an ABC affiliate, and this practice continued when WBMA/WCFT/WJSU picked up the affiliation. This is the first time since the ABC daytime drama began in 1970, that it has aired in pattern in the Birmingham market.
In 1997, WBMA/WCFT/WJSU refused to air the famous "The Puppy Episode" of Ellen DeGeneres' sitcom, Ellen. The station cited a need to respect the family values of the largely conservative evangelical community in the region as the basis of its decision. Some gay rights andcivil libertarian activists decried the decision as a blatant example of censorship; indeed, in response, ABC sent a special satellite feed of the show to a community center in Birmingham and about 1,000 people, mainly local gays, lesbians, and their supporters, watched as DeGeneres came out of the closet. Some cable providers also ran the feed from other out-of-state ABC affiliates including WSB-TV (channel 2) in Atlanta. However, when the same episode ran as a rerun on the network that same season, WBMA/WCFT/WJSU aired the program.
Currently, WBMA/WCFT/WJSU produces a total of 22 hours of local newscasts each week (with four hours on weekdays and one hour each on Saturdays and Sundays).
WBMA/WCFT/WJSU operates a number of Sky Cams throughout the state which send a live shot and weather information from that site. The stations are assisted in this venture by regional banking giant BBVA Compass. There are skycams in Downtown Birmingham, Inverness,Gadsden, Demopolis, Hamilton, Jasper, Mount Cheaha, Tuscaloosa, Cullman, Clanton and Gulf Shores. The Tuscaloosa TowerLink camera, located on the old Channel 33 broadcast tower, caught footage of an F4 tornado that hit Tuscaloosa in December 2000. Another SkyCam in Tuscaloosa (atop the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse) captured live an estimated mile-wide tornado that struck Tuscaloosa on April 27, 2011. The Cullman camera also caught footage of a multiple-vortex tornado during the latter outbreak. TowerLink cameras are also located on WBMA-LP's tower in Birmingham and WJSU's tower in Anniston.
WBMA/WCFT/WJSU offers Spanish-language webcasts online. The brief news updates are anchored on a rotating basis by Vivian Mora and Hernan Prado, two Hispanic business owners in the Birmingham community.
WBMA/WCFT/WJSU is the only remaining television station in the Birmingham-Tuscaloosa-Anniston market that does not currently broadcast their local newscasts in high-definition. NBC affiliate WVTM, Fox affiliate WBRC and CBS affiliate WIAT all produce and broadcast their local newscasts in HD.
Nielsen ratings errors
Between 26 May 2008 and 23 March 2009, Nielsen Media Research shortchanged the WBMA-WCFT-WJSU system. For ratings purposes, the entire system is rated as WBMA+, but tuning to digital WBMA-WCFT-WJSU or anything that carried it (cable or satellite) was ignored, reducing the recorded ratings tremendously; ratings in Nielsen books were less than half of what station management expected. It later came out that Nielsen had undercounted and overcounted at various times between February 2008 and November 2009, including a time in January 2010 that primetime ratings had been shortchanged (including occasional zero shares). The confusion stemmed from the station's unique physical setup.
- TV-33 News (1970s; WCFT)
- Eyewitness News (1970s-1980s; WCFT)
- (33) Eyewitness News (1980s-1996; WCFT)
- TV-40 News (1980s-1996; WJSU)
- The (time) News on Alabama's ABC 33/40 (general) / The Night Team on Alabama's ABC 33/40 (10 p.m. newscast; 1996–2001)
- ABC 33/40 News (2001–present)
- Alabama's All Electronic News Station (late 1970s)
- Northeast Alabama's Local TV News Source (early 1980s-1996; WJSU slogan)
- You and 33, We've Got The Touch (1984-1985; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- West Alabama's News Leader (late 1980s-1996; WCFT slogan)
- Nobody Does It Like Alabama's ABC 33/40 (1996-1997; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- We're Building Our Station Around You (1996–1998)
- TV is Good, on Alabama's ABC 33/40 (1997-1998; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- We Love TV, on Alabama's ABC 33/40 (1998-1999; localized version of ABC ad campaign)
- Where News Comes First (1998–2000)
- We're Always Building Our Station Around You (2000–2002)
- Alabama's News Leader (2002–present)
- Alabama's ABC 33/40, Start Here (2008-present; localized version of Current ABC ad programming ad campaign)
Current on-air staff
- Nicole Allshouse - "Talk of Alabama" co-host
- Dave Baird - weeknights at 6 and 10 p.m.
- Pam Huff - weekday mornings (5-7 a.m.) and weeknights at 5 p.m.
- Brenda Ladun - weeknights at 6 and 10 p.m.
- Linda Mays - weekdays at 11 a.m. and weeknights at 5 p.m.
- Yenu Wodajo - weekday mornings (4:30-5 a.m.); also weekday morning 5-7 a.m. reporter
Storm Alert Weather
- James Spann (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - chief meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
- Ashley Brand (AMS and NWA Seals of Approval) - meteorologist; Saturdays at 6, Sundays at 5 and weekends at 10 p.m.
- Jason Simpson - meteorologist; weekday mornings (4:30-7 a.m.) and 11 a.m.
- Mike Raita - sports director; weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m., also host of "The Zone"
- Jeff Speegle - sports anchor; Saturdays at 6, Sundays at 5 and weekends at 10 p.m., also sports reporter
- Kevin Scarbinsky - co-host of "The Zone"; also Birmingham News sports columnist
- Doug Segrest - co-host of "The Zone"; also Birmingham News sports columnist
- Chris Harris - sports reporter; also fill-in sports anchor and sports producer
- Honora Gathings - general assignment reporter
- Ebony Hall - general assignment reporter; also fill-in anchor
- Isaiah Harper - general assignment reporter
- Ana Jasen - general assignment reporter
- Jeremy King - general assignment reporter; also fill-in anchor
- Thomas Lower - technology reporter
- Bryant Somerville - general assignment reporter
- Kevyn Stewart - general assignment reporter
Former on-air staff
- Brian Armentrout - reporter (left for a career in medical public relations)
- Joy Benedict - reporter (later at WKYC-TV and WEWS-TV in Cleveland)
- Anastasiya Bolton - reporter (now at KUSA-TV in Denver)
- Jeremy Campbell - reporter (now at WTVT in Tampa)
- Valorie Carter (Lawson) - anchor/reporter (now at WSFA-TV in Montgomery, Alabama)
- Philip Coleman - weekend anchor (now at WVUA-CA)
- Kyle Craig - sports reporter/producer
- Tiffany Craig - reporter (now at WKRG-TV in Mobile)
- Bill Donaldson - anchor/reporter
- Shelia Downey - anchor
- Mickey Ferguson - news producer (now weekdays meteorologist for Good Day Alabama on WBRC)
- Bill Fox - news anchor (deceased)
- Rebecca Fox - reporter
- Katie Garrety - reporter (left to pursue a career as an attorney)
- Jason Gaston - reporter (now a spokesman for Hoover City Schools in Hoover, Alabama)
- Catherine Gee - evening anchor
- Jill Hagler - meteorologist
- Tracy Haynes - weekday mornings and "Talk of Alabama" co-host also fill-in anchor
- Tina Hartman - morning anchor
- Dixon Hayes - reporter (now a videojournalist at WBRC-TV in Birmingham)
- Roy Hobbs - general assignment reporter (also weekend anchor)
- Dwann Holmes (Olsen) - reporter (later at WTVF-TV in Nashville, Tennessee; now a marketing consultant in Florida)
- Laura Howe - reporter (now at American Red Cross, Washington, D.C. Chapter)
- Fred Hunter - meteorologist (now at WBRC)
- Kelly Hunter - sports reporter (later in local radio, now appears in local commercials)
- Casey Jones - anchor/reporter (now at WJCL-TV in Savannah, Georgia)
- Ted Klimasewski ("Dr. Ted K") - meteorologist (currently fill-in meteorlogist at WJXS-CA)
- Melissa Lee - sports reporter (now a sports reporter with ESPNU and Comcast Sports)
- Kurt Lynch - sports anchor (deceased)
- Mike Maher - reporter
- Jon Mangum - reporter (deceased)
- Rob Martin - sports anchor
- Diana Michaels - weekend anchor
- Sara Morgan - anchor
- Charlie Niece - weekend meteorologist
- Mike Neighbors - weekend sports anchor and reporter
- Frank O'Neil - sports anchor
- Brett Oates - reporter (now local sports talk radio co-host at WATV-AM)
- Chris Osborne - reporter (now at American Red Cross, Birmingham Chapter)
- John Oldshue - meteorologist (left to operate a small business)
- Kimberly Osias - reporter (later at CNN and WPEC)
- Dyan Patterson (Zedeker) - anchor/reporter (now in media relations at Cape Coral Police Department in Florida)
- Brian Peters - fill-in meteorologist (continues work for The Weather Company, owned by James Spann)
- Ike Pigott - reporter (now at Alabama Power)
- Maggie Poteau - anchor
- Mark Prater - meteorologist (now Chief Meteorologist at WIAT)
- Mark Raines  - reporter/west Alabama anchor (now nationally award-winning television/film teacher)
- Melissa Riopka - general assignment reporter (now at WAAY-TV in Huntsville, Ala., as 6pm and 10pm co-anchor)
- Rachel Rose - reporter (now in public relations in Atlanta, GA)
- Krista Saari - sports reporter
- Tamala Savage - producer/morning update anchor (now hosting a local radio show)
- Mike Schoor - sports reporter (left for a career in financial planning)
- Mickey Shadix - sports anchor
- Keisa Sharpe - anchor (now at Alabama Power)
- Chris Shumway - weekend meteorologist
- Christopher Sign - reporter (now at KNXV-TV in Phoenix)
- Chuck Strickland - sports anchor
- Mike Straw - sports anchor
- Bob Symon - meteorologist (later at WLKY-TV in Louisville, Kentucky)
- Chris Tatum - reporter (later at WSMV-TV in Nashville)
- Keith Taylor - Sports Producer/Reporter/Anchor
- Tiffani Taylor (Lupenski) - reporter (later at KUSA-TV in Denver as a producer/Executive Producer, now Executive Producer at KCPQ-TVin Seattle)
- Josh Thomas - anchor (now at WFLA-TV in Tampa; was seen in the 2004 film The Punisher as a news anchor for WFLA)
- Lee Tracey - sports anchor
- Kip Tyner - meteorologist
- Deborah Vance - reporter (former Chief of Staff for former Birmingham mayor Larry Langford)
- Tammy Watford - anchor/reporter (now at WMYA-TV in Anderson/Greensville/Spartanburg, South Carolina-Ashville, North Carolina)
- Glenda Webb - anchor/reporter
- Jennifer Webster - reporter (left for a career in pharmaceutical sales)
- ^ Nelson, Bob (2008-10-18). "Call Letter Origins". The Broadcast Archive. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
- ^ https://licensing.fcc.gov/cdbs/CDBS_Attachment/getattachment.jsp?appn=101347336&qnum=5370©num=1&exhcnum=2
- ^ http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-06-1082A2.pdf
- ^ a b CDBS Print
- ^ http://licensing.fcc.gov/prod/cdbs/pubacc/Auth_Files/1392835.pdf
- ^ https://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=101325729&formid=346&fac_num=60214
- ^ https://licensing.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=101392835&formid=346&fac_num=60214
- ^ 
- ^ Tuscaloosa Tornado Live Coverage, AlabamaWX.com, April 28, 2011.
- ^ http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/278372-Nielsen_Shortchanges_WBMA_Birmingham.php
- ^ http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/450828-Birmingham_s_Nielsen_Woes_Continue.php?rssid=20065
- ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-bhXWzpX6U
- ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hf0lJql-_c
- ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4QyCPj29Cw
- ^ "ABC 33/40 News - Talent Bios". WBMA-LP. Retrieved 23 September 2010.