WIS, is the NBC-affiliated television station located in Columbia, South Carolina. Owned by Raycom Media, WIS has studios on Bull Street in downtown Columbia. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 10 from a transmitter located in Lugoff, South Carolina.Syndicated programming on the station includes: Dr. Phil, Entertainment Tonight, Inside Edition and Oprah.
|Columbia, South Carolina|
|Branding||WIS News 10|
|Slogan||Coverage You Can Count On|
|Channels||Digital: 10 (VHF)|
10.2 This TV 10.3 WIS 10 Weather Plus
(WIS License Subsidiary, LLC)
|Founded||November 7, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||Wonderful
Iodine State (derived from former sister station WIS radio)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
10 (1953–2009) Digital: 41 (2003–2009)
|Former affiliations||Secondary: ABC (1953–1961)|
|Transmitter power||57 kW (digital)|
|Height||481 m (digital)|
|Transmitter coordinates||34°7′29″N 80°45′23″W|
WIS-TV started broadcasting on November 7, 1953. The station was originally owned by the Broadcasting Company of the South, a subsidiary of the Liberty Life Insurance Company, and was a sister station to WIS radio (560 AM, now WVOC). It was South Carolina's fourth television station and Columbia's third, signing on just four months after WCOS-TV, channel 25 (which left the air in 1956) and two months after WNOK-TV, channel 67 (which moved to channel 19 in 1961 and became WLTX in 1977). WIS is the third-longest continuously operating station in the state, behind WCSC-TV in Charleston and WNOK/WLTX.
WIS radio received the last new three-letter call sign in the U.S. on January 23, 1930, and the call sign was later shared with its television sibling. WIS was chosen to stand for "Wonderful Iodine State" because of the abundance of iodine in the South Carolina soil. It has always been an NBC affiliate, owing to its radio sister's long affiliation with NBC Radio. However, until 1961, when channel 25 returned to the air as WCCA-TV (now WOLO-TV), WIS and WNOK were both secondary ABC affiliates.
WIS-TV was a major beneficiary of an exception to the Federal Communications Commission's "2½ + 1" plan for allocating VHF television bandwidth. In the early days of broadcast television, there were twelve VHF channels available, and 69 UHF channels (later reduced). The VHF bands were more desirable because they carried a longer distance. Because there were only twelve VHF channels available, there were limitations as to how closely the stations could be spaced. After the FCC opened the UHF band in 1952, it devised a plan for allocating VHF licenses. Under this plan, almost all of the country would be able to receive two commercial VHF channels plus one noncommercial channel. Most of the rest of the country ("1/2") would be able to receive a third VHF channel. Other areas of the country would be designated as "UHF islands," since they were too close to larger cities for VHF service. The "2" networks became CBS and NBC, "+1" became PBS, and "1/2" became ABC, which, as the weakest network, usually wound up with the UHF allocation where no VHF was available.
However, Columbia was sandwiched between Charlotte to the north, Florence and Charleston to the east, Augusta to the west and Savannah, Georgia to the south. This created a huge "doughnut" in central South Carolina where there could be only one VHF license. WIS-TV was fortunate to gain that license, providing many people in that part of South Carolina with their first clear television reception. One of the country's most dominant television stations, it has been the far-and-away market leader for most of its history.
Channel 10 originally broadcast from a self-supporting tower atop its studios on Bull Street. In 1959, WIS-TV activated its tall tower in Lugoff. The tallest structure east of the Mississippi River at the time, it more than doubled the station's coverage area and provided at least secondary coverage of all but five of the state's 46 counties. It would remain the tallest structure in South Carolina until Florence's WPDE-TV activated its tower in 1981. The station's original tower is still used as a backup; it is a longtime fixture of Columbia's skyline and is turned into a "Christmas tree of lights" during the holiday season.
For many years, WIS was one of two NBC affiliates that served the Florence/Myrtle Beach market, since that market was one of the few areas on the East Coast without its own NBC affiliate. It was the NBC affiliate of record for the Pee Dee (Florence) side of the market while Wilmington's WECT was the affiliate of record for Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand. However, most cable systems on the Myrtle Beach side of the market began carrying both stations in the mid-1980s. After the SyndEx rules came into force in the early 1990s, WIS set up a "virtual station" for the Florence/Myrtle Beach market that aired separate syndicated programming for the area. It also began selling advertising specific to the market as well, mostly on the Pee Dee side. This ended when the market got its own NBC affiliate, WMBF-TV, also owned by Raycom.
In 1963, the station's long running children's program, "Mr. Knozit," made its debut, hosted by weatherman Joe Pinner, who had joined the station a few months before. Four years later, the show would receive the Peabody Award for excellence in public service by way of children's programming. The show ran for 37 years, airing its final episode in 2000. Pinner, the station's best-known on-air staff member, remains at the station today; now semi-retired, he provides weather reports and feature segments on Friday's midday newscast.
The Broadcasting Company of the South acquired several other television stations over the years. It was renamed Cosmos Broadcasting Corporation in 1965, with WIS radio and television as the flagship stations. Later in the decade, Liberty Life reorganized itself as The Liberty Corporation, with Liberty Life and Cosmos as subsidiaries. Cosmos sold WIS radio in 1986, but kept the WIS calls for channel 10. Liberty sold off its insurance businesses in 2000, bringing channel 10 directly under the Liberty Corporation banner.
In 1970, WIS-TV premiered Awareness, a weekly public affairs program aimed towards the issues that concern the minority population of the Midlands, both socially and politically. The program is currently hosted by reporter Brandi Cummings.
In 1991, after being known on-air as "WIS-TV 10" for most of its history, the station began branding itself as simply "WIS" (though it was another year before it officially dropped the -TVsuffix from its callsign). This is because it is located on channel 3, rather than 10, on most cable systems in the Midlands, and station management felt it would be a better way to brand the station. This lasted until 2003.
WIS-DT went on the air in February 2003 as the last of the "Big Three" commercial stations to go digital in the Columbia market. WLTX-DT was first, going on less than a year earlier in May 2002, and WOLO-DT went on later on in 2002.
On August 25, 2005, Liberty agreed to merge with Raycom Media of Montgomery, Alabama. One of Raycom's stations at the time was Columbia's Fox affiliate, WACH (channel 57). WIS had produced WACH's 10:00 p.m. newscast since its launch in 1996. Raycom could not keep both stations due to FCC rules which forbid common ownership of two of the four largest stations in the market. Raycom opted to keep WIS and sold WACH to Barrington Broadcasting. The news agreement between the two stations ended in March 2007; WACH now produces its own newscast independent of WIS.
In 2006, WIS built a new studio set in preparation to air its newscasts in High Definition, debuting the new set in January 2007.
WIS has won numerous awards for station quality and its news productions, including the Southeast Emmy Award for Best Newscast, the Edward R. Murrow award, and the South Carolina Broadcaster Association's "Best Station of the Year" designation several times. In August 2007, Craig Melvin was named "Anchor of the Year" by SCBA. The station is popular among Columbia viewers, as its on-air staff are named in the Best of the Media awards by the Columbia Free Times, and the station has been voted the "Best" by readers of "The State" newspaper several times.
Over the years, WIS has pre-empted NBC network programming (notably Search for Tomorrow during its NBC years from 1982 to 1986). Usually WIS operates 24/7 and sign-off once a year on Christmas Eve/Day morning.
WIS is also the Columbia home of the Sunday morning football highlights shows for the South Carolina State University Bulldogs and the University of South Carolina Gamecocks. WIS is also the home of Southeastern Conference football and basketball (which, in some cases, makes the station the home of the South Carolina Gamecocks). WIS retains the rights to broadcast these events locally via ESPN Plus, after Raycom Sports has lost the right to broadcast them.
On November 4, 2010, WIS became the second television station in Columbia to air its newscast in High Definition. This included a set upgrade from 2007, along with HD versions of its graphics. The station featured a new "First Alert Weather" moniker for its new weather center.
Cable and satellite carriage outside the Columbia market
To the southwest, WIS-TV is carried as far as Aiken. Until late 2009/early 2010, it used to be carried in the city of Augusta, Georgia. To the northeast, it is carried as far as Wadesboro, North Carolina. Despite the WIS carriage in Wadesboro, the Charlotte NBC affiliate, WCNC-TV has a translator (W24AY) in nearby Lilesville that covers the Wadesboro area. WIS analog signal tended to be more reliable along the U.S. Highway 74 corridor between Wadesboro and Rockingham than the Lilesville translator. Until August 8, 2008, WIS-TV was carried on cable in Rowland, North Carolina and Laurinburg, North Carolina (via Digital Cable) until WMBF-TV signed on the air. WMBF is the new Florence-Myrtle Beach-Lumberton NBC affiliate.DirecTV customers in Scotland and Robeson counties in North Carolina received WIS as the default NBC station instead of nearby WECT-TV, the NBC affiliate in Wilmington. For a long time, WECT has served this area, especially Lumberton, North Carolina. This will change on October 1, 2008 when WMBF is on the DirecTV system. Bennettsville is one of the few towns in the Florence/Myrtle Beach/Lumberton market that did not drop WIS on Metrocast Cable (formerly Northland Cable). Just outside of the Florence-Myrtle Beach-Lumberton market, WIS is still on cable in many areas around South Carolina such as Georgetown and Williamsburg counties.
The station's digital channel, formerly UHF 41, is multiplexed:
|10.1||1080i||16:9||main WIS programming / NBC HD|
|10.3||480i||4:3||NBC Weather Plus|
The national NBC Weather Plus feeds were discontinued by the network as of December 2008.
In 2009, WIS remained on channel 10 when the analog to digital conversion completed. However, some viewers could not pick up the signal for a week, because the station used its backup transmitter, which was not at full power. The new transmitter went online June 19.
Channel 10 has led the news ratings in Columbia for as long as records have been kept. Its dominance was helped by the fact that it was and still is the only VHF station in the market—in fact, until the arrival of cable television in the market in the late 1970s, channel 10 was one of only two stations that brought a clear picture to much of the outlying portions of the market (the other being one of the two South Carolina Educational Television stations serving the area).
Cosmos/Liberty made it a point to invest a large amount into its stations' news departments from the 1950s onward. This resulted in a higher-quality product than conventional wisdom would suggest for Columbia, which has always been a medium-sized market. The station took full advantage of its near-statewide coverage to establish a tradition for strong local news coverage that continues today.
Another factor behind WIS' long dominance has been talent continuity. Many of its on-air staff stayed at the station for 10 years or more. These staffers included news anchors Ed Carter and Susan Audé, who gained notoriety for her accomplishments as a reporter and anchor. She uses a wheelchair because she was paralyzed as a result of an automobile accident. Carter became the station's main anchor in 1972, and Audé joined him on the anchor desk in 1982. The two remained together until Carter's retirement in 1998; Audé later retired in 2006.
Nevertheless, channel 10 continues to enjoy a staff with remarkably long tenures, including Joe Pinner, Jack Kuenzie, Judi Gatson, Dawndy Mercer Plank and Rick Henry, some of whom have been figures at the station for decades. Another longtime staff member, David Stanton, who was recently released due to budget cuts, had received national exposure on numerous occasions, having hosted televised presidential debates from the University of South Carolina.
In 1963, WIS moved its main newscast from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., in hopes of taking advantage of The Huntley-Brinkley Report as a lead-in. It was one of only a few stations in the Eastern Time Zone to air a local newscast at 7 p.m. It added a 6 p.m. newscast in 1991 as part of increased Persian Gulf War coverage.
While WIS continues to dominate the television news scene, its dominance is not as absolute as it once was. In recent years, it has consistently lost the noon newscast to WLTX, and the early morning ratings crown has switched between the two stations multiple times.
Raycom News Network
WIS is part of the Raycom News Network, a system designed to rapidly share information among Raycom's widespread group of television stations and websites. A regional network has developed among WIS, Myrtle Beach's WMBF, Charleston's WCSC-TV, and Charlotte's WBTV in which stations share information, equipment such as satellite trucks or even reporters' stories. Between them, these four stations cover most of the eastern two-thirds of South Carolina. Wilmington's WECT and Savannah's WTOC-TV also play a small part in the regional network.
- The South Carolina & World Report (1953-1960)
- The Big News (1960-1962)
- The Marlboro News Report (1962-1966)
- 24 Hours (1966-1970)
- WIS-TV News: The xx:00 Report (1970-1991)
- WIS News: The xx:00 Report (1991–2003)
- WIS News 10 (2003–present)
- South Carolina's Television News Leader (mid 1970s)
- WIS-TV 10, Proud As A Peacock! (1979–1981; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
- Come Home To The Best, on WIS-TV 10 (1988–1989; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
- Come Home To The Best, WIS 10 (1989–1990; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
- WIS 10, The Place to Be (1990–1992; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
- The Spirit of Carolina (1991–2003)
- Count on WIS News 10 (2003–2010)
- Coverage You Can Count On (2010–2012)
- WIS Investigates (2012–present)
News music packages
- Classical Gas (19??-19??)
- WIS 1978 News Theme (19??-19??)
- News People (19??-19??)
- WIS 1984 News Theme (1984)
- Newschannel (1984–1991)
- WIS 1991 News Theme (1991–1995)
- WIS-TV News Music Package (1995–2003)
- The Tower (2003–2009)
- B Package (2009–present)
Current on-air staff
- Kelly Coakley - weekdays at noon; also general assignment reporter
- Brandi Cummings - Saturday mornings; also reporter and host of Awareness
- Judi Gatson - weeknights at 5, 6 and 11 p.m.; also "Troubleshooter" investigative reporter
- Ben Hoover - weeknights at 6, 7 and 11 p.m.; also reporter
- Hannah Horne - weekdays mornings; also reporter and fill-in anchor
- Susan Elizabeth Littlefield - weekends at 6 and 11 p.m.; also weekday reporter
- Stewart Moore - weekday mornings; also reporter
- Dawndy Mercer Plank - weeknights at 5 and 7 p.m.; also reporter and host of NewsWatch
- John Farley (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist) - Chief Meteorologist; Weeknights at 5, 6, 7, and 11 p.m.
- Von Gaskin - Meteorologist; weekends
- Joe Pinner - Weather Anchor; Fridays at noon (also was host of "Mr. Knozit" from 1963 to 2000)
- Ben Tanner (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist & NWA Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekday mornings and Monday-Thursdays at noon
- Rick Henry - Sports Director; weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.
- Mandy Mitchell - Sports Anchor; weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m., also sports reporter
- Drew Stewart - sports reporter; also producer and fill-in anchor
- Jody Barr - investigative reporter
- Darragh Copley - general assignment reporter
- Rochelle Dean - general assignment reporter
- Steven Hooker - general assignment reporter
- Taylor Kearns - general assignment reporter
- Jack Kuenzie - Senior Reporter
Notable former staff
- Dave Aiken (now at WOLO)
- Ken Aucoin (Chief Meteorologist 1999–2007, Rejoined briefly 2009–2010)
- Susan Audé (Fisher) (anchor, 1978–2006; retired)
- Charles Batson
- Ed Carter
- Sean Callebs (now at CNN)
- Steve Caparotta
- Jillian Capobianco (now at WJBF in Augusta, Ga known as Jillian Benfield)
- Chris Clackum (now at NBC News)
- Chris Curlis
- Joe Daggett
- Inga Dennis
- Dick Edwards
- Jim Forrest
- Gary Frick
- Jim Gandy (now at WLTX)
- Brooks Garner (now at WFLA in Tampa)
- Lou Green
- Angie Goff (now at WUSA in Washington, D.C.)
- Kara Gormley (now the communication director at a midland's law firm)
- Shanai Harris
- Sagay Johnson (now at WWBT in Richmond, VA)
- Joe Loy
- Heather Hoopes Matthews
- Craig Melvin (now at WRC-TV in Washington, D.C.)
- Dan Maly
- Trey Paul (now at WICS-TV in Springfield, Illinois)
- Joe Petty
- Gary Pozsik
- Mark Quinn (now at South Carolina ETV)
- Diane Roberts
- Malachi Rodgers (now at WESH in Orlando)
- Dave Rogers
- Alicia Roman (now at WISH-TV in Indianapolis)
- Jeff Roper (morning radio host at WTQR-FM in Winston-Salem)
- Carolyn Sawyer
- Brady Smith
- Fred Steppe (now at WLTZ in Columbus, GA)
- Alan Taylor
- Faye Taylor
- Dan Tordjman (now at WTKR in Norfolk, VA)
- Don Upton
- David Stanton
- Jim Welch
- Jennifer Wilson (now at Lexington medical Center)
- Brandon Lokits (now working in media in Wilmington, NC)
- Rod Daniels (now at WBAL in Baltimore)
Todd Sentell, weekend sports anchor in the mid-80s (author of the acclaimed comic novel, Toonamint of Champions)
- ^ http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-06-1082A2.pdf
- ^ http://www.wistv.com/Global/story.asp?S=10565252&nav=menu36_2, Retrieved on 2009-06-25.