WOLO-TV channel 25 is the ABC affiliate television station for Columbia, South Carolina. Its transmitter is located in Elgin, South Carolina. Its studios on Shakespeare Road just outside downtown Columbia, while its news studio is located on Main and Gervais streets in downtown Columbia.
|Columbia, South Carolina|
|Slogan||Your HD, Widescreen News Station (station)
Live from Main and Gervais(news) Columbia's First High Definition Newscast (news)
|Channels||Digital: 8 (VHF)|
|Owner||Bahakel Communications, Ltd.
(South Carolina Broadcasting Partners)
|First air date||Original incarnation: May 1, 1953
Current incarnation: October 1, 1961
|Former callsigns||WCOS-TV (1953-1956)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
25 (1953-1956, 1961-2009)
|Former affiliations||CBS (April-September 1953)
NBC (April-November 1953)
|Transmitter power||43.7 kW (digital)|
|Height||529 m (digital)|
|Transmitter coordinates||34°6′58″N 80°45′51″W|
Channel 25 signed on the air as WCOS-TV on May 1, 1953 owned by Columbia Radio along with WCOS radio (AM 1400 and FM 97.9, now 97.5). It was South Carolina's first television station, and carried programming from all three networks--CBS, NBC and ABC. Studios were located in a Quonset hut near the station's current studio location.
WCOS-TV had very modern equipment by 1953 standards. However, UHF stations always found the going difficult in those days because the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) didn't require television manufacturers to have UHF tuning capability until 1964. In the 1950s, viewers had to purchase separate converters to watch UHF stations, and even then, the picture was often hard to receive. The problem really manifested itself in November, when WIS-TV, channel 10, signed on as the city's first VHF station and took all NBC programming. WCOS was left with ABC since it had lost CBS to WNOK-TV, channel 67 (now WLTX, channel 19) in September. ABC was a very weak network at the time.
Even though WCOS' fate was sealed when WIS-TV signed on, the station limped along until 1956, when WNOK-TV offered to pay Charles W. Pittman, president of Columbia Radio, to take the struggling station off the air. Pittman, who had put much of his own money into WCOS, accepted and signed off on January 21, 1956.
Channel 25 remained dark for over five years, in hopes of returning to the air again "in the near future". On October 1, 1961, local investors bought the license and returned to the air as WCCA-TV, also an ABC affiliate. As a result of its time off the air, while it was the first television station in the state, it is not the longest continuously operating--that distinction goes to WCSC-TV in Charleston. In 1964, Cy Bahakel, owner of WCCB-TV in Charlotte (100 miles north), bought WCCA and changed the calls to the current WOLO-TV. The station's ownership is the longest-serving ownership of any of the Columbia market's television stations, with president Beverly Poston taking over as president of Bahakel after her father's death in 2006.
In 2001, WOLO activated a new tower along I-20 near Camden. It is the tallest structure in South Carolina, at almost 1,800 feet. Before then, the station had long been plagued by a weak signal. Although it decently covered Columbia and its close-in suburbs, it only provided grade B coverage of the second-largest city in the market, Sumter, and was all but unviewable in the outlying areas. As such, many areas of the market weren't able to get a decent signal from channel 25 until cable television arrived in Columbia in the 1970s. Much of the western part of the market got a better signal from WJBF in Augusta. In 2002, WOLO was the second commercial station in the Columbia market to go digital.
As of March 4, 2011, WOLO carries MeTV on subchannel 25.4.
WOLO has experienced several firsts, including the first certified meteorologist and color radar in South Carolina (in 1978) and the first live broadcast via satellite (in 1980). The station also had the first female news anchor in the market, Elizabeth Snite. WOLO was the first television station to have a hand-held videotape camera, a Sony Mini-Cam and Jerry Emanuel, Sports Director and reporter was the first to use that camera to do feature stories as opposed to breaking news stories. However, WOLO has spent most of its history as the weakest major-network affiliate in Columbia. In 1997, WOLO upgraded its news image by hiring Jim Blue and Leslie Mouton (Mattox) and branded itself as "25 Eyewitness News". It also adopted the "AccuWeather" franchise. It also expanded its news product to include a morning show, "Good Morning Columbia" and a 5 PM newscast.
In 2002, Bahakel moved WOLO's operations to WCCB in Charlotte, where they stayed for three years. During that time, WCCB's studios played host to WOLO's newscasts. All news gathering was still based in Columbia with a News Director and reporters producing the daily newscasts. WOLO cut many jobs and shows, and only the weekday evening newscasts were retained. This was one of the first examples of "central casting" (housing several stations' operations in one location) in the United States.
Bahakel returned WOLO's anchors to Columbia in Fall 2005, while keeping production in Charlotte, and built a new street-side studio across from the state capitol. It has underscored its commitment to local news with slogans such as "Live from Main and Gervais" (the major intersection housing WOLO's new street-side newsroom) and "More Local News." Around the same time, WOLO switched its on-air name from ABC25 to ABC Columbia, similar to the change made at WCCB, which switched from FOX 18 to Fox Charlotte.
While it is still well behind WIS and WLTX, WOLO has been more competitive since it moved back to Columbia. Additionally, it has begun reaping the full benefits of its technical upgrades of the past decade and the switch to digital.
On September 21, 2009, WOLO was the first station in Columbia to air its news in high definition, accompanied by a new graphics and music package. Along with WOLO's September 21, 2009 transition to high definition came a new website scheme, a simple flash layout, aimed towards younger viewers.
The station was the first to begin gathering its field video in HD in February 2010. On October 12, 2010, WOLO was the first station in the market to air its live shot in HD. On November 2, 2010, WOLO was the first station in Columbia to stream live video to the iPhone.
The station has announced that it will air a morning show and a noon show beginning in July 2011.
Current on-air staff
- Alicia Barnes - weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.; also Wrinkle Free Wednesday feature reporter
- Eric Weisfeld - weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.; also ABC Columbia Watchdog feature reporter
- Anderson Burns - weekends at 11 p.m.; also general assignment and Hidden Columbia feature reporter
- Monique Williams - weekday morning news updates during America This Morning and Good Morning America; also general assignment reporter
- Dave Aiken - "Voice of the Viewer" reporter (also University of South Carolina PA announcer)
Weather Team (Shared with sister station WCCB-TV in Charlotte)
- Reg Taylor (AMS and NWA Seals of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist; Sunday at 11 p.m., Monday - Thursday at 6 and 11 p.m.
- Chris Justus (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist) - Meteorologist; Friday at 6 and 11 p.m., Saturday at 11 p.m.
- Derek James - Meteorologist; fill-in
- Tera Blake - Meteorologist; fill-in
- Steve Lyerly - fill-in
- Tim Hill - Sports Director; weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.
- Cole St. Clair - Sports Anchor; weekends at 6 and 11 p.m.
Past notable on-air staff
- Jim Blue (1997-2002)
- Leslie Mouton (Mattox) (now at KSAT-TV in San Antonio)
- Lindsay Hudson (now Lindsay Ferrier) - morning anchor (1997-2000)
- Craig Beatty
- Shanai Harris - evening anchor (2002-2008)
- James Hill
- Rick Leventhal (now at Fox News Channel)
- Ryan Lieber
- Dia Davidson (now at WLEX in Lexington, KY)
- Semone Doughton (now at WTVM in Columbus, GA)
- Phyllis Jackson
- Denise Jackson
- Laurie Shore
- Jeb Shore
- Jim Forest
- Jim Bryan Flowers (now at KMTV in Omaha, following WOWT,KETV)
- Mackie Quave (in SC Broadcasters Assn. Hall of Fame)
- Fred Cunningham (now at WSPA-TV in Greenville, SC)
- Kristen Mitchell
- Dan Weinbaum (now at KMBC in Kansas City)
- Patrick Paolantonio (now at WISN-TV in Milwaukee)
- Mark Shaffer
- Kathy Hannus
- Reggie Hall
- Mike Rodgers
- Bob Moore
- Jim Powell (now with Atlanta Braves radio)
- Suzel Spiller
- Brian Custar (now at WKOW in Madison, WI)
- Tom Ackerman (now at WLEX in Lexington, KY)
- John Gaughan
- David Hartman
- Ginger Gadsden (now at WTSP in Tampa)
- Scott Eisberg (now at WCIV in Charleston, SC)
- Cory Curtis (now at WKRN in Nashville)
- Susan Biggers
- Dave Stanley
- John Sullivan
- Angie Mizzell
- Angela Valante
- Betsy Nolan
- Mark Wade
- Malachi Rodgers (now at WESH in Orlando)
- Brett Tackett
- Radar the Weather Dog (2001-2002)
- Derrec Becker now at the South Carolina Emergency Management Division
- Ann Cobb
- Richard Breen (now editor of the GSA Business Journal in Greenville, SC)
- Christy Mason Cox
- Terry Chick
- John Brunelli
- Julie Jordan
- Mark Pfister
- Suzanne Kay Pittman
- Gary Pozsik
- The Quave-Aiken Report (19??-19??)
- Newscene 25 (1980s)
- 25 News (1983-1990 and 1999-2001)
- 25 Live News (1990-1993)
- WOLO News Hour (1993-1996)
- 25 Eyewitness News (1996-1999 and 2001-2002)
- ABC 25 News (2002-2005)
- ABC Columbia News (2005-present)
- Live From Main & Gervais (2005-present) (News)
- Columbia's First High Definition Newscast (2009-present) (News)
- Your HD, Widescreen News Station (2010-present) (Station)
The station's digital channel, VHF 8, is multiplexed:
|25.1||720p||16:9||Main WOLO-TV programming / ABC HD|
|25.3||480i||16:9||NWS Weather Radio & 24/7 Weather (Current Conditions, Radar, 5 Day Forecast)|
In 2009, WOLO left channel 25 and moved to channel 8 when the analog to digital conversion was completed.