WBAL-TV is the NBC-affiliated television station in Baltimore, Maryland. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 11. It is one of the flagship stations of Hearst Television, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Hearst Corporation, which also owns sister radio stationsWBAL (1090 AM) and WIYY (97.9 FM). The three stations share a studio and office facility on Television Hill in the Woodberry section of Baltimore, near the transmitting tower WBAL-TV shares with WIYY and four other Baltimore television stations.
|Branding||WBAL-TV 11 (general)
WBAL-TV 11 News, 11 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Live. Local. Latebreaking.|
|Channels||Digital: 11 (VHF)Virtual: 11 (PSIP)|
|Subchannels||11.1 NBC11.2 WBAL Plus|
|Affiliations||NBC (1948-1981 and 1995-present)|
(WBAL Hearst Television, Inc.)
|First air date||March 11, 1948|
|Call letters' meaning||BALtimore|
|Sister station(s)||WBAL, WIYY|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
11 (VHF, 1948-2009) Digital: 59 (UHF)
|Former affiliations||CBS (1981–1995)|
|Transmitter power||5 kW|
|Transmitter coordinates||39°20′5″N 76°39′3″W|
WBAL-TV began operations on March 11, 1948 from its original studios on North Charles Street in Downtown Baltimore. It was owned by Hearst Corporation along with WBAL radio and two newspapers, the Baltimore News-Post and the Baltimore American (which later merged as the Baltimore News-American before shutting down in 1986). It is one of two Hearst-owned stations to have been built from the ground up by the company (the other being Pittsburgh's WTAE-TV), and the oldest to be continuosly owned by Hearst through their various television subsidiaries through the years.
At its launch, WBAL-TV was an NBC affiliate. Early programming include Musical Almanac, Look and Cook, and Know Baltimore, along with news and sports productions. In the 1950s, the station introduced Romper Room, Baltimore's first live morning variety show. This show eventually became a nationally franchised program. Another long-running show of the 1950s was the weekday Quiz Club, co-hosted by local personalities Brent Gunts and Jay Grayson. Baltimore Sun columnist Jacques Kelly described it at the time of Grayson's death in June, 2000, as "pure 1950s live television ... executed on a low budget ... the genial hosts ... ruled the 1 p.m. airwaves".
WBAL-TV produced several local bowling shows in the 1960s and early 1970s, including Strikes and Spares, Pinbusters, Duckpins for Dollars, Bowling for Dollars, and Spare Time. The station even went as far as building bowling alleys at its studios. It also launched several children's entertainment shows during this period, such as Rhea and Sunshine, Pete the Pirate, P.W. Doodle, Heads Up, and the teen-oriented Kirby Scott Show.
WBAL-TV's first stint as an NBC affiliate ended on August 30, 1981, when the station swapped affiliations with WMAR-TV (channel 2), then owned by the Baltimore Sun, and became a CBS affiliate. CBS was not pleased with WMAR-TV's frequent pre-emptions and low news ratings. As a CBS affiliate, however, channel 11 pre-empted an hour of the network's daytime schedule everyday, as well as half of its Saturday cartoon lineup. Channel 11 also did not run CBS's late night programming. Baltimore viewers who wanted to see the entire CBS line-up could do so through WDVM-TV/WUSA in Washington, D.C., which was available over-the-air in most of the Baltimore area and pre-empted little network programming.
In August, 2005, WBAL-TV launched a 24-hour local weather channel, WBAL-TV 11 Insta-Weather Plus, broadcast over-the-air on digital channel 11-2 and by cable in much of Maryland on Comcast channel 208.In 1994, the E.W. Scripps Company, the present owners of WMAR-TV, negotiated with ABC to affiliate with its Baltimore station as part of a multi-station deal. In response, CBS and Westinghouse Broadcasting formed a partnership(they later merged) resulting in the CBS affiliation moving from WBAL-TV to Westinghouse's WJZ-TV (channel 13), Baltimore's longtime ABC affiliate. Largely by default, channel 11 rejoined the NBC network on January 2, 1995, and has remained the market's NBC affiliate since then.
WBAL-TV lent meteorologist Sandra Shaw to Hearst-Argyle sister station WDSU-TV in New Orleans on September 1, 2008, to assist with the Louisiana station's coverage of Hurricane Gustav.
WBAL is one of the few NBC affiliates that doesn't air the fourth hour of Today Show.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|11.1||1080i||16:9||main WBAL-TV programming / NBC HD|
WBAL-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 11, on June 12, 2009 , as part of the DTV transition in the United States. The station had been broadcasting its pre-transition digital signal over UHF channel 59, but returned to channel 11 for its post-transition operations. Several VHF digital stations received permission for a power increase later that month after stations experienced signal problems as a result of changing their digital channel from UHF to VHF. WBAL-TV chose to test its equipment before making a commitment.
WBAL Plus is WBAL’s digital sub-channel. It is broadcast over the air on WBAL 11.2, on Comcast digital channel 208, and Verizon FiOS channel 460. Programming on WBAL Plus consists of WBAL 11 Insta-Weather Plus, news casts, and other special programming.
WBAL Plus originally carried NBC Weather Plus until it dissolved at the end of 2008. After that WBAL continued to broadcast 11 Insta-Weather Plus, which was the same as NBC Weather Plus except without the national feed. In April 2009 WBAL 11 Insta-Weather Plus changed to WBAL Plus. Currently WBAL Plus still carries WBAL 11 Insta-Weather Plus, except with other special programming.
For many years, WBAL-TV had waged a spirited battle for first place in the ratings with WJZ-TV. For example, In 1974, WBAL introduced the Action News format to Baltimore. Characterized by short, usually 90 second, news "packages" and upbeat introductory news themes, Baltimore's Action News briefly replaced Channel 13 as the number one news station in Baltimore during the mid-seventies. The architect of the success was news director Ron Kershaw, who had come to Baltimore from Texas and was considered somewhat ahead of his time. He brought in talented anchors like Sue Simmons and Spencer Christian and streamlined the news operation. Kershaw later brought other innovations to WNBC-TV in New Yorkand WBBM-TV in Chicago as news director at those stations. Since the late 1980s, it has been branded News 11, WBAL-TV 11 News, or just simply 11 News.
From the early 1960s through the 1970s, WBAL-TV was the ratings leader in Baltimore. WJZ-TV took the lead in the 1970s and held it for 30 years, but WBAL-TV was a strong runner-up for most of that time. In recent years, WBAL-TV's newscasts placed first at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. However, in the November 2009 Nielsen ratings sweeps period—the first since the debut of The Jay Leno Show--WBAL's 11 pm newscast fell precipitously from first to a distant second behind WJZ. (By contrast, the 11 pm newscast on WRC-TV in nearby Washington, DC was one of the least affected late-night newscasts of any NBC affiliate or O&O in the country; it continued to dominate its competitors.) WBAL still leads at 5 and 6 pm. With NBC taking Leno off of prime-time in February 2010, it could take some time before the 11 o'clock newscast would regain the lead.
On January 3, 2009, WBAL-TV became the second station in Baltimore (behind WBFF-TV) to launch local news and weather in high definition. Only the in-studio cameras and the stations' helicopter are currently in HD, although like Hearst station WTAE, the field reports are still in 4:3 standard definition as of August 23, 2010.
Awards and achievements
WBAL-TV has boasted many television firsts, including:
- the first Baltimore television station to broadcast in color;
- the first station in Maryland (and the eighth in the world) to acquire a videotape cartridge machine;
- the first station in Baltimore to acquire a mobile satellite news-gathering system (dubbed "NEWSTAR 11");
- the first Baltimore station to hire an African-American news anchor and an African-American news director.
In addition, WBAL-TV became the first Baltimore TV station to win a Peabody Award for local news coverage (and the first Baltimore television station to win the award in any category in more than fifty years). WBAL's "11 News" was also awarded as one of the top three Best Television Newscasts by the National Headliners Association, alongside WFAA-TV in Dallas, and sister station WCVB-TV in Boston.
Other awards include:
- regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, the George Polk Award and the American Bar Association Gavel Award - for excellence in reporting and journalism;
- Outstanding television news operation in Baltimore (by the Associated Press and United Press International)
- Eleventh Hour Final (1950s–1960s)
- The Reporters and the News (1960s–?)
- TV-11 News (?–1974)
- Action News (1974–1981)
- Action News 11 (1981–1985)
- News 11 (1985–1990)
- WBAL-TV 11 News (1990–1995)
- 11 News (1995–present)
- Hello, Baltimore (1978–1985; used during period station used Frank Gari's "Hello News")
- Reach for the Stars on WBAL (1981–1982; tagged with Frank Gari's "Hello News" campaign when the station was about to switch to CBS)
- We'll Take You There (1981–1982; used image campaign by Frank Gari)
- On Your Side (1985–1991)
- You Can Feel It On 11 (1988–1989; local version of CBS ad campaign)
- Get Ready for Channel 11 (1989-1991; local version of CBS ad campaign)
- The Look of Baltimore is WBAL-TV 11 (1991-1992; local version of CBS ad campaign)
- Your 24-Hour News Station (1991–1993)
- This is CBS, on WBAL-TV 11 (1992-1994; local version of CBS ad campaign)
- I am WBAL-11 People (1994-1995; last localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- It's WBAL-11! (January-September 1995; first localized version of NBC ad campaign since 1981)
- Live. Local. Latebreaking. (1995–present)
Current on-air staff
- Marianne Banister - weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.; also 5 p.m. consumer reporter
- Mindy Basara - weekday mornings "11 News Today" (5-7 a.m.) and noon; also investigative reporter
- Rod Daniels - weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.
- Donna Hamilton - weekdays at 5 p.m.; also "Health Alert" reporter
- Lisa Robinson - weekend mornings "11 News Saturday/Sunday Morning"; also host of "11 TV Hill" and investigative/general assignment reporter
- Stan Stovall - weekday mornings "11 News Today" (5-7 a.m.) and weeknights at 5 p.m.
- Deborah Weiner - weekends at 6 and 11 p.m.; also investigative reporter
- InstaWeather+ Team
- Tom Tasselmyer (AMS Seal of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist; weeknights and 5, 6 and 11 p.m.
- John Collins (AMS Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekends at 6 and 11 p.m.
- Tony Pann (AMS Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekend mornings "11 News Saturday/Sunday Morning"
- Sandra Shaw - Meteorologist; weekday mornings "11 News Today" (5-7 a.m.) and noon, also reporter
- 11 Sports
- Gerry Sandusky - Sports Director; weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.
- Pete Gilbert - Sports Anchor; weekends at 6 and 11 p.m., also sports reporter
- Keith Mills - Sports Anchor; weekday mornings "11 News Today"
- Sarah Caldwell - morning traffic reporter ("Traffic Pulse 11"); also fill-in weekday morning anchor
- Kerry Cavanaugh - general assignment reporter
- David Collins - investigative and general assignment reporter
- Kim Dacey - general assignment reporter
- Sheldon Dutes - general assignment reporter
- Jennifer Franciotti - general assignment reporter
- George Lettis - general assignment reporter
- Lowell Melser - general assignment reporter
- Jayne Miller - chief investigative reporter
- Kai Reed - general assignment reporter
- Rob Roblin - general assignment reporter
- Barry Simms - investigative and general assignment reporter
- Roy Taylor - "SkyTeam 11" pilot reporter
- Tim Tooten - education reporter
- Hearst Television Washington Bureau
- Kate Amara - Hearst Washington bureau reporter
- Sally Kidd - Hearst Washington bureau reporter
- Nikole Killion - Hearst Washington bureau reporter
Notable former on-air staff
- Curt Anderson, now in the Maryland General Assembly
- Sade Baderinwa, now with WABC-TV in New York City
- Vince Bagli
- Ric Barrick, now with WTVR-TV in Richmond, Virginia
- Campbell Brown, now at CNN
- Ron Canada, newscaster during the 70's and early 80's, who later became an actor
- Spencer Christian, now with KGO-TV in San Francisco
- Carol Costello, now at CNN
- Neal Estano
- Rhea Feiken, weather forecaster with her puppet "J.P." in the 1960s
- Marilyn Getas, now with KION-TV in Salinas, California
- Vernon Glenn, now with KRON-TV in San Francisco, California
- Jay Grayson, co-host of the weekday Quiz Club in the 1950s
- Brent Gunts, on-air personality in the 1950s who became the station's vice president and general manager for 14 years, until 1973
- Mike Hambrick
- Nancy Hamilton
- Al Herndon, pioneering 1950s weatherman who wore a gas station attendant's uniform while delivering the forecast
- Rolf Hertsgaard, evening news anchorman for 15 years in the 1950s–1960s
- Joe Krebs, now with WRC-TV in Washington, D.C.
- Norm Lewis, went on to be Chief Meteorologist at WMAR-TV
- Justin Berk, now with WMAR-TV
- Vicki Mabrey, now with ABC News
- Carolyn McEnrue, now with KLST in San Angelo, Texas
- Rudy Miller
- Jim Mustard, 1968–1990
- Royal Parker, 1962–mid-1990s
- Lisa Salters, now with ESPN
- Sue Simmons, Retired from WNBC-TV in 2012 when her contract expired
- Ron Smith, now with WBAL radio
- Noel Tucker, now with KGMB-TV in Honolulu, Hawaii
- Mark Viviano, now with WJZ-TV
- Julius Westheimer
- Kristin Marshall, now at KCRA-TV Sacramento, CA
- Domenica Davis, now at FOXNEWS
- Kate Amara, Now With Hearst Washington Bureau
- ^ a b c Kelly, Jacques (June 24, 2000). "'Quiz Club' had an impact". The Baltimore Sun: p. 2E.
- ^ "CBS switches affiliation to WBAL-TV in Baltimore." Broadcasting, March 9, 1981.
- ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (pdf). FCC. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
- ^ CDBS Print
- ^ "DTV Transition Plan". FCC. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
- ^ Eggerton, John (2009-06-29). "Boise Station Gets Power Boost". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-07-01.
- ^ "Ravens Draft Special Airs Saturday On WBAL-TV". April 23, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
- ^ Dunne, John Gregory (2006). Regards: The Selected Nonfiction of John Gregory Dunne. Thunder's Mouth Press. p. 80. ISBN 9781560258162.
- ^ "Station History". WBAL-TV. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
- ^ Delegate Curt Anderson, Maryland General Assembly
- ^ Rasmussen, Frederick (February 27, 2004). "Brent O. Gunts, 86, broadcaster who became executive of WBAL". The Baltimore Sun: p. 7B. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
- ^ Rasmussen, Frederick (July 13, 2002). "Charles Allan Herndon Jr., 78, pioneering WBAL-TV weatherman". The Baltimore Sun: p. 4B. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
- ^ Chansanchai, Athima (May 2, 2004). "WBAL anchor remembered for serious approach to news; Presented evening report in Baltimore for 15 years". p. 1B. Retrieved 2009-10-09.