WEAU-TV is the NBC affiliate for much of western Wisconsin, including Eau Claire and La Crosse. WEAU is licensed to Eau Claire and its transmitter is located in Fairchild, Wisconsin. The station is currently off-the-air due to a tower collapse on March 22, 2011; as a result, WEAU's programming is currently shown on digital subchannels of WQOW (channel 18.3) in Eau Claire and WLAX (channel 25.2) in La Crosse. WEAU can be seen only in standard definition on DirecTV and Dish Network, and in high definition and standard definition onCharter.
|Eau Claire, Wisconsin|
|Branding||WEAU 13 (general)
WEAU 13 News (newscast)
|Slogan||Important To You|
|Channels||Digital: 13 (VHF)|
13.2 24/7 Weather
|Owner||Gray Television, Inc.
(Gray Television Licensee, LLC)
|First air date||December 17, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||EAU Claire|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog: 13 (VHF, 1953-2009)
Digital: 39 (UHF, 2002-2009)
|Former affiliations||All secondary:|
|Transmitter power||23 kW|
Western Wisconsin is one of the few markets to receive NBC programming from multiple over-the-air affiliates, as La Crosse is also served by W50DR-D, a repeater of KTTC from Rochester, Minnesota that broadcasts from a transmitter tower in La Crescent, Minnesota, near La Crosse. However, because of its low-power digital repeater status, W50DR only broadcasts to the very immediate area. WEAU is consider the primary NBC affiliate for that area and is the only affiliate available on cable and satellite providers in the La Crosse area.
WEAU-TV signed on the air on December 17, 1953 under the ownership of Central Broadcasting Company, an ownership group led by a predecessor to Morgan Murphy Media and also including the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, along with WEAU radio (790 AM, now WEAQ at 1150 AM, and 94.1 FM, now WIAL). It has always been a primary NBC affiliate, but initially it also carried programs from CBS, ABC andDuMont. During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network. One of the first well-known personalities on WEAU was "Sheriff Bob" Dawson, who hosted a kids show during the 1950s and 1960s.
The station initially broadcast from a tower immediately behind the WEAU studios at 1907 South Hastings Way in Eau Claire. A new tower, approximately 1,000 feet (300 m) tall, was built in the same location in 1956 44°39′50″N 90°57′41″W, before an approximately 2,000-foot (610 m) tower was constructed near Fairchild, Wisconsin in 1966. The tower in Eau Claire is now topped by the digital transmitter forWQOW.
Morgan Murphy sold off WEAU radio in 1959; in 1962, it sold WEAU-TV to The Post Corporation of Appleton (Morgan Murphy would later purchase rival WKBT). WEAU's departure from radio proved short-lived: The Post Corporation purchased Chippewa Falls radio station WAXX (1150 AM) in 1963, and two years later established a new WEAU-FM at 100.7 (moving to 104.5 when the Fairchild tower was built), which largely simulcast WAXX's country music format. WEAU-FM's call letters were switched to WAXX-FM in 1977, and in 1978, the country format was moved exclusively to WAXX-FM, with the AM station becoming WAYY (which later moved to 790 AM in a swap with WEAQ). The WEAU-TV news, weather and agriculture departments were used for reports on WAXX-FM and WAYY.
WEAU constructed a weather radar in 1979, the first TV station in the La Crosse/Eau Claire market with its own radar. The radar received graphics upgrades in 1998 and 2006. The station began calling its newscasts NewsCenter 13 around 1979-1980. WEAU premiered its 5 p.m. newscast on September 14, 1981, with Geoff Welch as anchor. The first telecast featured a report from then-WEAU reporter Scott Cohn, later a correspondent for CNBC. A truck to provide live remote broadcasts came into use in 1983.
In 1984, George N. Gillett Jr. purchased the Post Corporation stations, including WEAU-TV. WAXX and WAYY were spun off to Central Communications at the same time, and in 1985, the two stations moved out of the WEAU building to a new facility behind WEAU's back parking lot. Despite being under separate ownership, WEAU continued to provide weather services for WAXX and WAYY, as well as additional stations purchased by Central Communications (which included WEAU's original radio properties, WEAQ and WIAL, as well asWECL and WDRK), until December 31, 2001. WEAU resumed weather services to those same six stations, now under the ownership of Maverick Media, on September 11, 2006.
A new news set and music package debuted in August 1984, and WEAU first used weeknight co-anchors (Jim Mertens and Michelle Magadance) in June 1986. Another new news set and music package debuted in April 1988.
Gillett began defaulting on some of his purchases in the late 1980s, and in 1990 he sold WEAU to Busse Broadcasting, the owner of KOLN in Lincoln, Nebraska and KGIN in Grand Island, Nebraska (and at one point also owned WWMT in Kalamazoo, Michigan and KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City). WEAU was met with tragedy in September 1991, when primetime news anchor Cindy Schott died unexpectedly. Her death was later the subject of a story on Real Life with Jane Pauley and Dateline NBC. Five years later, in November 1996, long-time morning meteorologist Jim Riggs died of cancer.
WEAU changed its news music in 1992, its logo in the summer of 1994, and its set in March 1997. WEAU had returned to a solo anchor for the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. news (John Froyd) following the death of Cindy Schott, but returned to a co-anchor format for the 10 p.m. news (Pat Kreitlow and Judy Clark) in August 1998, upon Froyd's retirement. New news music was also debuted at that time.
In 1998, Gray Communications Systems (which was subsequently renamed Gray Television) and Cosmos Broadcasting (the broadcasting division of The Liberty Corporation, which has since been merged into Raycom Media) teamed up to purchase the Busse stations, with WEAU going to Cosmos and KOLN/KGIN going to Gray. Cosmos then traded WEAU back to Gray in exchange for WALB (Gray's original flagship) in Albany, Georgia. Another new logo, along with a slight change to the background of the news set, was unveiled in January 2001.
Technology was the highlight of the following decade, as WEAU-DT (which originally transmitted on channel 39) signed-on April 30, 2002, with the digital transmitter located at the top of the tower in Fairchild. Meanwhile, SkyCam 13, located on a small mast atop WEAU's building, debuted in March 2003. A second SkyCam, located atop the RCU corporate headquarters building in downtown Eau Claire, debuted in May 2007. New music started in the summer of 2002, and in September 2004, the station received a new news set, with background and graphics modification in August 2006. The station ended analog broadcasting at approximately 12:30 p.m. on February 16, 2009. At around 1 p.m., WEAU's digital signal moved from channel 39 to channel 13.
A WEAU-produced 9 p.m. newscast for WLAX/WEUX premiered on August 28, 2006, known as Fox News at 9, and using WEAU personnel for the anchor slots. WEAU launched a local weather channel, "24/7 Weather", on digital subchannel 13.2 on October 2, 2006; it largely carries weather information featuring WEAU meteorologists, but also offers a simulcast of Fox News at 9, as well as Saturday morning E/I programming provided by NASA TV. Wisconsin Journal, a weekend feature show, debuted in October 2006; it was dropped in September 2008 due to declining interest in the program. Longtime news director John Hoffland retired on February 2, 2007, having served in that position for 23 years; he was replaced by Glenn Mabie. Hoffland subsequently returned to his post, replacing Mabie, and then died on July 4, 2009, after serving for 25 years as news director. A Sunday 10:30 p.m. half-hour sports show, SportScene Sunday, premiered on April 1, 2007; it was canceled in July 2008. A weekly Friday morning show based on consumer electronics and digital television, calledTechnology Spot, premiered on September 7, 2007 at 10:00 a.m; it was canceled in 2009. New news music and open graphics debuted in early October 2007.
In August 2008, WEAU became one of the first stations in Wisconsin to produce content in high definition. This is now including an extensive array of shows and station promotions. However, its newscasts remain in pillarboxed 4:3 standard definition for the time being. Also in August 2008, the station switched its branding from NewsCenter 13 to WEAU 13 News and unveiled a new logo incorporating the 2001-era logo with the new branding. The backdrop of the news set was modified by November 2008, to reflect the branding change (the branding at the top of the set was changed by February 2009). A modified version of the WEAU 13 News logo, along with new news graphics, premiered February 1, 2010.
The transmission tower 44°39′49.5″N 90°57′41.3″W for WEAU was the tallest structure in the state of Wisconsin, topping out at 2,000 feet (610 m), or approximately 500 feet (150 m) taller than the Empire State Building. The tower was shared with former sister radio station WAXX. On March 22, 2011, this tower collapsed during an intense winter storm that brought a mixture of snow, ice, sleet, rain, and gusty winds. For the time being, WEAU's programming is seen on WQOW subchannel 18.3 in Eau Claire and WLAX subchannel 25.2 in La Crosse; high-definition programming was available by March 24 on Charter Communications channel 606 and will be available on 18.3 on March 26. For a time beforehand, W50DR-D carried WEAU programming in place of KTTC's schedule for La Crosse viewers.
WEAU 13 news team
Current on-air staff
- Judy Clark: WEAU 13 News Today at 10am & Weeknights at 5 & 6pm
- Sarah Stokes: Weeknights at 10pm, Weeknight Fox Anchor
- Chris Herzog: Managing Editor/Weeknight Anchor 6 & 10pm
- Meghan Kulig: Weekday Mornings at Sunrise and Noon
- Amelia Cerling: Weekend Evenings at 6 & 10 PM
- Andrew Fefer
- Mary Rinzel
- Kelly Schlicht
- Megan Peterson
- Chris Baylor
- Martha Boehm
SkyWarn 13 meteorologists
- Mark Holley: Mornings & Noon
- Andrew McCawley: Fox News at 9
- Matt Hoffman: Weekends & Weekends on Fox News at 9
WEAU 13 sports team
- Bob Gallaher: (Sports Director) Weeknights
- Matt Cullen: Weekday Fox Anchor
- Justus Cleveland: Weekend Anchor/Fox Weekend
Former on-air staff
- Scott Cohn: CNBC Senior Correspondent; WEAU Reporter: 1981-82
- Craig Coshun: FSN Wisconsin Broadcaster/Big Ten Play-By-Play Announcer; WEAU Reporter/Anchor: 1988-90
- Bill Hudson: WCCO-TV Reporter/Morning Co-Anchor; WEAU Reporter: 1981-83
- Rob Kreibich: Wisconsin Assemblyman, 93rd District (R-Eau Claire), 1993-2007; WEAU Reporter: late 1980s-1992
- Pat Kreitlow: Wisconsin State Senator, 23rd District (D-Chippewa Falls), 2007-present; WEAU Anchor/Reporter: mid 1990s-2005
- Cameron Sanders: CNN Correspondent & Host of public radio's "Marketplace; WEAU Reporter: 1979-80
- Matt Hoffman: Weekends & Weekends on Fox News at 9 (now at KDRV-TV in Medford, Oregon)
- Salina Heller: Weekday Mornings at 5am
- Barry Robinson: 1950s-1970s
- Tom Jensen: 1966-72
- Lyle Johnsen: 1970s (the first true anchor; before this, only one person at a time was at the desk)
- Mike Rindo: 1978-86, 1989-91
- Scott Cohn: (Weekend Anchor 1981, 5pm Anchor 1982)
- Jim Mertens: early 1980s-1989 (Weeknight Co-Anchor 1986-89)
- Michelle Magadance: 1983-89 (Weeknight Co-Anchor 1986-89)
- Cindy Schott: 1985-1991 (Weeknight Co-Anchor 1989-91) (died of acute heart failure brought on by anorexia nervosa on September 11, 1991)
- John Froyd: 1991-98 (6pm and 10pm Anchor)
- Roxanne Westphal: 1996-2000 (Sunrise and Noon Anchor)
- Matt Lechner: late 1990s-2004 (Weekend Anchor 1999-2004)
- Jennifer Rupnow: 2000-2004 (Sunrise and Noon Anchor)
- Chris Earl: 2005-2008 (Sports 1998-1999)
- Andrew Felix: 2007-2009 (Technology Spot Host)
- Howard Trickey: 1950s-1960s (Sketched while he reported the weather)
- John Digmann: ?-1973
- Tim Cannon: 1973-?
- Debi France: late 1970s
- Joe Dandrea: 1980-82 (Chief Meteorologist 1980-82)
- Tom Magnuson: 1980-84 (Chief Meteorologist 1982-84)
- John Wendel: 1982-88 (Chief Meteorologist 1984-88)
- Jim Riggs: 1982-96 (died November, 1996)
- Bruce King: 1987-2001
- Don Moldenhauer: 1988-93 (Chief Meteorologist 1988-93)
- Scott Shaw: 1993-98 (Chief Meteorologist 1993-98)
- Brett Splinter: 1994-1998
- John Jedda: 1998-2006 (Chief Meteorologist 1998-2006)
- Jim Crandell: late 1960s-1985 (Sports Director 1970s-1985)
- Dave Carlson: early 1980s-2000 ("TV-13 Outdoors" host 1982-2000)
- Chris Larsen: 2001-2004 (Weekend Sports & Outdoors Reporter)
- Rick Foy: early 1980s-1988 (Sports Director 1985-88)
- Bob Brainerd: 1984-92 (Sports Director 1988-92)
- Dustin Wesely: 1998-1999
- Rod Ketter: 1990-97 (Sports Director 1992-97)
- Jack Eich: 1977-81 (Sports Reporter/Anchor 1977-81)
- Your Esso Reporter (1953–1957)
- The Robinson Report (1957–1968)
- Newsnight (1968–1974)
- NewsCenter 13 (1974–2008)
- WEAU 13 News (2008–present)
- Tall Tower Territory (1960s–1970s)
- TV-13, Proud as a Peacock (1979-1981; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
- TV-13, Our Pride is Showing (1981-1982; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
- We're TV-13, Just Watch Us Now (1982-1983; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
- TV-13 There, Be There (1983-1984; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
- TV-13 Loves You (1984-1990; used during period station used Frank Gari's "Hello News")
- TV-13, Let's All Be There (1984-1986; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
- Come Home to TV-13 (1986-1987; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
- Come on Home to TV-13 (1987-1988; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
- Western Wisconsin's First Choice (1988-2008)
- Come Home to the Best, Only on TV-13 (1988-1990; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
- TV-13, is The Place To Be! (1990-1991; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
- NBC TV-Radio Newspulse by Fred Weinberg Productions, Inc. (1974–1979)
- WEAU 1980 News Theme by unknown composer (1980-1982)
- NewsCenter Theme by Michael Randall Music (1982-1984)
- Hello News by Gari Media Group (1984-1990)
- The Great News Package by Gari Media Group (1990-1997)
- This Is Your News by Gari Media Group (1997-2006)
- Working For You by 615 Music (2006–present)
- The NBC Collection by Gari Media Group (2007–present)
- ^ a b c A selection from a decade of visits to tower and studio sites in the Northeast and beyond
- ^ (PDF) Telecasting Yearbook-Marketbook 1954. 1954. p. 319. Retrieved March 26, 2011.
- ^ "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films", Boxoffice: 13, November 10, 1956
- ^ "For the Record". Broadcasting. January 21, 1963. Retrieved March 26, 2011.
- ^ "For the Record". Broadcasting. September 26, 1977. Retrieved March 26, 2011.
- ^ "WEAU 13 tower collapses in Fairchild". WEAU-TV. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
- ^ WEAU: "UPDATE: WEAU is back on the air - on 18.3 - and Charter Cable 6", March 23, 2011.
- ^ "WEAU back on air after tower collapse". Winona Daily News. March 24, 2011. Retrieved March 26, 2011.
- WEAU-TV website
- WEAU Television Tower at Structurae
- Listing 1033664 in the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Antenna Structure Registration database
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WEAU-TV
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WEAU-TV