WRAL-TV, virtual channel 5 (digital channel 48), is a television station in Raleigh, North Carolina. WRAL-TV has been the flagship station of Capitol Broadcasting Company since its inception, and is currently the CBS affiliate for the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill-Fayetteville area, known collectively as the Triangle television marketing area. The station has its office and studio facilities in downtown Raleigh, with transmitter located in Auburn, North Carolina.

75px-WRAL-TV logo.png
Raleigh / Durham /Fayetteville, North Carolina
Branding WRAL-TV 5 (general)

WRAL News (newscasts)

Slogan Your #1 Source for Local News
Channels Digital: 48 (UHF)Virtual: 5 (PSIP)
Subchannels 5.1 NBC-HD

5.2 Cozi TV

5.3 Start TV

Affiliations NBC
Owner Capitol Broadcasting Company
First air date December 15, 1956
Call letters' meaning RALeigh
Sister station(s) WCMC-FM



Former channel number(s) Analog:

5 (VHF, 1956–2009)


32 (UHF, 1996–2000)

53 (UHF, 2000–2009)

Former affiliations NBC (1956–1962; secondary late 1960s); ABC (secondary 1959–1962; primary 1962–1985); CBS (primary 1985-2016)
Transmitter power 1,000 kW (digital)
Height 629 m (digital)
Facility ID 8688
Transmitter coordinates 35°40′29″N 78°31′40″W
Website www.wral.com

WRAL-TV is co-owned with radio stations WRAL-FM (101.5 MHz) and WCMC-FM (99.9 MHz), and Fox affiliate WRAZ (channel 50). Though most of WRAZ's operations are based at WRAL-TV's studios, WRAZ has its own facilities in downtown Durham. WRAL-TV is available on cable channel 3 in most of the Triangle, except in outlying areas of the market, where it is available on channel 5. It is also available on cable in large portions of eastern areas of the state.


The station's first broadcast was on December 15, 1956 that was an airing of the 1947 movieMiracle on 34th Street. Alfred Johnson "A.J." Fletcher's Capitol Broadcasting, which began in 1939 with WRAL radio (1240 AM, now WPJL), had won the license in something of an upset over the much larger Durham Life Insurance Company, owners of the Triangle's oldest continuous radio station, WPTF.

Channel 5 was originally an NBC affiliate. When WNAO-TV (channel 28), the Triangle's ABCaffiliate, went dark in 1959, WRAL shared ABC with Durham-based WTVD (which counted Fletcher's son, Floyd, among its founders) until 1962 when it took the ABC affiliation full-time. This was somewhat unusual for a two-station market and the reason for this is still not clear to this day. ABC was not on an equal footing with NBC and CBS, in terms of both ratings and affiliated stations, until the early 1970s. WTVD shoehorned NBC and CBS programming onto its schedule until 1971 when WRDU-TV, which began operations in 1968 on channel 28, finally got the exclusive NBC affiliation. Ironically, Durham Life bought WRDU in 1978 and changed the calls to WPTF-TV (it is now MyNetworkTV affiliate WRDC-TV, owned by theSinclair Broadcast Group).

From 1960 until his election to the United States Senate in 1972, Jesse Helms was a regulareditorial commentator on WRAL-TV's news broadcasts. In fact, because his politically conservative commentaries became so popular, WRAL pushed up the starting time of the ABC evening network newscasts (or, for a time in the late 1960s, NBC's Huntley-Brinkley Report) to give Helms a ten-minute nightly program to himself. This had political implications for Triangle-area viewers because the newsmen usually gave commentaries during the part of the newscast that WRAL cut off. All the ABC and NBC commentators were staunch supporters of the Civil Rights Movement and other liberal positions, all things Helms strongly opposed. Despite this de facto censorship, neither ABC nor NBC ever took retributive action against the station, nor did other parties complain to theFederal Communications Commission about WRAL doing this.

In 1985, WTVD's owner, Capital Cities Communications, purchased ABC, resulting in WTVD becoming an ABC owned and operated station. The CBS affiliation moved to WRAL-TV on August 4, 1985. Within six months of the switch, WRAL had become one of the strongest CBS affiliates in the nation.

In December 1989, WRAL was knocked off the air when a severe ice storm caused the station's 2,000-foot (610 m) tower to collapse. Within hours, channel 5 cut a deal with the then-struggling Fayetteville station WKFT-TV (now WUVC-TV), allowing WRAL to return to the air in only three hours. WKFT ran the entire WRAL schedule during this time. The station's new, stronger tower was launched on October 25, 1990, at which point WKFT reverted to airing its own programming.

In the early 1990s, WRAL broadcasted its programming via C-Band satellite as part of the Primetime 24 package. That offered network affiliates to viewers in the Caribbean and Latin America, as well as the few rural areas of the United States and Canada where local signals were not available. It was replaced in the late 1990s with fellow CBS affiliate WSEE-TV from Erie, Pennsylvania.

Digital programming

On June 19, 1996, the Federal Communications Commission awarded WRAL-TV the first experimental high-definition television license in theUnited States. The station, identified as WRAL-HD, began digital television operations on channel 32 over a month later, on July 23, 1996.[1]The station moved to channel 53 in March 2000.

WRAL-TV was the first in the United States to broadcast live sports program in high-definition (on September 6, 1997), as well as the first HD newscast (on October 28, 1998). CBS utilized WRAL-HD in testing its own high-definition programming some time later, and starting in 1999 began providing the station with a regular schedule of primetime programs in HD. HD Sports programing recorded by WRAL was provided to other model stations as well.[2] WRAL-TV's pioneering efforts in digital television has won wide recognition from within the television industry[3][4]

The station's digital signal, currently on UHF 48, is multiplexed:




RF Channel

Video Aspect Programming
5.1 48.1 1080i 16:9 main WRAL-TV programming / CBS HD
5.2 48.2 480i Cozi TV
5.3 48.3 Start TV
34.1 720p ATSC 1.0 simulcast of WARZ-CD / Retro TV

As part of the analog television shutdown and digital conversion was completed, WRAL-TV shut down its analog transmitter on June 12, 2009 at 12:55 PM. The station's digital broadcasts remained on channel 48. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers continue to display WRAL's virtual channel as 5.1


WRAL has aired the entire CBS program schedule since the late-1990s. The only exception involves ACC football and basketball fromRaycom Sports, both of which have aired on the station since 1982. Also, Cupid, a 2003 reality show was not aired, as were some controversial shows on sister station WRAZ. WRAL is one of the few CBS affiliates that shows The Young and the Restless from 4 to 5 P.M. as a lead in to its 5 p.m. newscast. Most CBS stations air Y&R from 12:30 to 1:30, but in the case of WRAL, the timeslot switch occurred in January 1993. This happened because the station's sitcom reruns (the show being run at the time was an hour block of The Golden Girls) were having no luck against The Oprah Winfrey Show on WTVD.

WRAL has broadcast memorable locally-produced children's programming throughout its storied history. However, its most famous and longest-running is Time for Uncle Paul (1961–1981) starring Paul Montgomery. He had played various other characters on other local shows before getting his own program. He voluntarily ended his program after station management suggested a change to an educational format.

Soon after, WRAL continued to produce acclaimed kids' shows with an educational slant including: Frog Hollow, Sparks, and The Androgena Show. Today, WRAL continues to produce quality children's educational programs with such shows as Smart Start Kids and Brain Game.

WRAL announced on February 1, 2006 that it would begin to simulcast all of its programming on the web to computer users in the Triangle. This signified the latest advance in technology-driven delivery of product by a local television station. A few months later, WRAL was selected to serve as the flagship station for the North Carolina Education Lottery which includes nightly drawings and the twice-a-week nationalPowerball lottery. On December 3, 2007, WRAL became the first local television station to stream live video to mobile phones. This event coincided with the 48th Annual WRAL tower lighting.

News operation

WRAL has the highest rated television news organizations in the area[5] winning numerous regional Emmys. Most recently, WRAL and wral.com were nominated 29 times for Mid South Regional Emmys.[6] The station has been the highest-rated station in the Triangle for most of the time since the 1970s.

Until his retirement on July 1, 1994, Charlie Gaddy co-anchored newscasts alongside Bobbie Battista, Adele Arakawa (now with KUSA-TV inDenver), Donna Gregory (who now works for NBC), and Pam Saulsby. Today Saulsby, along with current co-anchor David Crabtree (who replaced Gaddy in 1994), chief meteorologist Greg Fishel (who took over for retiring Bob DeBardelaben in 1989, and sportcaster Tom Suiter, is a part of the longest-running on-air news team (news, weather, and sports) in the Triangle and one of the longest-running news teams in the state. Tom Suiter stepped down from his sports anchor duties on December 18, 2008 following the 6pm newscast and was replaced by Jeff Gravely, currently a sports reporter and anchor for the 10pm news on WRAZ.[7]

In August 1998, WRAL began to produce newscasts on WRAZ. That station usually simulcasts local breaking news coverage from WRAL. For national breaking news, WRAZ carries Fox News coverage while WRAL carries CBS News. Otherwise, WRAZ may broadcast CBS programming in case WRAL cannot do so as in news-related emergencies. The WRAZ broadcasts include weekday mornings at 7 for two hours and half-hour broadcasts at 10 on weeknights as well as weekends. The newscasts are simulcasted on WRAL's second digital subchannel.

In 2000, WRAL aired the world's first high definition newscast on October 13. In January 2001, WRAL converted all of its local news broadcasts to high definition.[citation needed] The WRAZ newscasts are broadcast in high definition as well. On December 15, 2006, WRAL had a special "reunion" newscast at 6 o'clock with Gaddy, Battista, DeBardelaben, and Suiter reprising their roles once again. This commemorated the station's 50th anniversary. On October 10, 2007, the WRAL sports department launched a sports talk radio station, WCMC-FM (known as 99.9 The Fan). It is now is the only FM sports talk station in the area and broadcasts in high definition. This station was previously known as 99.9 Genuine Country.

WRAL's newscasts are simulcast with local weather inserts on another sister station, WILM-LP in Wilmington.

Sky 5

On July, 1979, the station became the state's first to begin using a helicopter, known as "Sky 5" for newsgathering. The aircraft was a Hughes 500 D, tail number 8624F, equipped with microwave gear and the ability to switch between two cameras. In 1985, WRAL replaced the first SKY 5 with an updated Hughes 500 D, tail model 111LQ.  The current Bell 407 helicopter, tail number N553HD was purchased for $2 million in 2000. The tail number represents the station's channel, that this is the 3rd news gathering helicopter for the station and WRAL's role in pioneering high definition broadcasting. The aircraft is piloted by Steve Wiley, who has flown for the station for 21 years. The aircraft is normally stored at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport but a helipad is available on the roof of one of the WRAL buildings.[8] The helicopter is equipped with $600,000 worth of video equipment including cameras installed on the tail, 2 in the cabin and a gyroscope controlled high definition camera under the nose, all of which can be controlled from the rear of the aircraft by a videographer. WRAL modified the helicopter to reach speeds of 130 miles per hour.[5]

Station coverage

WRAL can be viewed from much of Central and Eastern North Carolina. The official eastern fringe of the Raleigh market is Halifax County and the western fringe is Orange County. The Virginia and South Carolina state lines make up the northern and southern fringe respectively, with the exception of Mecklenburg County, VA. WRAL can be seen well outside of the Raleigh market, with the signal penetrating parts of the Greenville, Greensboro, Wilmington, Charlotte, Roanoke, VA, Richmond, VA, Norfolk, VA and Florence/Myrtle Beach, SC markets.

Outside the WRAL market on cable

WRAL-TV has been popular with viewers throughout central and eastern North Carolina but with the increased regulation of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Nielsen Ratings and advertisers, WRAL in the past has almost been dropped by Time Warner Cable(TWC) lineups. However, up until the mid 1990s, WRAL used to be on cable in Montgomery County but was dropped with no official reason. In 2008, TWC outlets in Rockingham, Laurinburg, Greenville and Murfreesboro were once facing the possibility of being dropped but their contracts have been renewed. This also includes their sister station WRAZ-TV.

WRAL-TV is still viewed and is quite popular with many outside of the Raleigh-Durham TV Market, mainly in portions of the Piedmont Triad,Eastern North Carolina, and even into parts of Southside Virginia and the Pee Dee region of South Carolina. The popularity of WRAL outside of the Raleigh market, especially in the Triad, Eastern North Carolina, and Southside Virginia, stems from WRAL's advanced technology in news gathering and weather coverage, which has largely been unmatched by broadcasters in other markets. The station is also known for its award winning documentaries, children's shows, and news staff, which has attracted viewers from outside of the Raleigh market. Halifax County in Southside Virginia is frequently mentioned by WRAL, although they are not part of the Raleigh market. Outside of the Raleigh market in Southside Virginia, WRAL is on cable in South Boston, Halifax County and Lawrenceville, Brunswick County. WRAL is also viewed as far east as U.S. Highway 17 in the Greenville-Washington-New Bern market, including the city of Greenville. The fringe area of WRAL-DTs signal runs as far east as the western side of Beaufort County. However in Northampton County, which is partly in the Hampton Roads television market but used to be in the Raleigh market, the town of Jackson does not carry WRAL but only WNCT, the CBS affiliate from Greenville and WTKR, the market's CBS affiliate.

Significantly viewed by the FCC

WRAL is significantly viewed by the FCC in the following North Carolina counties outside of the DMA: Alamance, Caswell, Duplin, Lenoir, Pitt, Robeson and Scotland.[9]

Affiliations with UNC-TV

In recent years WRAL and UNC-TV have teamed up in coproducing programming, such as the 2009 Gubernatorial Inauguration and the 2006 Parade of Sail Tall Ship Show in Beaufort. UNC-TV has, also, begun carrying WRAL's award winning Focal Point documentaries. WRAL has long been a corporate supporter of UNC-TV, often assisting them financially and occasionally with on-air talent during UNC-TV's yearly Festival telethon.

Agricultural coverage

WRAL was one of the first stations in North Carolina to cover agricultural markets and farm news in its regular newscasts. Each day's Noon newscast would have a farm segment where each day's farm commodity prices were broadcast, followed by a feature agricultural story from somewhere in the viewing area or around North Carolina. This grew WRAL's popularity in rural areas and with farmers, especially in Eastern North Carolina. The noon news farm broadcasts were anchored by veteran farm reporter Ray Wilkinson and were stopped in the late 1990s, but farm segments were continued in the evening news broadcasts by Ray's son Dan Wilkinson. After the sudden unexpected death of Dan Wilkinson in October 2003, it was decided not to have a full time farm reporter and frequent agricultural coverage came to an end.

News/station presentation

Newscast titles

  • Stateline/Dateline (1956–1964)
  • Dateline (1964–1972)
  • TV-5 Action News (1972–1976)
  • Action News 5 (1976–1988)
  • WRAL-TV News (1988–1989)
  • WRAL-TV 5 News (1989–2003)
  • WRAL News (2003–present)

Station slogans

  • Welcome To The Bright New World on TV-5 (1975-1976)
  • Let Us Be The One on TV-5 (1976-1977)
  • The One & Only TV-5 (1977–1981)
  • TV-5`s The One You Can Turn To (1978-1979)
  • The News People (late 1970s-early 1980s)
  • The Place to Be! (1984–1990)
  • Your 24-Hour News Source (1990–1991)
  • North Carolina's News Leader (1991–2004)
  • Coverage You Can Count On (1998–present)

News team

Current on-air staff

Current Anchors

  • Cullen Browder - weeknights at 5:30
  • Kelcey Carlson - weekday mornings (5-7am on WRAL; 7-9am on WRAZ)
  • Renee Chou - weekend mornings
  • David Crabtree - weeknights at 5 and 6
  • Sloane Heffernan - weekend mornings
  • Bill Leslie - weekday mornings (5-7am on WRAL; 7-9am on WRAZ) and noon
  • Debra Morgan - weeknights at 5:30, 10 and 11
  • Gerald Owens - weeknights at 10 (on WRAZ) and 11
  • Pam Saulsby - weekdays at noon, 5 and 6
  • Ken Smith - weekend evenings

Weather Team

  • Greg Fishel (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist; seen on weeknights at 5, 6, and 11
  • Kim Deaner (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekend evenings
  • Elizabeth Gardner (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist/NWA Seals of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekday mornings and noon
  • Mike Maze (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; weeknights at 5:30 and 10
  • Mike Moss (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seals of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekend mornings
  • Nate Johnson (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist/NWA Seals of Approval) - weeknight producer and administrator

Sports Team

  • Jeff Gravley - Sports Director; weeknights at 5:30, 6, 10 and 11
  • Ken Medlin - Sports Anchor; weekend evenings (also sports reporter)
  • Jason Jennings - sports reporter
  • Ryan Craig - website sports editor
  • Josh Hailey - sports photographer and sports assistant
  • Brad Simmons - producer
  • Tom Suiter - "Football Friday" segment producer


  • Rick Armstrong
  • Cullen Browder
  • Kelcey Carlson
  • Mike Charbonneau
  • Renee Chou
  • Stacy Davis - morning reporter
  • Erin Hartness
  • Sloane Heffernan
  • Monica Laliberte - "5 on Your Side" consumer reporter
  • Amanda Lamb
  • Dr. Allen Mask - "WRAL Health Team" reporter
  • Scott Mason - documentary producer
  • Bruce Mildwurf
  • Bryan Mims
  • Beau Minnick
  • Adam Owens
  • Ken Smith
  • Brian Shrader - traffic reporter and website

Notable former staff

  • Adele Arakawa - former co-anchor (1983–1989, now at KUSA-TV in Denver)
  • Curt Autry - weekend anchor/reporter (1991–1994, now at WWBT in Richmond)
  • Jim Axelrod - political reporter (1993–1996, now with CBS News)
  • John Bachman - anchor/reporter (2003–2007, now at WSB-TV in Atlanta)
  • Sam Beard - news anchor during the 1960s and early 1970s (deceased)
  • Bret Baier - reporter (mid-1990s, now with Fox News Channel)
  • Bobbie Battista - former co-anchor (1976–1981, joined CNN in 1982), now at The Onion News Network, the online news-satirical group.
  • Sandra Bookman - weekend anchor/reporter (1985–1989, now at WABC-TV in New York)
  • Denice Boyer - anchor/reporter (1980s)
  • Rich Brenner - Sports Anchor (1970s-1982)
  • Susan Brozek - reporter (1985–1988, now Senior Producer/Local Programming at WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh)
  • Dale Cardwell - reporter (1985–1991, later at WSB-TV in Atlanta. Democratic candidate for US Senate, 2008)
  • Bob Caudle - news and weather anchor/wrestling announcer
  • Stacey Cameron - reporter (2008–2009, now chief investigative reporter at KCTV5 in Kansas City))
  • Laurie Clowers - morning anchor/reporter (1998–2006, now PR director at Wake Technical Community College)
  • Erin Coleman - weekend anchor/reporter (2000s, now at WSB-TV in Atlanta)
  • Ned Colt - (now an NBC News Correspondent)
  • Paul Crawley - reporter (1976–1978, now at WXIA-TV in Atlanta)
  • Susan Dahlin - PM Magazine host/entertainment reporter (1980–1998)
  • Ann Devlin - reporter/anchor (1981–1983)
  • Bob DeBardelaben - former off-camera announcer and weather anchor (1963–1989)
  • David Eichorn - meteorologist (1985–1989)now with WSYR-TV, Syracuse
  • Bette Elliott - longtime host of women's program Femme Fare (1962–1975, deceased)
  • Charlie Gaddy - anchorman (1970–1994)
  • Donna Gregory - originated WRAL's 5:30 p.m. newscast (1988–1995, now with NBC News)
  • Terri Gruca - reporter (1994–1997), now anchor at KVUE-TV in Austin
  • Don Griffin - consumer reporter/weekend anchor (1976–1982, now at WSOC-TV in Charlotte)
  • Angela Hampton - reporter (1993–1994, now at WTVD)
  • Jesse Helms - general manager, commentator (1960–1972, later US Senator, deceased)
  • John Hudson - morning/noon anchor (1983–1989, deceased)
  • Bob Johnston- anchor/reporter (1970's)
  • Shelley Kofler - reporter (1981–1985) now news director, KERA-TV, Dallas
  • Lauren Krause - weekend anchor/reporter (1994–2000)
  • Tom Lawrence - off-camera announcer/technology reporter (1980s through early 2000s)
  • J.D. Lewis - host of Teenage Frolics and editorialist (1958–1983, deceased)
  • Todd Lewis - reporter (1996–1999)
  • Emily Lopez - reporter
  • Ed McIntyre - anchor/reporter (1970s)
  • Paul Montgomery - star of Time for Uncle Paul (1956–1981, deceased)
  • Renee McCoy - reporter anchor (1982–2002) now Public Info Officer NC State DHHS
  • Faith Murphy - reporter (1987–1992)
  • Joe Oliver - anchor/reporter (1984–1988)
  • Nick Pond - sports anchor/wrestling announcer (1957–1971 and 1973–1978, deceased)
  • Ray Reeve - WRAL's first sportscaster (1956–1973, deceased)
  • Mark Roberts - morning traffic reporter/Host of Brain Game
  • Stuart Scott - reporter (1988–1990, now with ESPN)
  • Bill Schmidt - meteorologist (1980s)
  • Glenn Schwartz - meteorologist (now with WCAU-TV in Philadelphia)
  • Carol Sbarge - reporter (1986–1992, now with WSB-TV in Atlanta)
  • Rick Sullivan - sports reporter/anchor (1984–1995)
  • Larry Stogner - reporter (1973–1976, now at WTVD)
  • Betsy Sykes - weekend anchor/reporter (1990s)
  • Nina Szlosberg - reporter (circa 1980s, now a member of the N.C. Board of Transportation)
  • Fred Taylor - reporter/anchor (1970–2007)
  • Bob Vernon - noon anchor and off-camera announcer (1989–1995)
  • Franc White - host of The Southern Sportsman (1978–1996)
  • Ray Wilkinson - farm news (1963–1995, deceased)
  • Dan Wilkinson - son of Ray Wilkinson, farm news (deceased)
  • Kelly Wright - reporter and weekend anchor (mid-1990s, now with Fox News Channel)


Entrance to the WRAL-TV Azalea Garden

The station building, shared by WRAL-TV and Fox50, and located at 2619 Western Blvd in Raleigh, adjacent to the North Carolina State University campus, is a modern and open-designed structure and grounds. The property features a fountain visible from the roadway near the building entrance, and a large garden in the back of the property, including many varieties of azaleas and other flowering plants including several types of dogwoods. The garden is a popular public attraction, especially during April when the flowers are at the peak of blooming.

iPhone application

WRAL is one of the few local news stations in the United States to have its own application for the iPhone. The application offers News Stories, Weather, Sports, Video, and other features. At one point the WRAL application was the fifth most popular news application in the App Store.[citation needed]



  1. ^ History of WRAL Digital
  2. ^ Brinkley, Joel (October 15, 1998). "HDTV's Mixed Signals". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-10-15.
  3. ^ "WRAL goes high tech with news". Fayetteville Observer. Feb 18, 2001.
  4. ^ "Related Items On Friday, October 13, WRAL's 5:00 News will be the first ever all-high-definition newscast in the world.(WRAL-TV5 News) WRAL to Make History Again with High-Definition Newscast". WRAL. Oct 9, 2000. Retrieved 2009-10-15.
  5. ^ a b Cox, Jonathan B. (25 February 2004). "Airborne Newsroom Carries Latest Technology for Raleigh, N.C., TV Station.". News and Observer. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
  7. ^ "WRAL playbook changes: Suiter handing off sports anchor role". WRAL.com. 2008-12-03. Retrieved 2010-08-10.
  8. ^ "People of WRAL". WRAL. Retrieved 2008-06-07.
  9. ^ http://www.fcc.gov/mb/significantviewedstations022509.pdf

External links

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