WUSA-TV is a television station broadcasting on channel 9 in Washington, D.C.. Owned by TEGNA, WUSA is an affiliate of the CBS television network, and the longest-tenured affiliate of that network. WUSA's studios and transmitter are located in the Tenleytown neighborhood of Washington.
|Channels||Digital: 9 (VHF)|
|First air date||January 16, 1949|
|Call letters' meaning||USA Today and The UnitedStates of America|
|Former callsigns||WOIC-TV (1949-1950)
WTOP-TV (1950-1978) WDVM-TV (1978-1986)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
9 (VHF, 1949-2009) Digital: 34 (UHF, 1998-2009)
|Transmitter power||12.6 kW|
|Transmitter coordinates||38°57′1″N 77°4′47″W|
- 1 History
- 2 Websites
- 3 Digital television
- 4 Programming
- 5 News operation
- 6 News/station presentation
- 7 Logos
- 8 Awards
- 9 Newscast theme
- 10 Footnotes
- 11 External links
The station went on the air on January 11, 1949 as WOIC-TV, and began full-time operations on January 16. The fourth-oldest station in the nation's capital, channel 9's original owner was the Bamberger Broadcasting Service, a subsidiary of R.H. Macy and Company. Bamberger also owned WOR-AM-FM in New York City, and was working to put WOR-TV (now WWOR-TV) on the air at the same time. Nine days later, WOIC broadcast the first televised American presidential inaugural address, given by President Harry S. Truman.
WOIC-TV picked up the CBS affiliation upon signing on, replacing WMAL-TV (channel 7, now WJLA-TV) as CBS's Washington outlet. But the Bamberger/Macy's ownership had other plans for their station: both WOIC and its New York sister station were scheduled to become affiliates of a planned television network operated by Mutual Radio. However, Mutual Television never made it to air, leaving channel 9 to remain a CBS station.
In June 1950, CBS teamed up with the Washington Post to purchase WOIC-TV from Bamberger/Macy's. The new owners, WTOP Incorporated (the Washington Post owned 55 percent, and CBS held the remaining 45 percent), changed the station's call sign to WTOP-TV, after its new sister stations WTOP radio (then at 1500 AM) and WTOP-FM (96.3 MHz., now WHUR-FM).
In July 1950, WTOP-TV became the first television station in Washington authorized to broadcast color television in the 405-line field sequential color standard, which was incompatible with the black-and-white 525-line NTSC standard. Color broadcasts continued for nearly 30 months, when regulatory and commercial pressures forced the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to rescind its original color standard and begin the process of adopting the 525-line NTSC-3 standard, developed by RCA to be backwards compatible with the existing black-and-white televisions.
In 1954, the WTOP stations moved into a new facility, known as "Broadcast House", at 40th and Brandywine streets NW in Washington. The building was the first in the country designed as a unified radio and television facility. Its name was in honor of Broadcasting House, home of the BBC in London. The building was well-known to WTOP's president. since he had spent much of World War II assigned to the BBC. Previous to the move to Broadcast House, the radio stations operated out of the Earle Building (now the Warner Building, home of the Warner Theatre), and WTOP-TV had operated out of the small WOIC studios at the same location. When Broadcast House was completed and the new television studios were inaugurated, the old studio became the garage for Broadcast House and the old master control room became both the master control and transmitter room for channel 9, since Broadcast House had been built around the station's original, four-sided tower. The building with the tower remains in the middle at the same location, although it is now an office building and retail store front operated by Douglas Development Corp.
The WTOP-TV tower was known in Washington for two things. First, at Christmas time, the tower was strung with Christmas lights and glowed brightly on top of Mount Reno, the tallest point in the District of Columbia. Second, the tower tended to sway much more than three-sided towers. In a strong wind the tower could be seen swaying back-and-forth, and during the winter ice from the tower fell quite often on the streets below.
Also in 1954, CBS sold its share of WTOP Inc. to the Washington Post to comply with the Federal Communications Commission's new seven-station-per-group ownership rule. CBS's partial ownership of WTOP radio and WCCO radio in Minneapolis exceeded the FCC's limit for AM stations. CBS opted to sell its share of WTOP, which it had purchased in whole in 1932 before selling controlling interest to the Post in 1949.
After the sale closed, the Post merged the WTOP stations with its other broadcast property, WMBR-AM-TV in Jacksonville, Florida and changed the name of the licensee from "WTOP Inc." to "Post Stations, Inc." WMBR radio was sold off in 1958, and WMBR-TV became WJXT. The Post renamed its broadcasting group "Post-Newsweek Stations" in 1961 after thePost bought Newsweek magazine. Post-Newsweek acquired its third television station, WLBW-TV (now WPLG) in Miami in 1970 and in 1974 added WTIC-TV (now WFSB) in Hartford, Connecticut to the group.
In 1972, WTOP-TV joined with the Evening Star Broadcasting Company (owned by the Post's rival, the now-defunct Washington Star and licensee of WMAL-TV) to build the Joint Tower, a 1040-foot, three-sided tower across the alley from Broadcast House at 4010 Chesapeake Street, NW. Transmission lines were extended from Broadcast House's transmitter area to the new tower for both WTOP-TV and WHUR-FM (the former WTOP-FM, which had been donated by Post-Newsweek to Howard University in 1971). The old tower continued to serve as the backup antenna for channel 9 until the station sold Broadcast House in 1996.
In 1974, WTOP and the other Post-Newsweek stations adopted the slogan The One and Only. The moniker was part of a trend toward group identification of stations, with each station being The One and Only Channel (channel number). Staff members from the One and Only period usually refer to themselves as "the one and onlies" as a source of pride. The slogan was dropped from active use in the late 1990s and has not been used as part of an image campaign since 1996. The slogan no longer appears on the air, but was revived in a sense when channel 9 adopted its current slogan, First and Only with Local News in HDTV.
In July 1978, Post-Newsweek exchanged WTOP-TV with the Evening News Association's WWJ-TV (now WDIV) in Detroit. Upon completion of the swap, WTOP-TV changed its call letters to WDVM-TV, with the new call letters representing the initials of the areas which channel 9 serves: D for the District of Columbia, V for Virginia, and M for Maryland. TheWashington Post and the Evening News Association, which published the Detroit News, decided to swap their stations for fear the FCC would force them to sell the stations at unfavorable terms or revoke their very valuable licenses because the FCC at the time was considering forbidding ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations in the same market.
In 1985, the Gannett Company purchased the Evening News Association. On July 4, 1986, Gannett changed WDVM's call letters to WUSA both in honor of the station being located in the nation's capital and Gannett's ownership of USA Today. The same connection is noted with Gannett's NBC-affiliated Denver station, KUSA-TV. The WUSA callsign had previously been used by Gannett's station in Minneapolis, which changed its callsign to KARE. While the station's current call sign is commonly printed as W*USA, particularly in Gannett press releases, the asterisk or star between the W and U is not officially recognized as part of the call sign, as FCC records list the station as WUSA. The star device was used to denote its connection to USA Today. (KUSA-TV employs a similar practice.) After the Women's United Soccer Association (the WUSA) was founded in the late 1990s (which also incorporates the star in the same fashion), the star was replaced on-air with the CBS eye.
From 1989 to 2000, WUSA had a 4 p.m. newscast and expanded its news block from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., moving the CBS Evening News to 7:00 p.m.. In 2000, the 4pm newscast was dropped and WUSA cut a half-hour off the end of its 4-7 news block repositioning the CBS Evening News to 6:30 p.m. like most CBS affiliates. (The reason why the 4 p.m. newscast had been implemented in 1989 was that the station gave up The Oprah Winfrey Show to neighboring WJLA due to the program's cost.)
WUSA moved to a new Broadcast House at 4100 Wisconsin Avenue, NW in January 1992. WTOP-FM had left the old Broadcast House in 1971, but kept its transmitter there. WTOP radio departed in 1978; the Post had sold it a year earlier to the Outlet Company. The move to the more modern building was tinged with sadness due to the death from a brain tumor of channel 9's popular sportcaster, Glenn Brenner, just days before the move.
In 1998, WUSA launched its web site, wusatv9.com, but later removed the TV reference in the domain name to become wusa9.com.
During the September 11 attacks in 2001, WUSA made the decision to preempt CBS' national coverage of the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center with its own local coverage. This decision proved controversial. As a local affiliate, WUSA did not possess the resources to cover the attacks as extensively as the national network, and its decision to institute a "CBS blackout" prevented its audience from viewing much of the national reportage anchored by Dan Rather. The Washington Post criticized this decision, writing, "The city was subjected to a CBS blackout by the local affiliate, Gannett-owned Channel 9. The station chose to view this, incredibly enough, as a local story and reported it initially as if it were a winter snow day and school closings were of the utmost importance." 
On May 2, 2005, WUSA became the first station in the Washington market to broadcast its newscasts in high definition.
In July 2007, WUSA launched a second web site at DVMmoms.com. The site focused on topics relating to local young moms in the Washington, D.C. area. Gannett also rolled out similar moms sites in other select markets where it have properties.
In February 2008, WUSA launched a third web site at DVMOurTime.com. The site is fronted by noon anchor J.C. Hayward and provides local restaurant and business discounts as well as news and events targeted towards baby boomers.
In May 2008, The McLaughlin Group, a nationally syndicated half-hour weekly public affairs television program, began production in the WUSA studios.
In 2008, Gannett and Tribune partnered to expand the Metromix brand that has been successful for many years in Chicago at the Chicago Tribune. WUSA's local Metromix.com site launched in July 2008 and is WUSA's fourth web site. There are 35 other Gannett and/or Tribune properties that have a Metromix site.
In August 2008, Gannett revamped its moms sites, and DVMmoms.com was renamed MomsLikeMe.com. Like the previous versions, the site features topics related to young moms and includes technology from Ripple 6, which was recently acquired by Gannett. There are MomsLikeMe.com sites in 85 other markets throughout the country.
In September 2008, WUSA's fifth web site was launched, called HighSchoolSports.net. The site features high school sports rankings, schedules, scores across the US for high school football, soccer, basketball, baseball, and more. Again, this is a Gannett-owned property that was launched in many markets throughout the country.
On April 20, 2009 it was announced that Washington, DC will be the first market to get free mobile digital television via cell phones and other mobile devices through Mobile TV. WUSA will be one of the first stations in the country to launch this new platform.
On June 11, 2009, WUSA ended its high-power analog TV transmissions, as required by the Federal Communications Commission, and continued to broadcast on their digital TV transmission only.
In June 2010, Gannett Broadcasting and DataSphere Technologies announced a partnership to create community-focused websites in 10 of their television station markets. WUSA was one of the first to launch these sites in August 2010. The sites are integrated within the existing website and feature hyper local news and user-generated content about area happenings and events. In addition to powering the community web sites, DataSphere provides enhanced functionality, including market-leading site search, coupons, a business directory and ad targeting. WUSA created 52 different neighborhood sites in the Metro DC area.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|9.1||WUSA-DT1||Main WUSA-TV Programming / CBS (HD)|
|9.3||WUSA-DT3||WUSA Weather Radar|
Syndicated programs broadcast by WUSA include Right This Minute, Entertainment Tonight, Inside Edition, and Dr. Phil. The latter three are distributed by CBS' corporate cousin CBS Television Distribution.
WTOP was one of the few CBS stations that declined to carry the popular game show The Price Is Right during the early years of the program's run (although Washington, D.C. ABC station WMAL-TV/WJLA-TV 7 did carry The Price Is Right and some other CBS daytime game shows that WTOP didn't carry during the mid 1970s).
During the September 11 attacks in 2001, WUSA made the decision to preempt CBS' national coverage of the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center with its own local coverage; this decision proved controversial. As a local affiliate, WUSA did not possess the resources to cover the attacks as extensively as the national network, and its decision to institute a "CBS blackout" prevented its audience from viewing much of the national reporting anchored by Dan Rather. The Washington Post criticized this decision, writing, "The city was subjected to a CBS blackout by the local affiliate, Gannett-owned Channel 9. The station chose to view this, incredibly enough, as a local story and reported it initially as if it were a winter snow day and school closings were of the utmost importance."
From May 2008 until the end of its original run in 2016, WUSA served as the production studio for the program The McLaughlin Group which was also broadcast on some select CBS stations (including its New York City owned-and-operated station WCBS-TV) beginning in May 2007 and on some PBS member stations (locally via WETA-TV and WHUT-TV), the show was distributed by WTTW out of Chicago, with the production facilities moved over from NBC owned-and-operated station WRC-TV, where show had been based since its premiere in 1982.
Channel 9 has a long history of covering Washington, D.C. sports teams through CBS. In 1956, when CBS began carrying NFL games, Channel 9 became the station of record for the Washington Redskins (now the Washington Football Team); this was an alliance which would continue until 1993 (although beginning in 1970, WRC-TV aired any Redskins games involving them playing host to an AFC team via NBC's contract with the AFC) when WTTG gained the rights to air most of their games, thanks to Fox's acquisition of the NFC broadcast rights. Today, the station airs the Washington Football Team's games when the team hosts an AFC opponent at FedExField, or starting in 2014, with the institution of 'cross-flex' broadcast rules, games that are moved from WTTG to WUSA. The station carried the Redskins' victory over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI in January 1992.
WTOP/WDVM/WUSA aired any games involving the team's NBA team, the then-Capital/Washington Bullets (now the Washington Wizards) via CBS' NBA broadcast contract from 1973 to 1990; the team's 1978 NBA Finals championship aired on channel 9.
WUSA also carries Georgetown Hoyas and Maryland Terrapins men's basketball games selected for broadcast by CBS through its agreement with those teams' conferences (the Big East and Big Ten respectively) and coverage of NCAA March Madness. Additionally, the station aired select weekend Washington Nationals games from 2013 until 2017; those telecasts were produced by MASN.
WUSA presently broadcasts 33 hours, 15 minutes of locally produced newscasts each week (with 5 hours, 35 minutes each weekday; 2 hours, 5 minutes on Saturday; and 3 hours, 5 minutes on Sunday); in addition, the station produces a sports highlight program called Game On!, which airs Sunday evenings after the 11 p.m. newscast. WUSA was the launchpad for several well-known news anchors. Sam Donaldson and Warner Wolf are among WUSA's most successful alumni. Max Robinson was co-anchor of Eyewitness News with Gordon Peterson from 1969 to 1978 before he became the first black anchorman on network television and one of the original anchors of ABC World News Tonight. James Brown of CBS Sports was a sports anchor at the station in the 1980s.
In 1989, WUSA debuted an hour-long newscast at 4 p.m. (replacing The Oprah Winfrey Show, which the station chose not to continue carrying due to the program's licensing fees, it then moved to WJLA-TV), which created a three-hour local news block from 4 to 7 p.m., resulting in a half-hour delay of the CBS Evening News to 7 p.m. The 4 p.m. newscast was dropped in 2000, with WUSA also cutting a half-hour off the end of its 4–7 p.m. news block, moving the CBS Evening News to 6:30 p.m., the recommended timeslot for the network newscast for CBS stations located in the Eastern Time Zone. As of August 2020, WUSA is the only major station in the Washington market that does not carry a 4:00 p.m. newscast.
On May 2, 2005, WUSA became the first television station in the Washington market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition.
In February 2012, WUSA launched its investigative unit with Chief Investigative Reporter Russ Ptacek. Ptacek's investigations led to reform after uncovering millions in unreported government bonuses, a utility allowed to charge customers during disconnections caused by storms, taxis refusing passengers based upon race, and potentially deadly restaurant food safety risks. Ptacek and WUSA9 parted ways in 2016 when the station announced changes to its investigative direction.
Anchor and consumer correspondent Lesli Foster reported on a petition filed by the Center For Auto Safety asking government safety regulators to recall millions of older model Jeep Grand Cherokees. The consumer group believes the placement of the plastic gas tanks in those vehicles can lead to fires and deaths when they are struck from behind. The gas tank is located behind the rear axle—literally in the crush zone of the vehicle. Chrysler says the vehicles are safe and not defective. The automaker points out that in the 26 fatal accidents cited by NHTSA where they can calculate kinetic energy, the deaths in all those vehicles involved speeds that exceed today's crash test requirements. But the company agreed to recall over 1 million of the remaining 1993–1998 models, along with 2002–2007 Jeep Liberty's back in June of last year. Lesli Foster was acknowledged for her hard hitting investigative report in 2013 with a NCCB-NATAS Emmy Award.
Beginning with the noon newscast on January 17, 2013, WUSA unveiled a new graphics package for the station's newscasts designed for Gannett's news-producing stations by design firm The Mill; the new graphics are designed to reduce on-screen clutter, which viewers complained about prior to the change to the new standardized graphics. With the change, WUSA began using the AFD #10 broadcast flag to present their newscasts in letterboxed widescreen for viewers watching on cable televisionthrough 4:3 television sets. Additionally, the station unveiled its new logo, which was stylized as "wusa⋆9", in lower-case lettering.
Beginning with Wake Up Washington on April 26, 2018, WUSA unveiled a new set to replace the previous one used since the May 2, 2005 HD launch, along with a new station logo which ended the use of any stars and/or asterisks in WUSA's branding. It also rolled out a new standardized graphics and music package for the station's newscasts designed for Tegna's news-producing stations.
Current on-air staff
- Bruce Johnson - weeknights at 6pm and Off Script
- Adam Long - weeknights at 5 and 11pm
- Lesli Foster - weeknights at 5, 6, and 11pm
- Annie Yu- weekdays on Wake Up Washington (4:25-7AM) and host of Get Up DC
- Larry Miller - weekdays on Wake Up Washington (4:25-7AM): host of Get Up DC, and weekdays at noon.
- Reese Waters - weekdays on Get Up DC
- Jessica Doyle - Business/Consumer Reporter; Fill-in Morning Anchor
- Kristin Fisher - General Assignment Reporter
- Lindsey Mastis - General Assignment Reporter
- Andrea McCarren - General Assignment Reporter (had previously worked at WUSA from 1992–1995)
- Scott Broom - General Assignment Reporter
- Surae Chinn - Morning Reporter
- Peggy Fox - Mom Reporter
- Bruce Leshan - General Assignment Reporter
- Brittany Morehouse - General Assignment Reporter
- Gary Neurenberg - General Assignment Reporter
- Armando Trull - General Assignment Reporter
- Ken Molestina - General Assignment Reporter
- Topper Shutt - Chief Meteorologist; Weekdays 5pm, 6pm, 7 and 11pm
- Howard Bernstein - Weekday Mornings (4:30am-7am) and Noon
- Anny Hong - Weekend Meteorologist; Fill-In Meteorologist on weekdays
- Brett Haber - Sports Director seen Monday-Friday
- Dave Owens - Sports reporter and fill-in sports anchor
- Sports Anchors are also Anchors/Reporters of "Sports Plus"
- Angie Goff - Morning Traffic Anchor also Morning and noon Fill-in Anchor
- Monika Samtani - 5pm and 6pm Traffic Anchor
- Dave Calhoun - Fill-In Traffic Anchor
- Kris Sneed - Traffic Producer and Fill-In Traffic Anchor
Notable former staff
^[D] - Deceased
- WTOP News: NewsDay/NewsNight/The 11:00 Report (1950s-1960s)
- The Big News (1960s–1972)
- Eyewitness News (1972–2000)
- 9 Eyewitness News (2000–2002)
- WUSA 9 News (2002–2006)
- 9 News Now (2006–2013)
- wusa⋆9 (2013–present)
- The One and Only TV-9!/The One and Only Channel 9! (1974)
- Catch the Brightest Stars on TV-9 (1975–1976; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- Keep Your Eye On (1976)
- We Give It All We've Got (1977)
- You Make Us the One (1979)
- One Good Thing Leads to Another (1980–1981)
- The One to Watch (1982; a similar promo was used by Melbourne's ATV-10 and Los Angeles's KNXT, and another promo was made for Sky News; The advertising series won a Clio Award)
- Reach for the Stars on Channel 9 (1981-1982; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- Great Moments on Channel 9 (1982-1983; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- February Looks Great on Channel 9 (1983; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- We've Got the Touch, You and Channel 9 (1983–1984; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- You and Channel 9, We've Got the Touch (1984-1985; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- We've Got the Touch on Channel 9 (1985-1986; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- Ours to Share (1985–1986; this was said to have gotten the director of promotions for channel 9 fired)
- Share The Spirit of Channel 9 (1986-1987; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- Channel 9 Spirit, oh yes. (1987-1988; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- Get Ready for Channel 9 (1990–1991; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- The Look of D.C. is Channel 9 (1991-1992; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- This is CBS, on Channel 9 (1992-1994; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- "I am WUSA People on Channel 9" (1994-1995; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- "You're on W*USA Channel 9" (1995-1996; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- "Welcome Home to W*USA 9" (1996-1997; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- "The Address is W*USA 9...Welcome Home" (1997-1999; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- "The Address is W*USA 9" (1999-2000; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
- Whatever It Takes. (mid-late 1990s)
- Where Local News Comes First (2000–2002)
- No Gimmicks. No Hype. Just The News. (2002–2005)
- The First and Only Local News in the Nation's Capital in High-Definition (2005–2006)
- 9 NEWS NOW (2006–2013)
- The Next Generation of News (2013-present)
The theme used for its Newscasts from 1970-1982 was an instrumental version of the song "It's Superman" from the musical "It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman".
The newscast (Newsday - noon and Newsnight 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.) theme during the 1960s was "The Liberators" from Norman Dello Joio's music for the 1950s TV series "Air Power."
- ^ "Digital Signal Sources". The Washington Post. 2008-05-20.
- ^ As indicated under "Licensee" above, the Evening News Association was renamed "Detroit Free Press, Inc." in 2005, when that Gannett subsidiary simultaneously bought the Free Pressand sold the News.
- ^ WUSA-TV Breaking News Smoke and Fire Reported at the Pentagon (September 11, 2001) (Retrived 13 January 2011)
- ^ Shales, Tom. “On Television, the Unimaginable Story Unfolds.” 12 Sep. 2001. Washington Post. Pg. C01. LexisNexis. Web. 8 Nov. 2009.
- ^ http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-06-1082A2.pdf
- ^ FCC document: "APPENDIX B: ALL FULL-POWER TELEVISION STATIONS BY DMA, INDICATING THOSE TERMINATING ANALOG SERVICE BEFORE ON OR FEBRUARY 17, 2009."