WVTM-TV is the NBC affiliate television station in the Birmingham-Anniston-Tuscaloosa, Alabama television market. The station is owned by Media General. Its transmitter tower is located atop Red Mountain in Birmingham.
|Branding||WVTM 13 (general)|
WVTM 13 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||We Are Alabama (general)|
Covering the South (newscasts)
|Channels||Digital: 13 (VHF)|
(WVTM Hearst Television, Inc.)
|First air date||May 29, 1949|
|Call letters' meaning||Vulcan
(in reference to statue) Times Mirror (former owners)
|Former callsigns||WAFM-TV (1949-1953)
WABT (1953-1958) WAPI-TV (1958-1980)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
13 (1949-2009) Digital: 52 (Until 2009)
|Transmitter power||20 kW (digital)|
|Height||403 m (digital)|
|Transmitter coordinates||33°29′25.9″N 86°47′47.7″W|
The station signed on the air on May 29, 1949, as WAFM-TV, owned by The Voice of Alabama, Inc. along with radio stations WAPI (AM 1070), and WAFM (FM 94.5, now WJOX). It is Alabama's oldest television station. It was originally a CBS affiliate with a secondary ABC affiliation.
In 1953, the Birmingham News bought the Voice of Alabama and changed WAFM-TV's calls to WABT (for Alabama's Best Television). A year later, WABT swapped primary affiliations with WBRC-TV and became an NBC affiliate. In 1956, the Newhouse newspaper chain bought the News. The station changed call signs again in 1958 when it became WAPI-TV to match its sister radio stations. (The calls stood for Alabama Polytechnic Institute, which owned WAPI radio from 1925 through 1932.)
WBRC-TV took the ABC affiliation on a full-time basis in 1961, forcing WAPI-TV to shoehorn both NBC and CBS programs into its schedule. This was rather unusual, since in most two-station markets ABC was relegated to secondary status on either one or both of the existing stations. The Birmingham market is a fairly large market geographically, stretching across nearly the entire width of the state. It also has some areas of fairly rugged terrain. Both of these factors made prospective station owners skittish about putting one of the available UHF allocations on the air, even though Birmingham was big enough even then to support three full network affiliates. Although there were two other VHF channels in the market, they had both been allocated to Alabama Educational Television.
While channel 13 tried to carry the most popular NBC and CBS shows, a lot of quite popular shows did not air in Birmingham because of this arrangement. One of the more popular CBS shows that WAPI-TV did not carry was The Ed Sullivan Show, meaning that central Alabama viewers missed The Beatles' American debut unless they were lucky enough to pick up stations in Atlanta, Huntsville or Montgomery. (This could explain the tumultuous local success of The Anita Kerr Singers in Birmingham throughout much of 1965-1967.) Curiously, one of the NBC shows that channel 13 turned down was The Tonight Show. WAPI-TV strongly favored NBC for news, so when CBS and NBC expanded their news programs to 30 minutes in the early 1960s, the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite wasn't seen in Birmingham for several years. This was due, of course, to both networks' feeding their newscasts to affiliates at 5:30 p.m. Central Time (like today). Channel 13 had its local newscast at 6 p.m. Central time, and prior to 1971, prime-time network programming began at 6:30 p.m. Central time. This left no room on the schedule for the CBS Evening News to air, even if the station management had wanted to broadcast it.
When WBMG-TV (channel 42, now WIAT) started operations in 1965, it nominally had a CBS affiliation, but CBS allowed WAPI-TV to continue airing its higher-rated programming. This was largely because WBMG had only started one year after the Federal Communications Commission required that new television sets include all-channel tuning. To fill out the schedule, WBMG aired some NBC programming that WAPI-TV turned down (such as The Tonight Show). Both stations listed "CBS/NBC" as their affiliation. However, in May 1970, for a number of reasons, WAPI-TV became the exclusive NBC affiliate, sending all of CBS's programming to WBMG. At the same time that channel 13 became an exclusive affiliate of NBC and WBMG aligned with CBS, WCFT in Tuscaloosa and WHMA in Anniston also affiliated with CBS. Prior to that time, the primetime schedule of WCFT and WHMA virtually mirrored that of WBMG.
The Newhouse company, Advance Publications, withdrew from broadcasting in the early 1980s. WAPI-TV was sold to Times-Mirror Broadcasting in 1980, and as a result the station became WVTM (for Vulcan Times-Mirror), and remains with those call letters to this day.
In 1993, the station was purchased by Argyle Broadcasting. In 1994, New World Communications, which had recently cut an affiliation deal with Fox Broadcasting Company, agreed to purchase WVTM along with its sister stations KTVI in St. Louis, Missouri, KDFW in Dallas, Texas, and KTBC in Austin, Texas. However, New World also decided to purchase several stations from Great American Broadcasting, including WBRC. New World was able to close on its purchase of WBRC on October 12, 1994 because the transfer applications of the Argyle stations were not submitted to the FCC until after the Citicasters (renamed from Great American Broadcasting) purchase was already finalized.
In January 1995, while awaitng for the Argyle purchase to receive FCC approval, New World announced that it would sell WBRC and WGHP in High Point, North Carolina to Fox, and put the two stations into a trust until Fox could close on the purchases. At that same time, New World took over the operations of the Argyle stations, including WVTM, through time brokerage agreements. The transfers of WBRC and WGHP to the trust were completed in early April 1995 while the New World purchase of the Argyle stations closed on April 14. As such, WVTM retained its NBC affiliation, while KTVI (the former St. Louis ABC affiliate), KDFW (the former Dallas/Fort Worth CBS affiliate), and KTBC (the former Austin CBS affiliate) became Fox affiliates. Fox operated WBRC as an ABC affiliate until 1996.
WVTM was one of four NBC-owned stations in smaller markets that were put up for sale on January 9, 2006, along with WJAR-TV in Providence, Rhode Island, WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio, and WNCN in Raleigh, North Carolina. On April 6, 2006, NBC Universal and Media General announced that Media General would purchase WVTM-TV as part of a $600 million four-station deal between the two companies . Media General subsequently announced that it would sell its existing station in Birmingham, WIAT, since the FCC does not allow for one company to own two of the four largest stations in a single market. Media General closed the deal on all four stations on June 26, 2006 - after the FCC granted the company a temporary waiver allowing it to keep both WVTM and WIAT for six months. On August 2, it was announced that Media General sold WIAT to New Vision Television. 
For several months after Media General acquired the stations from NBC Universal, WVTM's Web site and those of the other three stations remained in the format used by the Web sites of NBC owned & operated stations. In December 2006, the Web sites for all four of the stations were redesigned. They now credit Media General in their copyright notices, and they are no longer operated by the Internet Broadcasting company.
After the DTV conversion on June 12, 2009, WVTM was one of more than ten stations requesting a power increase due to the problems of VHF digital signals. The station had been broadcasting its pre-transition digital signal on UHF channel 52 but returned to VHF channel 13 for post-transition digital operations.
On October 17, 2007, WVTM began broadcasting local news in high definition (HDTV). WVTM was the first station in Alabama to broadcast local news in HD.
Previous owners of WVTM
- 1949–1953: The Voice of Alabama, Inc.
- 1953–1956: The Birmingham News Company
- 1956–1980: Newhouse family (Advance Publications)
- 1980–1993: Times-Mirror Company
- 1993–1995: Argyle Television
- 1995–1996: New World Communications
- 1996–2006: NBC
- 2006–present: Media General
The station also went through numerous name changes from NewsCenter13, to NewsWatch13 and its morning newscast 13 Alive to 13 Action News and then 13 and You, an ode to NBC and You to Alabama's 13, People Who Care; NBC13, We've Got You Covered; NBC13, Accuracy Matters; and now back to Alabama's 13. WVTM, currently known on air as Alabama's 13, runs more than 35 hours of local news a week along with NBC network news.
In 2004, WVTM became the first television station in Alabama to obtain a 1-million watt Doppler weather radar system originally dubbed "Skywatch Doppler One Million", "WeatherPlus Doppler One Million", now called "Alabama's 13 Live Doppler Radar", located on Bald Rock Mountain in St. Clair County, Alabama.
- WAPI News (1960s)
- Dateline News (1960s–1974)
- Newswatch 13 (general) / 13 Alive (morning newscast; 1974–1979)
- Action News 13 (1979–1981)
- Channel 13 News (1981–1988)
- Alabama's Prime News (1988–1991)
- Alabama's 13 News (1991–1995 & 2010–2015)
- NBC 13 News (1995–2010)
- WVTM 13 News (2015–present)
News Music Packages
- NBC-TV Radio Newspluse by Fred Weinberg Productions Inc. (1974-1978)
- Casey's Shadow: The Big Race by Columbia. Inc. (1978-1979)
- Classical Gas by Mason Williams (1979-1981)
- KDFW 1979 News Theme (1981-1983)
- And You by Telesound (1983-1985)
- Hello News by Gari Communications Inc. (1985-1987)
- KCBS-WNEV-WVTM News Theme by Unknown (1987-1991)
- The One for All by Gari Communications Inc. (1991-1995)
- The One and Only by Gari Communications Inc. (1995-1996)
- Impact (V.1, V.2, V.3, .V.4, V.5) by 615 Music (1996-1999)
- Image News by Gari Communications Inc. (1999-2002)
- WCAU NBC News Theme by Modern Audio Production (2002-2005)
- WNBC News by Rampage Music New York, Inc. (2005-2006)
- Media General Station Group Package by JDK Music (2006-2015)
- Strive by inthegroovemusic (2015-present)
Current on-air staff
- Bettina Boateng - weekday mornings "Today in Alabama"; also reporter and fill-in weathercaster
- Lisa Crane - weekday mornings "Today in Alabama"; traffic reporter and general assignment report
- David Lamb - "Daytime Alabama" co-host
- Wendy Garner - "Daytime Alabama" co-host
- Hillary Goldston - weekends
- Andrea Lindenberg - weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
- Mike Royer - weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
WVTM 13 Weather Team
- Jerry Tracey (AMS Seal of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 6, and 10 p.m.
- Richard Jacks - Meteorologist; Saturdays at 6, Sundays at 5 and weekends at 10 p.m.; also fill-in
- Harmony Mendoza - Meteorologist; weekend mornings "Today in Alabama"
- Stephanie Walker (AMS Seal of Approval) - Meteorologist; weekday mornings "Today in Alabama" (4:30-7 a.m.) and 11 a.m.
- Don Hawes - Sports Director; weeknights at 5, 6, and 10 p.m.
- Jon Paepcke - investigative reporter
- Chris Pollone - general assignment reporter
- Linda White - education reporter
Former On-Air Staff
- Elizabeth Artz Hayes - weekend and weekday evening anchor (2002-2007; now a freelance reporter at WSB-TV in Atlanta)
- Richard Charles "Dick Breit" Breitenfeld - morning and noon news and meteorologist (1962-1990; deceased)
- Jenny Burleson - Health Reporter and the host of "We've Got it Good, Alabama!" (1984-1992)
- Mindy Burns - sports reporter (2002-2004)
- Denise Cannon - weekend news anchor (1974-1980)
- Rob Carlin - Sports Reporter/Anchor (2001-2005; Comcast Sportsnet/NBC Sports)
- Rod Carter weekend morning news anchor (1996-2000, 2007-2010; now at WFLA-TV in Tampa)
- Sophia Choi – weekend morning anchor (1991-1996; now at WSB-TV in Atlanta)
- Bob Chumley (1950s-1960s deceased)
- Malena Cunningham (Wells) - weekday evening anchor (1992-2004)
- Fran Curry - weekday morning anchor and weekend evening anchor (1988-2007)
- Mary Beth Cusack - reporter, weekday evening anchor morning and midday anchor (1994-1997)
- Brad Davis - weekend evening anchor (1978-1979; deceased)
- Christy Dreyer (Lucarelli) - weekend meteorologists (1998-2000)
- Jim Dunaway - weekend sports reporter later morning news anchor (1992-2007; now at WIAT)
- Theresa Durden - weekday evening anchor (1996-2001)
- Maury Ferrell - sports anchor (1950-1963; deceased)
- Gil Fire - weekend evening anchor (1966-1979; deceased)
- Bill Fitzgerald - anchor/reporter (1999-2004; now at WTVR-TV in Richmond)
- Vanessa Flowers - Health & General Assignment Reporter (2001-2004; now at KOLN in Lincoln)
- Mickey Ferguson - weekend morning weather anchor (1991-1993; now at WBRC)
- Angela Green - reporter (1999-2007)
- Scott Griffin - weekend sports anchor (1985-1991; now at WBRC)
- Glenn Halbrooks - weekend evening anchor (1992-1995; now at WAKA-TV in Montgomery)
- Jennifer Hale - reporter/weekend anchor (2006-2009; now reporter at WVUE-DT in New Orleans)
- Wendell Harris - weekday evening anchor (1960-1981; deceased)
- Tracey Haynes - weekend morning anchor & general assignment reporter (1990-1994; now at WSAV-TV in Savannah, GA)
- Cliff Holman (Cousin Cliff) - kids shows (1954-1969; deceased)
- Pam Huff - weekday evening anchor (1977-1994; now at WBMA/WCFT/WJSU)
- Melony Johnson - midday anchor (1998-2002)
- Rob Jones - weekend sports anchor (2005-2010)
- Michael Jones - weekend evening anchor (1977-1982)
- Mark Joyella - reporter (1991-1994; now at WFTV in Orlando)
- Renee Kemp - weekend evening anchor (1984-1990)
- David Lamb - "Daytime Alabama" co-host (2010-2012)
- Joe Langston - anchor (1981-1982)
- Andrea Lindenberg - weekday evening anchor (2007-2013)
- Gene Lively - weekday evening anchor (1983-1994; retired)
- Edward McDonald - weeknights sports anchor (2004-2005)
- Kevin MacDowell - weekday evening anchor (1994-1996; last at WICU-TV in Erie)
- Jon Mason - weekend weather anchor (1995-1997)
- David Mattingly - news anchor, reporter and documentary producer (1981-1992; now at CNN)
- Scott Mauldin - senior reporter (1998-2009; now at Vulcan Media)
- Terri Merryman - weekday evening anchor (1993-1996)
- Mike Moore - weekday and weekend evening anchor (1995-2005; last at WGCL-TV in Atlanta)
- Juliette Meeus - reporter (1983-1985)
- Gina Neville - Weekend Morning Anchor/Health Reporter (1999-2001)
- Larry Nobles - weeknight weather anchor (1984-1987)
- Jennifer Oravet - reporter/producer (now at WSFA in Montgomery)
- Melissa Pace - weekday morning anchor (2002-2005; now in Los Angeles)
- Scott Palmer - sports anchor (1973-1979; retired)
- Brendt Petersen - reporter (1990-1994; now at WFTV in Orlando)
- Trevor Pettiford - weekend evening anchor (2006-2008; now at Bay News 9 in Tampa)
- Steve Phillips - sports anchor (1987-1990; currently at WBIR-TV in Knoxville, TN)
- Chris Pollone - senior news reporter, sports anchor & reporter (2000-2011; now at NBC Newschannel in New York City)
- Richard Pope - weekend morning sports anchor (1994-1996)
- Jay Prater - weekend meteorologist (1980s-1993; now at KAKE-TV in Wichita)
- Theresa Racine - weekend evening anchor (1980-1985; retired)
- Gina Redmond - weekday morning and evening anchor (2005-2010; now at WIAT)
- Tom Roberts - sports anchor and news anchor (1972-1992; now with Crimson Tide Sports Network)
- Janice Rogers - weekend evening anchor/reporter (1988-1994; now at WBRC)
- Phil Rozen - weekday evening anchor (1982-1995)
- Buddy Rutledge - sports anchor (1965-1967; deceased)
- Gary Sanders - sports anchor (1971-1980; retired voice of UAB Blazers football and basketball)
- Steve Sanders – reporter (1979-1982; currently at WGN-TV in Chicago)
- Ken Snow - weekday evening anchor (1975-1980)
- Brooke Smith - traffic reporter (2003-2011; now at WIAT)
- Shelia Smoot - fill-in anchor/Anniston bureau reporter (1994-1996)
- James Spann – meteorologist (1981-1983; now WBMA-LP/WCFT/WJSU)
- Emily Stroud - anchor/health reporter (1995-1999; now at WBIR-TV in Knoxville)
- Rene Syler – weekend anchor (1990-1992; later at KTVT in Dallas-Ft. Worth, then at CBS' The Early Show)
- Bill Todd - reporter (1983-1987)
- Derek Toomey - weekend anchor/reporter (1996-2000; now at WSB-TV in Atlanta)
- Heather Unruh - weekend morning anchor/health reporter (1992-1995; now at WCVB-TV in Boston)
- Ken Ward - reporter (2001-2004; deceased)
- Sharrie Williams - sports reporter (2005-2007; now at KTVT in Dallas, TX)
- Herb Winches - sports anchor/reporter (1980-1982)
- Roy L. Wood, Jr. - anchor and reporter (mid 1980s-1992)
- ^ http://www.thefreelibrary.com/NBC+and+New+World+Announce+Closing+of+Sale+of+Birmingham+TV+Station...-a018577416
- ^ http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Media+General+Completes+Purchase+of+Four+NBC+Television+Stations.-a0147479313
- ^ "Equity Media's RTN Adds Birmingham Affiliate". Reuters. January 7, 2008. http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS121113+07-Jan-2008+PNW20080107.
- ^ Eggerton, John (2009-06-29). "Boise Station Gets Power Boost". Broadcasting & Cable. http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/307121-Boise_Station_Gets_Power_Boost.php?rssid=20068&q=digital+tv. Retrieved 2009-07-01.
- ^ CDBS Print
- ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKMQkMLUi6o
- ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pu1eC4V2QlM
- ^ http://www2.nbc13.com/staff/newsteam/