My 19 (on DT2)
|Slogan||Your Hometown News Leader|
|Channels||Digital: 18 (UHF)
Virtual: 7 (PSIP)
|Translators||W04AG-D 4 Garden City, VA|
|Owner||Schurz Communications, Inc.
(WDBJ Television, Inc.)
|First air date||October 3, 1955|
|Former callsigns||WDBJ-TV (1955-1983)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
|Transmitter power||460 kW|
WDBJ, virtual channel 7, is the CBS-affiliated television station serving the Roanoke/Lynchburg television market. Owned by Schurz Communications of South Bend, Indiana, it transmits its digital signal on UHF channel 18. Its studios are located on Hershberger Road in northwest Roanoke, with its transmitter located on Poor Mountain near Roanoke.
The station—Roanoke's third-oldest—first went to the air on October 3, 1955 under the ownership of the Times-World Corporation, owners of the Roanoke Times and Roanoke World-News newspapers along with WDBJ radio (AM 960, now WFIR; and FM 94.9, now WSLC). It has always been a CBS affiliate, owing to WDBJ-AM's long affiliation with CBS Radio. Before the station signed on, CBS had been available part-time on ABC affiliate WLVA-TV (now WSET-TV). During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.
The station's studio was originally located in the Mountain Trust Bank Building in downtown Roanoke along with its radio sisters. Its transmitter was located temporarily on Mill Mountain; it originally planned to broadcast from Poor Mountain, but could not due to concerns about interference with then-under construction WSPA-TV in Spartanburg, South Carolina. In 1956, WDBJ-AM-TV moved to the Times-World Building. It also relocated its transmitter to Poor Mountain.
Due to its affiliation with the Times and Virginia's second-oldest radio station, channel 7 overtook WSLS-TV as the area's highest-rated station within three years of signing on. It has remained in the lead more or less ever since, although in recent years it has been in a spirited three-way race with WSLS and WSET. As channel 7 grew during the late 1950s, plans were drawn for a new studio at the corner of Brandon and Colonial Avenues in southwest Roanoke. The WDBJ stations moved to the then state-of-the-art building in the summer of 1961.
Times-World merged with Landmark Communications of Norfolk in 1969. However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would not allow Landmark to keep WDBJ-TV because it had recently banned cross-ownership of broadcasting outlets and newspapers, while grandfathering existing broadcasting-newspaper clusters. With the Landmark merger, the WDBJ stations lost their grandfathered protection and could not be retained by the merged company. As a result, channel 7 was sold to its current owner, Schurz Communications. It is not likely that the FCC would have allowed Landmark to keep channel 7 in any event due to a significant signal overlap with Landmark-owned WFMY-TV in Greensboro, North Carolina. Channel 7's city-grade signal reaches Patrick County, which is part of the Triad market. It also provides grade B coverage as far south as Reidsville, North Carolina. At the time, the FCC normally did not allow common ownership of two stations with overlapping signals, and would not even consider granting a waiver for stations with overlapping city-grade coverage.
In 1979, WDBJ opened its Central Virginia Bureau in Lynchburg. Weekend anchor Graham Wilson served as Bureau Chief, and the bureau covered the eastern part of the Roanoke-Lynchburg market, from Charlottesville to Danville. In the 1980s, the station did a series of spots for its programming featuring the popular "Ernest P. Worrell", portrayed by Jim Varney.
In 2000, WDBJ announced plans for a new digital facility on the site of the Best Products building in northwest Roanoke. That June, the Best Products building was demolished and construction of a new digital facility began. Photos of the complete demolition of the Best Products building & construction of the new "Digital Broadcast Center" are located here . In April 2002, WDBJ began broadcasting from the new "Digital Broadcast Center". WDBJ has newsrooms in Lynchburg, Blacksburg and Richmond, along with its Roanoke newsroom.
On average, an estimated 92,000 households tune in for WDBJ's 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts. WDBJ is the leading station in the Roanoke/Lynchburg market. Currently, the station produces six newscasts Monday-Friday, along with locally-produced sports programs Friday Football Extra and Virginia Tech Sports Today.
On July 1, 2007, Jeffery A. Marks became the general manager for WDBJ. Marks succeeded Bob Lee and became only the fourth GM in the history of the station. Also in 2007, the News Department went tapeless and switched to a server-based playback system.
In July 2009, WDBJ announced it would refuse to run an advertisement from the National Republican Congressional Committee attacking Democratic Representative Tom Perriello, citing "factual inaccuracies".
In Spring 2010, Schurz and the Tribune Company of Chicago entered into a Web site management partnership in which Tribune Interactive would take over the Web site CMS operations of all of Schurz's media properties except NBC-affiliated WAGT in Augusta, Georgia (which is now operated by Media General, the owner of that market's ABC-affiliated WJBF). Schurz's Kansas television properties (KWCH-DT and KSCW-DT) were the first to launch new Tribune-run sites in late June. WDBJ followed in mid-July. This lasted until mid-2013, when Internet Broadcasting began operating WDBJ's Web site.
|7.1||1080i||16:9||Main WDBJ programming / CBS|
|7.2||480i||4:3||"My19" / MyNetworkTV|
On June 12, 2009, WDBJ began broadcasting exclusively in digital.
WDBJ operates "My 19", an affiliate of the MyNetworkTV programming service, which is carried on digital subchannel 7.2 and Cox cable channel 19. Originally, digital subchannel 7.2 operated as independent service "7 Too," which aired rebroadcasts of WDBJ newscasts along with some syndicated programming, and aired special events such as sporting events and the 2004 Republican and Democratic National Conventions in their entirety.
On February 22, 2006, News Corporation announced it would start up MyNetworkTV, a sister network to Fox and operated by Fox Television Stations and its syndication division 20th Television, primarily in order to give UPN and WB stations not mentioned as becoming CW affiliates another option besides becoming independent stations and to compete against The CW, a network formed out of UPN and The WB, which were respectively owned by CBS and Time Warner. On September 5, 2006, WDBJ-DT2 became the area's MyNetworkTV affiliate (WWCW became the CW affiliate for the Roanoke-Lynchburg market two weeks later on September 18, 2006).
WDBJ produces a half-hour weeknight 10 p.m. newscast on "My19", which debuted with the subchannel's affiliation with MyNetworkTV. The newscast is currently anchored by Hollani Davis, meteorologist Brent Watts, and sports director Travis Wells. The newscast offers an alternative format to WDBJ's other newscasts, providing "anchor movement" to a different set after each commercial break. It also includes a "Fun Fact" feature during each newscast, which is associated with one of the night's stories. The current 10:00 newscast is WDBJ's second attempt at a newscast in that time period. The station produced News 7 Primetime for WEFC (now WPXR-TV) from September 1996 until August 1997, when it was canceled due to low ratings.
Out-of-market cable and satellite coverage
The station is also available on cable on the West Virginia side of the Bluefield/Beckley, West Virginia area; it served as the default CBS affiliate for the West Virginia side until WVSX (now WVNS-TV) became a CBS affiliate in 2001.
It is also available on cable systems in Pocahontas County, West Virginia (including Snowshoe). It is also available on cable systems as far east as Clarksville and South Boston, as far west as Glade Spring, Marion, Grundy (on digital cable only), Clintwood and Norton, and as far south as Galax, Martinsville and two counties in North Carolina: Caswell and Rockingham. Clintwood, Glade Spring, Marion, Grundy and Norton are part of the Tri-Cities market while Caswell and Rockingham counties are part of the Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem market. DirecTV offers WDBJ in several out of market areas in the Virginia counties of Mecklenburg and Patrick. In North Carolina, WDBJ is offered in Alleghany, Caswell, Person and Rockingham Counties.
A key to WDBJ's ratings success has been the continuity of its on-air team, which is not the norm in local news especially for a market of Roanoke-Lynchburg's size. Keith Humphry anchored News 7 at Six for 30 years until his retirement on May 25, 2011 (in the Roanoke-Lynchburg market, newcast ratings tend to be much higher at 6 PM than 11 p.m.). Robin Reed has been the lead weathercaster since 1982. Jean Jadhon has anchored WDBJ7's evening broadcasts since 1992 and morning anchor Kimberly McBroom has been with the station since 1993. Senior reporter Joe Dashiell has been at WDBJ since the 1970s and was the longtime Richmond newsroom correspondent.
In 2006, WDBJ began a news partnership with its former radio sister WFIR. In August 2006, WDBJ added an outdoor Weather Deck; this deck provides a new location for controlled outside weather and news segments. Alongside the Weather Deck is the Weather Garden. WDBJ often presents feature packages about the Weather Garden and offers tips, advice and ideas about common gardening.
On August 13, 2007, WDBJ became the only station in the Roanoke/Lynchburg market with four meteorologists in its weather center. WDBJ's weather department is the Weatherbug Network affiliate for the Roanoke/Lynchburg market. The Weatherbug network offers real-time statistics and information from all around the region. There are 24 Weatherbug locations within the WDBJ viewing area. On April 22, 2008, WDBJ began broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. The station also became the first in the Roanoke-Lynchburg market with high-definition weather graphics.
In 2012, WDBJ began to phase out the "News 7" branding, deciding to go with "Your Hometown News Leader: WDBJ 7". Newscasts no longer reference a specific time, except for the morning newscast which is still called "Mornin'". WDBJ's weather department also took on a new brand, adopting "First Alert" and dropping "Skytracker 7."
Notable current on-air staff
- Robin Reed (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - chief meteorologist; weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.
Former on-air staff
- "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films", Boxoffice, November 10, 1956: 13
- Grim, Ryan (July 2, 2009). "Dems: Virginia Station Won't Air GOP Climate Change Ad, Citing Factual Errors (VIDEO)". Huffington Post.
- "Channel 7 cancels WEFC 10 p.m. news". The Roanoke Times. August 8, 1997. p. B4. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
- "Mike Randall". WKBW-TV. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
- WDBJ website
- RabbitEars.Info: Roanoke-Lynchburg Stations
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WDBJ
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WDBJ-TV
- Private WDBJ Photo site