WDSU

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WDSU
2013 WDSU logo.jpg

Me-TV WDSU New Orleans.png
New Orleans, Louisiana
United States
Branding WDSU (general)
WDSU News (newscasts)
Slogan On Your Side
Channels Digital: 43 (UHF)
Virtual: 6 (PSIP)
Subchannels 6.1 NBC
6.2 Me-TV
Affiliations NBC
Owner Hearst Television
(New Orleans Hearst Television, Inc.)
First air date December 18, 1948 (1948-12-18)
Call letters' meaning DeSoto Hotel
(radio station's former location)
Joseph Uhalt
(founder of WDSU radio)
Former callsigns WDSU-TV (1948–1998)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
6 (VHF, 1948–2009)
Former affiliations Secondary:
DuMont (1948–1955)
CBS (1948–1957)
ABC (1948–1957)
NTA Film Network (1957–1961)
DT2:
NBC Weather Plus (March–December 2008)
NOAA Weather Radio (2008–2009; March–April 2012)
The Local AccuWeather Channel (2009–2012)
Transmitter power 1000 kW
Height 230 m
Facility ID 71357
Transmitter coordinates 29°57′0.1″N 89°57′27.6″W / 29.950028°N 89.957667°W / 29.950028; -89.957667
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
CDBS
Website www.wdsu.com

WDSU, virtual channel 6 (UHF digital channel 43), is an NBC-affiliated television station located in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. The station is owned by the Hearst Television subsidiary of the Hearst Corporation. WDSU maintains studio facilities located on Howard Avenue and Baronne Street in downtown New Orleans, and its transmitter is located on Paris Road/Highway 47 in Chalmette. On cable, WDSU is carried on Cox Communications channel 7 in standard definition and digital channel 1007 in high definition.

History[edit]

The station first signed on the air on December 18, 1948; it was the first television station to sign on in the state of Louisiana. WDSU-TV was founded by New Orleans businessman Edgar B. Stern, Jr., owner of WDSU radio (1280 AM, now WODT; and 93.3 FM, now WQUE-FM). The station has been a primary NBC affiliate since it signed on, earning the affiliation as a result of WDSU (AM)'s longtime affiliation with the NBC Red Network, however it initially also carried programming from the three other major broadcast networks at the time: CBS, ABC and DuMont. It lost DuMont programming when that network ceased operations in August 1956. Even after WJMR-TV (channel 61; now Fox affiliate WVUE on channel 8) signed on in November 1953 as a primary CBS and secondary ABC affiliate, WDSU continued to "cherry-pick" a few of the higher-rated programs carried by CBS and ABC until September 1957, when WWL-TV (channel 4) signed on as a full-time CBS affiliate. At that time, WJMR became a full-time ABC affiliate, leaving WDSU exclusively with NBC.

WDSU's longtime French Quarter location, seen shortly before their move in 1996.

The radio station was originally located at the DeSoto Hotel (now the Le Pavillon Hotel) on Baronne Street; the "DS" in the name stood for the DeSoto, while the "U" stood for Joseph Uhalt, who founded the radio station in 1923. WDSU-TV originally operated out of studio facilities located within the Hibernia Bank Building, the tallest building in New Orleans at the time. The WDSU stations moved into the historic Brulatour Mansion on Royal Street in the French Quarter in April 1950. At that point, Stern reorganized his broadcast holdings as the Royal Street Corporation. The transmitter site remained at the Hibernia Bank Building until 1955, when a new transmitter facility in Chalmette – where the tower remains today – was completed.

In the 1950s, WDSU-TV became the springboard for the career of Dick Van Dyke, first as a single comedian and later as the emcee of a locally produced comedy program on the station.[1] WDSU became the first television station in the New Orleans market to telecast its programming in color in 1955. WDSU was the ratings leader in New Orleans for over a quarter century, largely because of its strong commitment to coverage of local events and news. It originated the first live broadcasts of the Sugar Bowl and Mardi Gras, and was the first area station to provide extensive local hurricane coverage.

Royal Street merged with Columbia, South Carolina-based Cosmos Broadcasting in 1972. Cosmos decided to sell off the radio stations because the ownership of the three station properties combined would exceed ownership limits of the time set by the Federal Communications Commission. Cosmos eliminated much of the local flavor that had been the station's hallmark, opting to concentrate on its already strong news operation (channel 6 had been saluted by Time as a news pioneer in 1966). By the early 1980s, rival WWL-TV had overtaken WDSU as the top-rated station from sign-on to sign-off as well as in local news. WDSU has been a solid runner-up to WWL for most of the last quarter-century, although since the mid-2000s, it has had to fend off a strong challenge from a resurgent WVUE.

In the early 1980s, the station sustained criticism among its viewers when it chose to pre-empt Late Night with David Letterman in favor of airing the syndicated late night talk show Thicke of the Night, which was a notorious flop; around this time, the station also carried feature films during the overnight hours instead of airing the short-lived news program NBC News Overnight.[2] When WDSU began clearing Late Night, the station aired the show later than the network-mandated 11:35 p.m. timeslot for the network's Central Time Zone station, instead airing syndicared reruns of The Love Boat. Today, WDSU clears the entire NBC programming lineup, only pre-empting certain programs during instance in which the station has to carry extended breaking news and severe weather coverage.

WDSU building on Howard Avenue.

Cosmos sold WDSU to Pulitzer, Inc. in 1989. In March 1996, the station moved into its current facility on Howard Avenue, located a few blocks from the Le Pavillion Hotel, where WDSU radio began operations in 1923. Also during the 1990s, WDSU became the first New Orleans station to operate its own Doppler weather radar system ("Super Doppler 6000"). Pulitzer sold its entire television station division, including WDSU, to Hearst-Argyle Television (predecessor to the present-day Hearst Television) in 1999. WDSU celebrated its 60th anniversary of broadcasting on December 18, 2008.[3]

Hurricane Katrina[edit]

Prior to the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, WDSU shut down operations at its studios in New Orleans around 9:30 p.m. on August 28, 2005, in order to allow station staff to take shelter from the oncoming hurricane. At that point, WDSU's broadcasts began to originate from the studios of ABC-affiliated sister station WAPT in Jackson, Mississippi, where some of WDSU's on-air staff had already evacuated. Fellow sister station, NBC affiliate WESH in Orlando, Florida, also originated some on-air weather content during the storm. In the weeks that immediately followed the hurricane, WDSU's news programming originated from the WAPT facility, using meteorologists and anchors from both stations, with programs being simulcast in Jackson and New Orleans.

The Howard Avenue studio facility largely withstood Hurricane Katrina with minimal damage, but WDSU's analog and digital transmitters were both destroyed in the storm.[4] In early September, WDSU arranged to transmit its signal via i (now Ion Television) affiliate WPXL (channel 49) through the end of December 2005; WDSU also partnered with i owned-and-operated station KPXB-TV in Houston to simulcast WDSU's morning newscast and continuing coverage of the storm's aftermath that channel 6 had aired between 6:00 and 11:00 p.m. from September 7 to September 13, 2005.[5] The station restored its analog signal, operating at reduced power, in October 2005.[1] WDSU chose to replace its existing transmitter building with an elevated and rugged hurricane resistant building to house its analog and digital transmitters; construction of this building was completed in early February 2008.[2][3] WDSU's digital signal was restored on August 1, 2007, having temporarily shared a frequency with LeSea Broadcasting-owned WHNO's digital signal on UHF channel 21. In late February 2008, WDSU's analog signal was upgraded to full power and its digital signal on channel 6.1 was restored on March 6, 2008.

Hurricane Gustav[edit]

In September 2008, WDSU broadcast continuous coverage of the approach, landfall and aftermath of Hurricane Gustav for five consecutive days. The storm prompted a massive evacuation of much of the station's viewing area. As a result, on September 1, 2008, satellite provider DirecTV began simulcasting WDSU's coverage of Hurricane Gustav nationally on channel 361. Its storm coverage was also streamed on the station's website, while its broadcast audio was carried by the stations within Citadel Communications' New Orleans radio cluster. C-SPAN2, and ABC affiliate WBRZ (channel 2) in Baton Rouge also ran portions of the station's live news coverage of Gustav.

WDSU tapped the resources of parent company Hearst-Argyle Television, and brought in personnel from Hearst-owned television stations across the country to assist in various capacities. Some members of WDSU's news staff were relocated to support studios in Baton Rouge and Orlando, and provided reports via satellite. All three locations stayed operational throughout the storm's duration. Another of WDSU's sister stations, ABC affiliate KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City, also provided WDSU's coverage of Hurricane Gustav via its second digital subchannel for evacuees who came to Oklahoma City.

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

Channel Video Aspect PSIP short name Programming[6]
6.1 1080i 16:9 WDSU-DT Main WDSU programming / NBC
6.2 480i 4:3 MeTV Me-TV

On March 31, 2012, WDSU replaced The Local AccuWeather Channel with Me-TV.

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WDSU shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 6, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 43.[7] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display WDSU's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 6.

As part of the SAFER Act,[8] WDSU kept its analog signal on the air until July 12 to inform viewers of the digital television transition through a loop of public service announcements from the National Association of Broadcasters.

Digital retransmission disputes[edit]

In October 2006, a dispute between WDSU's owner, Hearst-Argyle Television, and Cox Communications caused WDSU's high definition feed to be pulled from Cox's New Orleans area system.[9] As a result, no HD program content was available from WDSU via any medium (over the air, cable, or satellite), forcing New Orleans viewers looking for high-definition NBC programming to attempt to receive a signal from Baton Rouge affiliate WVLA-TV. In April 2007, WDSU-DT was added to DirecTV's lineup, after which local cable providers gradually began to add the feed as well. On September 27, 2007, Cox Communications and Hearst-Argyle announced an agreement to restore WDSU-DT to Cox's New Orleans area cable systems;[10] WDSU-DT and WDSU's WeatherPlus channel were added to Cox's channel lineup the next day.[11]

Programming[edit]

Syndicated programs currently broadcast by WDSU include The Queen Latifah Show, Bethenny, Maury, Steve Harvey, EP Daily, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Entertainment Tonight. WDSU serves as the local over-the-air broadcaster of Monday Night Football games involving the New Orleans Saints, airing simulcasts of ESPN-televised games. WDSU's corporate parent, the Hearst Corporation, holds a 20% ownership stake in ESPN (the network's remaining ownership interest is held by The Walt Disney Company), and the company has right of first refusal for simulcasts of ESPN's NFL telecasts in a team's home market, which it has never declined for WDSU (in these situations, the station reschedules NBC's Monday lineup). The station also provides additional game analysis from former Saints coach Jim E. Mora.

News operation[edit]

WDSU newscast title card, seen nightly at 10:00 p.m.

WDSU presently broadcasts 32½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with five hours on weekdays, three hours on Saturdays and 4½ hours on Sundays). Unlike most NBC affiliates, the station does not carry a midday newscast; WDSU is the only news-producing station in the New Orleans market that carries a local newscast on weekend mornings. The station also maintains a content partnership with Cumulus Media's New Orleans FM radio cluster (KKND (102.9), KMEZ (106.7), WRKN (92.3) and WMTI (106.1)), which also allows the station to simulcast its broadcast audio during hurricane coverage.

For much of the time since the early 1980s, WDSU's newscasts have been in second place among the market's news-producing stations. By the mid-2000s, WVUE overtook WDSU for second place among the market's 5:00 p.m. newscasts; the two stations traded second at 5:00 p.m. until WDSU overtook WVUE in May 2011. In July 2011, WDSU claimed ratings wins in key demographics at 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. – marking the first time in a quarter-century that a station other than WWL-TV had placed first among viewers most sought by advertisers.[12] Newscasts in less competitive time periods of 4:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. also scored wins in key demographic categories, as well as in household ratings.

On November 11, 2006, after a remarkable 51 years in New Orleans broadcast television – nearly all of them with WDSU – anchor and former news director Alec Gifford (who died in March 2013) officially announced his retirement from broadcasting. Gifford left the station in December 2006.[13] On December 14, 2008, WDSU entered into a content partnership with Biloxi newspaper Sun Herald, to provide supplementary news and weather coverage focused on South Mississippi. WDSU discontinued its noon newscast on September 11, 2009; three days later on September 14, the station launched an hour-long 4:00 p.m. newscast;[14] this program gained a competitor on September 12, 2011, when Fox affiliate WVUE debuted its own hour-long newscast in the 4:00 p.m. timeslot.[15]

On July 10, 2010, WDSU began broadcasting its local newscasts in 16:9 widescreen standard definition, along with the introduction of updated graphics. WDSU is one of three stations in the New Orleans market that have yet to upgrade production of their local news programming to high definition (alongside WWL-TV and WGNO); WVUE is currently the only station in the market that broadcasts its local newscasts in true high definition, having upgraded to HD in April 2007. On August 16, 2010, WDSU expanded its weekday morning newscast to 2½ hours, by adding a 4:30 a.m. newscast entitled WDSU News First Edition.[16]

News/station presentation[edit]

Newscast titles[edit]

  • Your Esso Reporter (1948–1956)
  • WDSU-TV News (1956–1962)
  • The Six O'Clock Report/The Eleventh Hour Report (1962–1966)
  • Channel 6 News (1966–1974)
  • NewsWatch 6 (1974–1970s)
  • TV-6 News (1970s)
  • NewsCenter 6 (1970s–1988)[17]
  • (Channel) 6 News (1988–2000)[18]
  • (WDSU) NewsChannel 6 (2000–2009)[19]
  • WDSU News (2009–present)[20]

Station slogans[edit]

  • "Comin' on TV-6" (1980–1987)
  • "TV-6, Our Pride Is Showing" (1981–1982; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "We're TV-6, Just Watch Us Now" (1982–1983; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "TV-6 There, Be There" (1983–1984; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "TV-6, Let's All Be There" (1984–1986; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "You're What Makes New Orleans Great!" (1985–1987; used during period station used Frank Gari's "Turn to News")[21]
  • "Come Home to TV-6" (1986–1987; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "Come on Home to Channel 6" (1987–1988; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "Come Home To The Best, Only On Channel 6" (1988–1990; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "Your 24-Hour News Source" (1990–1994)
  • "WDSU, The Place To Be!" (1990–1992; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "It's A Whole New Channel 6" (1992–1993; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "The Stars Are Back on Channel 6" (1993–1994; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "We're Building WDSU Around You" (1994–2004)
  • "WDSU, The Heart of New Orleans" (2000–2001, local version of NBC slogan)
  • "Local. Live. Latebreaking." (2004–2006)
  • "On Your Side" (2006–present; reporters also often use "We're on Your Side" as tags at the end of reports just before identifying the newscast title)
  • "WDSU NewsChannel 6, Chime In" (2008–2009, localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "WDSU, More Colorful." (2009–present, localized version of NBC ad campaign)
Television.svg This film, television or video-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it with reliably sourced additions.

On-air staff[edit]

Current on-air staff[22][edit]

Anchors
  • Sula Kim - weekday mornings on WDSU News This Morning (4:30-7:00 a.m.)
  • LaTonya Norton - weekend mornings on WDSU News This Morning (6:00-7:00 and 9:00-10:00 weekends and 8:00-9:00 a.m. Sundays); also weekday reporter
  • Randi Rousseau - weekday mornings on WDSU News This Morning (4:30-7:00 a.m.); also reporter
  • Scott Walker - weekdays at 4:00 and weeknights at 5:00 and 10:00 p.m.; also reporter
  • Camille Whitworth - weekdays at 4:00 and weeknights at 5:00 and 6:00 p.m.; also reporter
  • Rachel Wulff - weekends at 5:00 and 10:00 p.m.; also weekday reporter\
WDSU Exact Weather
  • Margaret Orr (member, AMS; member, NWA) - chief meteorologist; weekdays at 4 and weeknights at 5, 6:00 and 10:00 p.m.
  • Jay Gallé (AMS Seal of Approval; member, NWA) - meteorologist; weekday mornings on WDSU News This Morning (4:30-7:00 a.m.)
  • Dan Milham (AMS Seal of Approval; member, NWA) - chief meteorologist emeritus
  • Kweilyn Murphy - meteorologist; weekends at 5:00 and 10:00 p.m.; also fill-in meteorologist
  • Damon Singleton - meteorologist; weekend mornings on WDSU News This Morning (6:00-7:00 and 9:00-10:00 weekends and 8:00-9:00 a.m. Sundays)
Sports team
  • Fletcher Mackel - sports director; weeknights at 6:00 and 10:00 p.m.
  • Sharief Ishaq - sports reporter and fill-in sports anchor
  • TBD - sports anchor; weekends at 5:00 and 10:00 p.m.
Reporters
  • Heath Allen - Northshore bureau chief/general assignment reporter (married to former WWL-TV/WVUE-DT reporter Janet Gross)
  • Andy Cunningham - general assignment reporter
  • Casey Ferrand - general assignment reporter
  • Blake Hanson - general assignment reporter
  • Susan Isaacs - weekday morning traffic reporter ("Time Saver Traffic")
  • Travers Mackel - investigative reporter (twin brother of Fletcher Mackel)
  • Gina Swanson - general assignment reporter
Contributors
  • Arthur Hardy - also editor/publisher of Mardi Gras Guide magazine
  • Dr. Corey J. Hebert, MD - medical editor ("On Call")
Hearst Television Washington D.C. Bureau
  • Hallie Jackson - weekday morning national correspondent
  • Nikole Killion - national correspondent
  • Sally Kidd - national correspondent

Notable former on-air staff[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ New Orleans TV: The Golden Age, documentary produced by WYES-TV New Orleans Channel 12, broadcast 2009 July 18; see the documentary's web site at WYES. See also WDSU Serves New Orleans Since 1948 and Dave Walker, That old-time TV: New book celebrates 60 years of local stars.
  2. ^ The Times-Picayune, Focus Forum, September 25, 1983
  3. ^ WDSU-TV Celebrates 60th Anniversary WDSU.com
  4. ^ Hearst-Argyle Television Announces Results for the Third quarter and Nine Months Investor Calendar. October 27, 2005.
  5. ^ New Orleans Station Gets Boost From Paxson, Broadcasting & Cable, September 7, 2005.
  6. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WDSU
  7. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24. 
  8. ^ "UPDATED List of Participants in the Analog Nightlight Program" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. June 12, 2009. Retrieved June 4, 2012. 
  9. ^ Bachman, Katy. H-A Pulls Six HD Signals Off Cox Systems MediaWeek. Posted October 2, 2006
  10. ^ WDSU's HD Signal Returning To Cox Cable, WDSU, October 14, 2007. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  11. ^ Cox has WDSU-HD!
  12. ^ NEWS RELEASE: WDSU Surpasses WWL, Becomes Louisiana's New News Leader
  13. ^ Walker, Dave. On The Air The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, Louisiana. Printed November 11, 2006.
  14. ^ WDSU Announces Fall Lineup, Launch Of 4 P.M. Newscast WDSU.com
  15. ^ WVUE announces 4 p.m. newscast, Jennifer Hale's move to sports
  16. ^ WDSU Launches Early Morning Newscast Monday
  17. ^ 1986 WDSU 6 "NewsCenter 6 Tonight" Open on YouTube
  18. ^ WDSU 6 News Weekend Open, 1989 on YouTube
  19. ^ WDSU News Channel 6 at 10 Open on YouTube
  20. ^ WDSU News at 5pm 2010 Open on YouTube
  21. ^ 1986 WDSU 6 Promo: "You Make New Orleans Great" on YouTube
  22. ^ News Team
  23. ^ "Legendary N.O. journalist Alec Gifford dies". WWL-TV. 22 March 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  24. ^ Norman Robinson Retiring From WDSU, TVSpy, May 16, 2014.

External links[edit]