WGNO

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WGNO
WGNO Logo.png
New Orleans, Louisiana
Branding WGNO New Orleans (general)
WGNO News (newscasts)
Slogan God Bless Louisiana
Channels Digital: 26 (UHF)
Virtual: 26 (PSIP)
Subchannels 26.1 ABC
26.2 Antenna TV
Affiliations ABC (1995-present)
Antenna TV (DT2)
Owner Tribune Broadcasting
(Tribune Television New Orleans, Inc.)
First air date October 14, 1967
Call letters' meaning Greater New Orleans
-or-
We've Got New Orleans
(also an homage to Tribune's Chicago flagship station WGN-TV, and a portmanteau of "WGN" and "NO" abbreviation for New Orleans)
Sister station(s) WNOL-TV
Former callsigns WWOM-TV (1967–1971)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
26 (UHF, 1967–2009)
Former affiliations independent (1967–1995)
The WB (1995–1996)
All Secondary
ABC (1967–1980s)
CBS (1967–1980s)
NBC (1967–1980s)
Transmitter power 1000 kW
Height 286 m
Facility ID 72119
Transmitter coordinates 29°56′59.0″N 89°57′28.0″W / 29.949722°N 89.957778°W / 29.949722; -89.957778
Website wgno.com

WGNO, UHF channel 26, is an ABC-affiliated television station located in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. The station is owned by the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of the Tribune Company, as part of a duopoly with CW affiliate WNOL-TV (channel 38). The two stations maintain studios at The Galleria in Metarie, and WGNO's transmitter is located in Chalmette. The station can also be seen on Cox Communications and AT&T U-verse channel 11, and in high definition on Cox Communications and AT&T U-verse digital channel 1011.

Digital television[edit]

The station's digital signal on UHF channel 26, is multiplexed:

Digital channels[edit]

Channel Video Aspect Name Programming[1]
26.1 720p 16:9 WGNO-DT Main WGNO programming / ABC
26.2 480i 4:3 AntTV Antenna TV

Digital subchannel 26.2 carries the Antenna TV network. It is also carried on Cox digital channel 118.

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

When Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Louisiana coast on August 29, 2005, the storm destroyed WGNO's analog and digital transmitters. WGNO and WNOL temporarily transmitted their analog signals from a multi-purpose tower in Algiers, and broadcast their digital signals as subchannels of Pax TV owned-and-operated station WPXL-TV until March 29, 2008, when WNOL's digital transmitter on UHF channel 15 began operating. On March 1, 2008, WGNO completed construction of its replacement digital transmitter, however since it operated on the same frequency as its analog signal (on UHF channel 26), the digital transmitter could not become operational until WGNO's analog transmitter was shut down. Until then, WGNO's high definition digital feed was remapped to virtual channel 26.1 through WNOL's digital signal on UHF channel 15, with WNOL's programming broadcasting in standard definition on virtual channel 38.1. On June 12, 2009, WGNO flash-cut its digital signal on UHF channel 26, allowing WNOL to resume high definition broadcasts on digital channel 15.[2]

Digital retransmission disputes[edit]

On April 1, 2012, Tribune Broadcasting removed all 23 of its television stations from DirecTV due to a retransmission consent dispute with the satellite provider.[3] DirecTV signed a new carriage agreement with Tribune on April 4, 2012, restoring WGNO and the rest of the company's stations.[4]

History[edit]

As an independent station[edit]

The station signed on as WWOM-TV (standing for "The Wonderful World Of Movies") on October 14, 1967, as the first independent station in the state of Louisiana and the first commercial television station to sign on in New Orleans since the September 7, 1957 debut of CBS affiliate WWL-TV (channel 4). Originally owned by David Wagenvoord, the station was only on the air for eight hours a day from late afternoon to midnight, programming mostly older movies, some theatrical cartoon shorts and a few off-network syndicated programs. In 1969, the station experimented with 24-hour-a-day broadcasts, claiming to be the first television station in the United States to broadcast on such a schedule, but this scheduling format was short-lived.[5] The station was sold to Communications Corp. of the South in 1971, and its call letters were changed to the current WGNO. During its first decade on the air, the station also cherry-picked several programs from NBC, ABC and CBS that WDSU (channel 6), WVUE-TV (then on channel 12, now on channel 8) and WWL-TV chose not to broadcast.[6]

WWOM-TV's logo from 1969, showing its attempt to broadcast 24-hours a day, from The Times-Picayune.

As WGNO, the station began running more off-network syndicated sitcoms and westerns, along with a moderate amount of cartoons. The station expanded its programming schedule to about 12 hours each day by 1972, then began signing on at 10 a.m. in 1974 and expanded its programming hours to about 19 hours daily by 1975. WGNO was sold to Seymour Smith and his family in 1976, continuing to program a general entertainment format with vintage sitcoms, older movies and religious shows. WGNO began to be carried on many southern Louisiana cable providers (including those in the Baton Rouge market) during the 1970s, before it was replaced by Atlanta-based superstation WTCG). From 1982 to 1987, WGNO aired a series of public service announcements featuring a character called "Tom Foote"; Tom was a local entertainer seen in area schools and in the French Quarter. For a time, the station produced an hour-long program called Tom Foote's Video Clubhouse, as well as News For Kids, produced by Tom.

WGNO was purchased by Glendive Media in 1978, who would in turn sell the station to Tribune Broadcasting in 1983. By coincidence, the station's callsign reflects a connection with Tribune's flagship station in Chicago, WGN-TV (whose own calls stand for "World's Greatest Newspaper", in reference to the longtime slogan of the Chicago Tribune), though channel 26 had "WGN" in its callsign long before Tribune even bought the station; this connection, coupled with the fact that two other Tribune-owned television stations also incorporated the "WGN" name in their callsigns (Denver's KWGN-TV and Atlanta's WGNX), channel 26 kept the WGNO call letters. Under Tribune, the station continued to grow, and WGNO remained the leading independent station in the market even as other competitors signed on the air. In 1993, legendary network executive Brandon Tartikoff, who engineered a successful turnaround of NBC's programming and viewership during the 1980s as president of the network, created a game show for WGNO called NO It Alls (hosted by Ed Daniels and hostess Isis Casanova), which entered into national syndication in 1996 under the modified title Know It Alls.[7]

Affiliation with The WB and switch to ABC[edit]

On November 2, 1993, the Warner Bros. Television division of Time Warner announced the formation of The WB Television Network, in which Tribune Company held a minority ownership interest (initially 12.5%, before eventually expanding to 22%). As a result, Tribune affiliated the majority of its independent stations with the network as charter affiliates.[8][9] This effectively ended WGNO's 28-year run as an independent station upon The WB's January 11, 1995 launch. At that time, The WB only offered a few hours of programming each week (airing only for two hours on Wednesday nights at the time of its launch, before adding a three-hour Sunday evening lineup, and a Monday-Saturday children's program block in September 1995), so WGNO continued to run syndicated programming for the remainder of the broadcast day.

That same year, Burnham Broadcasting sold longtime ABC affiliate WVUE (currently owned by Louisiana Media Company) and three other stations to SF Broadcasting, a joint venture between Savoy Pictures and Fox, resulting in all four stations dropping their Big Three affiliations and joining Fox. WVUE dropped its ABC affiliation to become a Fox station on January 1, 1996 (as SF Broadcasting's only ABC affiliate to change affiliation to Fox; KHON-TV, WALA-TV and WLUK-TV were all affiliated with NBC at the time of the switch), resulting in a three-way swap that had WGNO become the market's new ABC affiliate, making channel 26 the second Tribune-owned station to switch to a Big Three network (Atlanta sister station WGNX, now owned by the Meredith Corporation as WGCL-TV, was set to affiliate with The WB at its launch, but joined CBS one month prior in December 1994 after WAGA-TV switched from CBS to Fox through a deal with New World Communications), while The WB affiliation (along with cartoons and some syndicated programs) moved to former Fox affiliate WNOL-TV (channel 38).

Tribune Broadcasting began managing the operations of WNOL under a local marketing agreement in 1996, before the company merged with the station's then-owner Qwest Broadcasting (a company run by a group of minority investors led by Quincy Jones), resulted in the station being purchased outright, creating the market's first television duopoly with WGNO in 2000; despite now being placed under common ownership, WGNO and WNOL continued to operate separately from one another as WNOL continued to be based out of its existing studio facility on Canal Street. In July 2005, WGNO moved its studio facilities from the World Trade Center New Orleans in the city's Central Business District to a facility at the New Orleans Centre.

Former WGNO logo, used from 2005 to 2011.

As Hurricane Katrina approached the Louisiana coast in August 2005, WGNO's operations were moved to fellow ABC affiliate WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge. For a time after Katrina hit, nightly newscasts on the station were broadcast from various locations throughout the New Orleans area as the main studio at the World Trade Center New Orleans was inaccessible. WGNO eventually established temporary facilities (including a makeshift studio and control room) from two trailers outside of the Louisiana Superdome, with most of the station's broadcast equipment purchased from eBay resellers. In April 2006, WGNO announced that its broadcast operations would temporarily relocate back to the World Trade Center building as New Orleans Centre management decided not to reopen the complex and terminated the station's lease (WGNO had only moved into the facility a few weeks before Katrina).

In February 2007, Tribune announced that rather than move WGNO to WNOL's facility on Canal Street, that the station would instead move to The Galleria building in nearby Metairie, this made WGNO the first New Orleans area television station to move its studio facilities outside of the city proper. Station management indicated that they wanted to keep WGNO's operations in New Orleans, but could not find a suitable facility.[10] The station began broadcasting from new high definition-ready studios inside The Galleria on August 29, 2007 (the second anniversary of Katrina), which featured a brand-new news set and weather center. WGNO serves as the over-the-air broadcaster of New Orleans Saints football telecasts that are produced as part of the NFL Network's Thursday Night Football package. Those mark the only NFL games on the station due to ABC losing NFL rights in 2006, as network rights to the Saints' other games belong to WWL-TV (through the NFL on CBS), WDSU-TV (through NBC Sunday Night Football and local broadcasts of ESPN Monday Night Football) and primarily WVUE (through Fox NFL Sunday).

From 1999 (when Tribune sold CBS affiliate WGNX in Atlanta to the Meredith Corporation) to 2013, WGNO was the only television station owned by Tribune affiliated with one of the Big Three television networks (the company's other 22 stations as of 2013 were, and remain, affiliates of either The CW, Fox or MyNetworkTV). However, Tribune's December 2013 acquisition of Local TV expanded the company's portfolio of Big Three stations to 11, and also resulted in Fort Smith, Arkansas stations KFSM-TV and KXNW supplanting WGNO and WNOL as the company's smallest television stations by market size.[11][12]

News operation[edit]

WGNO presently broadcasts 22½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with four hours on weekdays, and one hour each on Saturdays and Sundays); in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the lowest newscast output out of the New Orleans market's television stations. Unlike most ABC affiliates in large or mid-sized markets, WGNO does not carry a morning newscast on weekends. In addition, WGNO produces a half-hour public affairs program on Sunday mornings called The 411.

WGNO is one of three New Orleans area stations that broadcasts its local news programs in widescreen standard definition, alongside NBC affiliate WDSU and CBS affiliate WWL-TV (it is also the only Tribune-owned television station with an in-house news department not to broadcast in true high definition). During hurricane coverage, WGNO often partners with other Tribune-owned stations to supplement WGNO's storm coverage; audio of the station's hurricane coverage is also simulcast on WTIX-FM (94.3), as was the case during Hurricane Gustav in September 2008 (in which WGNO hurricane coverage resulted in the station cancelling local segments of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, which aired as scheduled on WNOL-TV).[13] and Hurricane Isaac in August 2012.

Prior to affiliating with ABC, WGNO's news programming consisted solely of daily news updates featured during the station's syndicated programming between 1971 and the mid-1980s. WGNO began developing a full-scale news department shortly after taking the ABC affiliation; the station debuted its local newscasts on March 18, 1996, with a half-hour newscasts at 5 p.m. on weeknights and at 10 p.m. seven nights a week. The station added an additional half-hour early evening newscast at 6 p.m. on September 21, 1998. On May 1, 2006, WGNO began producing a half-hour newscast at 9 p.m. weeknights for WNOL; the program ended on June 4, 2010, due to declining ratings against an hour-long in-house newscast on Fox affiliate WVUE in that timeslot; the program was replaced by The CW's primetime programming, which was shifted one hour later on June 7 to 8-10 p.m. (instead of the recommended 7-9 p.m. slot for the network's Central Time Zone affiliates).[14]

WGNO had the distinction of being one of the largest major network affiliates by market size that did not produce a weekday newscast during the morning or midday hours; this changed on September 8, 2008, when the station debuted a half-hour midday newscast at 11 a.m., followed on September 29 of that year by a two-hour morning newscast (currently titled Good Morning New Orleans). During the mid-to-late 2000s, the station was known for its "Wheel of Justice" series, which featured a bounty hunter named Tat-2, capturing local criminals with arrest warrants.[15][16] On April 20, 2009, WGNO moved its half-hour 6 p.m. newscast to 6:30, in order to reach a viewers whose work commutes prevented them from arriving home in time to watch a 6 p.m. newscast (the 6 p.m. slot was replaced by syndicated programming); the program did not attract significant viewership, and fell to last place in the evening news ratings within a year of its launch. One year later, the station reinstated its 6 p.m. newscast, creating the New Orleans market's only hour-long news block during the 6 p.m. hour.

On January 31, 2011, WGNO adopted a new format for its 6 p.m. newscast called News with a Twist, which focuses on lighter stories and commentary utilizing a mostly-unscripted format.[17] On December 12, 2011, the News with a Twist format was extended to the 5 p.m. newscast, while the 6:30 p.m newscast was cancelled, the station's Saturday evening newscasts were replaced on December 17 with a recap of feature stories seen during that week's 5 and 6 p.m. editions of News with a Twist. The weekday morning, 11 a.m, 10 p.m. and Sunday evening newscasts continue to retain a traditional news format.[18]

News/station presentation[edit]

Newscast titles[edit]

  • WGNO News/WGNO News Final (1971–1978)
  • TV-26 News (1978–mid-1980s)
  • ABC26 News (1996–2011)
  • WGNO News (2011–present)
  • News with a Twist (2011–present)

Station slogans[edit]

  • "We've Got New Orleans" (1971–late 1970s, 1995–1996 and 2003–2004)
  • "New Orleans Style" (1983?–1995?)
  • "More News" (1996–2005)
  • "Getting Answers" (2005–2008)
  • "God Bless Louisiana" (2011–present)
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Newscast Schedule[edit]

Weekdays
  • Good Morning New Orleans - 5:00-7:00 a.m.
  • WGNO News at 11 - 11:00-11:30 a.m.
  • News with a Twist - 5:00-5:30 p.m.
  • News with a Twist - 6:00-6:30 p.m.
  • WGNO News at 10 - 10:00-10:35 p.m.
Sundays
  • WGNO News at 5 - 5:00-5:30 p.m.
  • WGNO News at 10 - 10:00-10:35 p.m.
Saturdays
  • News with a Twist - 6:00-6:30 p.m.
  • News with a Twist - 10:00-10:30 p.m.

News team[edit]

Current on-air staff[edit]

Anchors
  • Vanessa Bolano - Sundays at 5 and 10 p.m.; also 10 p.m. weeknight reporter
  • Anne Cutler - weekday mornings on Good Morning New Orleans (5-7) and weekdays at 11 a.m.
  • Jon Huffman - weekday mornings on Good Morning New Orleans (5-7 a.m.); 11 a.m. reporter
  • LeBron “LBJ” Joseph - weeknights on News with a Twist at 5 and 6 p.m.; also weekday morning co-host for KKND
  • Susan Roesgen - weeknights on News with a Twist at 5 and 6 p.m.
  • Curt Sprang - weeknights at 10 p.m.
Weather team
  • Hank Allen (AMS Seal of Approval) - chief meteorologist; weekday mornings on Good Morning New Orleans (5-7) and weekdays at 11 a.m.
  • Jeff Womack - meteorologist; Sundays at 5 and 10 p.m. also fill-in
  • Jeff Robbins - meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
Sports team
  • Ed Daniels - sports director; weeknights at 10 p.m.
  • Robert O'Shields - sports anchor; Sundays at 5 and 10 p.m., also sports reporter
Reporters
  • Kenny Lopez - Sunday evening (5 and 10) and News with a Twist digital journalist (weeknights at 5 and 6 p.m.)
  • Erin Nicole - News with a Twist digital journalist (weeknights at 5 and 6 p.m.)
  • Joe Rawley - web reporter
  • Deepak Saini - News with a Twist digital journalist (weeknights at 5 and 6 p.m.)
  • Alyson Titkemeyer - News with a Twist digital journalist (weeknights at 5 and 6 p.m.)
  • Darian Trotter - weeknight 10 p.m. reporter
  • Tyler Wing - News With a Twist (5 and 6) and weeknight 10 p.m. reporter
  • Bill Wood - News With a Twist reporter (weeknights at 5 and 6 p.m.)

Contributors

  • Adam Acquistapace - Uncorked on News with a Twist (Thursdays)
  • Mike Church - News with a Twist commentary (Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5 and 6 p.m.)
  • Jeff Crouere - political analyst
  • J.T. Curtis - co-host of Friday Night Football & head football coach at John Curtis Christian High School
  • Kaare Johnson - News with a Twist commentary (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 5 and 6 p.m.)
  • Molly Kimball - nutrition expert for Good Morning New Orleans (Wednesdays from 5-7 a.m.)
  • Dr. Rose Lemarie, DVM - NOLA pet doctors on News with a Twist (Wednesdays at 5 and 6 p.m.)
  • Dr. Rachel Reitan, MD - The Teaching Doctor (Thursdays)

Notable former on-air staff[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]