|Branding||WHLT CBS 22
|Slogan||Connecting the Pine Belt &
Getting You Answers
|Channels||Digital: 22 (UHF)
Virtual: 22 (PSIP)
|Subchannels||22.1 CBS (HD)
22.2/22.3 CBS (SD)
(Media General Communications Holdings, LLC)
|First air date||June 1987|
|Call letters' meaning||We're Hattiesburg/
|Sister station(s)||WJTV, WKRG-TV, WVTM-TV|
|Former channel number(s)||22 (UHF analog, 1987-2009)|
|Transmitter power||1,000 kW|
WHLT is the CBS-affiliated television station for Southeastern Mississippi's Pine Belt that is licensed to Hattiesburg. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 22 from a transmitter in northeastern unincorporated Forrest County. The station can also be seen on Comcast channel 10 and in high definition on digital channel 433. Owned by Media General, WHLT maintains studios on U.S. 49 in Hattiesburg. Syndicated programming on the station includes Divorce Court, Family Feud, Judge Joe Brown, and Cash Cab among others.
While identified as a separate station in its own right, WHLT is actually operated as a semi-satellite of WJTV in Jackson. As such, it clears all network programming as provided by its parent (except for preempting CBS News Sunday Morning and airing Face the Nation in its entirety). The station airs some of the same syndicated shows as WJTV but at a different time. In addition, WHLT airs its own local commercials during all programming and legal identifications. Its second and third digital subchannels serve as standard definition simulcasts of the main HD channel.
In June 1987, the News-Press & Gazette Company (then owner of WJTV) launched WHLT in order to take advantage of local advertising and news opportunities in the Pine Belt region. It also allowed the Jackson-based station's signal coverage area to be expanded in Southeastern Mississippi. In 1993, News-Press & Gazette sold several of its outlets (including WHLT and WJTV) to the first incarnation of New Vision Television.
In turn, the company sold its entire station group to Ellis Communications in 1995. Ellis was subsequently merged into Raycom Media in 1996 after it was bought out by a media group led by the Retirement Systems of Alabama (who bought Aflac's broadcasting group a few months earlier). In 1997, current owner Media General acquired WHLT and WJTV (as well as Savannah, Georgia's WSAV-TV) from Raycom in a swap for Richmond, Virginia's WTVR-TV.
The trade was made in part due to Raycom's acquisition of rival WDAM-TV in Laurel and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules of the time did not permit duopolies. On April 16, 2009, WHLT "flash-cut" its signal after discontinuing analog broadcasts and began digital-only transmission. It originally applied to flash-cut earlier on February 17 but the FCC denied the station's request.
Since WDAM is the only other local television station, it has always offered full-length newscasts with complete coverage of the Pine Belt. As a result, that outlet has traditionally been a ratings powerhouse. WHLT did operate a full news department previously in its history. The most recent attempt, with shows known as 22 Daily News, had the same branding and slogan ("It's About Time") as the product at former sister station WIAT in Birmingham, Alabama. Despite attaining decent ratings and winning numerous awards, it was unable to attract local advertising through consistent viewership. As a result, its newscasts were canceled after just a year.
As a semi-satellite of WJTV, WHLT only simulcasts its parent outlet's weekday morning show and does not air any other local news shows from the Jackson station. The weeknight edition of the CBS Evening News is shown taped-delayed at 6 as opposed to the regular time slot like other CBS affiliates in the Central Time Zone. Usually, most semi-satellites of another station provide some coverage of their home territory (in this case, the Pine Belt of Mississippi).
On May 8, 2012, WHLT began offering a twenty minute abbreviated newscast seen weeknights at 10. This program (taking up the first and second blocks) features three personalities based out of its Hattiesburg facility that share multimedia journalist responsibilities. During the second block, there is a taped weather segment (branded as "Storm Team 22") focusing on the Pine Belt that originates from WJTV's Jackson studios. After the conclusion of WHLT's program, it then simulcasts the third block of WJTV's 10 o'clock newscast that contains national/world news and sports headlines until 10:35. The station will sometimes share video footage with its parent when providing relevant, regional coverage of Mississippi. In this role, WHLT essentially acts as a bureau for WJTV.
+ denotes personnel based at WHLT
- Erin Pickens - weekday morning news
- Linda Allen - weeknight news
- Byron Brown - weeknight news
- + Donesha Aldridge - weeknight news; also Hattiesbug/Laurel digital journalist
- Tony Mastro (AMS Seal of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist; weeknights
- Ken South - meteorologist; weekday mornings
- Jason Hurst - weeknight sports; also sports reporter
- + Jeff Haeger - Hattiesbug/Laurel sports digital journalist
- + Cassidi Hankins - Hattiesbug/Laurel digital journalist
- Jerry Brooks - photojournalist
- TJ Werre - sports
- Tracy Armbruster
- Jacob Kittilstad
- Perrise Thomas
- Beth Alexander
- Chris Williams
- Malary Pullen
- Brad Soroka
- Ross Adams