|Columbia, South Carolina|
|Branding||WIS News 10|
|Channels||Digital: 10 (VHF)
Virtual: 10 (PSIP)
10.2 This TV
10.3 Bounce TV
(WIS License Subsidiary, LLC)
|Founded||November 7, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||Wonderful
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
10 (VHF, 1953–2009)
41 (UHF, 2003–2009)
|Former affiliations||ABC (secondary, 1953–1961)|
|Transmitter power||57 kW|
WIS, channel 10, is the NBC-affiliated television station in Columbia, South Carolina. Owned by Raycom Media, WIS has studios on Bull Street in downtown Columbia, and transmitter located in Lugoff, South Carolina.
- 1 Digital television
- 2 History
- 3 Cable and satellite carriage outside the Columbia market
- 4 Programming
- 5 News operation
- 6 References
- 7 External links
WIS-DT went on the air in February 2003 as the last of the "Big Three" commercial stations to go digital in the Columbia market. WLTX-DT was first, going on less than a year earlier in May 2002, and WOLO-DT went on later on in 2002.
In 2009, WIS remained on channel 10 when the analog to digital conversion completed. However, some viewers could not pick up the signal for a week, because the station used its backup transmitter, which was not at full power. The new transmitter went online June 19.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP short name||Programming|
|10.1||1080i||16:9||WIS HD||Main WIS programming / NBC|
|10.2||480i||4:3||THIS TV||This TV|
WIS-TV started broadcasting on November 7, 1953. The station's first program was a broadcast of a football game between the University of South Carolina and Clemson College. The station was originally owned by the Broadcasting Company of the South, a subsidiary of the Liberty Life Insurance Company, and was a sister station to WIS radio (560 AM, now WXBT). Charles Batson signed the station on the air, and remained the station's president and general manager until his retirement in 1983. It was South Carolina's fourth television station and Columbia's third, signing on just four months after WCOS-TV, channel 25 (which left the air in 1956) and two months after WNOK-TV, channel 67 (which moved to channel 19 in 1961 and became WLTX in 1977). WIS is the third-longest continuously operating station in the state, behind WCSC-TV in Charleston and WNOK/WLTX.
WIS radio received the last new three-letter call sign in the U.S. on January 23, 1930, and the call sign was later shared with its television sibling. The call letters stand for "Wonderful Iodine State," because of the abundance of iodine in the South Carolina soil. It has always been an NBC affiliate, owing to its radio sister's long affiliation with NBC Radio. However, until 1961, when channel 25 returned to the air as WCCA-TV (now WOLO-TV), it aired some ABC programming in off-hours.
WIS-TV was a major beneficiary of an exception to the Federal Communications Commission's "2½ + 1" plan for allocating VHF television bandwidth. In the early days of broadcast television, there were twelve VHF channels available, and 69 UHF channels (later reduced). The VHF bands were more desirable because they carried a longer distance. Because there were only twelve VHF channels available, there were limitations as to how closely the stations could be spaced. With the release of the FCC's Sixth Report and Order in 1952, the Commission outlined a new allocation table for VHF licenses and opened up the UHF band. Through these initiatives, almost all of the country would be able to receive two commercial VHF channels plus one noncommercial channel. Most of the rest of the country ("1/2") would be able to receive a third VHF channel. Other areas of the country would be designated as "UHF islands," since they were too close to larger cities for VHF service. The "2" networks became CBS and NBC, "+1" represented noncommercial educational (public) stations, and "1/2" became ABC, which, as the weakest network, usually wound up with the UHF allocation where no VHF was available.
However, Columbia was sandwiched between Greenville-Spartanburg-Asheville (respectively awarded VHF channels 4, 7, and 13) to the northwest; Charlotte (channels 3 and 9) to the north; Florence (channel 8, later 13) to the east; Charleston (channels 2, 4, 5, and 7) to the southeast; Savannah (channels 3, 9, and 11) to the south; and Augusta (channels 6 and 12) to the southwest. This created a huge "doughnut" in central South Carolina where there could be only one VHF license. WIS-TV was fortunate to gain that license, providing many people in that part of South Carolina with their first clear television reception. One of the country's most dominant television stations, it has been the far-and-away market leader for most of its history.
Channel 10 originally broadcast from a self-supporting tower atop its studios on Bull Street. In 1959, WIS-TV activated its tall tower in Lugoff. The tallest structure east of the Mississippi River at the time, it more than doubled the station's coverage area and provided at least secondary coverage of all but five of the state's 46 counties. It would remain the tallest structure in South Carolina until Florence's WPDE-TV activated its tower in 1981. The station's original tower is still used as a backup; it is a longtime fixture of Columbia's skyline and is turned into a "Christmas tree of lights" during the holiday season.
For many years, WIS was one of two NBC affiliates that served the Florence/Myrtle Beach market, since that market was one of the few areas on the East Coast without its own NBC affiliate. It was the NBC affiliate of record for the Pee Dee (Florence) side of the market while Wilmington's WECT was the affiliate of record for Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand. However, most cable systems on the Myrtle Beach side of the market began carrying both stations in the mid-1980s. After the SyndEx rules came into force in the early 1990s, WIS set up a "virtual station" for the Florence/Myrtle Beach market that aired separate syndicated programming for the area. It also began selling advertising specific to the market as well, mostly on the Pee Dee side. This ended when the market got its own NBC affiliate, WMBF-TV, also owned by Raycom.
The Broadcasting Company of the South acquired several other television stations over the years. It was renamed Cosmos Broadcasting Corporation in 1965, with WIS radio and television as the flagship stations. Later in the decade, Liberty Life reorganized itself as The Liberty Corporation, with Liberty Life and Cosmos as subsidiaries. Cosmos sold WIS radio in 1986, but kept the WIS calls for channel 10. Liberty sold off its insurance businesses in 2000, bringing channel 10 directly under the Liberty Corporation banner.
In 1991, after being known on-air as "WIS-TV 10" for most of its history, the station began branding itself as simply "WIS" (though it was another year before it officially dropped the -TV suffix from its callsign). This lasted until 2003.
On August 25, 2005, Liberty agreed to merge with Raycom Media of Montgomery, Alabama. One of Raycom's stations at the time was Columbia's Fox affiliate, WACH (channel 57). WIS had produced WACH's 10:00 p.m. newscast since its launch in 1996. Raycom could not keep both stations due to FCC rules which forbid common ownership of two of the four largest stations in the market. Additionally, Columbia has only eight full-power stations, too few to legally permit a duopoly in any case. Raycom opted to keep WIS and sold WACH to Barrington Broadcasting. The news agreement between the two stations ended in March 2007; WACH now produces its own newscast independent of WIS.
Cable and satellite carriage outside the Columbia market
To the southwest, WIS is carried as far as Aiken. Until late 2009/early 2010, it used to be carried in the city of Augusta, Georgia. To the northeast, it is carried as far as Wadesboro, North Carolina. Despite the WIS carriage in Wadesboro, Charlotte NBC affiliate WCNC-TV has a translator (W24AY) in nearby Lilesville that covers the Wadesboro area. WIS analog signal tended to be more reliable along the U.S. Highway 74 corridor between Wadesboro and Rockingham than the Lilesville translator. Until August 8, 2008, WIS was carried on cable in Rowland, North Carolina and Laurinburg, North Carolina (via digital cable). On that date, WMBF-TV signed on as the new NBC affiliate for the Myrtle Beach-Florence media market. DirecTV customers in Scotland and Robeson counties in North Carolina received WIS as the default NBC station instead of nearby WECT, the NBC affiliate in Wilmington. For a long time, WECT has served this area, especially Lumberton, North Carolina. Bennettsville was one of the few towns in the Florence/Myrtle Beach/Lumberton market that did not drop WIS on Metrocast Cable (formerly Northland Cable), but it has since been dropped there as well. Just outside of the Florence-Myrtle Beach-Lumberton market, WIS is still on cable in many areas around South Carolina such as Georgetown and Williamsburg counties.
When CATV first came in the 1970s, WIS was once carried in many border counties in North Carolina such as Mecklenburg, Richmond, (southern) Moore, Scotland, Robeson and Columbus counties. These counties no longer carry WIS except in Wadesboro, Anson County. In Georgia, it was once carried in Sylvania, Screven County.
Over the years, channel 10 pre-empted NBC programming in moderation—notably Search for Tomorrow during its NBC years from 1982 to 1986. Although NBC has historically been far less tolerant of pre-emptions than the other networks, it was more than satisfied with WIS, which was one of its strongest affiliates. Usually WIS operates 24/7 and sign-off once a year on Christmas Eve/Day morning.
In 1963, the station's long-running children's program Mr. Knozit, made its debut, hosted by weatherman Joe Pinner, who had joined the station a few months before. Four years later, the show would receive the Peabody Award for excellence in public service by way of children's programming. The show ran for 37 years, airing its final episode in 2000. Pinner, the station's best-known on-air staff member, remains at the station today; now semi-retired, he provides weather reports and feature segments on Friday's midday newscast. In 1970, WIS-TV premiered Awareness, a weekly public affairs program aimed towards the issues that concern the minority population of the Midlands, both socially and politically. The program is currently hosted by reporter Brandi Cummings.
WIS is also the Columbia home of the Sunday morning football highlights shows for the South Carolina State University Bulldogs and had held the University of South Carolina Gamecocks until the decision by the Gamecocks to go cable-only for the coach's shows. From the arrival of the Gamecocks in the SEC until 2010-11, WIS held Southeastern Conference football and basketball (which, in some cases, makes the station the home of the South Carolina Gamecocks).
Channel 10 has led the news ratings in Columbia for as long as records have been kept. Its dominance was helped by the fact that it was the only VHF station in the market—in fact, until the arrival of cable television in the market in the late 1970s, channel 10 was one of only two stations that brought a clear picture to much of the outlying portions of the market (the other being one of the two South Carolina Educational Television stations serving the area). From the mid-1980s until the mid-1990s, it was the only station in the market that offered a full schedule of local news in all four timeslots
WIS has won numerous awards for station quality and its news productions, including the Southeast Emmy Award for Best Newscast, the Edward R. Murrow award, and the South Carolina Broadcaster Association's "Best Station of the Year" designation several times. In August 2007, Craig Melvin was named "Anchor of the Year" by SCBA. The station's on-air staff are named in the Best of the Media awards by the Columbia Free Times, and the station has been voted the "Best" by readers of "The State" newspaper several times.
Cosmos/Liberty made it a point to invest a large amount into its stations' news departments from the 1950s onward. This resulted in a higher-quality product than conventional wisdom would suggest for Columbia, which has always been a medium-sized market. The station took full advantage of its near-statewide coverage to establish a tradition for strong local news coverage that continues today.
Another factor behind WIS' long dominance has been talent continuity. Many of its on-air staff stayed at the station for 10 years or more. These staffers included news anchors Ed Carter and Susan Audé, who gained notoriety for her accomplishments as a reporter and anchor. She uses a wheelchair because she was paralyzed as a result of an automobile accident. Carter became the station's main anchor in 1972, and Audé joined him on the anchor desk in 1982. The two remained together until Carter's retirement in 1998; Audé later retired in 2006. Channel 10 continues to enjoy a staff with remarkably long tenures for a market of Columbia's size, including Joe Pinner, Jack Kuenzie, Judi Gatson, Dawndy Mercer Plank, Hannah Horne, Ben Tanner and Rick Henry, some of whom have been figures at the station for decades.
In 1963, WIS moved its evening newscast from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., in hopes of taking advantage of The Huntley-Brinkley Report as a lead-in. It was one of only a few stations in the Eastern Time Zone to air a local newscast at 7 p.m. Most of Cosmos/Liberty's other stations followed WIS' lead and moved their early newscasts to 7 p.m. (6 p.m. in the case of stations in the Central Time Zone). It added a 6 p.m. newscast in 1991 as part of increased Persian Gulf War coverage.
While WIS continues to dominate the television news scene, its dominance is not as absolute as it once was. In recent years, it has consistently lost the noon newscast to WLTX (mainly because of lead-in programming), and the early morning ratings crown has switched between the two stations multiple times.
In 2006, WIS built a new studio set in preparation to air its newscasts in High Definition, debuting the new set in January 2007. On November 4, 2010, WIS became the second television station in Columbia to broadcasts its newscasts in high definition. This included a set upgrade from 2007, along with HD versions of its graphics. The station featured a new "First Alert Weather" moniker for its new weather center.
On June 16th, 2013, WIS launched Sunday morning news to compliment the existing Saturday morning news. The news runs from 10:00-11:00 a.m., which makes WIS the only station in the market to produce and air a Sunday morning newscast, and one of two to produce and air a weekend morning newscast since WLTX started a Saturday morning newscast in October 2013. 
Raycom News Network
WIS is part of the Raycom News Network, a system designed to rapidly share information among Raycom's widespread group of television stations and websites. A regional network has developed between WIS, Myrtle Beach/Florence's WMBF-TV, Charleston's WCSC-TV, and Charlotte's WBTV in which stations share information, equipment such as satellite trucks or even reporters' stories. Between them, these four stations cover most of the eastern two-thirds of South Carolina. Wilmington's WECT and Savannah's WTOC-TV also play a small part in the regional network.
- The South Carolina & World News Report (1953-1960)
- The Big News (1960-1962)
- The Marlboro News Report (1962-1966)
- 24 Hours (1966-1970)
- WIS-TV 10 News: The xx:00 Report (1970-1991)
- WIS News: The xx:00 Report (1991–2003)
- WIS News 10 (2003–present)
- "South Carolina's Television News Leader" (mid 1970s)
- "The Spirit of Carolina" (1991–2003)
- "Count on WIS News 10" (2003–2010)
- "Coverage You Can Count On" (2010–2012)
- "WIS Investigates" (2012–present)
News music packages
- WIS 1984 News Theme (1984)
- Newschannel by Gari Communications (1984–1991)
- WIS 1991 News Theme (1991–1995)
- WIS-TV News Music Package by Stephen Arnold (1995–2003)
- The Tower by 615 Music (2003–2009)
- B Package by Gari Communications (2009–present)
- Judi Gatson - weeknights at 5:00, 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.; also "Troubleshooter" investigative reporter
- Ben Hoover - weeknights at 6:00, 7:00 and 11:00 p.m.; also reporter
- Mary King - weekday mornings (4:30-7:00 a.m.); also reporter and fill-in anchor
- Len Kiese - weekday mornings (4:30-7:00 a.m.); also reporter and noon anchor
- TBD - weeknights at 7:00 p.m.; also weeknight reporter
- Meaghan Norman - weekends at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.; also weekday reporter
- Dawndy Mercer Plank - weekdays at 4:00 and weeknights at 5:00 p.m.; also reporter
First Alert Weather
- John Farley (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - chief meteorologist; weekdays at 4:00 and weeknights at 5:00, 6:00, 7:00 and 11:00 p.m.
- Von Gaskin - meteorologist; weekends at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.
- Tim Miller - weather anchor; weekend mornings (9:00-10:00 Saturdays and 10:00-11:00 a.m. Sundays); also fill-in weather anchor
- Joe Pinner - weather anchor; Fridays at noon (also was host of "Mr. Knozit" from 1963-2000)
- Ben Tanner (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist and NWA Seals of Approval) - meteorologist; weekday mornings (4:30-7:00 a.m.) and Mondays-Thursdays at noon
- Rick Henry - sports director; weeknights at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.
- Joe Gorchow - sports anchor; weekends at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.
- Jody Barr - multimedia journalist
- Steven Hooker - multimedia journalist
- Taylor Kearns - multimedia journalist
- Jack Kuenzie - senior reporter
Notable former staff
- Ken Aucoin (now chief meteorologist for Richland County Emergency Services)
- Susan Audé (Fisher) - anchor (1978–2006; retired)
- Angie Goff (now at WRC-TV in Washington, D.C.)
- Craig Melvin (now at MSNBC in New York, NY; won Emmy in 2006)
- Alicia Roman (now at WMAQ-TV in Chicago, IL)
- David Stanton (now at Capitol Consultants, Inc. in Columbia, SC)
- "Raycom Media - WIS". Retrieved 14 April 2013.
- http://www.wistv.com/Global/story.asp?S=10565252&nav=menu36_2, Retrieved on 2009-06-25.
- WIS Launches Sunday Morning Newscast TVSpy, June 14, 2013
- WIS-TV Newscast Intro 1985
- WIS-TV Newscast Intro 1991-1995
- WIS Team
- WISTV.com (Official WIS-TV Website)
- Columbia.ThisTV.com (Official "This TV Columbia" Website)
- WIS Page on Raycom Media Web Site
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WIS