WJCL News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Working For You|
|Channels||Digital: 22 (UHF)
Virtual: 22 (PSIP)
(WJCL Hearst Television LLC)
|Founded||July 18, 1970|
|Call letters' meaning||Julius Curtis Lewis (original owner)|
|Former callsigns||WJCL-TV (1970-1981)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
22 (UHF, 1970-2009)
Digital: 23 (UHF)
The WB (1997-1998)
|Transmitter power||350 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WJCL is the ABC-affiliated television station for Georgia's Coastal Empire and South Carolina's Lowcountry. Licensed to Savannah, it broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 22 from a transmitter in unincorporated Western Chatham County, Georgia. The station can also be seen on Comcast channel 4, Time Warner Cable channel 7 and Charter channel 12, and in HD on Comcast digital channel 431, Charter digital channel 704, and Time Warner Cable digital channel 1105. Owned by Hearst Television, it has studios at 1375 Chatham Parkway in the Savannah Morning News building in Savannah, Georgia.
The station began operations July 18, 1970 as WJCL-TV and aired an analog signal on UHF channel 22. It was the fourth television station to launch in Savannah and immediately became the area's first-ever primary ABC outlet. Before this, CBS affiliate WTOC-TV (channel 11) and NBC affiliate WSAV-TV (channel 3) shared secondary affiliations with ABC. Originally owned by former Savannah mayor and avid amateur radio operator Julius Curtis Lewis, Jr. (whose initials provided the call sign), the station marked many "firsts". At the time, it built the tallest broadcast tower in the market rising some 460 m (1500 feet) above sea level.
Local color news film and reel-to-reel videotape were introduced to the Savannah market by WJCL. It claims to have been the first station in the area to televise a live event (President Richard Nixon's Savannah visit and ride in a parade on Skidaway Road) as well as broadcasting in stereo. WJCL-TV and WJCL-FM 96.5 were both run by Lewis Broadcasting's Executive Vice President, J. Fred Pierce, from 1972 until the television station's first sale in 1999. It dropped the -TV suffix from the callsign in 1981.
In 1982, WJCL swapped affiliations with WSAV (due to the latter's action) and became an NBC affiliate. However, a mere three years later, it returned to ABC in 1985. When Lewis purchased the WNOK television and radio stations in Columbia, South Carolina in 1977, he quickly sold off WNOK radio (for an undisclosed price) and immediately changed the television outlet's callsign to WLTX. In 1982, he purchased WYEA in Columbus, Georgia from Aflac and changed its calls to WLTZ to follow a similar call letter format used for his station in South Carolina's capitol (including "LT" meaning Lewis Television).
In the early 1990s, Lewis sold two of his radio stations, WSTZ-FM and WSTZ-AM in Jackson, Mississippi for an undisclosed price. In 1999, Lewis Broadcasting sold WJCL to Grapevine Communications, which merged with Piedmont Television around the same time. In the mid-to-late 1990s, Lewis decided to divest an even larger portion of his media interests and sold four of his combined eight owned and/or previously owned radio and television stations including WJCL, WTGS, WJCL-FM, and WLTX. Lewis died in 2005, and on May 1, 2007, Lewis Broadcasting, by then owned by his son, Julius Curtis Lewis III, entered into an agreement with SagamoreHill Broadcasting to sell-off its last remaining television station, WLTZ. In 1995, WJCL became a charter UPN affiliate as a secondary basis until 1997 when former WB affiliate WUBI took over the UPN affiliation.
In 2001, WJCL partnered with Carleton Public Relations, Inc. to produce ABC 22 LawCall. Radio on-air personality Lexie Kaye was hired by Carleton Public Relations as producer of the weekly live, legal call-in show. The program featured Mike Avery as host along with attorneys from the Carter & Tate firm with a weekly guest and various topics. This was the first legal call-in show in the nation to use the "LawCall" name. The show aired until June 2006 on Sunday nights from 11 to 11:30. WJCL and WTGS were sold to New Vision Television (in an ironic twist, a prior incarnation of New Vision once owned rival WSAV) and Parkin Broadcasting respectively in 2007. The station unveiled a new blog-based website in June 2007.
On November 2, 2007 it was announced that with the recent acquisition of WJCL by New Vision, a brand new website was on the way. The revamped website (operated largely in-house with technology borrowed from Broadcast Interactive Media) featured the usual news, weather, and sports along with streaming video. In January 2009, the websites of WJCL and several of its sister stations migrated to the Inergize Digital Network platform (with KOIN in Portland, Oregon being the first station in the New Vision group featuring it). The station is the setting of the second season of TV Guide Network's Making News which began airing on June 4, 2008.
On May 7, 2012, LIN TV Corporation announced that it will acquire the New Vision Television station group for $330.4 million and the assumption of $12 million in debt. Along with the outright ownership of WJCL, the agreement includes the acquisition of New Vision's shared services agreement with Parkin Broadcasting, giving LIN operational control of WTGS. On October 2, the FCC approved the proposed sale to LIN TV. The transaction was completed on October 12.
On March 21, 2014, LIN Media entered into an agreement to merge with Media General in a $1.6 billion deal. Because Media General already owns NBC affiliate WSAV-TV, the companies were required to sell either WSAV or WJCL to another station owner in order to comply with FCC ownership rules as well as planned changes to those rules regarding same-market television stations which would prohibit sharing agreements. On August 20, 2014, Media General announced that it would keep WSAV and sell WJCL, along with WVTM-TV in Birmingham, Alabama, to Hearst Television, with WTGS going to Sinclair Broadcast Group. The sale was completed on December 19, and Hearst closed on its purchase of WJCL and WVTM on December 22.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|22.1||720p||16:9||WJCL-HD||Main WJCL programming / ABC|
WJCL discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 22, on February 17, 2009, the original date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 23 to former UHF analog channel 22.
While WJCL did enjoy some early success under Lewis' watch, it spent most of its first decade on the air in third place, well behind WTOC and WSAV. This was typical at the time for a UHF competing against two VHF stations in a single market. However, WJCL was very successful in commercial video production and local television advertisement sales. It also frequently beat out WTOC with the weekday afternoon airing of popular syndicated programming such as Dr. Phil, Wheel of Fortune, and Jeopardy!. Those three television series were eventually moved to WSAV. In recent years, the station has waged a spirited battle with WSAV for second place behind long-dominant WTOC.
Through a news share agreement in place since the late-1990s, WJCL produces a prime time newscast on its sister station (currently known as WTGS Fox News at Ten). For a while, WTGS also simulcasted WJCL's Good Morning Show on weekdays (from 5 until 7) but it was dropped at some point. On March 16, 2009, the station became the first outlet in Savannah to upgrade local newscasts to high definition and the nightly news on WTGS was included. This would be followed by WTOC on October 10, 2010 after adding HD local news. It was not until March 8, 2011 that WSAV finally upgraded to high definition broadcasts.
On October 28, 2010, it was announced WJCL and WTGS would combine operations with the Savannah Morning News and be relocated to the newspaper's facility on Chatham Parkway in Savannah. The stations began broadcasting at their new location on October 4, 2011. WJCL and WTGS operate a South Carolina bureau on Fording Island Road in Bluffton. Until April 2014, WJCL did not offer local newscasts weeknights at 5 and/or 5:30, unlike most ABC affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone. At that point, the station added an hour of news (from 5 until 6) while also expanding its weekday morning show to air for an additional hour on WTGS (from 7 until 8). WJCL still does not air a midday show during the week.
Notable former on-air staff
- Rob Fowler - meteorologist (1982; now at WCBD in Charleston)
- Audrey Puente Meteorologist; now at WNYW
- Malone, Michael (May 7, 2012). "LIN Acquiring New Vision Stations for $330 Million". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
- TV Station Mega Merger: Media General, LIN Set $1.6 Billion Deal from Variety (March 21, 2014)
- Media General acquiring LIN Media for $1.6 billion, Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2014.
- Media Gen/LIN To Sell/Swap In Five Markets, TVNewsCheck, March 21, 2014.
- "Media General, LIN Sell Stations In 5 Markets". TVNewsCheck. August 20, 2014. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
- Malone, Michael (August 20, 2014). "Media General, LIN Divest Stations in Five Markets". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
- Media General Completes Merger With LIN Media, Press Release, Media General, Retrieved 19 December, 2014
- RabbitEars TV Query for WJCL
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- "Rob Fowler". Linked In. Retrieved 26 September 2013.
- "Channel 22 On The Air Tomorrow," The Savannah Morning News Friday July 17, 1970, p. B1
- "Welcome, WJCL-TV," The Savannah Morning News Saturday, July 18, 1970, p. A4
- "WJCL Makes Debut," The Savannah Morning News Sunday, July 19, 1970, p. C1