|Branding||WLTZ NBC 38
NBC 38 News
The CW Ga-Bama
|Channels||Digital: 35 (UHF)
Virtual: 38 (PSIP)
38.2 The CW
(SagamoreHill Broadcasting of Georgia, LLC)
|First air date||October 29, 1970|
|Call letters' meaning||Lewis Television|
|Former callsigns||WYEA(-TV) (1970–1981)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
38 (UHF, 1970-2009)
|Transmitter power||50 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WLTZ, channel 38, is a television station located in Columbus, Georgia, USA. WLTZ is owned and operated by SagamoreHill Broadcasting, and is affiliated with the NBC Television Network. The station broadcasts from a combined studio/office and transmitter facility located in South Columbus, Georgia.
|38.1||720p||16:9||Main WLTZ programming / NBC|
|38.2||The CW Ga-Bama|
The station began broadcasting on October 29, 1970 as WYEA and aired an analog signal on UHF channel 38. It was branded on-air as "YAY-TV" and featured promotions showing a cheerleader with pompoms. WYEA was originally owned by Huntsville, Alabama broadcaster Charles Grisham and his company, Gala Broadcasting. It brought a full NBC affiliate to Columbus after a full decade in which CBS outlet WRBL and ABC affiliate WTVM had shared NBC programming which usually aired at times when the primary networks' programming was not shown.
Like most UHF start-ups during this time, WYEA began with several handicaps. First, like almost all other United States television markets with one or two dominant VHF stations, the Columbus area had strong-established preferences for either WRBL or WTVM. It also had to deal with established NBC outlets WSB-TV in Atlanta (later WXIA-TV after an affiliation change in that market), WALB in Albany, Georgia and Montgomery, Alabama's WSFA all of which provided at least Grade B coverage of the outlying areas of the viewing area. In fact, Grisham attempted unsuccessfully to legally block WSFA's plans to build a new tower, fearing it would cut into WYEA's market share.
Later in the 1970s, WYEA became the flagship station of Aflac's broadcast operations (a locally-based insurance company). The outlet added the -TV suffix to its call sign on January 23, 1979. In 1981, Aflac sold the station to J. Curtis Lewis (owner of WJCL-TV-FM in Savannah, Georgia, WLTX and WNOK-FM in Columbia, South Carolina, and WSTZ-FM-AM in Jackson, Mississippi). On August 31 of that year, the station changed its calls to the current WLTZ and adopted the branding "Z 38". In May 2007, Lewis sold the station (his last remaining one) to SagamoreHill Broadcasting.
Although the official 2009 DTV transition was moved from February 17 to June 12, WLTZ ceased analog transmission at noon on February 17. On April 2, 2009, it was announced The CW would discontinue its relationship with Pappas Telecasting-owned WLGA and, as a result, WLTZ joined the network on April 27 adding it to a new second digital subchannel. WLGA then became an Independent outlet and began airing syndicated shows. It eventually ceased operations in June 2010 after being unable to broadcast the format in the market.
The station's first attempt at a news department lasted from its inception in 1970 until 1993. Despite a credible effort, WLTZ's newscasts were never competitive enough against WTVM and WRBL to gain enough viewership and consistent ratings. Columbus broadcast veteran and former nightclub owner Al Fleming was once news anchor of these newscasts as was Richard Elliot (later of WRBL and WSB-TV). After shutting down its news operation, WLTZ offered syndicated shows with brief news updates taped in advance that ran for three minutes in length.
In November 2007, the station brought back weeknight newscasts (seen at 6, 7, and 11; or 5, 6, and 10 Central) in partnership with the Independent News Network (INN) of Davenport, Iowa. Originally, the early evening shows aired in traditional half-hour formats while the late newscast was shown in an update format. The news anchor, meteorologist, and sports personality were based at INN's studios on Tremont Avenue in Davenport (where production of the broadcasts took place) and other personnel would fill-in when needed. WLTZ maintained two reporters locally in Columbus that contributed local content to the shows which were taped in advance.
On May 29, 2008, WLTZ became the first station in Columbus and third in Georgia to upgrade local news to high definition. The change came after INN added HD capabilities to its centralized production studios. In a report in the Macon, Georgia Telegraph, it was announced the centralized news service filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on December 31, 2008 and would end all productions (including those for WLTZ) by January 9, 2009.  However, a later report in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer on January 6 indicated this station's newscasts would not be affected by the bankruptcy filing.
In April 2010, WLTZ replaced the 7 O'Clock Report with Alabama First News. Unlike the other two weeknight broadcasts, this reformatted show now focused on Eastern Alabama because that state, which is in the Central Time Zone, is an hour behind Georgia. Therefore, this was the only local newscast catering to viewers on the Alabama side of the market airing at 6. Viewers in those areas also have access to stations from Dothan and Montgomery offering local news geared for Central Time. The format change for WLTZ's show was also made in conjunction with sister station WNCF in Montgomery after that outlet expanded its news department and outsourcing agreement with the Independent News Network. Newscasts regularly featured WLTZ's reporters covering Eastern Alabama since Montgomery and Columbus have coverage areas bordering each other.
At some point in Fall 2011, WLTZ's weeknight show at 7 was moved to 11 but retained the Alabama First News branding. NBC 38 News at 6 now solely focused on Columbus and other areas in Georgia while the late news (now expanded to 35 minutes in length) offered coverage specifically from the greater Auburn, Phenix City, and Opelika areas in Alabama. Local news and weather cut-ins became common on weekday mornings from 7 until 11 during Today (at :25 and :55 past the hour). Under this arrangement, the news anchor was normally live in Columbus while the weather forecast was still taped and originated from INN's headquarters.
On February 5, 2012, WLTZ introduced an expanded news operation based out of its Columbus studios. However, weather is still produced by INN meteorologists and features segments recorded in advance. Corresponding with the change, NBC 38 News at 6 was renamed Georgia First News on February 6. In December 2012, WLTZ launched a new weekday morning show known as Starting Today. It airs for an hour beginning at 6 and then for an additional half-hour at 7 on WLTZ-DT2 displacing the first half of the second hour of The Daily Buzz. WLTZ-DT2 does show the remaining portions of The Daily Buzz on weekday mornings from 6 until 8.
- 38 Evening News (1970s)
- WYEA Nightly News (1970s)
- NewsCenter 38 (late 1970s–1993)
- NBC 38 News (2007–present, outsourced 2007-2012)
- WYEA TV 38: NBC for Western Georgia (late 1970s)
- NewsCenter 38: The Most Complete Up-to-the-Minute News in Western Georgia (early 1980s)
- Entertainment From the Stars! (late 1980s)
- Your 24 Hour News Source (early 1990s-1993)
- It Just Feels Great on NBC 38 (mid 2000s)
Anchors and reporters
- Kirsten Delgado - weekday mornings news; also reporter
- Miller Robson - weekday morning news; also reporter
- Matt Lally - weeknight news; also reporter
- Dee Armstrong - weeknights news; also The Dee Armstrong Show host
- Chelsa Messinger - weeknight sports; also "Scholar Athlete of the Week" segment producer
- Sara Belsole - reporter
- Dorothy Sherman - The Dee Armstrong Show host
Weather (based at INN in Davenport, Iowa)
- Erik Garlick - meteorologist; weekday mornings and weeknights
- WLTZ-38: "Turning Off Analog. WLTZ Goes Digital." (February 17, 2009)
- http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/news/story/672471.html Retrieved Apr. 3, 2009.
- Macon Telegraph: "Future of Macon TV station’s nightly newscast uncertain", 1/5/2009.
- Columbus Ledger-Enquirer: "Bankruptcy filing doesn’t impact Columbus’ WLTZ", 1/6/2009.
- WLTZ.com - Official WLTZ-TV Website
- CW-GABama.com - Official CW GA-Bama Website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WLTZ