|Branding||ABC 2 (general)
ABC 2 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||ABC 2 Works For You|
|Channels||Digital: 38 (UHF)
Virtual: 2 (PSIP)
2.2 Live Well Network
|Owner||E. W. Scripps Company
(Scripps Media, Inc.)
|First air date||October 27, 1947|
|Call letters' meaning||W MARyland|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
2 (VHF, 1947–2009)
52 (UHF, 1995–2009)
|Former affiliations||Independent (1947–1948)
|Transmitter power||1000 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WMAR-TV, channel 2, is the ABC-affiliated television station in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. The station is owned by the E. W. Scripps Company. WMAR-TV's studios and offices are located on York Road in the unincorporated community of Towson (though with a Baltimore mailing address), north of the Baltimore City-Baltimore County border, and its transmitter is located on Television Hill in the Woodberry neighborhood of Baltimore City.
WMAR-TV first began broadcasting on October 27, 1947. It was the eleventh television station in the United States, and the first to sign on in Maryland. It was owned by the A.S. Abell Company, publisher of the Baltimore Sun, along with the original WMAR-FM (97.9 MHz, frequency now occupied by WIYY).
Channel 2 was originally an Independent station, largely because at the time it was not clear whether Baltimore would be part of the Washington, D.C. market (Baltimore is 45 minutes north of Washington, and most of the Washington stations decently cover Baltimore). In 1948, however, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made Baltimore a separate market. Soon afterward, WMAR-TV joined CBS as the network's second affiliate. One of channel 2's early personalities was Jim McKay, who later moved over to CBS before achieving greater fame on ABC as host of Wide World of Sports and commentator for Olympics coverage. Another is Helen Delich Bentley, who hosted The Port That Built A City in the 1950s, a weekly program presenting maritime and transportation-related news.
As a CBS affiliate, the station preempted an hour of the network's weekday morning daytime schedule, as well as CBS's late night programming. However, this was not a problem for Baltimore area viewers, as most of the area got a decent signal from WTOP-TV in Washington (now WUSA). For many years, the station was co-owned with WBOC-TV in Salisbury.
In 1959, WMAR-TV teamed up with WBAL-TV (channel 11) and WJZ-TV (channel 13) to build the world's first three-antenna candelabra tower. The new 730-foot tower significantly improved the station's signal coverage in central Maryland. It is still in operation today, and can be seen from Interstate 83 in Baltimore. During the 1970s, the FCC tightened its cross-ownership rules, eventually barring common ownership between a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same city without a waiver. However, the combination of the Baltimore Sun and WMAR-TV was one of several combinations that were "grandfathered" under these rules.
In March 1981, CBS informed channel 2 that it would be moving its affiliation in Baltimore to WBAL-TV, the market's NBC station. Among its reasons for making the switch, CBS cited WMAR-TV's weak newscast ratings and heavy preemptions of network programs. Channel 2 quickly cut a deal with NBC, and Baltimore's first affiliation switch took place on August 30, 1981. For much of its time as an NBC affiliate, however, channel 2 also preempted as much as two hours of the network's daytime programming. The station also preempted The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson for several years in the mid-1980s, choosing to air sitcom reruns instead. Both Tonight and preempted daytime programs were aired on then-independent station WBFF (channel 45), though Baltimore viewers could also watch the entire NBC lineup on the network's Washington owned-and-operated station, WRC-TV.
On March 1, 1982, after negotiations between WMAR-TV management and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) failed, all of the station's on-air talent, except one, went on strike. AFTRA members, joined by the Teamsters, the Communication Workers of America and other local unions, picketed the station's offices on York Road and later its parent company A.S. Abell's offices at the Sunpapers building. When television color announcer Brooks Robinson refused to cross the picket line at the start of the baseball season, the strike ended. The following day both news anchors, Tom Sweeney and Curt Anderson, were fired; there has never been another strike by on-air talent in the Baltimore market since.
On October 27, 1986, the A.S. Abell Company was purchased by the Los Angeles-based Times-Mirror Company. With the loss of the grandfathered protection between the former Abell media properties, Times-Mirror opted to keep the Baltimore Sun and sell WMAR-TV together with WRLH-TV in Richmond, Virginia to Gillett Communications three days after the merger was consummated. After filing for bankruptcy some time later, Gillett restructured its television holdings into SCI Television, and in the early 1990s, SCI returned WMAR-TV on the market.
The Cincinnati-based E. W. Scripps Company announced its purchase of the station in the summer of 1990, but in February 1991 the transfer was cancelled after Scripps accused Gillett of misreporting WMAR-TV's financial statements. Gillett then took legal action against Scripps, but both sides settled and the sale went forward. Scripps took control of the station in the fall of 1991. As this scenario was playing out, the Sinclair Broadcast Group, parent company of WBFF, applied with the FCC for a new station on WMAR-TV's channel 2 allocation under a subsidiary called "Four Jacks Broadcasting." If it were granted, it would have resulted in the entire WBFF intellectual unit (including its Fox network affiliation) moving from channel 45 to channel 2, and WBFF's existing channel 45 allocation then would have been sold. In the end, however, Scripps' license to operate WMAR-TV on channel 2 was reaffirmed by the FCC and WBFF permanently remained on channel 45.
Switch to ABC
In 1994, Scripps and ABC announced a long-term affiliation deal, which resulted in four Scripps-owned stations switching to ABC. WMAR-TV was included in the deal, and channel 2 would displace Baltimore's longtime ABC affiliate, Westinghouse Broadcasting-owned WJZ-TV. ABC agreed to the deal as a condition of keeping its affiliation on Scripps' two biggest stations, WXYZ-TV in Detroit and WEWS in Cleveland. Both of those stations had been heavily wooed by CBS, which was about to lose its longtime Detroit and Cleveland affiliates to Fox. Locally, it triggered Baltimore's second network affiliation swap, which saw WMAR-TV switch to ABC, WBAL-TV reuniting with NBC and CBS moving to WJZ-TV. The second switch occurred on January 2, 1995. As a result, channel 2 became one of the few stations in the country to have been a primary affiliate with each of the "Big Three" networks.
In 1996, a year after the affiliation change, station management opted not to renew channel 2's carriage of The Oprah Winfrey Show, deciding instead to take a chance on the new The Rosie O'Donnell Show. The move proved costly in the long term, as market leader WBAL-TV picked up Oprah, and Rosie lasted only seven years. Since the switch, WMAR-TV has seen a drastic drop in viewership for its 5:00-6:30 p.m. news block, while WBAL-TV has thrived in that time slot.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|2.1||16:9||720p||WMAR-HD||Main WMAR-TV programming / ABC|
|2.2||4:3||480i||WMARDT1||Live Well Network|
WMAR-TV shut down its analog signal on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition to digital television for full-power stations. The station moved its digital broadcasts to channel 38 using PSIP to display WMAR-TV's virtual channel as 2.
Syndicated programs seen on WMAR-TV include The People's Court, Rachael Ray, The Doctors, Right This Minute and Katie. As an ABC affiliate, WMAR-TV now usually runs the network's entire lineup. The station was Baltimore's home to the annual Jerry Lewis/MDA Labor Day Telethon for nearly three decades until it moved to WNUV-TV (channel 54). From 1979 to 1993, channel 2 was the over-the-air flagship station of the Baltimore Orioles.
WMAR-TV presently broadcasts 23½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 4½ hours on weekdays and one hour on Sundays). Unlike most news-producing ABC affiliates that are located in the Eastern Time Zone, WMAR does not air a newscast in the weekday midday timeslot; it also holds the distinction of being the largest news-producing "Big Three" station by market size that does not air any local newscasts on Saturdays (although WMAR does produce local weather that are shown during the weekend edition of Good Morning America).
WMAR is also one of ten television stations that airs the "Don't Waste Your Money" series of consumer reports from John Matarese, based at Cincinnati sister station WCPO-TV. WMAR operates a 24-hour local weather channel known as "ABC 2 WeatherNet Digital", which is available on Xfinity digital cable channel 204 and is streamed on the station's website; until 2012, the channel was also broadcast on a third digital subchannel of WMAR's over-the-air signal.
Despite its newspaper roots, WMAR's newscasts have been in last place among Baltimore's "Big Three" network affiliates since the early 1960s, and the station has not been a significant factor in the news ratings in over 30 years. It lags behind both WBAL-TV and WJZ-TV in the ratings by a wide margin, and has even trailed WBFF in some timeslots. For the past decade, WMAR and WBFF have formed one tier of local newscast ratings – significantly lower than the tier that is occupied by WBAL and WJZ. As such, it is currently one of ABC's weakest affiliates, especially in a top-50 market. By contrast, WJZ-TV dominated the ratings in the Baltimore market when it was affiliated with ABC before it switched to CBS.
However, WMAR formerly boasted one of the most respected sports departments in the region, thanks in large part to the presence of longtime anchor and former Baltimore Ravens radio play-by-play announcer Scott Garceau. Garceau has since left to host a show on WJZ-FM and sports director Rob Carlin left for MSG Network, meaning WMAR's newscasts no longer have a separate sports anchor. Despite this, the station lays claim to the market's most aggressive coverage of local college and high school lacrosse, arguably the most popular sport in the area among young athletes. WMAR works in partnership with ESPNU to produce the ABC 2 Lacrosse Game of the Week during the college season, featuring prime matchups involving one or more Maryland lacrosse powerhouses, including Johns Hopkins University, Loyola College in Maryland, Towson University, the University of Maryland, College Park, and the U.S. Naval Academy. Garceau continues to do play-by-play for the station's lacrosse telecasts. Quint Kessenich, four-time lacrosse All-American with Johns Hopkins, is a major contributor to lacrosse coverage and appears sporadically as a fill-in anchor, host of the station's Baltimore Blast show and field reporter for select Ravens games.
On October 4, 2010, WMAR-TV became the last station in the market and the last Scripps-owned television station at the time to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition (Scripps has since acquired the television station group of McGraw-Hill; of those stations, one of them still produces its newscasts in pillarboxed 4:3 standard definition as of January 2012). On April 18, 2011, WMAR became the first television station in Baltimore to expand its weekday morning newscast to the 4:30 a.m. timeslot.
Current on-air staff
WMAR-TV's primary news anchors are Jamie Costello (Monday-Thursdays at 6 and Sunday-Thursdays at 11 p.m.), Charles Crowson (weekday mornings on Good Morning Maryland from 4:30-7 a.m.); also multimedia journalist), Scott Garceau (sports specials), Roosevelt Leftwich (Fridays at 5, 6 and 11 p.m.), Kelly Swoope (Monday-Thursdays at 5 and 6 and Sunday-Thursdays at 11 p.m.) and Joce Sterman (Sundays at 6:30 p.m.; also investigative reporter ("ABC2 Investigators").
The ABC 2 Storm Team includes chief meteorologist Wyatt Everhart (AMS Seal of Approval; weeknights at 5, 5:30, 6 and 11 p.m.); and meteorologists Lynette Charles (AMS Seal of Approval; weekday mornings on Good Morning Maryland from 4:30-7 a.m.) and Mike Masco (Sundays at 6:30 and 11 p.m., also weekday fill-in meteorologist).
The station's reporting staff includes multimedia journalists Cheryl Conner, Bill Fink (also photographer), Jeff Hager, Don Harrison (also photographer), Paul Jaffey (also photographer), Managua "Manny" P Locke Jr. (also photographer), Tony Marsala (also photographer), Preston Mitchum Jr. (also photographer), Pete O'Neal (also photographer), Tim Rutherford (also photographer), Fred Slade (also photographer), Lamont Williams (also chief photographer) and Wheelock Winspear (also photographer); assignment reporters Sherrie Johnson (weekday morning reporter; also fill-in anchor) and Christian Schaffer (11 p.m. reporter); and specialty reporters Brian Kuebler (investigative reporter, "ABC 2 Investigators"), John Matarese (consumer reporter, based out of WCPO in Cincinnati) and Linda So (health reporter).
Notable former on-air staff
- Curt Anderson (currently in the Maryland General Assembly)
- Andy Barth (left WMAR to pursue a political career, his 2006 bid for Congress failed, now reporter for WTTG in Washington, D.C.)
- Jack Bowden (1967–1988; worked at WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C. from 1990 to 1998; retired)
- Jack Dawson - sports director/anchor (1960s-1992)
- Horace Holmes (now with WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C.)
- Stu Kerr (d. 1994)
- Tom Marr (former Orioles broadcaster; currently on WCBM Radio in Baltimore)
- Mary Beth Marsden (1988–2009; currently at WBAL AM)
- Ken Matz (1985–1990; died of cancer in 2010)
- Jim McKay (went on to ABC's Wide World of Sports, died in 2008)
- Keith Mills (now with WBAL radio) -
- Uma Pemmaraju (now an anchor with Fox News Channel)
- John Saunders (now with ESPN)
- Sally Thorner (went on to anchor at WJZ-TV, now retired)
- Brian Wood (now at KATU in Portland, Oregon)
- Kuren Redmond (Freelance Reporter/ Mulitmedia Journalist) 2008–2011
- "WMAR Baltimore Sunpapers' television outlet launched." Broadcasting - Telecasting, November 3, 1947, pg. 85.
- Shapiro, M. Sigmund (Fall, 1999). "The Saga of Samuel Shapiro & Company". Generations (Jewish Museum of Maryland). Retrieved 2011-07-16.
- "Candelabra." Broadcasting, August 10, 1959, pg. 60.
- "CBS switches affiliation to WBAL-TV in Baltimore." Broadcasting, March 9, 1981, pg. 152.
- "Times-Mirror buys Abell." Broadcasting, June 2, 1986, pg. 41.
- "Changing hands." Broadcasting, July 14, 1986, pg. 66.
- "Scripps to buy WMAR-TV; WTNH-TV seeks equity." Broadcasting, July 23, 1990, pg. 28.
- "Gillett sues Scripps-Howard over WMAR-TV deal break-up." Broadcasting, February 18, 1991, pg. 53.
- "In brief." Broadcasting, April 8, 1991, pg. 96.
- "For the record: New stations-Applications." Broadcasting, November 25, 1991, pg. 70.
- Zurawik, David (13 September 1991). "Smith family seeks to take Channel 2; WBFF owners' move could shift WMAR". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
- Foisie, Geoffrey (June 20, 1994). "ABC pre-empts CBS in Cleveland, Detroit.". Broadcasting and Cable. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
- Zurawik, David (1 January 1995). "Get ready, get set, get confused, in TV's big switch in Baltimore Changing Channels". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
- List of Digital Full-Power Stations
- Meet the Team
- Frederick Rasmussen, "Whatever happened to...? Jack Dawson", Baltimore Sun, November 10, 2007
- Official website
- WMAR-TV mobile
- Welcome to Scripps.com: WMAR
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WMAR