|Columbia, South Carolina|
|Branding||ABC Columbia (general)
ABC Columbia News
|Slogan||Live from Main and Gervais|
|Channels||Digital: 8 (VHF)
Virtual: 25 (PSIP)
25.3 weather radar
(South Carolina Broadcasting Partners)
|First air date||May 1, 1953|
|Sister station(s)||WCCB, WFXB|
|Former callsigns||WCOS-TV (1953-1956)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
25 (UHF, 1953-1956, 1961-2009)
|Former affiliations||CBS (secondary, April–September 1953)
NBC (April–November 1953)
ABC (secondary, April-November 1953)
|Transmitter power||43.7 kW|
WOLO-TV is the ABC-affiliated television station for South Carolina's Midlands licensed to Columbia. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 8 (or virtual channel 25.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter on Rush Road in unincorporated Southwestern Kershaw County. The station can also be seen on Time Warner Cable channel 5 and in high definition on digital channel 1105. Owned by Bahakel Communications, WOLO has studios on Shakespeare Road in Arcadia Lakes (though with a Columbia address), with a separate news studio at Gervais (US 1/US 378) and Main Streets across from the South Carolina State House in Downtown Columbia. Syndicated programming on the station includes Dr. Phil, Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, Judge Joe Brown, and Judge Judy among others.
|Channel||PSIP short name||Video||Aspect||Programming|
|25.1||WOLO-DT||720p||16:9||Main WOLO-TV programming / ABC
SAP and descriptive video service on 25.2
|25.3||WOLO-WX||480i||24-hour Doppler weather|
Channel 25 signed on the air as WCOS-TV on May 1, 1953 owned by Columbia Radio along with WCOS radio (AM 1400 and FM 97.9, now 97.5). It was South Carolina's first television station, and carried programming from all three networks--CBS, NBC and ABC. Studios were located in a Quonset hut near the station's current studio location, in what was then unincorporated Richland County (Arcadia Lakes didn't incorporate until 1959).
WCOS-TV had very modern equipment by 1953 standards. However, UHF stations always found the going difficult in those days because the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) didn't require television manufacturers to have UHF tuning capability until 1964. In the 1950s, viewers had to purchase separate converters to watch UHF stations. Even then, the picture quality left much to be desired. The problem really manifested itself that fall. First, in September channel 25 lost CBS to WNOK-TV (channel 67, now WLTX on channel 19). Then in November, WIS-TV, channel 10, signed on as the city's first VHF station and took all NBC programming. More or less by default, WCOS-TV was left to become the first primary ABC affiliate in the Carolinas.
Even though channel 25's fate was sealed when WIS-TV signed on, the station limped along until 1956, when WNOK-TV offered to pay Charles W. Pittman, president of Columbia Radio, to take the struggling station off the air. Pittman, who had put much of his own money into WCOS-TV, accepted and signed off on January 21, 1956.
Channel 25 remained dark for over five years, in hopes of returning to the air again "in the near future". On October 1, 1961, local investors bought the license and returned to the air as WCCA-TV, also an ABC affiliate. As a result of its time off the air, while it was the first television station in the state, it is not the longest continuously operating—that distinction goes to WCSC-TV in Charleston. In 1964, Cy Bahakel, owner of WCCB-TV in Charlotte (100 miles north), bought WCCA and changed the calls to the current WOLO-TV. The station's ownership is the longest-serving ownership of any of the Columbia market's television stations, with president Beverly Poston taking over as president of Bahakel after her father's death in 2006.
In 2001, WOLO activated a new tower along I-20 near Camden. It is one of the tallest structures in South Carolina, at almost 1,800 feet. Before then, the station had long been plagued by a weak signal. Although it decently covered Columbia and its close-in suburbs, it only provided grade B coverage of the second-largest city in the market, Sumter, and was all but unviewable in the outlying areas. As such, many areas of the market weren't able to get a decent signal from channel 25 until cable television arrived in Columbia in the 1970s. Much of the western part of the market got a better signal from WJBF in Augusta (which often carried ABC programs preempted by WOLO). In 2002, WOLO was the second commercial station in the Columbia market to go digital.
Starting with the 2011 season, WOLO became the flagship television station for the South Carolina Gamecocks, as ESPN Regional Television announced on June 21, 2011 that WOLO and WKTC will share duties for the Southeastern Conference television package, replacing Raycom-owned WIS.
Unlike most ABC affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone, WOLO-TV does not carry newscasts during the 5 p.m. slot on weeknights and in the early evenings on weekends.
WOLO has experienced several firsts, including the first certified meteorologist and color radar in South Carolina (in 1978) and the first live broadcast via satellite (in 1980). The station also had the first female news anchor in the market, Elizabeth Snite. WOLO was the first television station to have a hand-held videotape camera, a Sony Mini-Cam and Jerry Emanuel, Sports Director and reporter was the first to use that camera to do feature stories as opposed to breaking news stories.
However, WOLO has spent most of its history as one of the weakest ABC affiliates in the nation. For all but a few years in its current incarnation, it has been a distant third behind WIS and WLTX. In 1997, WOLO upgraded its news image by hiring Jim Blue and Leslie Mouton (Mattox) and branded itself as "25 Eyewitness News". It also adopted the "AccuWeather" franchise. It also expanded its news product to include a morning show, Good Morning Columbia, and a 5 p.m. newscast.
In 2002, Bahakel moved WOLO's operations to WCCB in Charlotte, where they stayed for three years. During that time, WCCB's studios played host to WOLO's newscasts. All news gathering was still based in Columbia with a News Director and reporters producing the daily newscasts. WOLO cut many jobs and shows, and only the weekday evening newscasts were retained. This was one of the first examples of "centralcasting" (housing several stations' operations in one location) in the United States.
Bahakel returned WOLO's anchors to Columbia in Fall 2005 while keeping the weather forecasts in Charlotte, and built a new street-side news studio across from the Sthate House. It has underscored its commitment to local news with slogans such as "Live from Main and Gervais" (the major intersection housing WOLO's newsroom) and "More Local News." Around the same time, WOLO switched its on-air name from ABC25 to ABC Columbia, similar to the change made at WCCB, which switched its branding from "FOX 18" to "Fox Charlotte".
While it is still well behind WIS and WLTX, WOLO has been more competitive since it moved back to Columbia. Additionally, it has begun reaping the full benefits of its technical upgrades of the past decade and the switch to digital.
On September 21, 2009, WOLO was the first station in Columbia to air its news in high definition, accompanied by a new graphics and music package. Along with WOLO's September 21, 2009 transition to high definition came a new website scheme, a simple flash layout, aimed towards younger viewers. The station was the first to begin gathering its field video in high definition in February 2010. On October 12, 2010, WOLO became the first station in the market to air live shots in HD. On November 2, 2010, WOLO became the first station in Columbia to stream live video to the iPhone.
After nine years of not airing a morning newscast, WOLO-TV re-launched Good Morning Columbia on August 1, 2011. It also debuted its first-ever noon newscast on the same day. On August 19, 2013, Good Morning Columbia expanded to a full two hours, which is the first time the station offered a two-hour morning newscast.
- Newscene 25 (1980s)
- 25 News (1983-1990 and 1999-2001)
- 25 Live News (1990-1993)
- WOLO News Hour (1993-1996)
- 25 Eyewitness News (1996-1999 and 2001-2002)
- ABC 25 News (2002-2005)
- ABC Columbia News (2005–present)
- "Live From Main and Gervais, Columbia's First High Definition Newscast" (2009–present, news)
- "Your HD, Widescreen News Station" (2010–present, station)
- Alicia Barnes - weeknights at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.; also "Wrinkle Free Wednesday" segment producer (also heard on WWDM-FM 101.3 and WHXT-FM 103.9)
- Anderson Burns - weekday mornings on Good Morning Columbia (5:00-7:00 a.m.) and weekdays at noon; also reporter and "Hidden Columbia" segment producer
- Rochelle Dean - weekends at 11:00 p.m.; also weeknight reporter
- Eric Weisfeld - weeknights at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.; also "ABC Columbia Watchdog" segment producer
ABC Columbia Weather (+ denotes personnel based at WCCB)
- + Reg Taylor (AMS and NWA Seals of Approval) - chief meteorologist; weeknights at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.
- Jonathan Kennedy - meteorologist; weekday mornings on Good Morning Columbia (5:00-7:00 a.m.) and weekdays at noon
- + Jacinda Garabito - weather anchor; weekends at 11:00 p.m.
- Tim Hill - sports director; weeknights at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.
- Sara Jane Harris - sports anchor; weekends at 11:00 p.m.; also sports reporter
- Dave Aiken - "Voice of the Viewer" segment reporter/producer; also station/program manager
- Crandall Sims - general assignment reporter; also weekday noon producer
- Monique Williams - general assignment reporter
- Rich Wandover - chief photojournalist
- Mary Ann Chastain
- Matt Perron
Notable former on-air staff
- Tom Ackerman (now at WLEX-TV in Lexington, KY)
- Malachi Rodgers (now at WSPA-TV in Spartanburg, SC)
- John Gaughan
- David Hartman (local TV personality)
- Rick Leventhal (now at Fox News Channel)
- Jim Blue (now at WNWO-TV in Toledo, OH)
- Leslie Mouton (now at KSAT-TV in San Antonio)
- Frank Baker now a media literacy education consultant
- Jonathan Oh
- SEC Network Announced Affiliate Change in Columbia
- WOLO To Launch Morning, Noon Newscasts, TVNewsCheck, May 3, 2011.