WVLA-TV

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WVLA-TV
WVLA logo
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
United States
Branding NBC 33 WVLA Baton Rouge (general)
NBC 33 News (news)
Slogan NBC 33, More Colorful. (general)
We Tell Your Stories Every Day (news)
We Are YOUR Weather Team (weather)
Channels Digital: 34 (UHF)
Virtual: 33 (PSIP)
Subchannels 33.1 NBC-HD
33.2 NBC33 Always On
Affiliations NBC (since 1977)
Owner White Knight Broadcasting
(operated by Communications Corporation of America; sale to Mission Broadcasting pending, to be operated by Nexstar Broadcasting Group thereafter)
(Knight Broadcasting of Baton Rouge License Corporation)
First air date October 16, 1971; 42 years ago (1971-10-16)
Call letters' meaning Vetter LouisianA
(previous owner)
Sister station(s) KZUP-CD, WGMB-TV, WBRL-CD
Former callsigns WRBT (1971-1987)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
33 (UHF, 1971-2009)
Former affiliations ABC (1971-1977)
Fox (secondary, 1990-1991)
Transmitter power 1000 kW
Height 522 m
Facility ID 70021
Transmitter coordinates 30°19′34″N 91°16′36″W / 30.32611°N 91.27667°W / 30.32611; -91.27667
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
CDBS
Website www.nbc33tv.com

WVLA-TV, virtual channel 33, is the NBC-affiliated television station for Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It transmits its digital signal on UHF channel 34. It is owned by White Knight Broadcasting, but it is controlled by ComCorp. and is sister station to the area's independent affiliate, KZUP-CD. WVLA also shares facilities and staff with WGMB-TV and WBRL-CD. WVLA's transmitter is located near Addis, Louisiana. The station is seen via satellite through DirecTV, Dish Network and AT&T U-verse and on cable Cox Communications.

History[edit]

The station first signed on the air on October 16, 1971[1] as WRBT, an ABC affiliate. The station was originally founded by Romac Baton Rouge Corporation, a consortium of Southern Educators Life Insurance Company and local businessmen Richard O. Rush and Ramon V. Jarrell. The station temporarily operated from Florida Boulevard before moving to studios on Essen Lane, where it stayed until 2000. Before WRBT began, ABC was limited to off-hours clearances on then-NBC affiliate WBRZ-TV and CBS affiliate WAFB. The station originally broadcast from 10:30 a.m. until midnight on Mondays thru Fridays; 7 a.m. until midnight on Saturdays; and 9 a.m. until midnight on Sundays. In March 1976, Rush Broadcasting Corporation, owned by Jules B. LeBlanc and Cyril Vetter, purchased the station.[2]

In the late 1970s, ABC became the most-watched network and was seeking out stronger stations, while NBC fell to third and last place in ratings. While WRBT was still trying to find its feet, WBRZ was the top-rated station in Baton Rouge. WBRZ approached ABC for an affiliation, and ABC readily accepted. More or less by default, WRBT joined NBC. WRBT swapped affiliations with WBRZ on September 5, 1977, and became an NBC affiliate with NBC Nightly News as its first aired program. In 1979, Vetter purchased LeBlanc's share of station ownership to become sole owner.

In mid-September 1983, the station received national attention when it pulled Late Night with David Letterman and replaced it with All in the Family reruns due to poor ratings. After 3,500 LSU students presented Vetter with a petition to bring the show back to Baton Rouge, Vetter told them he would only reinstate Letterman if every student maintained a C average for the fall semester. Other Baton Rougeans, including then-Secretary of State Jim Brown, lobbied WRBT to keep Letterman on the air, and this compelled Vetter to reinstate the program by late September.[3] Eventually, many residents of New Orleans tuned to WRBT to watch Letterman when NBC affiliate WDSU preempted the show in favor of Thicke of the Night. In 1992, WVLA cancelled Letterman again, citing poor ratings, and replaced it with Rush Limbaugh's talk show. The station, however, did air Late Night with Conan O'Brien when it premiered the next year.

It changed its calls to WVLA on November 26, 1987 after building a higher tower boosting its power to five million watts. On May 2, 1986, the station was the first local station in Baton Rouge and the second station in Louisiana to broadcast in stereo, after KMSS-TV in Shreveport. In 1989, WVLA canned its primetime newscasts and aired sitcom reruns in their place. While Vetter cited a desire to make channel 33 a complete entertainment station, another likely factor was the station's pedestrian showing in the ratings against WAFB and WBRZ. Nonetheless, this proved successful ratings-wise, as the station's share jumped from 3 percent to 7 percent after the move.[4]

Vetter owned the station until 1996, when he sold it to Sheldon Galloway and Lafayette-based White Knight Broadcasting. This move created a partnership, as Galloway's father, Thomas, owned Fox affiliate WGMB. Around this time, WVLA began branding itself as NBC 33, which, with the exception of a brief period in the early 2000s, is what the station calls itself today. Since then, WGMB, WVLA, WBRL, and KZUP have shared the same studios, moving to its current studios on Perkins Road in 1999.

On April 24, 2013, ComCorp announced the sale of its entire group to the Nexstar Broadcasting Group. WVLA and KZUP will be sold to Mission Broadcasting. Nexstar will continue to operate WVLA and KZUP under a shared service agreement, with sister stations WGMB and WBRL.[5]

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[6]
33.1 1080i 16:9 WVLA-TV Main WVLA-TV programming / NBC
33.2 480i 4:3 NBC33 News Always On

WVLA had carried NBC Weather Plus as channel 33.2, a digital subchannel, before that network ceased national operation on December 1, 2008. From 2008 until September 2012, the subchannel carried This TV before WVLA lost the affiliation to WBTR, a sister station to rival WBRZ. Channel 33.2 currently airs rebroadcasts of NBC 33 News and weather information.

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WVLA-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 33, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 34.[7][8] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 33.

Programming[edit]

Baton Rouge Lagniappe is a Sunday morning public affairs program that airs at 6:30 a.m. and is hosted by Matt Kennedy. It features interviews with Baton Rouge community leaders about local issues and upcoming events. Topics include city development, education, career advice, arts and entertainment, and health and fitness. It also airs on WGMB, KZUP and WBRL-CD.

WVLA currently airs all of NBC network programming in high definition and most of its syndicated programming such as Maury, Rachael Ray, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Doctors, Family Feud and Entertainment Tonight in HD. From 1973 until the move to ABC in 2013, the station has annually aired the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon.[9]

Newscasts[edit]

WVLA used to air nightly 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts during the 1980s. In 1987, the 6 p.m. newscast moved to 5 p.m.; however, both newscasts were canceled in 1989, citing poor ratings. In late 1989, it premiered a morning news program called Morning Edition that aired before The Today Show, originally lasting a half-hour before expanding a full hour; this newscast was cancelled in January 2005 in favor of airing NBC's early morning newscast Early Today in the slot. In the early 1990s, the station had an information hotline service for viewers to call to get news updates.

The station's latest generation of newscasts debuted on January 8, 2007, with weeknight shows at 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. The 6 p.m. shows began airing on January 29, 2007. On August 28, 2007, WVLA launched a 30-minute newscast titled NBC 33 News Morning Edition, which airs weekdays at 6 a.m. On August 11, 2008 NBC 33 News Morning Edition began airing for one hour.

WVLA began airing weekend editions of its newscasts on September 13, 2008; the weekend newscasts were produced by KETK-TV in Tyler, Texas. This has led to several errors when the show ultimately aired in Baton Rouge, including on November 16, 2008, when an entire newscast from the previous Sunday was shown.[10] On September 22, 2008, WVLA changed the format for its 10 p.m. weekday newscast with the Ten at 10; it promised all the important local news and a full weather forecast in the first ten minutes.

On April 28, 2009, most of the news staff was let go, including the main anchors,[11] and WVLA announced that the 5 and 10 p.m. weekday newscasts would originate from sister station KETK-TV in Tyler, Texas;[12] however, the station's weekday morning newscast NBC 33 News Morning Edition still originated from Baton Rouge.

In April 2010, BP Oil's Deepwater Horizon Rig exploded, then sank; oil began leaking from a well and was threatening coastal Louisiana. WVLA began once again producing local newscasts entitled "Crisis on the Coast", although the sportscast was still anchored from Tyler, Texas, but now the anchor does their own sports news.

On July 5, 2010, WVLA began broadcasting their newscasts in 16:9 standard definition widescreen. In August 2011, WVLA expanded its weekday morning newscast, now running from 5-7 a.m., then less than a month later on September 12, WVLA launched a half-hour weeknight newscast at 6:30 p.m.

News/station presentation[edit]

Newscast titles[edit]

  • Channel 33 News (1971-1974)
  • Total News (1974-1975)
  • TV-33 News (1975-1977)
  • NewsCenter 33 (1977-1979; first newscast title under NBC affiliation)
  • 33 News (1979-early 1980s, mid 1980s-1989)
  • 33 Metro News (early 1980s)
  • Baton Rouge Evening News (5pm) Baton Rouge Tonight (10 p.m. newscast; late 1980s-1989)
  • Morning Edition (1989-1990s)
  • B. R. Sunrise (mid-1990s)
  • 33 Today / NBC 33 News Today (morning newscast; late 1990s-2002)[13]
  • Morning Baton Rouge (morning newscast; 2002–2005)
  • NBC 33 News (2007–2009 and 2010–present)[14]
  • Ten at 10 (10 p.m. newscast; 2008–2009)

Station slogans[edit]

  • "A Whole New World of Television" (1971, first slogan)
  • "33 is NBC" (1977, first slogan as an NBC affiliate)
  • "33 A New Vision" (1987-1988, adopted with new call letters WVLA)
  • "Now That's Entertainment!" (alternatively, "Entertainment Television" (early 1990s)
  • "Your Friends of the Family" (1992)
  • "The Stars are back on 33" (1993-1994)
  • "Got Everybody Watching WVLA" (mid 1990s)
  • "The New Choice for News" (2007)
  • "We Tell Your Stories Every Day" (2010–present)
  • "We Are YOUR Weather Team" (weather slogan; 2010–present)
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News music packages & Local Programming Music[edit]

  • NBC-TV Radio Newspulse (Fred Weinberg Productions, Inc.) (1977-19??)
  • Production Music: Prestige: Theme 1 (KPM Music) (19??-1984)
  • Let's All Be There (NBC Affiliate Package) (1984–1987)
  • WRBT 1987 News Theme (1987-1989, continued to be used until 1992 for prime time news updates)
  • Punch Drunk by Sade (1992-1995, used for Community Calendar updates that aired in lieu of prime time news updates during NBC programming)
  • I Watched Her Walk Away by The Rippingtons (1994-1996, used for programming teases that aired on NBC split-screen credit segments designated for affiliate newscast teases)
  • Shock the Monkey by Peter Gabriel (1992-1994, used for Crossroads show to promote black history)
  • G-Bop by Kenny G (1992-1995, used for AM Sunday news program)
  • WVLA 1996 News Theme (1996-early 2000s)
  • News Matrix (Stephen Arnold Music, early 2000s-2005)
  • L.A. Groove (Groove Addicts, Inc., 2007–2010)
  • The Rock (Stephen Arnold Music, 2010–present)

News team[edit]

Current on-air staff[15][edit]

Anchors

  • Jeanne Burns - Weekdays 5, 6:30, and 10 p.m.
  • Emily Turner - weekday morning at 5-7 a.m.

Storm Tracker 33 Weather Team

  • Jesse Gunkel - chief meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 6:30 and 10 p.m. and 9 p.m. on WGMB
  • Jesse Vinturella - meteorologist; weekday mornings
  • Kyle Myers - meteorologist; weekends

Reporters

  • Matt Boudreaux - sports reporter; also fill-in anchor
  • Kris Cusanza - general assignment reporter
  • David D'Aquin - general assignment reporter; also news director
  • Alex Deiro - general assignment reporter
  • Danielle Grossman - general assignment reporter
  • David Lippman - general assignment reporter

Notable former staff[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]