|Kalamazoo/Grand Rapids/Battle Creek, Michigan
|City of license||Kalamazoo, Michigan|
The CW 7 (on DT2)
TV Now (on DT2)
|Channels||Digital: 8 (VHF)
Virtual: 3 (PSIP)
3.2 The CW
|Owner||Sinclair Broadcast Group
(WWMT Licensee, LLC)
|First air date||June 1, 1950|
|Call letters' meaning||We're West Michigan
|Sister station(s)||WEYI-TV, WBSF, WSMH, WLUC-TV, WPBN-TV / WTOM-TV, WGTU / WGTQ|
|Former callsigns||WKZO-TV (1950-1985)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
3 (VHF, 1950–2009)
2 (VHF, –2009)
|Former affiliations||All secondary:
|Transmitter power||25 kW|
WWMT, virtual channel 3 (VHF digital channel 8), is an CBS-affiliated television station serving Grand Rapids, Michigan that is licensed to the city of Kalamazoo and owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group. WWMT maintains studios on West Maple Street in Kalamazoo, and its transmitter is located in northwest Yankee Springs Township on Chief Noonday Road/M-179 near Patterson Road. The station can also be seen on Charter Communications and Comcast channel 3. There is a high definition feed offered on Comcast digital channel 233 and Charter digital channel 782.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|3.1||1080i||16:9||WWMT-HD||Main WWMT programming / CBS|
|3.2||480i||CW W MI||WWMT-DT2 / The CW|
On January 24, 2006, the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner and CBS Corporation announced that the two companies would shut down The WB and UPN and combine the networks' respective programming to create a new "fifth" network called The CW. On April 4, 2006, WWMT announced it would affiliate with The CW on a new second digital subchannel.
It was reported that Class A UPN affiliate WXSP-CA (channel 15) was in discussions to join The CW, but due to that station's heavy reliance on professional sports during prime-time (WXSP's highest-rated programming)[attribution needed] and The CW's concerns over programming preemptions, the two sides could not come to an agreement. West Michigan is one of the largest television markets where The CW was not available through over-the-air analog broadcasts and is one of the few stations the new network was awarded that had not previously been affiliated with either The WB or UPN. WXSP joined MyNetworkTV when the network launched on September 5 and WWMT did the same with The CW when it began on September 18. From that date through early-December, WWMT-DT2 was known as "West Michigan's CW"; it has since been known as "The CW 7".
WWMT shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 3, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition VHF channel 8 (which was formerly used for the analog signal of WOOD-TV), using PSIP to display the WWMT's virtual channel as 3 on digital television receivers.
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The station signed on the air on June 1, 1950 as WKZO-TV (the call letters standing for "KalamaZoO"). It was West Michigan's second television station to debut after WLAV-TV (channel 8, now WOOD-TV) and was owned by broadcasting pioneer John Fetzer, along with WKZO radio, which Fetzer had owned since 1930. It carried programming from all four networks of the time: CBS, NBC, ABC and DuMont. However, it has always been a primary CBS affiliate owing to its radio sister's longtime affiliation with the CBS Radio Network.
From the start, WKZO-TV had reception problems due to the presence of WTMJ-TV across Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, also on analog VHF channel 3. In 1953, WTMJ moved to channel 4. This, in turn, forced WBBM-TV in Chicago to move from channel 4 to channel 2 as a condition of its purchase by CBS. Until WSBT-TV signed on in 1952, WKZO-TV also served as the default CBS affiliate for South Bend, Indiana.[attribution needed]
Channel 3 lost DuMont in 1956 after that network shut down. Soon afterward, the WKZO stations moved their operations to an old car dealership on West Maple Avenue in Kalamazoo, where the station remains based to this day. In 1960, Fetzer built a new 1,100 foot (335 m) transmitter near the northern edge of Gun Lake. The new tower was close enough to Grand Rapids to provide it with city-grade coverage, while still being within 15 miles of Kalamazoo as required by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations. Soon after channel 3 activated its new tower, the FCC collapsed West Michigan into one large television market. WKZO then shared ABC with WOOD-TV until WZZM (channel 13) signed-on in 1962.
Fetzer also owned the Detroit Tigers baseball team from 1956 to 1983. During this time, channel 3 frequently pre-empted prime time CBS broadcasting for Tigers baseball games, including preseason exhibitions.[attribution needed] In 1985, Fetzer retired and began selling off his vast broadcasting empire, which by this time included, among other holdings, WWTV in Cadillac, Michigan and KOLN-TV in Lincoln, Nebraska. The FCC had grandfathered existing radio-television clusters when it barred common ownership of radio and television stations, but with Fetzer's announcement WKZO-AM-TV lost its grandfathered protection. The Fetzer television stations were initially sold to Gillett Holdings. However, due to FCC ownership limits in effect at the time, WKZO-TV and KOLN-TV were spun off to Busse Broadcasting. On December 5, 1985, Busse changed the station's call letters to the current WWMT (standing for "We're West Michigan Television"). In 1995, the Granite Broadcasting Corporation acquired the station. Freedom Communications purchased WWMT in 1998 from Granite, along with sister station WLAJ in Lansing.
WWMT is the second longest-tenured CBS affiliate in Michigan (behind only WLNS-TV in Lansing, which signed on a few months earlier); its logos have used the CBS logo since the mid-1990s. In 2005, a company-wide consolidation of operations at Freedom's stations resulted in the move of WLAJ's master control and most internal operations to WWMT's facilities. This left behind was a skeleton crew of six people out of what began with 80 staffers in Lansing.[attribution needed]
Freedom announced on November 2, 2011 that it would exit from television and sell its stations, including WWMT, to the Sinclair Broadcast Group. The group deal closed on April 2, 2012. As a result, WWMT and WLAJ joined Fox affiliate WSMH in Flint as two of the three Sinclair-owned television properties in the state of Michigan.
Syndicated programming on the station includes Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, Dr. Phil, Live! with Kelly and Michael, and Steve Harvey among others. The former three are distributed by CBS Television Distribution. Until 2005, WWMT was the only West Michigan television station carrying the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
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WWMT presently broadcasts 31 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with five hours on weekdays and three hours each on Saturdays on Sundays). Originally, WKZO was Western Michigan's highest rated television station, but lost the lead to WZZM in the mid-1970s.[attribution needed] It has been a solid runner-up, first to WZZM and later WOTV/WOOD-TV, for most of the time since then.[attribution needed] For a time in the mid-1990s, even though most of WWMT's fellow CBS affiliates were in third place or worse,[attribution needed] this station was very competitive with WZZM and WOOD-TV[editorializing] often resulting in close Nielsen ratings during sweeps periods.
Since its city of license is Kalamazoo, the station has traditionally had a focus in the southern areas of the market (Kalamazoo and Battle Creek). To assist in story gathering efforts in these areas, it operates a bureau on Michigan Avenue West in downtown Battle Creek. On two occasions, WWMT's existence prevented WOTV, the other major station based in the southern part of the market, from establishing a local news presence.[dubious ][attribution needed] WWMT also operates a news bureau near Grand Rapids Police headquarters due to its secondary focus on the northern half of the market (Grand Rapids and Muskegon).
Veteran news anchor Tom VanHowe began filling-in for Jeff McAtee on July 28, 2008. McAtee was on active duty serving as a commander with the United States Navy Reserve. Marketing director Mark Bishop told the Grand Rapids Press that "McAtee will be active in the Navy Reserve for a year or two." In November 2008, VanHowe extended his contract to continue on WWMT until at least June 2009. He continued to co-anchor the station's 5, 5:30 and 6 p.m. newscasts on weeknights. Weekday morning news anchor Jeff Varner (participant in Survivor: The Australian Outback) moved to the weeknight broadcasts alongside Judy Markee.
On September 18, 2008, WWMT began producing a nightly prime time newscast at 10 p.m. on its CW-affiliated second digital subchannel. This established a third local news option in the timeslot, competing with Fox affiliate WXMI (channel 17)'s longer-established hour-long 10 p.m. newscast and MyNetworkTV affiliate WXSP's half-hour 10 p.m. newscast produced by WOOD-TV. Known as Newschannel 3 Live at 10 on The CW 7, this program currently airs for 30 minutes featuring a separate title opening, "CW 7" labeled microphones, and a "Newschannel 3 on CW 7" bug in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.
On April 17, 2009, WXMI became the first station in the market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. Six months later, WOOD-TV upgraded its newscasts to 16:9 widescreen enhanced definition (WZZM would do the same sometime in late 2009). Although not truly high definition, broadcasts matched the aspect ratio of widescreen television sets.[original research?] WWMT remained the last major station in Western Michigan with pillarboxed 4:3 standard definition newscasts until April 16, 2011 when it became the second station in the market to upgrade its local newscasts to full high definition (updated graphics were introduced along with the change) Newscasts on WWMT-DT2 are still presented in standard definition, albeit in widescreen, as the subchannel is not available in HD.
After WLAJ's Lansing-based news operation was shut down on September 25, 2009, WWMT began producing a taped five-minute news and weather brief weeknights at 11 p.m. on that station. Known as ABC 3 News Update, regional and state coverage was presented in the show since WLAJ does not maintain any news personnel at its studios. There were also recorded local weather cut-ins seen on that station weekday mornings during Good Morning America. These productions were upgraded to high definition on April 16, 2011. After WLAJ came under the ownership of Shield Media on March 1, 2013, all news programming produced by WWMT ceased airing on the Lansing station and replaced by newscasts from WLNS-TV.
In June 2011, Andy Dominianni (who had previously served as the station's morning anchor in the late 1990s) and Kate Tillotson were appointed as anchors of the 5, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts. On April 23, 2012, WWMT became the first station in the market to expand its weekday morning newscast to 4:30 a.m. On January 19, 2013, WWMT debuted weekend morning newscasts, airing for two hours from 6-8 a.m. on Saturdays and from 7-9 a.m. on Sundays.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WWMT
- UPN and WB to Combine, Forming New TV Network, The New York Times, January 24, 2006.
- CW Adds Seven More Affiliates, Broadcasting & Cable, April 4, 2006.
- List of Digital Full-Power Stations
- Milbourn, Mary Ann (November 2, 2011). "O.C. Register owner sells TV stations". Orange County Register. Retrieved November 2, 2011.
- http://www.wwmt.com/news/newschannel_1351469___article.html/well_howe.html[dead link]
- Longtime TV anchor coming out of retirement, MLive.com, July 22, 2008.
- WWMT-TV Newschannel 3 announces new anchor lineup
- WWMT Launches 4:30 A.M. Newscast