|Baton Rouge, Louisiana|
|Channels||Digital: 13 (VHF)|
Virtual: 2 (PSIP)
|Branding||WBRZ News 2|
|Slogan||News is What We Do|
|Affiliations||2.1: ABC (sole affiliate since 1977; secondary 1955–1971)|
2.2: WBRZ Plus (News 2 Rebroadcast)
|Owner||Manship family |
(Louisiana Television Broadcasting, LLC)
First air date
|April 14, 1955|
Former call signs
Former channel number(s)
2 (VHF, 1955–2009)
WBRZ weather (2002–September 2017)
Call sign meaning
|HAAT||498 m (1,634 ft)|
Public license information
WBRZ-TV, virtual channel 2 (VHF digital channel 13), is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States. The station is owned by the Manship family, who formerly published the Baton Rouge daily newspaper, The Advocate, and is one of a handful of TV stations today to have locally-based ownership. WBRZ-TV is sister to Class A This TV affiliate KBTR-CD (channel 36), and the two stations share studios on Highland Road in Baton Rouge, just south of downtown. WBRZ-TV's transmitter is located in Sunshine, Louisiana. On cable, the station is available on Cox Communications and AT&T U-verse channel 5 in standard definition, and on digital channel 1005 in high definition. It is also seen via satellite through DirecTV and Dish Network.
WBRZ signed on the air on April 14, 1955, becoming the second television station in Baton Rouge, signing on exactly two years after CBS affiliate WAFB. It was also the longest running VHF outlet in Baton Rouge at the time, as WAFB originally broadcast on UHF channel 28 before moving to VHF channel 9 in 1960. WBRZ was a primary NBC affiliate, sharing ABC with WAFB. It began broadcasting in color seven months later, becoming the first Baton Rouge TV station to do so.
At first, the Manships wanted to call the station WBRA-TV, for the Baton Rouge Advocate, but went with the reverse "Z" at the end instead, avoiding the implications of having calls which could be understood to also mean the women's undergarment. Station founder Douglas L. Manship, Sr. still wanted "BR" in the station's calls, explaining the choice of "Z" at the end that "it was a good choice. 'Z' is a phonetically good sound on the air. It's distinctive." The "Z" was later expanded to mean "2" (similar to WGRZ-TV in Buffalo, New York). The WBRA call letters are currently used on the PBS member station in Roanoke, Virginia (standing for the Blue Ridge Mountains), though that entity emphasizes their "Blue Ridge PBS" branding over call letters except where required by the FCC. Until 1989, WBRZ was a sister station to WJBO-AM and WYNK-FM, until the Manships sold both radio stations. From the late 1960s until the late 1970s, WYNK was considered an affiliate of WBRZ.
It dropped ABC in 1971 after WRBT-TV (now WVLA) signed on. This made WBRZ a sole NBC affiliate. Because ABC was seeking out new affiliates with stronger signal coverage at the time, WBRZ swapped affiliations with WRBT and became an ABC affiliate again on September 5, 1977. The Manship family's other television station, KRGV-TV in Weslaco, Texas, did the same a year before. In that same timeframe, NBC sank to third and last place while ABC moved up to first place in the ratings.
In July 1987, the station started broadcasting 24 hours a day, except on Sundays. In September 1988, the station became the first in Louisiana to close-caption its newscasts. In 1991, Manship's son Richard took over the station as its new president, and would later be named "Broadcaster of the Year" by the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters. WBRZ became the first station in Baton Rouge to begin broadcasting in high definition on channel 13 on April 22, 2002. Since then, it has simulcast repeats of its newscasts on channel 2.2, and until September 2017, it took over operations of a cable-only NOAA weather channel with radar on channel 2.3 (this channel is now exclusively simulcast on sister station KBTR 41.3).
In late summer 2007, the Manships acquired a low-powered, independent television station, KBTR (WBTR), from Veritas Broadcasting Company. In late 2012, WBRZ and WBTR took the This TV affiliation from a subchannel of WVLA. WBTR airs This TV on a secondary basis, and WBRZ airs This TV programming on a secondary basis during early morning weekend hours.
WBRZ launched its own Web site, WBRZ.com, in 1996. In 2003, WBRZ and The Advocate shared a website, 2theadvocate.com, but during the week of September 14, 2009, WBRZ and the Advocate returned to having separate websites as the Manship family put The Advocate up for sale.
The station is a funding partner in The Cinderella Project of Baton Rouge, a charity that provides free prom dresses to public high school students who cannot otherwise afford them. The charity held its third annual prom dress giveaway in 2010.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|2.1||720p||16:9||WBRZ-HD||Main WBRZ-TV programming / ABC|
|2.2||NEWS 2||WBRZ Plus|
Upon launching its digital signal, WBRZ has aired its newscasts on a 24-hour stream on its second subchannel, and in late 2003, WBRZ took over operations for Cox Communications' cable-only NOAA weather channel. The new channel mixed NOAA's radio voiceover with WBRZ's radar, traffic cameras, and, in the event of severe weather, live updates from the stations' weather team. In 2010, radio feed was replaced with prerecorded forecasts from the team. In August 2017, WBRZ's news and weather channels were replicated on sister station KBTR's subchannels, and during September 2017, the weather channel, 2.3, was removed from WBRZ's feed to upgrade the news subchannel to 720p. The weather channel continues to be carried online.
WBRZ-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 2, 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 VHF channel 13. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 2. Due to its transmitter tower location, WBRZ can be seen over the air in most of the cities in the Lafayette and New Orleans viewing areas.
WBRZ carries the entire ABC schedule. However, it airs GMA3: What You Need To Know (previously The Chew and All My Children) at 11:00 a.m. on a one-day behind schedule (three-day behind for Friday's episode) due to the station's noon newscast. Syndicated programming includes Live with Kelly and Ryan, Dr. Phil, Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, and The Wendy Williams Show.
In 1993, WBRZ joined approximately 50 ABC affiliates in not airing the pilot episode of NYPD Blue due to local protests; the station decided on a week-by-week basis, at first, to air or not air episodes but eventually settled with airing episodes (including a rerun of the pilot).
In November 2004, WBRZ, along with many other ABC affiliates in the country, opted not to air the movie Saving Private Ryan when the network broadcast it uncut on Veterans Day. During Hurricane Katrina, the station worked with New Orleans ABC affiliate WGNO (channel 26) to provide coverage of the storm and its aftermath.
WBRZ was Baton Rouge's "news leader" in the ratings for much of its early history until the mid-1990s, given its history of always broadcasting on channel 2 (rival WAFB did not move to the VHF band until 1960) and its ties to the Baton Rouge newspapers, The Morning Advocate and The State-Times. The station experienced a ratings decline when Ed Buggs, the first African-American anchor in Baton Rouge, and many of its veteran anchors left the station in the mid-to-late 1990s amidst several format changes. This allowed CBS affiliate WAFB to overtake the lead in local news ratings, after competing with WBRZ for first place throughout the decade.
In 2004, the station dropped its twenty-year slogan of "On Your Side" and started describing their news as "Balanced. Fair. Accurate," which was inspired by Fox News' "Fair and Balanced" slogan. It was also in 2004 that the station introduced a 4 p.m. newscast to the Baton Rouge market after the cancellation of Donny Osmond's version of Pyramid. Today, WBRZ refers to itself as News 2 with the slogan "Turn to Us" and has revived "On Your Side" for special interest stories.
On July 29, 2007, WBRZ upgraded its set and news theme and began broadcasting their morning show 2une In and its noon, 4, 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts in high-definition. WBRZ was the second station in the Baton Rouge area and the fourth in Louisiana to broadcast their newscasts in high definition.
On November 17, 2014, WBRZ introduced their new state of the art upgrades set on their 5 p.m. newscasts, while maintaining the news theme "Extreme" by Stephen Arnold Music, which the station has used from 2007 HD upgrade until 2016.
WBRZ airs six hours of news each weekday, with two hours of morning news (2une In), one hour at noon, and half-hour newscasts at 4, 5, 6, and 10 p.m. On weekends, it airs a half-hour of morning news at 9 a.m. and prime time newscasts at 6 and 10 p.m. with a special interest report known as Sunday Journal on Sunday mornings.
On January 15, 2018, WBRZ rebranded its subchannel 2.2 to WBRZ Plus. With this rebrand, the station expanded its prime time news offerings by extending its 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts to a full hour. The hour-long newscasts air on this subchannel, while the first 30 minutes of each newscast continue to air on WBRZ's main channel.
Notable former on-air staff
- Sharon Weston Broome - now mayor-president of Baton Rouge
- Kip Holden – public relations specialist (former mayor-president of Baton Rouge)
- Margaret Orr – now at WDSU New Orleans
- Dallas Raines – chief meteorologist, now at KABC-TV in Los Angeles
- Jay Young – news anchor
- Broadcasting Yearbooks, various
- RabbitEars TV Query for WBRZ
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- CDBS Print
- "Baton Rouge, LA | Official Website". www.brla.gov. Retrieved 2020-07-12.
- Fates & Fortunes: News and Public Affairs (page #96 of 116) Broadcasting: 28 August 1978 (retrieved 17 January 2021)