|Branding||WDAM 7 (general)|
WDAM 7 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||You've Got 7 On Your Side|
The Pine Belt's Choice For News
|Channels||Digital: 7 (VHF)|
Virtual: 7 (PSIP)
(Gray Television Licensee, LLC)
|First air date||June 8, 1956|
|Call letters' meaning||Station founder David A. Madison|
|Sister station(s)||WLBT, WLOX|
|Former callsigns||WDAM (1956–1978)|
|Former channel number(s)|
|Former affiliations||NTA (secondary, 1956–1961)|
This TV (DT2, 2008?–2012)
|Transmitter power||75 kW|
|Height||155 m (509 ft)|
|Public license information||Profile|
WDAM-TV is a dual NBC/ABC-affiliated television station serving Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States that is licensed to Laurel. Owned by Gray Television, it broadcasts a high definition digital signal on virtual and VHF channel 7 from a transmitter at its studios on U.S. 11 in unincorporated Moselle in southern Jones County. The station can also be seen on Comcast Xfinity channel 4.
WDAM-TV, named for the initials of the original owner David A. Madison, signed-on June 8, 1956 airing an analog signal on VHF channel 9. At that time it carried both NBC and ABC. During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.
Even though almost all media markets were assigned two commercial VHF channels plus one non-commercial VHF channel, the Hattiesburg–Laurel market was sandwiched between Alexandria, Louisiana (channel 5) and New Orleans (channels 4, 6, 8, and 12) to the west, Gulfport–Biloxi (channel 13) to the south, Jackson, Mississippi (channels 3 and 12) to the north, and Meridian (channel 11) and Mobile–Pensacola (channels 3, 5, and 10) to the east. As a result, Hattiesburg became one of the few media markets that were assigned only one VHF channel. WDAM was fortunate enough to gain that license, and consequently became the only television station to be based in Hattiesburg until WHLT (channel 22) signed on the air in 1987. Although there was no station operating on channel 2 in the immediate area, it was assigned to Starkville and Baton Rouge, which are too close to Hattiesburg to allow for such an allocation in the Pine Belt.
In September 1959, then licensed by South Mississippi Broadcasting, Inc., WDAM moved from channel 9 to channel 7 to allow WAFB in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to move from UHF channel 28 to VHF channel 9 and to protect Tupelo's WTWV (now WTVA) that also broadcast on channel 9. After moving to 7, the station was designated as serving the Laurel–Hattiesburg area. In 1962, WDAM dropped its secondary ABC affiliation to become a sole NBC affiliate. In 1967, the license holding changed its name to Service Broadcasters, Inc. In 1978, Beam Communications purchased the stations from Service Broadcasters. who later changed their name to Beacon Communications in 1989 (the company also owned KYEL-TV (now KSWT) in Yuma, Arizona–El Centro, California). Beacon sold the station to Federal Broadcasting in 1990, The station was acquired by current owner Raycom Media in 1997. However, Raycom owned WHLT at the time and had to sell it to Media General in order to comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) duopoly rules. In 2008, the station added a new position, web manager, and updated its website to conform to modern standards. That same year, the station launched "wdamtogo.com", a site designed for internet-capable mobile devices. In 2010, the station launched news and weather smart phone applications along with a photo and video sharing service called Send It to Seven. In 2011, the station launched a secondary set of websites for each community of over 20,000 people in the station's viewing area called WDAM Neighborhoods; those sites were retired in early 2014. In early 2012, WDAM launched tablet applications.
Over the years, WDAM has been home to personnel who achieved fame either locally or nationally. Bobby Smith worked at the station since a week after it signed-on until 2011. Weathercaster Jim Gibbon was a staple of WDAM's weekday morning and noon shows for 43 years until his retirement in March 2007. He died nearly two months later on April 25. Sports Director Mitchell Williams retired in 2011 after 27 years at the station. In January 2012, William "Dubbie" White retired after 45 years with the station. Jim Cameron retired in 2013 after 22 years as general manager. Randy Swan, formerly news director for 24 years, and news anchor was with the station for over three decades leaving for only a brief period when he served in the same position with WABG-TV in the Greenwood–Greenville, Mississippi market. Swan's father, Jimmy Swan, was a well known radio personality and country/bluegrass singer/bandleader during the late 1950s and 1960s who also ran for Governor of Mississippi. Randy Swan retired in 2015 and his last day on air was February 27, 2015. Miranda Beard was with the station nearly three decades. Her last day on air was February 25, 2016. Current Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts was a sports anchor at WDAM in the early 1980s.
In 2001, the station signed-on its digital signal on UHF channel 28. WDAM signed-off its analog signal on June 12, 2009, and began broadcasting exclusively in digital. With the digital television transition, the station added two new channels to its lineup on 7.2 and 7.3. On January 28, 2010, WDAM moved from UHF channel 28 to the pre-digital allotment on VHF channel 7. An early field test showed a dramatically improved signal in areas that were lost after the original digital transition.
On May 30, 2012, Raycom Media and ABC jointly announced that WDAM had entered into a long-term affiliation agreement. This resulted in WDAM-DT2 dropping This TV in favor of ABC on June 11. Prior to the change, ABC had not been seen locally in the Hattiesburg–Laurel market since 1962 after the main WDAM channel dropped its secondary arrangement with the network. After that, WLOX in Biloxi began serving as the Pine Belt's default affiliate and would subsequently become a sister outlet to WDAM in 2006.
Sale to Gray Television
On June 25, 2018, Atlanta-based Gray Television announced it had reached an agreement with Raycom to merge their respective broadcasting assets (consisting of Raycom's 63 existing owned-and/or-operated television stations, including WDAM-TV), and Gray's 93 television stations) under the former's corporate umbrella. The cash-and-stock merger transaction valued at $3.6 billion – in which Gray shareholders would acquire preferred stock currently held by Raycom – will result in WDAM-TV gaining new sister stations in nearby markets, including CBS/ABC affiliate KNOE-TV in Monroe, Louisiana and ABC affiliate WTOK-TV in Meridian. The combined company will be in every Mississippi market except for Greenville and Columbus-Tupelo as a result. The sale was approved on December 20, and was completed on January 2, 2019.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP short name||Programming|
|7.1||1080i||16:9||WDAM-DT||Main WDAM-TV programming / NBC|
|7.2||480i||Tube||WDAM-DT2 / ABC|
Since WDAM is the only local television station to offer the most newscasts, it has traditionally been a ratings powerhouse. As a semi-satellite of Jackson's WJTV, rival CBS affiliate WHLT provides local coverage. WHLT airs a 30-minute local newscast weeknights at 10 p.m. In addition, the only other newscast simulcasted on WHLT is WJTV's weekday morning show. WLOX in Biloxi, also owned by Gray Television, shares resources with WDAM.
With the addition of ABC network programming on WDAM-DT2, simulcasts of some local newscasts from the main channel are included on its schedule. More specifically, this includes the entire weekday morning show as well as weeknight broadcasts at 5 and 10. An exclusive newscast airs weeknights at 6:30 on WDAM-DT2. Weekend simulcasts include Saturdays at 6 and both nights at 10. With the simulcasts, however, there can be delays and/or pre-emptions on one programming service due to network obligations. WDAM's half-hour early afternoon newscast at noon and weeknight 6 p.m. newscast are not seen on the second subchannel.
On September 10, 2012, WDAM became the first television station in the Pine Belt to broadcasts its newscasts in high definition. This included a new set and weather center, along with HD versions of its graphics.
Notable former on-air staff
- Chuck Scarborough (now at WNBC)
- Robin Roberts – (now anchor of ABC News weekday morning program Good Morning America)
- Cindy Williams (journalist) (now at WCSH)
- "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films", Boxoffice: 13, November 10, 1956
- "GRAY AND RAYCOM TO COMBINE IN A $3.6 BILLION TRANSACTION". Raycom Media (Press release). June 25, 2018.
- Miller, Mark K. (June 25, 2018). "Gray To Buy Raycom For $3.6 Billion". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheckMedia. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
- John Eggerton (June 25, 2018). "Gray Buying Raycom for $3.6B". Broadcasting & Cable. NewBay Media.
- Dade Hayes (June 25, 2018). "Gray Acquiring Raycom For $3.65B, Forming No. 3 Local TV Group". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation.
- "FCC OK with Gray/Raycom Merger", Broadcasting & Cable, December 20, 2018, Retrieved December 20, 2018.
- "Gray Completes Acquisition of Raycom Media and Related Transactions", Gray Television, January 2, 2019, Retrieved January 2, 2019.