WDSU

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WDSU
2013 WDSU logo.jpg

Me-TV WDSU New Orleans.png
New Orleans, Louisiana
United States
Branding WDSU (general)
WDSU News (newscasts)
Slogan On Your Side
Channels Digital: 43 (UHF)
Virtual: 6 (PSIP)
Subchannels Me-TV
Affiliations NBC
Me-TV (DT2)
Owner Hearst Television
(New Orleans Hearst Television, Inc.)
First air date December 18, 1948
Call letters' meaning DeSoto Hotel
(radio station's former location)
Joseph Uhalt
(founder of WDSU radio)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
6 (VHF, 1948–2009)
Former affiliations Secondary:
DuMont (1948–1955)
CBS (1948–1957)
ABC (1948–1957)
NTA Film Network (1957–1961)
DT2:
NBC Weather Plus (March–December 2008)
NOAA Weather Radio (2008–2009; March–April 2012)
The Local AccuWeather Channel (2009–2012)
Transmitter power 1000 kW
Height 230 m
Facility ID 71357
Transmitter coordinates 29°57′0.1″N 89°57′27.6″W / 29.950028°N 89.957667°W / 29.950028; -89.957667
Website www.wdsu.com

WDSU, virtual channel 6 (UHF digital channel 43), is an NBC-affiliated television station located in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. The station is owned by the Hearst Television division of the Hearst Corporation. WDSU's studios are located on Howard Avenue and Baronne Street in downtown New Orleans, and its transmitter is located in Chalmette, Louisiana. On cable, WDSU is carried on Cox Communications channel 7 in standard definition and digital channel 1007 in high definition in the New Orleans market.

Digital television[edit]

The station's digital signal on UHF 43, is multiplexed:

Digital channels[edit]

Channel Video Aspect Name Programming[1]
6.1 1080i 16:9 WDSU-DT Main WDSU programming / NBC
6.2 480i 4:3 MeTV Me-TV

WDSU broadcasts Me-TV on digital subchannel 6.2; the network began broadcasting on the subchannel on March 31, 2012, replacing The Local AccuWeather Channel. Channel 6.2 can be seen on digital cable channel 108 for Cox Communications customers in the New Orleans viewing area, on channel 115 for Charter Communications customers on the Northshore, and on channel 136 for Charter Communications customers on the Southshore.

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WDSU shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 6, 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 43.[2] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display WDSU's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 6.

Digital retransmission disputes[edit]

In October 2006, a dispute between WDSU's owner, Hearst-Argyle Television, and Cox Communications caused WDSU's high definition feed to be pulled from Cox's New Orleans area system.[3] As a result, no HD program content was available from WDSU via any medium (over the air, cable, or satellite), forcing New Orleans viewers looking for high-definition NBC programming to attempt to receive a signal from Baton Rouge affiliate WVLA. In April 2007, WDSU-DT was added to DirecTV's lineup, after which local cable providers gradually began to add the feed as well.

On September 27, 2007, Cox Communications and Hearst-Argyle announced an agreement to restore WDSU-DT to Cox's New Orleans area cable systems [1]; WDSU-DT and WDSU's WeatherPlus channel were added to Cox's channel lineup the next day.[2]

History[edit]

WDSU-TV first signed on the air on December 18, 1948, as the first television station in the state of Louisiana. It was originally owned by New Orleans businessman Edgar B. Stern, Jr., along with WDSU radio (1280 AM, now WODT; and 93.3 FM, now WQUE-FM). The station initially carried programming from all four major broadcast networks at the time: NBC, CBS, ABC and DuMont. Even after WJMR-TV (channel 61; now Fox affiliate WVUE on channel 8) signed on in November 1953 as a primary CBS and secondary ABC affiliate, WDSU continued to "cherry-pick" a few of the higher-rated CBS and ABC programs until 1957, when WWL-TV signed on as a full-time CBS affiliate. At that time, WJMR took the ABC affiliation full-time, leaving WDSU as an exclusive NBC affiliate. It lost DuMont when that network ceased operations in 1956.

WDSU's longtime French Quarter location, seen shortly before their move in 1996.

The radio station was originally located at the DeSoto Hotel (now Le Pavillon Hotel) on Baronne Street; the "DS" in the name stood for the DeSoto, while the "U" stood for Joseph Uhalt, who founded the radio station in 1923. WDSU-TV began operations in the Hibernia Bank Building, the tallest building in New Orleans at that time. The WDSU stations moved into the historic Brulatour Mansion on Royal Street in the French Quarter in April 1950. At that point, Stern reorganized his broadcast holdings as the Royal Street Corporation. The transmitter site remained at the Hibernia Bank Building until 1955, when the new transmitter facilities were completed in Chalmette, where the tower remains today.

In the 1950s, WDSU-TV became the springboard for the career of Dick Van Dyke, first as a single comedian and later as emcee of a comedy program.[4] WDSU became the first station in the market to provide color telecasts in 1955. WDSU was the ratings leader in New Orleans for over a quarter century, largely because of its strong commitment to local coverage. It originated the first live broadcasts of the Sugar Bowl and Mardi Gras, and was the first area station to have extensive local coverage of a hurricane.

Royal Street merged with Cosmos Broadcasting of Columbia, South Carolina in 1972. Cosmos had to sell off the radio stations because it exceeded Federal Communications Commission ownership limits of the time. Cosmos eliminated much of the local flavor that had been the station's hallmark, opting to concentrate on its already strong news operation (it had been saluted by Time as a news pioneer in 1966). By the early 1980s, rival WWL-TV had overtaken WDSU as the ratings leader. WDSU has been a solid runner-up to WWL for most of the last quarter-century, though in recent years it has had to fend off a strong challenge from a resurgent WVUE.

Today, WDSU generally clears NBC's entire lineup; however, in the early 1980s, the station sustained local criticism when it preempted Late Night with David Letterman in favor of Thicke of the Night, a notorious syndicated talk show flop, along with carrying films in late night instead of the short-lived NBC News Overnight.[5] When Letterman returned, the station aired the show later than the network-mandated timeslot, instead airing reruns of The Love Boat.

WDSU building on Howard Avenue.

Cosmos sold WDSU to Pulitzer in 1989. The station moved into its current facility in March 1996; the current studio is a few blocks from the Le Pavillion Hotel, where WDSU radio began operations in 1923. Also during the 1990s, WDSU became the first New Orleans station with its own Doppler weather radar ("Super Doppler 6000"). Pulitzer sold its entire television division, including WDSU, to Hearst-Argyle Television (predecessor to the present-day Hearst Television) in 1999. WDSU celebrated its 60th anniversary of broadcasting on December 18, 2008.[6]

Hurricane Katrina[edit]

WDSU shut down operations at its New Orleans studio facility around 9:30 p.m. on August 28, 2005, allowing station staff to take shelter from the pending landfall of Hurricane Katrina. At that point, WDSU broadcasts began originating from Hearst-owned ABC-affiliated sister station WAPT in Jackson, Mississippi, to which some WDSU on-air staff had already evacuated. Fellow sister station, NBC affiliate WESH in Orlando, Florida, also originated some on-air weather content. In the weeks immediately following the hurricane, WDSU's news content originated from WAPT with a hybrid team of WAPT and WDSU meteorologists and anchors, with programs simulcast in Jackson and New Orleans.

The studio building largely withstood Hurricane Katrina with minimal damage, but WDSU's analog and digital transmitters were both destroyed in the storm.[7] WDSU arranged to transmit its signal via Ion Television affiliate WPXL (channel 49) through the end of December 2005; reduced-power service was restored on channel 6 in October 2005.[3] WDSU replaced its transmitter building with an elevated and rugged hurricane resistant building to house its analog and digital transmitters. Construction of this building was completed in early February 2008.[4][5] WDSU's digital signal was restored on August 1, 2007, temporarily sharing a frequency with LeSea Broadcasting-owned WHNO on UHF digital channel 21. In late February 2008, WDSU's analog signal was restored to full power and its digital signal on channel 6.1 was restored on March 6, 2008.

Hurricane Gustav[edit]

In 2008, WDSU broadcast nonstop coverage of the approach, landfall and aftermath of Hurricane Gustav for five consecutive days. The storm prompted a massive evacuation of much of the station's viewing area. On September 1, 2008, WDSU's coverage of Hurricane Gustav aired nationally on DirecTV channel 361. Coverage was also available on the station's website, and its broadcast audio was carried by the stations within Citadel Communications' New Orleans radio cluster. C-SPAN2, and ABC affiliate WBRZ (channel 2) in Baton Rouge made portions of live coverage available as well.

WDSU tapped the resources of its parent company, Hearst-Argyle Television, and brought in personnel from across the country to assist in various capacities. Some members of WDSU's news staff were relocated to support studios in Baton Rouge and Orlando, and provided reports via satellite. All three locations stayed operational throughout the storm. One of WDSU's sister stations, ABC affiliate KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City, also provided WDSU's coverage of Hurricane Gustav via its second digital subchannel for evacuees who came to Oklahoma City.

Programming[edit]

Syndicated programs currently broadcast by WDSU include The Queen Latifah Show, Bethenny, Maury, Entertainment Tonight, EP Daily, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Steve Harvey. WDSU also airs ESPN Monday Night Football games featuring the New Orleans Saints (WDSU's corporate parent, the Hearst Corporation, holds a 20% ownership interest in ESPN) and provides additional analysis from former Saints coach Jim E. Mora.

News operation[edit]

WDSU newscast title card; seen nightly at 10.

WDSU presently broadcasts 32½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with five hours on weekdays, three hours on Saturdays and 4½ hours on Sundays). The station also maintains a content partnership with Cumulus Media's New Orleans FM radio cluster (KKND, KMEZ, WRKN and WMTI), which also allows the station to simulcast its broadcast audio during hurricane coverage.

On November 11, 2006, after a remarkable 51 years in New Orleans broadcast television – nearly all of them with WDSU – anchor and former news director Alec Gifford officially announced his retirement. Gifford left the station in December 2006.[8] On December 14, 2008, the Sun Herald, a local newspaper on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, entered into a content partnership with WDSU-TV to provide more news and weather coverage for South Mississippi.

On September 14, 2009, WDSU dropped its noon newscast in favor of a new hour-long 4 p.m. newscast;[9] this program gained competition on September 12, 2011, when Fox affiliate WVUE debuted its own hour-long 4 p.m. newscast.[10]

On July 10, 2010, WDSU began broadcasting its local newscasts in 16:9 widescreen standard definition, along with the unveiling of updated graphics. WDSU is one of three stations in the New Orleans market that have yet to upgrade their local news programming to high definition (alongside WWL-TV and WGNO), only WVUE broadcasts its local news programming in true high definition. On August 16, 2010, WDSU expanded its weekday morning newscast to 2½ hours, by adding a 4:30 a.m. newscast entitled WDSU News First Edition.[11]

In July 2011, WDSU claimed ratings wins in key demographics at 5 and 6 p.m. – the first time in a quarter-century that a station other than WWL-TV placed first among viewers most sought by advertisers.[12] Newscasts in less competitive time periods of 4:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. also scored wins in key demographic categories, as well as household ratings.

News/station presentation[edit]

Newscast titles[edit]

  • Your Esso Reporter (1948–1956)
  • WDSU-TV News (1956–1962)
  • The Six O'Clock Report/The Eleventh Hour Report (1962–1966)
  • Channel 6 News (1966–1974)
  • Newswatch 6 (1974–1970s)
  • NewsCenter 6 (1970s–1987)[13]
  • (Channel) 6 News (1987–2000)[14]
  • (WDSU) NewsChannel 6 (2000–2009)[15]
  • WDSU News (2009–present)[16]

Station slogans[edit]

  • "Comin' on TV-6" (1980–1987)
  • "TV-6, Our Pride Is Showing" (1981–1982; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "We're TV-6, Just Watch Us Now" (1982–1983; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "TV-6 There, Be There" (1983–1984; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "TV-6, Let's All Be There" (1984–1986; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "You're What Makes New Orleans Great!" (1985–1987; used during period station used Frank Gari's "Turn to News")[17]
  • "Come Home to TV-6" (1986–1987; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "Come on Home to Channel 6" (1987–1988; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "Come Home To The Best, Only On Channel 6" (1988–1990; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "Your 24-Hour News Source" (1990–1994)
  • "WDSU, The Place To Be!" (1990–1992; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "It's A Whole New Channel 6" (1992–1993; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "The Stars Are Back on Channel 6" (1993–1994; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "We're Building WDSU Around You" (1994–2004)
  • "WDSU, The Heart of New Orleans" (2000–2001, local version of NBC slogan)
  • "Local. Live. Latebreaking." (2004–2006)
  • "On Your Side" (2006–present; reporters also often use "We're on Your Side" as tags at the end of reports just before identifying the newscast title)
  • "WDSU NewsChannel 6, Chime In" (2008–2009, localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "WDSU, More Colorful." (2009–present, localized version of NBC ad campaign)
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Newscast Schedule[edit]

Weekdays
  • WDSU News This Morning - 4:30-7:00 a.m.
  • WDSU News at 4:00 - 4:00-5:00 p.m.
  • WDSU News at 5:00 - 5:00-5:30 p.m.
  • WDSU News at 6:00 - 6:00-6:30 p.m.
  • WDSU News at 10:00 - 10:00-10:35 p.m.
Saturdays
  • WDSU News This Morning - 6:00-7:00 a.m.
  • WDSU News This Morning - 9:00-10:00 a.m.
  • WDSU News at 5:00 - 5:00-5:30 p.m.
  • WDSU News at 10:00 - 10:00-10:30 p.m.
Sundays
  • WDSU News This Morning - 6:00-7:00 a.m.
  • WDSU News This Morning - 8:00-10:00 a.m.
  • WDSU News at 5:00 - 5:00-5:30 p.m.
  • WDSU News at 10:00 - 10:00-11:00 p.m.

News staff[edit]

Current on-air staff[18][edit]

Anchors

  • Sula Kim - weekday mornings on WDSU News This Morning (4:30–7 a.m.)
  • LaTonya Norton - weekend mornings on WDSU News This Morning (6-7 and 9-10 weekends + 8-9 a.m. Sundays); also weekday reporter
  • Norman Robinson - weeknights at 6 p.m.
  • Randi Rousseau - weekday mornings on WDSU News This Morning (4:30–7 a.m.); also reporter
  • Scott Walker - weekdays at 4 and weeknights at 5 and 10 p.m.; also reporter
  • Camille Whitworth - weekdays at 4 and weeknights at 5 and 6 p.m.; also reporter
  • Rachel Wulff - weekends at 5 and 10 p.m.; also weekday reporter

WDSU Exact Weather

  • Margaret Orr (member, AMS; member, NWA) - chief meteorologist; weekdays at 4 and weeknights at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Jay Gallé (AMS Seal of Approval; member, NWA) - meteorologist; weekday mornings on WDSU News This Morning (4:30–7 a.m.)
  • Dan Milham (AMS Seal of Approval; member, NWA) - chief meteorologist emeritus
  • Kweilyn Murphy - meteorologist; weekends at 5 and 10 p.m.; also fill-in meteorologist
  • Damon Singleton - meteorologist; weekend mornings on WDSU News This Morning (6-7 and 9-10 weekends + 8-9 a.m. Sundays)

Sports team

  • Fletcher Mackel - sports director; weeknights at 6 and 10 p.m.
  • Sharief Ishaq
  • TBD - sports anchor; weekends at 5 and 10 p.m.

Reporters

  • Heath Allen - Northshore Bureau Chief/general assignment reporter (married to former WWL-TV/WVUE-TV reporter Janet Gross)
  • Andy Cunningham - general assignment reporter
  • Casey Ferrand - general assignment reporter
  • Blake Hanson - general assignment reporter
  • Susan Isaacs - weekday morning traffic reporter (Time Saver Traffic from 4:30-7 a.m.)
  • Travers Mackel - investigative reporter (twin brother of Fletcher Mackel)
  • Gina Swanson - general assignment reporter

Contributors

  • Arthur Hardy - also editor/publisher of Mardi Gras Guide magazine
  • Dr. Corey J. Hebert, MD - medical editor ("On Call")

Hearst Television Washington Bureau

  • Sally Kidd - Washington bureau reporter
  • Nikole Killion - Washington bureau reporter

Notable former on-air staff[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]