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|Channels||Digital: WLAJ-DT 25.2 (UHF)
Virtual: 53.2 (PSIP)
|Affiliations||The CW (via The CW Plus; 2006–present)|
|Owner||Shield Media, LLC
|Operator||Nexstar Media Group|
|First air date||September 1998|
|Call letters' meaning||seen WLAJ|
|Former callsigns||"WBL" (1998–2006)|
|Former affiliations||The WB (1998–2006,
via The WB 100+)
|Transmitter power||900 kW (digital)|
|Height||300 m (digital)|
|Facility ID||36533 (digital)|
WLAJ-DT2 is the CW-affiliated television station for the Central Lower Peninsula of Michigan. The station is a second digital subchannel of ABC affiliate WLAJ that is owned by Shield Media, LLC but operated through joint sales and shared services agreements by Nexstar Media Group. This makes it a sister outlet to CBS affiliate WLNS-TV. Over-the-air, WLAJ-DT2 broadcasts a 720p high definition digital signal on UHF channel 25.2 (or virtual channel 53.2 via PSIP).
It airs from a transmitter, on Baseline Road near Rives Township's Berryville section, along the Jackson and Ingham County line. Part of the national CW Plus programming service, the station can also be seen on Comcast channel 5 (hence its on-air branding CW 5). Its parent outlet shares studios with WLNS on East Saginaw Street/BL I-69/M-43 in Lansing's Eastside section (along U.S. 127).
Like all CW Plus stations, WLAJ-DT2 broadcasts The Better Show which has ceased production, and reruns of King of the Hill and Are We There Yet?. In addition, it broadcasts the John Tesh-produced Intelligence For Your Life.
The station signed-on as "WBL" in September 1998 alongside the launch of The WB 100+. WLAJ provided advertising sales and promotional opportunities to this outlet which was exclusively seen on MediaOne (eventually acquired by Comcast) channel 30. Since it was a cable-exclusive outlet, the call sign was not officially recognized by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The arrangement with WLAJ was established during a period when The WB deployed various network stations outside the top 100 markets as cable-only channels. Before that, either Chicago-based superstation WGN or Detroit's WXON (later WDWB, now WMYD) (both of which had been available on Lansing cable systems for decades) provided programming from The WB to the area.
On January 24, 2006, CBS Corporation (which became separate from Viacom after 2005) and Warner Bros. Television (the company which owned The WB) announced they then would cease operating the UPN and The WB networks and combine their resources to create a programming service entitled The CW. The letters would represent the first initial of the new network's respective corporate parents. On February 22, News Corporation announced that it would start up another new network called MyNetworkTV.
This new service, which would be a sister network to Fox, would be operated by Fox Television Stations and its syndication division Twentieth Television. MyNetworkTV was created in order to give UPN and WB stations, not mentioned as becoming CW affiliates, another option besides becoming Independent. It was also created to compete against The CW.
MyNetworkTV launched on September 5 at which point former UPN affiliate WHTV joined the network. This left "WBL" to affiliate with The CW through The CW Plus (a national programming service similar to The WB 100+) on September 18. WLAJ then created a new second digital subchannel to simulcast WBL and offer over-the-air viewers access to the new network. As a result of this addition, this station began using the WLAJ-DT2 call sign in an official manner and also relocated to the more desirable channel 5 slot on Comcast systems.
On December 4, 2012, WLAJ (and this CW-affiliated subchannel) was sold from the Sinclair Broadcasting Group to Shield Media, LLC (owned by White Knight Broadcasting Vice President Sheldon Galloway). Shield then entered into certain shared services and joint sales agreements with Young Broadcasting (then owner of WLNS). At some point in February 2013, WLAJ closed down its advertising sales office and former news studio on South Pennsylvania Avenue. In addition, master control and most other internal operations of WLAJ (and this CW-affiliated subchannel) moved from the studios of Sinclair-owned WWMT in Kalamazoo to WLNS' facility.
In effect, the move reunited WHTV's intellectual unit with WLAJ since the former station was once housed at the ABC outlet's studios. However, WLNS technically operated WHTV through a separate outsourcing arrangement from WLAJ that was already established. Young Broadcasting would merge with Media General on November 12, 2013. As a result of the changes, WHTV announced that it would not renew its joint sales agreement with WLNS. In July 2014, WHTV entered into a new local marketing agreement with Fox affiliate WSYM-TV and relocated its advertising sales operation to that outlet's studios.
From September 24, 2007 until September 25, 2009, WLAJ produced a weeknight prime time newscast at 10 on this CW-affiliated digital subchannel. The half-hour program, known as ABC 3 News Live at 10 on CW 5, competed with a sixty-minute local newscast seen every night on WSYM (which has all of its news programming produced by NBC outlet WILX-TV). There is no word whether WLNS will bring back a newscast to WLAJ-DT2 even though, as of April 1, 2013, the CBS outlet is simulcasting weekday news broadcasts on the main ABC station.