From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BrandingABC Columbia
First air date
October 1, 1961
(62 years ago)
Former call signs
WCCA-TV (1961–1964)
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog: 25 (UHF, 1961–2009)
  • Digital: 8 (VHF, 2000–2020)
Technical information[1]
Licensing authority
Facility ID60963
ERP43.7 kW
HAAT530 m (1,739 ft)
Transmitter coordinates34°6′58.4″N 80°45′49.9″W / 34.116222°N 80.763861°W / 34.116222; -80.763861
Public license information

WOLO-TV (channel 25), branded on-air as ABC Columbia, is a television station in Columbia, South Carolina, United States, affiliated with ABC and owned by Bahakel Communications. Its studios and business offices are located on Shakespeare Road in Arcadia Lakes; master control is based at company flagship WCCB in Charlotte, North Carolina. WOLO-TV's transmitter is located on Rush Road in unincorporated southwestern Kershaw County, near Camden.


Early years[edit]

Channel 25 in Columbia was originally occupied by WCOS-TV, South Carolina's first television station. It signed on the air on May 9, 1953[2] and operated as an ABC affiliate until January 21, 1956, when competitor WNOK-TV bought most of WCOS-TV's assets.[3]

The First Carolina Corporation, a group of local investors, obtained a construction permit from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to build a new station on channel 25 on June 1, 1961, after applying on August 5, 1960.[4] Construction was in full swing by the summer. The former physical plant of WCOS-TV on Shakespeare Road was purchased for use by the new station, and a new 348-foot (106 m) tower was erected on the site.[5] The station signed on for the first time on October 1, 1961, as WCCA-TV, using the former WCOS-TV facilities and downtown sales offices in the Hotel Columbia.[6] The FCC granted First Carolina a license to cover the permit on July 24, 1962.[4]

Bahakel purchase[edit]

In 1964, Cy Bahakel bought the station[7] out of bankruptcy[8] and changed its call letters to WOLO-TV, seeking a fresh start.[9] Immediately, work began to add height to the station's tower to increase its coverage area.[10] WOLO announced another upgrade in 1966, with the height going from 522 feet (159 m) to 933 feet (284 m) and an increase in power to 550,000 watts.[11] This ultimately materialized in 1969 as an increase to 904,000 watts,[4] followed up in 1981 by a boost to 3.6 million watts.[12]

The case of WOLO-TV was not unique. Instead of one VHF station in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Bahakel bought three similar UHF stations: WOLO, WKAB-TV in Montgomery, and WCCB in Charlotte—all ABC affiliates at the time, and two of them off the air—in the same year. All three were then upgraded to increase their coverage areas at the same time that the All-Channel Receiver Act meant that all new sets could receive UHF stations; the three stations had become profitable operations by the early 1980s.[8] Cash flow increased fivefold from 1975 to 1979, and the staff tripled in size.[13]

In 2001, WOLO activated a new transmitter tower along I-20 outside Camden, one of the tallest structures in South Carolina at 1,764 feet (537.7 m). Prior to then, the station had long been plagued by a weak signal. Although it decently covered Columbia and most of its inner suburbs in Richland and Lexington counties, it only provided grade B signal coverage of the second-largest city in the market, Sumter, and was all but unviewable in some outlying areas even after the 1981 power increase. The new tower, in contrast, increased WOLO's coverage by 50 percent, providing at least secondary coverage of 24 counties from Charlotte's outer suburbs to the Pee Dee. It also allowed the station to begin digital broadcasts.[14]

In the fall of 2005, WOLO changed its on-air branding from "ABC 25" to "ABC Columbia"; the move coincided with the return of local news production to the city after three years where the anchors were based at WCCB.[15] Beginning in 2014, WOLO began a major expansion of its studio at Main and Gervais. This included the building of a new weather center and an interview set. During the summer of 2015, the station rebuilt the street-side studio set, incorporating multiple monitors and an improved light-control window system. The graphics and music were revamped in October 2015 when John Farley, formerly of WIS, was announced as the chief meteorologist for WOLO-TV.

In 2002, the station became the second commercial television station in the Columbia market to sign on a digital signal. WOLO's broadcasts became digital-only, effective June 12, 2009.[16]

Since at least 1986, WOLO has claimed WCOS-TV's history as its own.[17] However, FCC history cards for WOLO make no mention of WCOS-TV.[4]

News operation[edit]

Refer to caption
The building at Main and Gervais that previously housed the WOLO-TV newsroom is seen at right

For most of its first four decades, WOLO-TV was the third station in what was essentially a two-station market, in large part due to its weak signal. Its local newscasts languished in a distant third place, well behind WIS and WLTX. Despite this, the station was responsible for several firsts in the Columbia area. In 1977, the station hired Elizabeth Snite to co-anchor the station's evening newscasts, becoming the first female news anchor in the market.[18] The next year, it hired the first certified meteorologist in the market, Bob Richards, and introduced the first color weather radar system in the area (in 1978)[19][20] However, these moves failed to rid WOLO of what The State columnist Doug Nye called an "image of comical ineptness" that stuck with the station for decades. According to Nye, this was largely because Bahakel ran the station rather cheaply; well into the 1990s, it was the only station in the market that did not broadcast in stereo.[21] The station did not air an 11 p.m. newscast until 1991; until then, WIS offered the only late news in the market.[22]

In the second half of the 1990s, the station made several moves, including hiring Jim Blue and Leslie Mattox as its top anchor team, additional morning and 5 p.m. newscasts, and a rebrand as 25 Eyewitness News, to improve its position,[23][24] However, just two months after hiring Blue and Mattox, Bahakel fired the general manager and news director.[21] WOLO-TV gained a reputation as a station with instability in management and news leadership.[25]

In 2002, Bahakel migrated WOLO's operations—including production of its newscasts—to the studio facilities of sister station WCCB in Charlotte. Newsgathering continued to be based in Columbia, maintaining a news director and three teams of reporters to produce the daily newscasts.[26] With the move, WOLO canceled its weekday morning and weekend newscasts, retaining only the weeknight 6 p.m. and nightly 11 p.m. newscasts, and laid off several Columbia-based employees. This was one of the largest-market examples of "centralcasting" (the practice of housing master control and/or other operations for multiple stations out of one facility) in the United States.[27] After the company's financial picture improved and allowed it to afford more digital conversion costs, in the fall of 2005, Bahakel Communications moved production of WOLO's newscasts back to Columbia, from a new purpose-built streetside news studio located across from the State House in the historic Union National Bank Building.[15]

On August 1, 2011, WOLO restored a weekday morning newscast to its schedule after nine years with the debut of an hour-long program at 6 a.m. titled Good Morning Columbia, and the return of a noon newscast.[28] On August 19, 2013, Good Morning Columbia expanded to two hours, with the addition of an hour to the broadcast from 5 to 6 a.m.

In 2015, the station garnered attention when it first hired popular former WIS anchor Ben Hoover to its evening newscasts in August[29] after his departure from the NBC affiliate back in 2014.[30] In October, former WIS chief meteorologist John Farley was hired to replace Reg Taylor, who retired from television at the end of September.[31] The new anchor team was widely promoted in social media as well as the local newspaper and the South Carolina State Fair. The station launched a new look, music, and a finalized studio for the debut in mid-October, with scenes of the capital city and the State House being particularly prominent in its imagery, tying to its unique location at the intersection of Main and Gervais streets.

Notable former on-air staff[edit]


The station's signal is multiplexed:

Subchannels of WOLO-TV[32]
Channel Res. Aspect Short name Programming
25.1 720p 16:9 WOLO-DT Main WOLO-TV programming / ABC
25.2 480i WOLO-ST Start TV
25.5 WOLO-HI Heroes & Icons
25.6 WOLO-DB Dabl
25.7 4:3 WOLO-ST Story Television
25.8 16.9 HSN-Tv HSN



  1. ^ "Facility Technical Data for WOLO-TV". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission.
  2. ^ "First South Carolina TV Station Goes on Air Today". The State. May 1, 1953. p. 2-E. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  3. ^ "WCOS-TV Sold; Leaves Air Saturday". The State. January 18, 1956. p. 1. Retrieved August 20, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d FCC History Cards for WOLO-TV
  5. ^ "WCCA-TV Goes on Air in October: New Installation Nears Completion". The State. September 2, 1961. p. 10-B. Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  6. ^ "Channel 25: WCCA-TV Begins ABC Service Here". The State. October 1, 1961. p. 16-D. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  7. ^ "Local Station Is Sold". The State. February 14, 1964. p. 3-C. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  8. ^ a b Fletman, Abbe (January 5, 1984). "Turner's brash, Bahakel quiet; but look at the bottom line". The Charlotte News. pp. 8A, 9A. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  9. ^ "ABC Affiliate: Channel 25 Will Change To New Call Letters Sunday". The State. July 9, 1964. p. 7-D. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  10. ^ "Channel 25 To Extend TV Antenna". The State. June 11, 1964. p. 4-B. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  11. ^ Grose, Jr., Philip G. (August 26, 1966). "New Antenna, Transmitter: WOLO-TV To Triple Local Power Output". The State. p. 8-B. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  12. ^ "Channel 25 Has New Tower". The State. February 17, 1981. p. 6-C. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  13. ^ Monk, Fred (December 14, 1979). "WOLO continues efforts to excel". The Columbia Record. Columbia, South Carolina. p. 16-D. Retrieved April 3, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ Crumbo, Chuck (May 30, 2000). "Towering over the Midlands: TV station says the sky's not the limit for transmitter". The State. pp. B1, B5.
  15. ^ a b Berman, Pat (July 2, 2005). "Anchors no longer away for WOLO". The State. p. B5.
  16. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. May 23, 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 29, 2013. Retrieved August 29, 2021.
  17. ^ "South Carolina's First TV Channel". The State: Columbia's Bicentennial. May 9, 1986. p. 54. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  18. ^ "WOLO-TV Signs Anchorwoman". The Columbia Record. June 4, 1977. p. Weekend 14.
  19. ^ a b "WOLO Jazzes Up Local News Presentation Today". The State. January 29, 1979. p. 10-A. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  20. ^ Lhotka, William C.; Malone, Roy (April 10, 1994). "Bob Richards Off Camera: Weatherman Had Smooth Image, Rough Personal Life". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. pp. 1D, 8D. Retrieved August 24, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  21. ^ a b Nye, Doug (July 6, 1997). "Doing the WOLO shuffle: one step forward, two steps back". The State. Columbia, South Carolina. p. TV Weekly 35, 63. Retrieved April 3, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  22. ^ Nye, Doug (March 3, 1991). "Pete Poore realizes one of his goals for WOLO". The State. p. TV Weekly 55. Retrieved February 20, 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  23. ^ Nye, Doug (April 26, 1996). "WOLO to add newscast at 5 p.m." The State. p. B3.
  24. ^ Nye, Doug (September 5, 1996). "WOLO ready to add early evening news". The State. p. D6.
  25. ^ "WOLO faces more personnel changes". The State. Columbia, South Carolina. January 7, 1998. p. C6. Retrieved April 3, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  26. ^ Nye, Doug (October 26, 2003). "WOLO centralcast seems to work, if you look past ratings". The State. Columbia, South Carolina. p. E3, E7. Retrieved April 3, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  27. ^ Nye, Doug (July 3, 2002). "WOLO staffers to lose jobs". The State. pp. A1, A4.
  28. ^ "WOLO To Launch Morning, Noon Newscasts". TVNewsCheck. May 3, 2011.
  29. ^ "Ben Hoover back on TV Wednesday, co-anchoring at WOLO". The State. August 5, 2015.
  30. ^ "After controversial WIS exit, Ben Hoover launches new media venture". The State. December 17, 2014.
  31. ^ "John Farley reunites with Ben Hoover on WOLO newscasts". The State. October 18, 2015.
  32. ^ "RabbitEars query for WOLO". rabbitears.info. Retrieved October 12, 2021.

External links[edit]