Battle Creek, Michigan
|City of license||Grand Rapids, Michigan|
|Branding||WOOD-TV 8 (general)
24 Hour News 8 (newscasts)
WXSP The X (on DT2)
|Slogan||Watching Out for You|
|Channels||Digital: 7 (VHF)
Virtual: 8 (PSIP)
8.2 Bounce TV
8.3 weather radar
|Translators||46 (UHF) Muskegon
WOGC-CD 25 Holland
(WOOD Television, LLC)
|First air date||August 15, 1949|
|Call letters' meaning||WOOD refers to furniture industry|
|Sister station(s)||WOTV, WXSP-CD|
|Former callsigns||WLAV-TV (1949–1951)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
7 (VHF, 1949–1953)
8 (VHF, 1953–2009)
|Former affiliations||CBS (1949–1960)
UPN (DT2 via WXSP-CD simulcast, 2006)
MyNetworkTV (DT2 via WXSP-CD simulcast, 2006–2013)
|Transmitter power||30 kW|
WOOD-TV, virtual channel 8 (VHF digital channel 7), is an NBC-affiliated television station located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States. The station is owned by Media General, and is a sister station to ABC affiliate WOTV (channel 41) and Class A MyNetworkTV affiliate WXSP-CD (channel 15). All three stations share studios on College Avenue Southeast in the Heritage Hill section of Grand Rapids, WOOD-TV's transmitter is located in Middleville near the Barry and Allegan County line.
In addition to its main signal, WOOD-TV operates Class A digital translator WOGC-CD on UHF channel 25 licensed to Holland with a transmitter in Zeeland along I-196 on the tower of FM radio station WJQK. There is also a digital repeater on channel 46 licensed to Muskegon with a transmitter in the Wolf Lake section of Egelston Township.
The station signed on the air on August 15, 1949 as WLAV-TV, originally broadcasting on VHF channel 7; it was the fourth television station in Michigan and the first located outside of Detroit. The station was originally owned by Grand Rapids businessman Leonard Adrian Versluis, who in 1940 had also signed-on Grand Rapids' second radio station, WLAV (1340 AM, now WJRW). In 1951, Versluis sold the television station to Grandwood Broadcasting for $1.37 million. The Bitner Group subsidiary was also owner of WOOD, the first radio station in Grand Rapids.
Grandwood had originally applied for its television license back in 1948, but the application just barely made a deadline prior to the Federal Communications Commission's freeze on new television construction permits. In fact, the application for WLAV-TV had been one of the last construction permits issued before the freeze. Grandwood eventually grew tired of waiting and cut a deal with Versluis to buy the station. On October 19, WLAV changed its call letters to WOOD-TV to match its radio sister and began airing from a new transmitter in northeastern Grand Rapids.
Due to potential interference from clear-channel Chicago powerhouse WLS-TV as a result of the flat land in the Great Lakes region, the station moved from VHF channel 7 to channel 8 and increased its transmitter power from 28,000 to 100,000 watts on December 8, 1953. The channel change was promoted as "Mark the date: We move to Channel Eight on December Eight". In 1955, it moved to its current facilities in the Heritage Hill section of Grand Rapids, where its new studios replaced the Bissell mansion (of Bissell vacuum fame) and are across the street from the Voigt House Victorian Museum. The combined enterprise was then sold to Time-Life, Inc. in 1957.
WOOD-TV has been an NBC affiliate from the very beginning, although it had a secondary affiliation with CBS until WKZO-TV (channel 3, now WWMT) in Kalamazoo expanded its signal to cover the greater Grand Rapids/Tri-Cities area. It also had secondary affiliations with ABC and DuMont; however, the DuMont affiliation would end in 1956 when that network ceased operations, and the ABC affiliation was terminated in 1962 when WZZM-TV (channel 13) began operations.
The station's call letters were changed to WOTV in 1972 when WOOD-AM was sold. Time-Life also sold most of its television stations to McGraw-Hill that year (initially intending to include WOTV in the deal, though it was retained), but held on to WOTV until 1983 when it was sold to LIN Broadcasting. In 1992, the station reclaimed its old WOOD-TV call letters with WOOD-AM's permission. The station then donated the WOTV calls to WUHQ, the ABC affiliate for the southern portion of the Southwestern Michigan market with whom it had recently signed a local marketing agreement (LMA).
In 1994, LIN Broadcasting spun off its television division into a separate company known as LIN TV Corporation, but WOOD-TV was not included in the transaction. Instead, the station became wholly owned by AT&T (which also owned a 45 percent interest in LIN TV at the time), when that company absorbed the remainder of LIN Broadcasting in 1995; however, LIN TV continued to manage both WOOD-TV and WOTV. LIN TV reacquired WOOD-TV and its LMA with WOTV in 1999 when AT&T sold-off its stake in the company to Hicks, Muse, Furst, and Tate (now HM Capital). LIN TV eventually purchased WOTV outright in 2001.
On March 21, 2014, it was announced that Media General would acquire LIN. The deal closed on December 19, bringing WOOD, along with WOTV and WXSP-CD, under common ownership with CBS affiliate WLNS-TV in Lansing.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|8.1||1080i||16:9||WOOD||Main WOOD-TV programming / NBC|
|8.3||16:9||Radar||Storm Team 8 Live Doppler Network|
WOOD-TV became the first station in the market to broadcast a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 7 on August 14, 1999. The station shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 8, at 10 a.m. on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition VHF channel 7, using PSIP to display WOOD-TV's virtual channel as 8 on digital television receivers.
WOOD-TV presently broadcasts 34 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 5½ hours on weekdays, three hours on Saturdays and 3½ hours on Sundays); in addition, the station produces a half-hour public affairs program To the Point with Rick Albin, which airs Sundays at 10:00 a.m.; a 25-minute sports highlight program Sports Overtime, which airs Sundays after the 11:00 p.m. newscast; and Football Frenzy, a weekly highlight program on Friday nights during the fall which covers high school football games as well as other sports news of the day (the 11 p.m. newscast is shortened to allow Football Frenzy to air during the regular time slot).
WOOD-TV has the distinction of being one of the last remaining broadcast television stations in the United States currently utilizing the "24 Hour News Source" format, which was popular in many markets during the early 1990s, and has been used by the station since 1990. The only other stations still using the format (as of 2015) are CW affiliate WISH-TV in Indianapolis (a sister station to WOOD-TV) and ABC affiliate KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In addition to featuring live regional National Weather Service radar data, WOOD-TV station operates the most powerful private weather radar in Michigan.
For most of the time since the mid-1980s, channel 8 has led the Nielsen ratings in West Michigan. However, for most of the 1990s, it waged a spirited three-way battle for the ratings lead with WWMT and WZZM. One reason is that it is the only major station whose news department equally covers all of the vast Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek market,[attribution needed] WWMT has historically focused on the southern portion of the market (being based in Kalamazoo), while WZZM focuses mostly on the northern portion.[attribution needed] WOOD-TV's bureaus, in addition to the main studios in Grand Rapids, are located in Georgetown Township (in Ottawa County and serving the Lakeshore) and Battle Creek (serving Southwest Michigan)
WOOD-TV has many firsts in the market. It was the first West Michigan station to broadcast in color. It was the first West Michigan station to use electronic news gathering, in 1975. Five years later, it was the first area station to air live news from outside its studios. In 1983, it introduced the area's first television helicopter to assist in coverage. WOOD-TV's weekday morning newscast premiered in 1984 and aired for a half-hour at 6:30. This was expanded to a two-hour format in 1995 along with the weekday noon and weekend 6 p.m. newscast expanding to an hour. As a result, NBC Nightly News is preempted on weekends.
After taking over WOTV's operations, WOOD-TV then began simulcasting some of its newscasts on that station as well as airing specially produced newscasts covering Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. Essentially, WOTV functioned as WOOD-TV's bureau in the southern portion of the market. In 1992, WOTV brought back a full news department for a second time. However, despite having WOOD-TV's resources behind it, it made no impact in the ratings; the southern portion of the market didn't have enough viewers for a news department to be viable.[attribution needed] LIN TV finally decided to shut down WOTV's news operation for good in August 2003. Since then, the station has simulcast some of WOOD-TV's newscasts (currently the 6 a.m. hour of its weekday morning newscast and its nightly 6 p.m. newscast, the first half-hour of the latter program only on Sundays), but this time without any separate opens or segments. There are weather updates presented by chief meteorologist Bill Steffen that air during primetime on weeknights.
On October 21, 2007, WOOD-TV began offering a nightly primetime newscast at 10 p.m. on WXSP-CD, joining the longer-established 10 p.m. newscast on Fox affiliate WXMI (channel 17) and CW affiliate WWMT-DT2. The entertainment and lifestyle magazine show eightWest premiered on October 5, 2009 and airs weekday mornings at 11 a.m. for an hour, as well as being streamed live on the station's website. Also on that date, WOOD-TV became the second station in southwestern Michigan to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in 16:9 widescreen enhanced definition. Although not truly high definition, the broadcast match the ratio of HD television screens. The simulcasts on WOTV were included in the upgrade. On October 22, 2011, WOOD-TV became the third television station in southwestern Michigan (behind Fox affiliate WXMI and CBS affiliate WWMT) to broadcast local newscasts in high definition.
Starting in September 2011, WOOD-TV began broadcasting all of its newscasts during ArtPrize from a temporary studio built inside the Grand Rapids Art Museum. During the live broadcasts, people were encouraged to come downtown and get a behind the scenes look at WOOD-TV's news operation. People standing outside the museum made up the backdrop behind the anchor desk. During ArtPrize in 2012, WOOD-TV hosted a free three-week concert series in Rosa Parks Circle behind the studio.
Notable former on-air staff
- Carol Duvall (former host of The Carol Duvall Show)
- Alan Gionet (now at KCNC-TV in Denver)
- Steve Kmetko (former E! host)
- Janet Shamlian (now at NBC News)
- John Stehr (now at WTHR in Indianapolis)
- Matt Winer (now at Turner Sports, formerly at ESPN)
- Ginger Zee (now with ABC News as weekday meteorologist for Good Morning America)
- Official website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WOOD-TV
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WOGC-CD