Hilton Head, South Carolina
|Branding||WSAV 3 (general)
News 3 (newscasts)
MyLC (on DT2)
|Slogan||On Your Side|
|Channels||Digital: 39 (UHF)
Virtual: 3 (PSIP)
|Affiliations||NBC (since 1985; also from 1956-1982)|
(Media General Communications
|Founded||February 1, 1956|
|Call letters' meaning||SAVannah|
|Sister station(s)||WCBD-TV, WBTW,
|Former callsigns||WSAV (1956-1978)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog: 3 (1956-2009)|
|Former affiliations||ABC (1982-1985)|
|Transmitter power||1,000 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WSAV-TV is the NBC-affiliated television station for Southeastern Georgia's Coastal Empire and Southern South Carolina's Lowcountry. Licensed to Savannah, Georgia, it broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 39 (or virtual channel 3.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter on Little Neck Road in unincorporated northwestern Chatham County, Georgia. The station can also be seen on various cable systems including Hargray, Time Warner Cable, Comcast and Charter. Owned by Media General, WSAV has studios on East Victory Drive/U.S. 80/SR 26 in Savannah's Live Oak section.
The station began broadcasting on VHF channel 3 on February 1, 1956 and was co-owned with WSAV-AM 630 (now WBMQ) after a long legal battle over the frequency with the owners of WJIV-AM 900. It initially aired an analog signal from a transmitter on top of a bank building on Broughton Street in Downtown Savannah. The flashing WSAV sign was a landmark on the street for many years. WSAV-AM had long carried NBC Radio programming, so WSAV-TV took the NBC television affiliation.
It shared ABC with CBS affiliate WTOC-TV until WJCL-TV started operations in 1970. During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.[dead link][unreliable source?]WSAV briefly had an FM station using an antenna atop the middle of three AM towers at the transmitter facility on Oatland Island. However, without many listeners to the simulcast programming, the FM operation was ended in the 1950s.
In 1960, WSAV-AM-TV moved into a brand new facility on Victory Drive, where WSAV-TV still is located today. A new tower was built at the site boosting its signal to many of the surrounding counties in Georgia and South Carolina. The current tower in Pooler was built in 1976. In the same year, WSAV-AM was sold. In 1982, the station swapped affiliations with WJCL and became an ABC affiliate. That network had become number one in the country and was searching for stronger affiliates. However, WSAV returned to NBC a mere three years later in 1985, one year before that network became number one again.
In the mid-1990s, like many other commercial television stations in the United States, WSAV was sold several times. At the beginning of that decade, the station was owned by a subsidiary of the News-Press & Gazette Company, who sold its entire broadcasting group of the time to the first incarnation of New Vision Television in 1993. Ellis Communications bought the New Vision stations in 1995. In 1996, Ellis was sold to Retirement Systems of Alabama who merged it with Aflac's former broadcasting division to form Raycom Media.
Since Aflac had owned rival WTOC, Raycom could not keep both channels due to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations forbidding common ownership of two stations in the same market. Raycom opted to keep the higher-rated WTOC and sell WSAV. In early-1997, Raycom traded WSAV and two other stations to current owner Media General in return for WTVR-TV in Richmond, Virginia. In the 2000s, this station acquired the local rights to the syndicated game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!. Both were previously shown on rival WJCL for almost two decades.
On February 1, 2006, WSAV celebrated its 50th anniversary. To commemorate the event, Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson officially announced the date as "WSAV Day" and lauded the station for its many achievements over the decades. Its continued service to its viewers being always "On Your Side" whenever a viewer needs to get a story out was also recognized.
On March 21, 2014, LIN Media entered into an agreement to merge with Media General in a $1.6 billion deal. Because LIN already owns ABC affiliate WJCL and operates Fox affiliate WTGS (channel 28), the companies were required to sell either WSAV or WJCL and its SSA with WTGS to another station owner in order to comply with FCC ownership rules as well as planned changes to those rules regarding same-market television stations which would prohibit sharing agreements. On August 20, 2014, Media General announced that it would keep WSAV and sell WJCL to Hearst Television, with WTGS going to Sinclair Broadcast Group.
Weather with Captain Sandy
WSAV was known for an unusual practice on its newscasts from the 1950s to the 1970s. Channel 3 was home to "Captain Sandy," who was something of a hybrid between a weatherman and children's show host. The character gave the weather on the weeknight news working with puppet sidekicks "Wilbur the Weather Bird", "Arthur Mometer" (the thermometer), and "Calamity Clam". Captain Sandy would appear on the news set wearing a vaguely nautical cap and blazer, as a nod to the region's dependence on the Atlantic Ocean. The comedy elements of the forecast included the thermometer and the clam. Captain Sandy's big thermometer was temperamental and would fidget before revealing the next day's high and low temperatures. When Captain Sandy opened Davy Jones' Locker to get the tide information (a crucial component of any weather forecast in the region) out of Calamity Clam, the puppeteer always tried to bite the captain's hand.
By the end of the 1970s, new station ownership found Captain Sandy's routine embarrassing (and likely anachronistic since most television stations had discontinued local children's shows years before) and the owners made the Captain finally conform to convention, prescribing him a suit and tie like other newscasters. The owners also fired the puppets shortly after, to the almost-certain sorrow of area children. One of the personalities behind the Captain Sandy character was smooth-voiced Joe Cox, who later left WSAV to become weatherman at cross-town rival WJCL, where he also hosted an evening radio program on WJCL-FM 96.5. The original Captain Sandy from 1956 was played by Norm Strand.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|3.1||1080i||16:9||WSAV-HD||Main WSAV-TV programming / NBC|
|3.2||480i||4:3||MyLC||MyNetworkTV / Me-TV|
On September 5, WSAV began carrying MyNetworkTV and RTV on a new second digital subchannel. This service is also available to DirecTV customers in Savannah on channel 29. WSAV-DT2's website and the digital subchannel feature a logo in the upper right-hand corner of the screen that reads "WSAV-DT 3.2 Savannah". On September 26, 2011, RTV was replaced with Me-TV.
WSAV-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 3, 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 39. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 3.
For most of its history, WSAV has been a solid if distant runner-up to longtime dominant WTOC. While WSAV and WJCL made a serious threat in the 1970s, WTOC has won every timeslot since 1980 often garnering more viewers than its rivals combined. The CBS outlet airs more than seven hours of news a day, a considerable amount for a station in the 97th market and far more than any other television station in Savannah. In 1976 as part of a major expansion of its news department, WSAV moved to a former insurance office that is next door to its original East Victory Drive studios.
Unlike most NBC affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone, WSAV does not offer midday newscasts during the week. The most recent addition to local news on this outlet occurred on June 21, 2010 when it added a broadcast weeknights at 5:30. As well, WSAV recently added a 5:00 newscast to the lineup. Before this point in time, WTOC had been the area's only station to air local news in those time slots.
In 2009, WSAV-DT2 launched a two-person bureau to produce a newscast weeknights at 7 called My Lowcountry News, this production is specifically targeted to the South Carolina side of the market featuring coverage from throughout the Lowcountry and the state. Some stories originated from Media General's three stations in South Carolina.
WSAV does maintain a bureau on Assembly Street/SC 48 covering the Capitol in Columbia. The operating expenses are shared among Media General's television stations in South Carolina. WSAV became the last Savannah station to upgrade newscasts to high definition level on March 8, 2011. However, since WSAV-DT2 only transmits in standard definition digital, My Lowcountry 3 was not included in the change. After switching to Me-TV, that broadcast was reduced to a half-hour. News and weather updates from this station can be heard on WGCO-FM 98.3, WVSC-FM 103.1, WFXH-FM 106.1, WUBB-FM 106.9, WXYY-FM 107.9, and WHHW-AM 1130. All news anchors also serve as reporters. In early October 2013, the half-hour 7:00 newscast was moved to 10:00 p.m. (now called WSAV News 3 at 10:00), remains a half-hour broadcast and is now also shown on Savannah's CW 13 (WGSA) 
Notable current on-air staff
- "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films", Boxoffice, November 10, 1956: 13
- TV Station Mega Merger: Media General, LIN Set $1.6 Billion Deal from Variety (March 21, 2014)
- Media General acquiring LIN Media for $1.6 billion, Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2014.
- Media Gen/LIN To Sell/Swap In Five Markets, TVNewsCheck, March 21, 2014.
- "Media General, LIN Sell Stations In 5 Markets". TVNewsCheck. August 20, 2014. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
- Malone, Michael (August 20, 2014). "Media General, LIN Divest Stations in Five Markets". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WSAV
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- CDBS Print
- Marszalek, Diana (July 23, 2013). "News Finds A New Home Among Diginets". TV News Check. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
- WSAV News 3 at 10 WSAV.com, TBD