CBS Baltimore

This article is about the television station in Baltimore, Maryland. For the former WJZ-TV located in New York City, see WABC-TV.

Baltimore, Maryland
Branding WJZ 13, WJZ (general)
WJZ Eyewitness News (newscasts)
Slogan Maryland's News Station
Complete Coverage
Channels Digital: 13 (VHF)
Virtual: 13 (PSIP)
Subchannels 13.1 CBS
Affiliations CBS
Owner CBS Corporation
(CBS Television Licenses LLC)
Founded May 1946 [1]
First air date November 2, 1948; 65 years ago (1948-11-02)
Call letters' meaning named after the former callsign of what is now WABC (AM), which stood for its original location in New Jersey
Sister station(s) WJZ, WJZ-FM, WLIF, WLZL, WWMX
Former callsigns WAAM (1948–1957)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
13 (VHF, 1948–2009)
38 (UHF, 1997–2009)
Former affiliations ABC (1948–1995)
DuMont (1948–1955)
Transmitter power 28.8 kW
Height 295 m
Facility ID 25455
Transmitter coordinates

39°20′5″N 76°39′3″W / 39.33472°N 76.65083°W / 39.33472; -76.65083

Licensing authority FCC
Public license information:

WJZ-TV, channel 13, is a CBS owned and operated television station located in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. The station is owned by the CBS Television Stations subsidiary of CBS Corporation. WJZ-TV's studios and offices are located on Television Hill in the Woodberry section of Baltimore, adjacent to the transmission tower it shares with four other Baltimore television stations.


Early history

Baltimore's third television station started on November 2, 1948 as WAAM. The station's original owner was Radio-Television of Baltimore, Inc., which was operated by a pair of Baltimore businessmen, brothers Ben and Herman Cohen.[2] Channel 13 was originally an ABC affiliate, the network's fifth outlet to be located on the East Coast. Until 1956, it carried an additional primary affiliation with the DuMont Television Network. On the station's first day of operations, WAAM broadcast the 1948 presidential election returns and various entertainment shows, remaining on the air for 23 consecutive hours.[3] Channel 13 has been housed in the same studio, located on what is now known as Television Hill, since its inception; the building was the first in Baltimore specifically designed for television production and broadcasting. As a DuMont affiliate, WAAM originated many Baltimore Colts games for the network's National Football League coverage.[4][5]

The Westinghouse Electric Corporation purchased WAAM from the Cohen brothers in May 1957.[6] Westinghouse took control of the station in August of that year, and changed its callsign to WJZ-TV the following month.[7] The WJZ call letters had previously resided on ABC's flagship radio/television combination in New York City, which changed its calls to WABC-AM-FM-TV in 1953. However, Westinghouse's history with that set of call letters went back even further, as it was the original owner of WJZ radio, the flagship station of NBC's Blue Network, which would eventually become ABC.

All of Baltimore's television stations had fairly short transmitter towers in the medium's early years. But in 1959, the three stations banded together to build the world's first three-pronged candelabra tower.[8] Constructed behind the WJZ-TV studios, it was the tallest free standing television antenna in the United States at the time of its completion. The tower significantly improved channel 13's signal coverage in central Maryland, and also added new viewers in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania and Delaware.[9]

Over the years, WJZ-TV frequently preempted ABC programming in favor of local shows and syndicated content from Westinghouse's broadcasting division, Group W (notably the former ABC daytime soap opera Dark Shadows, which WJZ-TV preempted during the mid-1960s). However, ABC was more than satisfied with channel 13, which was one of its strongest affiliates. Additionally, Baltimore viewers could watch ABC programs on Washington, D.C.'s WMAL-TV/WJLA-TV (channel 7), whose signal decently covers most of the Baltimore area.

From 1957 to 1964, one of the station's highest-rated programs was The Buddy Deane Show, an in-studio teen dance show similar to ABC's American Bandstand, which WJZ-TV also preempted in favor of the Deane program. Deane's program was the inspiration for the John Waters 1988 motion picture Hairspray and its subsequent Broadway musical version, which in turn has been made into a film.

WJZ-TV nearly lost its ABC affiliation in 1977, when the network briefly pursued WBAL-TV (channel 11) just as ABC became the most-watched broadcast network (in primetime) in the United States for the first time. However, WBAL-TV declined the ABC affiliation offer due to ABC's last-place network evening newscast offerings of the time, keeping ABC on channel 13 for the next 18 years.[10][11]

Switch to CBS

In 1994, ABC agreed to an affiliation deal with the broadcasting division of the E. W. Scripps Company, which resulted in three of Scripps' television stations becoming ABC affiliates. ABC agreed to the deal as a condition of keeping its affiliation on Scripps' two biggest stations, WXYZ-TV in Detroit and WEWS in Cleveland. Both stations had been heavily courted by CBS, which was about to lose its longtime Detroit and Cleveland affiliates to Fox. One of the stations that was tapped to switch was Baltimore's then-NBC affiliate, WMAR-TV (channel 2). ABC was reluctant to include WMAR in the deal; it had been a ratings also-ran for over 30 years while WJZ-TV was one of the strongest ABC affiliates in the nation. However, not wanting to be relegated to UHF in two markets with few viable choices for a new affiliate, ABC opted to end its 47-year affiliation with channel 13 and move its affiliation to channel 2.[12]

Group W felt betrayed by ABC after so many years of loyalty as channel 13 had been ABC's longest-tenured affiliate at the time. As a safeguard, it began to shop for an affiliation deal of its own. Eventually, Westinghouse agreed to a long-term affiliation contract with CBS. As a result, WJZ-TV and its sister stations in Philadelphia and Boston switched to CBS (Westinghouse's two other television stations, in Pittsburgh and San Francisco, were already CBS affiliates).[13] The affiliation switch, the second in Baltimore television history, occurred early on the morning of January 2, 1995.[14] As a result, channel 13 became the third station in Baltimore to affiliate with CBS. The network had originally affiliated with WMAR-TV in 1948 before moving to WBAL-TV in 1981. Westinghouse then bought CBS on November 24, 1995, making WJZ-TV a CBS owned-and-operated station.

WJZ-TV has used its current stylized "13" logo, using a font face exclusive to Group W, since 1967. The only real change came in May 1997, when it added the CBS Eye to its logo. WJZ currently does not brand under the "CBS Mandate" (which would have required WJZ to call itself "CBS 13"), preferring to use its call letters.

The CBS affiliation came with an added advantage in 1998, when the network gained the rights to air all afternoon National Football League games wherein the visitors were part of the American Football Conference. The NFL's current team in Baltimore, the Ravens, play in the AFC, most of their games are carried by WJZ-TV as a result. Notable Ravens games carried by the station include both of their Super Bowl victories: Super Bowl XXXV and Super Bowl XLVII.

Digital television

Digital channel

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming
13.1 1080i 16:9 WJZ-TV Main WJZ-TV programming / CBS

Analog-to-digital conversion

WJZ-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 13, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally-mandated transition to digital television for full-power stations. The station had been broadcasting its pre-transition digital signal over UHF channel 38, but returned to channel 13 for its post-transition operations.[15][16] WMAR-TV took over the channel 38 allocation as it moved its digital signal from channel 52 as a result of the phaseout of channels 52-69.

The switch caused problems for some viewers due to reception issues related to the transition, but the Federal Communications Commission granted WJZ-TV a power increase that helps some people.[17]

Out-of-market coverage

In Delaware, it is carried on Comcast in Sussex County. There is no coverage in most of Kent County except in the area of Chesapeake City for Atlantic Broadband cable subscribers. There is no coverage in all of New Castle County. New Castle and Kent counties are part of the Philadelphia market, which also carries WJZ's sister station KYW-TV. Only Sussex County is part of the Salisbury, Maryland market which carries its CBS affiliate, WBOC. In the beginning of CATV, almost if not all of Delaware once carried WJZ.[18]

In Maryland, the eastern shore communities of Cambridge, East New Market/Secretary, Pocomoke City, Ocean City, Salisbury and Snow Hill carry WJZ. These areas are in the Salisbury market which WBOC is carried. From Hagerstown and west towards Cumberland, WJZ is carried there as well in the far northwestern part of the Washington, D.C. market. Between Hagerstown and Cumberland, the towns of Hancock and Oldtown do not carry WJZ.

In Pennsylvania, it is carried in Greencastle, Delta, Hanover, Rising Sun, Waynesboro and York County (but not in the city of York) which are in the Harrisburg-Lancaster-York market. In the Philadelphia market, it is carried in Oxford in Chester County.

WJZ is carried on cable in portions of Virginia located in the far western end of the Washington, D.C. market, alongside Washington's CBS affiliate WUSA. It is carried on cable in the Shenandoah Valley in Elkton, Front Royal, Luray and Winchester. In West Virginia, it is carried in the Martinsburg area; it is part of the Washington, D.C. market, which carries WUSA as well. In Keyser, Mineral County, WJZ is carried on cable.

During the 1970s and possibly the 1980s with CATV, WJZ was once on the cable lineups in Salem and Cumberland counties in southwestern New Jersey.[18]

WJZ's former analog signal could be picked up via antenna as far west as Warrenton and Culpepper, Virginia and as far east as Salem County, New Jersey. There is no satellite coverage outside of the Baltimore market for WJZ.


WJZ-TV is the Baltimore area affiliate of the It's Academic high school quiz competition. Channel 13 has also served two stints as the television home of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team, and has been the over-the-air home of the Orioles since 1994. It is one of the few "Big Three" stations that airs baseball on a regular basis.

News operation

WJZ-TV presently broadcasts 32½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 5½ hours on weekdays, three hours on Saturdays and two hours on Sundays). Like other CBS-owned stations, channel 13 offers a web-only newscast, "WJZ At Your Desk", which is produced each weekday.

Soon after Westinghouse bought WJZ-TV, it significantly beefed up the station's news department. On October 12, 1957, WJZ-TV camerman John Kelly filmed a motion picture of the final stage of Sputnik 1's rocket crossing the pre-dawn sky of Baltimore, featured in a half-hour special program on Sputnik, broadcast that evening by Westinghouse sister station WBZ-TV Boston.[19] Within a few years, it passed WMAR-TV for second place. Like the other Group W stations, WJZ-TV adopted the Eyewitness News format pioneered at Philadelphia sister station KYW-TV. By the early 1970s, WJZ-TV had passed WBAL-TV for first place – a lead it held for over 30 years. In recent years, however, WBAL-TV has taken over the top spot at 5, 6 and 11 p.m., though WJZ-TV still places a strong second. However, in the official November 2009 Nielsen ratings sweeps period, the first since the debut of The Jay Leno Show (which aired on WBAL-TV), WJZ-TV has returned to a dominant position at 11 p.m. for the first time since the early 2000s. Both stations have since been in a virtual dead heat at that time slot. However, since the November 2011 Nielsen sweeps period, WJZ has dominated over WBAL in all news time slots in both total households and the 25-54 demo; however, WBAL remains a strong second. It has been one of CBS's strongest O&Os ever since the 1995 affiliation switch.

WJZ-TV was the first station in Baltimore to hire a full-time consumer reporter, as well as the first station to organize an investigative reporting team. In 1965, shortly after it adopted the Eyewitness News format, Wiley Daniels became the first African-American anchor in Baltimore. He worked alongside Jerry Turner, one of the most popular anchormen in Baltimore television history. Al Sanders succeeded Daniels in 1977; he and Turner were the top news team until Turner succumbed to esophageal cancer. Denise Koch succeeded Turner upon his death in 1987; she remains at the anchor desk alongside Vic Carter, who succeeded Sanders following the latter's death in 1995.

In 1976, Oprah Winfrey became an anchor for the station's 6:00 p.m. newscast. She also co-hosted channel 13's local talk show, People Are Talking with Richard Sher, which premiered on August 14, 1978, and ran until she left for Chicago in 1983. The segment continues to run on the morning newscasts.

Since 1987, WJZ-TV's news theme has been "Chroma Cues" by Music Oasis, which was specifically written for the station. Although the other CBS-owned stations (including WCBS-TV, KCBS-TV and WBBM-TV) are currently using The CBS Enforcer Music Collection by Gari Media Group and a standardized graphics package, WJZ has yet to switch.

Since September 2008, The Baltimore Sun has been the newspaper partner of WJZ-TV; involving sharing content, story leads, and cooperating together on stories. WJZ promotes stories featured in the Sun on its news broadcasts. The Sun promotes WJZ's stories and weather team on its pages (coincidentally, The Baltimore Sun was the founder and original owner of WMAR-TV).

On October 25, 2009, WJZ-TV became the third Baltimore station to begin airing newscasts in high definition. For several months after the upgrade, field reports were still presented in 4:3 standard definition until it switched over to the 16:9 widescreen format. As of September 2011, all of WJZ-TV's locally produced video footage, including remote field reports, are in HD, making it the first station in Baltimore to do so.

On-air staff

Current on-air staff

WJZ-TV's primary news anchors are Gigi Barnett (weekend mornings on Eyewitness News Morning Edition; also weekday reporter); Mary Bubala (weekdays at 4 and weeknights at 5 p.m.; also reporter); Vic Carter (weekdays at 4:30 and weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.); Kai Jackson (weekdays at 4 and weeknights at 5 p.m.); Jessica Kartalija (weekdays at noon; also reporter); Denise Koch (weekdays at 4:30 and weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.); Linh Bui (Saturdays at 6, Sundays at 6:30 and 11 p.m.; also weekday reporter); and Don Scott (weekday mornings on Rise n' Shine / Eyewitness News Morning Edition (5-7 a.m.) and weekdays at noon).[20]

The First Warning Weather team includes Bob Turk (associate member, AMS; weekdays at 4 and 4:30, and weeknights at 5, 6 and 11 p.m.); Marty Bass (weekday mornings on Rise n' Shine / Eyewitness News Morning Edition (5-7 a.m.) and weekdays at noon), Meteorologist Chelsea Ingram (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval; Monday-Wednesdays at noon and Saturdays at 6, Sundays at 6:30 and weekends at 11 p.m.) and Meteorologist Tim Williams (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval; weekend mornings, and Thursdays and Fridays at noon).[20]

The station's sports team includes sports director Mark Viviano (weeknights at 5, 6 and 11 p.m.) and sports anchor Stan Saunders (Saturdays at 6, Sundays at 6:30 and weekends at 11 p.m.; also sports reporter).[20]

Traffic reporters are Sharon Gibala (weekday mornings on Rise n' Shine / Eyewitness News Morning Edition (5-7 a.m.); also Sunday morning reporter) and Kristy Breslin (weekdays at 4, 4:30 and 5 p.m.).[20]

The station's reporting staff includes general assignment reporters Monique Griego, Mike Hellgren; Christie Ileto, Ron Matz (also guest personality on the Eyewitness News Morning Edition), Meghan McCorkell, Rochelle Ritchie, Mike Schuh, Derek Valcourt and Pat Warren; environmental and investigative reporter Alex DeMetrick; and "SkyEye Chopper 13" pilot/reporter Captain Jeff Long.[20]

Notable former on-air staff


External links

  • Wayback Machine (archived December 19, 1996)
  • Wayback Machine (archived April 15, 1997)
  • Wayback Machine (archived July 9, 2001)
  • Wayback Machine (archived August 2, 2002)
  • Wayback Machine (archived September 12, 2005)
  • Wayback Machine (archived December 4, 2010)
  • Query the FCC's TV station database for WJZ-TV
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