WBAL-TV, channel 11, is an
NBC -affiliated television station located
United States .
WBAL-TV is one of three
flagship television stations of
Hearst Television , and is co-owned
with radio stations WBAL (1090 AM) and
WIYY (97.9 FM). The three
stations share a studio and office facility on Television Hill in the
Woodberry section of Baltimore, near the transmitting tower that
WBAL-TV shares with
WIYY and four other
Baltimore television stations.
On cable, the station is carried on
Comcast channels 21 (standard
definition) and 811 (high definition). In outlying areas of the
market, the station is carried on channel 11.
* 1 History
* 2 Digital television
* 2.1 Digital channels
* 2.2 Analog-to-digital conversion
* 3 Programming
* 4 News operation
* 4.1 Awards and achievements
* 4.2 Notable current on-air staff
* 4.3 Notable former on-air staff
* 5 See also
* 6 Out-of-market coverage
* 7 References
* 8 External links
WBAL-TV began operations on March 11, 1948, from its original studios
on North Charles Street in Downtown
Baltimore . The station's parent,
the Hearst Corporation, also owned WBAL radio and two local afternoon
Baltimore News-Post and The
Baltimore American (which
later merged as the News American in 1965 before shutting down in
1986, as one of the city's later three daily papers).
WBAL-TV is one
of two Hearst-owned broadcast properties to have been built and signed
on by the company (the other being
Pittsburgh ), and the
oldest to be continuously owned by Hearst through its various
television subsidiaries through the years. At its launch
NBC affiliate, owing to its radio sister's long affiliation with
NBC Red Network .
Early programming on channel 11 included Musical Almanac, Look and
Cook and Know Baltimore, along with news and sports productions. In
the 1950s, the station introduced
Romper Room , a children's program
produced locally by Bert and Nancy Claster that eventually became a
nationally franchised and syndicated program. Another long-running
show of the 1950s was the weekday Quiz Club, co-hosted by local
personalities Brent Gunts and Jay Grayson.
Baltimore Sun local
history columnist Jacques Kelly described it at the time of Grayson's
death in June 2000, as "pure 1950s live television ... executed on a
low budget ... the genial hosts ... ruled the 1 p.m. airwaves".
WBAL-TV produced several local bowling shows in the 1960s and early
1970s, including Strikes and Spares, Pinbusters, Duckpins and Dollars
Bowling for Dollars and Spare Time. The station even went as far as
building and installing several "duckpin" bowling alleys at its
studios. It also launched several children's entertainment shows
during this period, such as Rhea and Sunshine, Pete the Pirate, P.W.
Doodle, Heads Up, and the teen-oriented rock and roll music and dance
Kerby Scott Show.
WBAL-TV has boasted many television firsts, including becoming the
Baltimore television station to broadcast in color, the first
Maryland (and the eighth in the world) to acquire a
videotape cartridge machine (video cassette recorder of "U-matic"
system); the first station in
Baltimore to acquire a mobile satellite
news-gathering system (dubbed "NEWSTAR 11") and the first Baltimore
station to hire an
African-American news anchor and a Black news
In the late 1970s, ABC steadily rose in the ratings to become the
number one network in primetime. Accordingly, the network began to
seek upgrades to its slate of affiliates, which included some stations
that either had poor signals or poorly performing local programming.
WBAL-TV had been invited to switch to ABC in 1977, but opted to remain
NBC out of concerns about the poor ratings for ABC's recently
revamped evening newscasts . The
WBAL-TV studio and office
facility, on "Television Hill" near Woodberry in north-central
Baltimore, opened in 1962.
WBAL-TV's first stint as an
NBC affiliate ended on August 30, 1981,
when the station exchanged networks with
WMAR-TV (channel 2), then
owned by the A.S. Abell Company (then-publishers of the
), and became a
CBS affiliate. In its reasoning for initiating the
CBS cited displeasure with WMAR-TV's frequent preemptions and
low ratings for the station's newscasts. As a
CBS affiliate, however,
channel 11 preempted an hour of the network's daytime schedule
everyday, as well as half of its Saturday cartoon lineup. Channel 11
also did not run CBS's late night programming.
Baltimore viewers who
wanted to see the entire
CBS lineup could be able to view those
programs through WDVM-TV/WUSA in
Washington, D.C. , which was
available over-the-air in most of the adjacent
Baltimore area and
preempted little network programming.
In 1994, the
E. W. Scripps Company
E. W. Scripps Company , present owners of WMAR-TV,
negotiated with ABC to affiliate with its
Baltimore station as part of
a multi-station deal. In response,
CBS and Westinghouse Broadcasting
formed a partnership which resulted in the
CBS affiliation moving from
WBAL-TV to Westinghouse's
WJZ-TV (channel 13), Baltimore's longtime
ABC affiliate. Largely by default, channel 11 rejoined
NBC on January
The station was a prominent feature in the 1982 movie Diner , set in
Baltimore. One of the main characters' girlfriends worked at the
station, and another character watches
College Bowl , an
that aired on WBAL-TV. It was also the primary setting for the 1991
He Said, She Said , in which two newspaper columnists for the
Baltimore Sun (
Kevin Bacon and
Elizabeth Perkins ) serve as hosts of
an opinion/debate segment on the station.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed :
PSIP SHORT NAME
WBAL-TV programming / NBC
WBAL-TV carries a digital subchannel on 11.2, which launched in
August 2005 as "11 Insta-Weather Plus", an affiliate of
Plus until the network dissolved in November 2008; after that, the
subchannel carried automated local and regional weather information
NBC Plus until April 2009, when an alternate programming
format was adopted featuring local weather information, newscasts and
other special programming. On March 5, 2012, WBAL launched a 10 p.m.
newscast on the subchannel (which was renamed "WBAL Plus" the previous
On July 24, 2012,
Hearst Television renewed its affiliation agreement
MeTV through 2015, to maintain existing affiliations with eight
Hearst-owned stations that were already carrying the digital multicast
network. As part of the renewal, Hearst also signed agreements to add
the network as digital subchannels of
WBAL-TV and four other Hearst
stations in Sacramento ,
Boston , Oklahoma City and Greensboro . MeTV
was added to subchannel 11.2 on October 1, 2012.
WBAL-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 11, 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 relocated from its
pre-transition UHF channel 59, which was among the high band UHF
channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result
of the transition, to its analog-era assignment of VHF channel 11.
Several VHF digital stations received permission for a power increase
later that month after stations experienced signal problems as a
result of changing their digital channel from UHF to VHF. WBAL-TV
chose to test its equipment before making a commitment.
As a part of the repacking process following the 2016-2017 FCC
incentive auction ,
WBAL-TV will relocate to VHF channel 12 by 2020,
using PSIP to display its virtual channel number as 11.
Outside of the
NBC network schedule, syndicated programs seen on
The Ellen DeGeneres Show
The Ellen DeGeneres Show ,
The Dr. Oz Show
The Dr. Oz Show , Inside
Edition , Steve Harvey and
Access Hollywood , the last two which are
distributed NBC's sister company NBCUniversal Television Distribution
WBAL-TV is one of the few
NBC affiliates that does not air the
fourth hour of Today (which can be seen in the area via
NBC O the
station also airs any games in which the Ravens are shown on NBC's
Sunday Night Football .
WBAL-TV reporters Deborah Weiner and Jayne Miller prepare for a
live shot during the funeral of former
Maryland Governor William
Donald Schaefer , April 27, 2011
WBAL-TV presently broadcasts 39 hours of locally produced newscasts
each week (5⅔ hours on Monday, 5 hours 35 minutes on Tuesday-Friday,
4½ hours on Saturday and 6½ hours on Sunday); the station also
produces a weekly public affairs program on Sunday mornings called 11
Appropriately for a station with roots in a newspaper, channel 11 has
a rich news tradition. WBAL's newscasts have spent the better part of
its history in either first or second place in the ratings. It led the
ratings from the 1960s until
WJZ-TV passed it in the early 1970s.
However, for the better part of the last 40 years,
WBAL-TV had waged a
spirited battle for first place in the ratings with WJZ-TV. In recent
years, WBAL-TV's newscasts placed first at 5, 6 and 11 p.m. However,
in the November 2009
Nielsen ratings sweeps period – the first since
the debut of
The Jay Leno Show
The Jay Leno Show – WBAL's 11 p.m. newscast fell
precipitously from first to a distant second behind WJZ (by contrast,
the 11 p.m. newscast on
WRC-TV in nearby
Washington, D.C. was one of
the least affected late-night newscasts of any
NBC affiliate or
owned-and-operated station in the country; it continued to dominate
its competitors). WBAL still continued to lead at 5 and 6 p.m. until
the November 2011 sweeps period. Since
NBC took Leno off of primetime
in February 2010 – in part due to complaints from WBAL and other
affiliates about effects on its newscasts – viewership of channel
11's late newscast has often come close to the WJZ newscast. However,
since the November 2011 sweeps period, WJZ's newscasts took the lead
in nearly all time slots but WBAL is still a strong second.
In 1974, WBAL introduced the
Action News format to Baltimore.
Characterized by short, usually 90 second, news "packages" and upbeat
introductory news themes, Baltimore's
Action News briefly replaced WJZ
as the number one news station in
Baltimore during the mid-1970s. The
architect of the success was news director
Ron Kershaw , who had come
Baltimore from Texas and was considered somewhat ahead of his time.
He brought in talented anchors like
Sue Simmons and Spencer Christian
but also replaced long-time local news anchor Rolf Hertsgaard with
Don Harrison and streamlined the news
operation. Kershaw later brought other innovations to
WNBC-TV in New
York City and
Chicago as news director at those stations.
WBAL-TV lent then-meteorologist Sandra Shaw to Hearst-Argyle sister
WDSU-TV in New Orleans on September 1, 2008, to assist with
the Louisiana station's coverage of Hurricane Gustav.
On January 3, 2009,
WBAL-TV became the second station in Baltimore
WBFF-TV ) to begin broadcasting its local news programming in
high definition . Only the in-studio cameras and footage from the
station's helicopter were in HD at the time of the switch. For over a
year, most field reports were still in pillarboxed 4:3 standard
definition . Most field reports are switched from 16:9 widescreen
enhanced definition to 16:9 high definition in March 2012. On March 5,
2012, WBAL debuted a half-hour 10 p.m. newscast on its WBAL Plus
digital subchannel, which competes against an hour-long newscast on
On January 12, 2015,
WBAL-TV expanded their morning newscast "11 News
Today" to 4:30 a.m.
Rod Daniels retired from
WBAL-TV in 2015 after more than
30 years with the station.
AWARDS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
WBAL-TV reporter Rob Roblin, April 27, 2011.
WBAL-TV became the first
Baltimore television station to
Peabody Award for local news coverage, specifically of their
Chesapeake Bay pollution investigation (and the first Baltimore
television station to win the award in any category in more than fifty
years). WBAL's news department was also awarded as one of the top
three Best Television Newscasts by the National Headliners
Dallas , and WBAL's
WCVB-TV . The station has also won regional Edward R. Murrow
George Polk Award and the
American Bar Association
American Bar Association Gavel
Award for excellence in reporting and journalism; it has also been
rated the most outstanding television news operation in
Associated Press and
United Press International
United Press International ).
NOTABLE CURRENT ON-AIR STAFF
Gerry Sandusky — Sports anchor
NOTABLE FORMER ON-AIR STAFF
Curt Anderson (now in the
Maryland General Assembly
Maryland General Assembly )
Sade Baderinwa (now with
New York City
New York City )
Campbell Brown (formerly at
Ron Canada - newscaster (1970s–early 1980s; now working as an
Spencer Christian (now with
San Francisco )
Carol Costello (now at CNN)
Rod Daniels (Retired)
Vicki Mabrey (now with
ABC News )
Royal Parker (1962-mid-1990s)
Lisa Salters (now with
Sue Simmons (later with
New York City
New York City 1980–2012; was
Washington, D.C. 1978–1980 before that)
* Ron Smith (died on December 19, 2011, at age 70, after a brief
battle with pancreatic cancer)
Julius Westheimer (deceased)
Bernard H. Paul - Paul's Puppets children program for 10 years
Outside of Baltimore,
WBAL-TV can be seen in Maryland's Eastern Shore
from Cecil County to Worcester County , and
Sussex County, Delaware
Sussex County, Delaware .
Mediacom systems in the
Salisbury, Maryland /Dover,
Delaware market carry
WBAL-TV along with that market's
WRDE-LD (Comcast's system in
Sussex County, Delaware
Sussex County, Delaware carries both
WRDE-LD and WBAL-TV, as well as NBC's
WBAL-TV is also viewed in many parts of southern
Pennsylvania such as
Gettysburg in Adams County , and Hanover and York as well as the
majority of York County due to its proximity to Baltimore. In
Lancaster County , WBAL is only available in Marietta , Columbia , and
Elizabethtown mainly because of competition and prevalence of
Philadelphia and local television stations in the area that are more
well-known such as
Shenandoah Valley ,
WBAL-TV can been seen in Frederick ,
Clarke and Warren counties along with the independent city of
Winchester, Virginia .
The station also live streams its newscasts on the internet several
times a day.
* ^ "Television stations granted to three." Broadcasting -
Telecasting , May 27, 1946, pg. 90.
* ^ "WBAL-TV;
NBC outlet begins operations." Broadcasting
- Telecasting, March 15, 1948, pg. 97.
* ^ A B Kelly, Jacques (June 24, 2000). "'Quiz Club' had an
Baltimore Sun . p. 2E.
* ^ "Station History". WBAL-TV. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
* ^ "In brief." Broadcasting, March 21, 1977, pg. 30
* ^ "In brief." Broadcasting, March 28, 1977, pg. 34
* ^ "
CBS switches affiliation to
WBAL-TV in Baltimore."
Broadcasting, March 9, 1981, pg. 152.
* ^ Foisie, Geoffrey (June 20, 1994). "ABC pre-empts
Cleveland, Detroit." (PDF). Broadcasting and Cable. Retrieved February
* ^ Zier, Julie A. (July 18, 1994). "CBS, Group W form historic
alliance" (PDF). Broadcasting and Cable. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
* ^ McClellan, Steve (August 1, 1994). "Keeping up with the
affiliates" (PDF). Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
* ^ Zurawik, David (1 January 1995). "Get ready, get set, get
confused, in TV\'s big switch in
Baltimore Changing Channels".
Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
* ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WBAL
* ^ "Ravens Draft
Special Airs Saturday On WBAL-TV". April 23,
2009. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
* ^ A B
WBAL-TV to launch 10 p.m. newscast with Kate Amara March 5,
Baltimore Sun , February 8, 2012.
* ^ Me-TV Adds Five More Hearst Stations, TVNewsCheck, July 24,
* ^ Where to Watch Me-TV: WBAL
* ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the
Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
* ^ CDBS Print
* ^ "DTV Transition Plan". FCC. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
* ^ Eggerton, John (2009-06-29). "Boise station gets power boost".
Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-07-01.
* ^ http://www.nab.org/repacking/clearinghouse.asp
* ^ Dunne, John Gregory (2006). Regards: The Selected Nonfiction of
John Gregory Dunne. Thunder's Mouth Press. p. 80. ISBN