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WAKA is a CBS-affiliated television station broadcasting on channel 8 that serves central and south Alabama. The station is licensed to Selma but its main studios are in Montgomery. WAKA's transmitter is located in Gordonville, Alabama. Syndicated programming on WAKA includes: Dr. Phil, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, and The Doctors.

WAKA
[1]
Selma / Montgomery, Alabama
Branding CBS 8 News
Slogan CBS 8 News Is Everywhere!
Channels Digital: 42 (UHF)

Virtual: 8 (PSIP)

Subchannels 8.1 CBS
Owner Bahakel Communications, Ltd.

(Alabama Broadcasting Partners)

First air date March 17, 1960
Former callsigns WSLA (1960-1984)
Former channel number(s) Analog: 8 (1960-2008)

Digital: 55 (2005-2008)

Former affiliations Primary:

ABC (1960-1968) silent (1968-1973) Secondary: CBS (1960-1968)

Transmitter power 1000 kW
Height 536 m
Facility ID 701
Transmitter coordinates 32°8′57.9″N 86°46′42.6″W / 32.149417°N 86.7785°W / 32.149417; -86.7785
Website www.waka.com


HistoryEdit

Selma's channel Eight debuted on March 17, 1960 as WSLA (acronym for SeLmA). The station was an independent when it first started, but became Montgomery's ABC affiliate soon afterwards. However, the station only provided a grade B signal to Montgomery, and had no direct link to receive ABC programming. It opted instead to rebroadcast the network from WBRC. Oftentimes, if the engineer wasn't paying attention, local WBRC breaks and IDs would air on WSLA. [1] The station was owned by the Brennan family and their company, Deep South Broadcasting, along with WBAM radio (740 AM, now WMSP). In 1964, WKAB-TV (channel 32, later WHOA-TV and now WNCF) started up as Montgomery's ABC affiliate, but WSLA continued to broadcast ABC programming to the western part of the market because of UHF's limited coverage at the time. Interestingly, it might be argued that WSLA was almost always a CBS affiliate. Once it ended its brief stint as a independent station and affiliated with ABC, it also established a secondary affiliation with CBS by carrying one hour of that network's programming every week: Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour.

The station found itself in a 30-year battle (probably the longest on record) over its current transmitting facilities. Channel 8 received its construction permit in February 1954, weeks before the area's only other VHF station, Montgomery's WSFA (channel 12). The Selma station was allowed just a 360-foot (110 m) tower just west of Selma, with only 3,000 watts of power. This provided grade B coverage to Montgomery. Almost at once, Deep South applied to amend its permit, requesting a much taller tower just north of Prattville, with 316,000 watts of power. The new location would have easily covered Montgomery while still being within 15 miles of Selma, as required by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules. However, the FCC blocked this move due to a protest from Montgomery's then-CBS affiliate, WCOV-TV, which claimed that the FCC would not be fostering the growth of UHF stations if it allowed the expansion. In truth, WCOV feared that if WSLA was permitted to expand its signal, CBS would move its programming there. Deep South proposed another facility, this time from unspecified facilities in southern Montgomery County--only to be rejected again due to protests from WCOV. Probably afraid the license would be in jeopardy, Deep South went on the air from its originally-specified facilities in Selma.

The station's facilities burned down in 1968. WCOV made a move to purchase the silent channel 8 facility from Deep South, and it intended to operate it as a low-powered west Alabama repeater of WCOV. However, the FCC would not allow WCOV to reduce channel 8's power. For some unknown reason, perhaps the enormous amount of capital expense that would have been required, WCOV passed on the chance to operate channel 8 as a full-power station (and one that probably would have not been contested to operate as such, since WCOV, the main protester in the channel 8 expansion case, would have owned the facility).

Due to intense competition from the Montgomery stations, especially WSFA, and the large amount of money Deep South had invested in the legal fight, WSLA was not rebuilt until 1972, when the dormant station was bought by Gala Broadcasting. Gala's owner, Charles Grisham of Huntsville, also owned that city's CBS affiliate, WHNT-TV. The station was rebuilt in Selma and returned to the airwaves in 1973 as a full-time CBS affiliate. Grisham continued the battle for a tall tower and full power to cover Montgomery. WCOV continued its fight to prevent this. One of WSLA's applications to increase coverage (but out of direct fire from WCOV and WKAB) involved placing its tower in a position that would have allowed respectable coverage into Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, as well as to Selma and Montgomery. This application, however, was challenged by UHF stations WCFT-TV in Tuscaloosa and WBMG (now WIAT) in Birmingham.

At one time, WCOV proposed that the FCC move the channel 8 frequency to Tuscaloosa as an educational station, and then make the entire Montgomery market UHF by re-assigning the channel 12 frequency to Columbus, Georgia (which would have made that market all VHF). This got nowhere, but did extend the battle. Finally, with all arguments exhausted, and the FCC (in keeping with its emphasis on deregulation) becoming more neutral in the protection of UHF facilities, channel 8 was issued a construction permit in 1984 for a new tower in Lowndes County, which would give the station primary coverage of Montgomery.

The station's call sign changed to WAKA on October 28, 1984, (unofficially said to stand for, in jest, "We Are Kicking Ass"). It was thought that with the move to Montgomery, the calls WSLA would be confused with those of WSFA. Bahakel Communications bought WAKA from Grisham in 1985 and remains the owner today. That same year, in April, WAKA began broadcasting from its long-sought 1,757-foot (536 m) tower, with 316,000 watts of power. WAKA now boasted the largest coverage area in the entire state of Alabama. It provides at least secondary coverage from the fringes of the Birmingham and Tuscaloosa suburbs to the Florida panhandle and Wiregrass Region to the southeast. On New Year's Day 1986, WAKA became the sole CBS affiliate for Montgomery as CBS dropped its programming from WCOV. WCOV later joined the then-upstart Fox network.

WAKA was the first station in the Montgomery market to broadcast in stereo, and is the only station there to broadcast with a full one megawatt in digital (equivalent to five megawatts for an analog transmitter). The station has expanded its news department over the past several years with additional personnel, news bureaus and more newscasts. News bureaus with live capabilities are located in Selma and Greenville. These expansions along with improved production values have helped WAKA become a solid runner-up to long-dominant WSFA.

WAKA produced a weeknight 9pm newscast for CW affiliate WBMM for 3 1/2 years (January 2007 until August 2010). It included the 6 & 10pm anchors, meteorologist, and sports anchor. A 9pm newscast was continued in September 2010 by WBMM's sister station, ABC 32 WNCF.

News/station presentationEdit

Newscast titlesEdit

  • Channel 8 World News (1960–1968)
  • Channel 8 News (1973–1979)
  • Action 8 News (1979–1994)
  • TV-8 News (1994–1995)
  • TV-8 Eyewitness News (1995–2002)
  • CBS 8 News (2002–2013)
  • Alabama News Network (2013-present) 

Station slogansEdit

  • We're Looking Good, on Action 8 (1979-1980; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Looking Good Together, Action 8 (1980-1981; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Reach for the Stars on Action 8 (1981-1982; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Great Moments on Action 8 (1982-1983; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • We've Got the Touch, You and Action 8 (1983-1984; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • You and Action 8, We've Got the Touch (1984-1985; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • We've Got the Touch on Action 8 (1985-1986; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • The Spirit of Central Alabama (1986–2002)
  • Share the Spirit on Action 8 (1986-1987; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Action 8 Spirit, Oh Yes. (1987-1988; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • You Can Feel It On Action 8 (1988-1989; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Get Ready for Action 8 (1989-1991; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • The Look of Montgomery is Action 8 (1991-1992; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Your 24-Hour News Connection (early 1990s)
  • Coverage You Can Count On (2002–2008)
  • CBS 8 News Is Everywhere (2008–2013)

Digital televisionEdit

Because of WAKA's original digital allocation of Channel 55, and a belief by ownership that a return to VHF channel 8 for digital service may create reception issues, WAKA petitioned to the FCC to move its post-transition channel to channel 42 since any channel above 51 would not be allocated for digital television after February 17, 2009. In order to get its post-transition channel up and running, WAKA ceased analog broadcasting on Channel 8 on November 28, 2008. At that time, the analog antenna and broadcasting equipment were removed from its tower and replaced with digital equipment for channel 42 (digital channel 55 continued to operate via a side-mounted antenna at full power). Digital channel 42 signed on January 19, 2009, while digital channel 55 signed off on the mandated date (February 17, 2009). Although for only a month, WAKA has the distinction of being the only facility in the country to actually operate 2 digital channels at the same time--42 and 55--as part of the digital transition. WAKA continues to be the only "big 4" station in the market to operate at full power (1MW).

PSIP is used to display WAKA's virtual channel as 8.

ControversyEdit

  • WAKA received a lot of controversy in Spring 2010 when they didn't renew the contract of Chief Meteorologist Chris Bailey. Chris had been with CBS 8 for 17 years, joining in 1993. He was told his contract wouldn't be renewed only a few weeks prior. His last day at CBS 8 was March 31, 2010. Weekend Meteorologist Matt Tanner (at the time) filled in on evening newscasts until a replacement was found.
  • In early May 2010, CBS 8 announced the "chief meteorologist", Ashley McDonald. (Ashley was first hired by WAKA in April 2007 as the weekend meteorologist. She was promoted to morning/noon meteorologist in June 2008. She left CBS 8 in May of 2009 and headed to WXIA in Atlanta to be a weather producer/fill-in meteorologist.) Since Ashley's first night back at CBS 8, she has been referred to as "meteorologist" (and not chief meteorologist") in weather tosses from the anchors. Many have speculated that this was an act of discrmination because Ashley is a female. However, she is referred to as "Main Meteorolgist" only in the opening credits.
  • In late May 2010, Weekend Meteorologist Matt Tanner was unexpectantly fired from WAKA after being there for nearly 2 years. Matt previously planned to leave WAKA and head up north weeks prior to being fired. This changed when he didn't get the job. He was immediately replaced by Micah Harris (who was going to take Matt's place the first time he planned to leave)

NewscastsEdit

[2][3]Unlike most stations, CBS 8 refers to its Top Story as The Big Story. This graphic can be seen weeknights at 6 & 10 and on weekend newscastsWeekday newscasts:

  • CBS 8 This Morning, 5:30-7 am (also simulcast on News Talk 107.9)
  • CBS 8 News at Noon, 12-12:30 pm
  • CBS 8 News at 5, 5-5:30 pm
  • CBS 8 News at 6, 6-6:30 pm
  • CBS 8 News at 10, 10-10:35 pm

Saturdays:

  • CBS 8 News Weekend at 6, 6-6:30 pm
  • CBS 8 News Weekend at 10, 10-10:30 pm

Sundays:

  • On The Record with Tim Lennox, 5:30-6 pm
  • CBS 8 News Weekend at 10, 10-10:30 pm

Current On-air StaffEdit

News anchors:

  • Tim Lennox- Weekdays, CBS 8 News This Morning, On the Record
  • Jeff Sanders - Weekdays, CBS 8 News at Noon & 5
  • Jamie Langley - Weekdays, CBS 8 News at 5
  • Stefanie Hicks - Weeknights, CBS 8 News at 6, 10
  • Glenn Halbrooks - Weeknights, CBS 8 News at 6, 10
  • Jenna Deery - Saturdays at 6 and weekends at 10pm

News Reporters:

  • Krista Littlefield - General Assignment Reporter
  • Tamika Bickham - General Assignment Reporter
  • Jenna Deery - General Assignment Reporter
  • George McDonald - General Assignment Reporter, CBS 8 West Alabama Newsroom
  • Elise Burkart - General Assignment Reporter, CBS 8 South Alabama Newsroom

First Alert Weather Network:

  • Ashley McDonald - Weeknights, Main Meteorologist, CBS 8 News at 5, 6, 10
  • Kait Parker - Weekdays, Meteorologist, CBS 8 News This Morning & CBS 8 News at Noon
  • Micah Harris - Saturdays at 6 and weekends at 10

The 8 Team:

  • Dee Jackson - Weeknights, Sports Director, CBS 8 News at 6, 10 and co-host of Jackson & Longshore Live
  • Stu McCann - Weekends, Sports Anchor, CBS 8 News Weekend at 6 (Saturdays) & 10

Other *Jerry Howell - Traffic Reporter, CBS 8 News This Morning & CBS 8 News at 5

  • Steve Flowers - CBS 8 Political Analyst

John Longshore - CBS 8 Sports Analyst and co-host of Jackson & Longshore Live!

News Team TimelineEdit

Name Span Current position Previous positions Before WAKA
Tim Lennox August 2009–present CBS 8 News This Morning, CBS 8 On The Record (as of early 2010) CBS 8 News This Morning WAIQ in Montgomery. Hosted "For The Record" for 10 years on Alabama Public Television until it was cancelled.
Jeff Sanders January 2005-present CBS 8 News at Noon & 5 CBS 8 News This Morning / at Noon Weather anchor at WTVY in Dothan, AL
Jamie Langley 2009-present CBS 8 News at 5
Glenn Halbrooks March 2003–present CBS 8 News at 6 & 10 (2003-2007, late August 2010 present) CBS 8 News at 6 & 10 and CW News at 9 (Jan. 2007- August 2010) WDEF-TV in Chattanooga, TN.
Stefanie Hicks July 2004-Present CBS 8 News at 6 and 10 WSFA 12 News at 6 & 10 WTVY in Dothan, AL
Jenna Deery March 2008-present Weekend anchor/Reporter (as of May 2010) General Assignment Reporter/Fill-in WFTV in Orlando, FL
George McDonald June 2005-Present West Alabama Newsroom Reporter (July 2007-Present) General Assignment Reporter WTOK in Meridian, MS
Krista Littlefield December 2007-present General Assignment Reporter
Elise Burkart September 2008-Present South Alabama Newsroom Reporter University of West Georgia
Tamika Bickham August 2010–present General Assignment Reporter University of Miami
Ashley McDonald April 2007-May 2009 / May 2010-present Main Meteorologist (as of May 2010) Morning/Noon Meteorologist (June 2008-May 2009), Weekend Meteorologist (April 2007-June 2008) WTOK in Meridian, MS (2007) and WXIA in Atlanta (2010)
Kait Parker May 2009–present Morning Meteorologist KOMU-TV in Missouri
Micah Harris May 2010-present KTEN in Oklahoma
Dee Jackson Late 1990s-? and February 2002-present Sports Director KCTV in Kasas City
Stu McCann May 2008-Present Weekend Sports Anchor KCWY in Wyoming

Former On-air staffEdit

  • Monica Allen
  • Rebecca Amos
  • Kelly Baker
  • David Baxley, Meteorologist (left in June 2008, now Chief Meteorologist at KSWO-TV in Lawton/Wichita Falls)
  • Jim Benedict
  • Lauren Bethune (left in January 2008, now with the Alabama Dept. of Homeland Security)
  • Tiffany Bittner
  • Estee Clark
  • Brian Corbett (now a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Corrections)
  • Damon Cullen
  • Laurie Davidson
  • Brooke Erickson (now in New Orleans)
  • Heather Graver, News Reporter (left in February 2008)
  • Angela Green, News Anchor (left in June 2008)
  • Lisa Gurevitch (now with CNN, Atlanta)
  • David Hagood, Anchor/Reporter (Reporer, 2005-2007, Morning Anchor 2008-2009)
  • Brendan Higgins
  • Matt Kelley
  • Kevin King
  • Paul King
  • Andrew Lackley
  • Melissa Lee (now freelancing with ESPN as college football sidelines reporter)
  • Kevin Long
  • Jon Mangum (later of WBMA in its Anniston bureau, deceased)
  • John Matson
  • Ashley McDonald, Meteorologist (left in May 2009 for WXIA, back at WAKA as main meteorologist)
  • Rob Mickler
  • Cynthia Milledge (now at KNOE-TV in Monroe, LA)
  • Kim Miller
  • Amber Moody (now at WHNT-TV in Huntsville, AL, as Amber Stuart)
  • Madiyah Mosley (March 2008-July 2009)
  • Patrick Nolan (Selma Bureau Reporter 1990-91, now evening anchor at WFTX-TV in Fort Myers, FL)
  • Cyndee O'Quinn (now at WCPO)
  • Ashley Paige (left in June 2008)
  • Chris Peddie
  • Doug Peters (now at WBNG)
  • Ben Plaut (now an actor)
  • Dee Dee Railey
  • Jim Reed
  • Diana Rugg
  • Don Schwenneker
  • Rob Smith
  • Karli Ritter, Meteorologist (left in March 2007, now at WDAF)
  • Sean Temple (now with Cox Sports TV and CSS)
  • Kim Wanous (now "down the road" as host of a weekly show at WSFA)
  • Trish Williford (left in December 2007, Now at KTBS-TV and KPXJ in Shreveport, LA)
  • Kristie Welch, weekend news anchor (left in April 2008, now a producer "down the road" at WSFA)
  • Kayla Anderson, Weekend Sports Anchor (Now the Sports Director at KECI in Missoula, MT.)

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ http://boards.radio-info.com/smf/index.php?action=printpage;topic=17411.0

External linksEdit

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