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|New Orleans, Louisiana|
|Branding|| WWL-TV Channel 4 (general)|
Channel 4's Eyewitness News (newscasts)
|Slogan|| The Spirit of Louisiana|
Louisiana's News Leader
|Channels|| Analog: 4 (VHF) |
Digital: 36 (UHF)
|First air date||September 7, 1957|
|Call letters' meaning|| World|
(after Loyola University New Orleans, founder & former owner)
|Transmitter Power|| 100 kW (analog)|
957.8 kW (DT)
|Height|| 294 m (analog)|
311 m (DT)
|Website||Channel 4's Eyewitness News' Website|
WWL-TV, ch. 4, is the CBS affiliate serving New Orleans, Louisiana, southeast Louisiana and parts of southern and coastal Mississippi. It broadcasts on ch. 4, with many area cable systems carrying the station on the same channel (except it's on cable 3 in New Orleans proper). Its main studios and offices are located on Rampart Street in the historic French Quarter, with a North Shore bureau located on North Causeway Boulevard in suburban Mandeville. Its transmitter is located at 4 Cooper Road in Gretna, Louisiana.
On or before February 17, 2009, WWL-TV will shut down ch. 4 and continue broadcasting on ch. 36 to complete its analog to DT conversion using PSIP to display WWL-TV's virtual ch. as "4".
WWL-TV signed on the air on September 7, 1957 as the 3rd TV station in New Orleans, behind WDSU-TV and WJMR (now WVUE). It was owned by Loyola University of New Orleans along with WWL radio (AM 870 and FM 101.9, now WLMG). WWL-AM had been a CBS affiliate since 1935 so WWL-TV naturally joined CBS. It competed head to head with NBC affiliate WDSU in the 1960s and '70s. However, after WDSU was sold to out-of-town owners, it began deemphasizing local features in favor of news. WWL, as the only locally-owned station in town, heavily stressed its local roots. By the early 1980s, WWL had emerged as the market's ratings leader.
The station has been the strongest CBS affiliate in the country for more than 20 years, aided by a strong programming lineup (with popular syndicated shows such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune and Live with Regis & Kelly) and the fact that it was unaffected by the market's affiliation switch in the mid-1990s. When Viacom, which owned UPN affiliate WUPL, merged with CBS in 2000, CBS did not even consider moving its affiliation from WWL to WUPL.
In 1988, WWL and COX Communications, the cable company serving the Greater New Orleans area south of Lake Pontchartrain, began a joint venture called NewsWatch 15. It was one of the 1st regional cable news networks in the US at the time. Viewed on cable ch. 15, the network broadcasted recent editions of "Eyewitness News" around the clock as well as simulcasted live newscasts and breaking news. The venture has not hurt the station's ratings.
In 1989, Loyola sold its media properties to different owners. WWL-TV's employees formed a group called Rampart Broadcasting (named after the station's studios on Rampart Street), led by general manager J. Michael Early and longtime news director and station editorialist Phil Johnson and bought the station. It was the 1st (and thus far, only) time an employee-investor group acquired a local TV station. Belo Corporation bought the station in 1994. To this day, WWL is a subsidiary of Belo, known as WWL TV, Inc.
Despite having been owned by a Roman Catholic organization, WWL-TV has always been a commercial TV station and showed almost no connection to its religious background (other than broadcasting the Sunday Mass, which the station had done for many years until recently). In fact, WWL-TV broadcast televangelists like Oral Roberts, Jimmy Swaggart and others, some of whom were anti-Catholic in their teachings.
WWL-TV preempted moderate amounts of CBS programming throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. These included, most notably, the 9-10 AM weekday timeslot and prior to the debut of the Late Show with David Letterman in 1993, CBS' late-night lineup. Also, WWL-TV preempted the last hour of Saturday children's programming, between Noon and 1 PM, during the 1970s. In the late 1980s, WWL-TV dropped the weekday morning CBS news show in favor of an additional hour of local news & Regis at 8 AM. Eventually the local news was expanded into the 8 AM hour.
In 1990, WWL began running one of the most successful station image campaigns in the US with its "Spirit of Louisiana" promotions. The one-minute spots feature the region's musical and cultural heritage as well as showcases life in southeastern Louisiana. Many of the ads feature well-known area musicians and singers. The campaigns continue today.
In 2005, Viacom/CBS, which owned WUPL at the time, made an offer to buy WWL-TV. After Belo rejected Viacom's offer, Viacom instead made a deal to sell WUPL to Belo. This would have created a duopoly with WWL and WUPL. However, due to uncertainty created after Hurricane Katrina hit the New Orleans market, Belo delayed the deal to purchase WUPL. As a result, CBS filed a lawsuit against Belo in February 2006 for breach of contract. The litigation has apparently been settled as Belo agreed to complete the purchase of WUPL in late February 2007. The deal has already received regulatory approval and closed on February 26, 2007. In April 2007, Belo moved WUPL's operations into the WWL facility.
WWL began 24-hour continuous coverage on Saturday August 27 from its New Orleans studio. At 10:45 PM CDT Sunday operations moved to the Manship School of Mass Communications at LSU in Baton Rouge. LSU students and staff helped produce the telecast with WWL-TV staff in a 'bare bones' fashion.
The station briefly returned to its Rampart Street studios in New Orleans Monday afternoon at 4 PM. Flooding forced the station to again move operations back to LSU, as well as a makeshift studio at the transmitter site in Gretna. The station relayed its signal via fiber optics and the use of a satellite truck from sister station KHOU in Houston.
Beginning Thursday, September 1, 2005, the station again moved operations, this time to the studios of Louisiana Public Broadcasting in Baton Rouge. This provided WWL with a much larger facility and expanded their audience to include LPB's statewide network. This coverage was also aired by many PBS stations. WWL would finally return to New Orleans about 6 weeks later.
WWL's coverage of Hurricane Katrina earned the station its 6th Peabody Award in early April 2006.
WWL's coverage of Katrina was featured on an episode The Weather Channel's "Storm Stories."
After Hurricane Katrina, some of the station's most visible talent - including weekend anchor/reporter Josh McElveen and reporter Stephanie Riegel - left the station to pursue other opportunities. Fans were also shocked to hear that 10 PM anchor Karen Swensen was leaving the station to work at NECN in Boston. (She has since returned, replacing Lucy Bustamante.) Meteorologists David Bernard and John Gumm also left (Bernard was already scheduled to leave before the storm.)
The station has also brought back an old WWL-TV tradition, the editorials. Modeled after the editorials of Phil Johnson (the station's long-time and very popular news director/station manager), today's editorials are in the form of a narrator reading from a virtual notepad, talking about the current hot issue when it comes to rebuilding New Orleans.
The station and Belo announced plans to construct a new multi-million dollar broadcasting facility for WWL, WUPL and WWLTV.com at 700 Loyola Avenue in downtown New Orleans. It was originally scheduled to be completed in late 2007-early 2008 and will be called the J. Michael Early Broadcast Center, after the former general manager. However, as of early May 2007, construction has yet to begin.
The same agreement for the use of LPB studio facilities and the statewide LPB simulcast listed above was also utilized for coverage of Hurricane Gustav in early September 2008. WWL's coverage also aired on the DT subchannels of fellow Belo sister stations WFAA-TV 8.2 in Dallas and KHOU-TV 11.2 in Houston for the convenience of evacuees.
Part of WWL's ascent to #1 was its local programming. In 1977, then-general manager J. Michael Early decided to do a 45-minute local morning news show beginning at 6:15 AM. Hosted by Eric Paulsen, it later began airing at 7 AM and instantly garnered higher ratings than Today and Good Morning America. In 1979, John Quaintance and Andre Trevigne took over anchoring the morning news. It would later evolve into the three-hour, very-popular "Eyewitness Morning News" and pre-empt all CBS morning programming through the years, including the CBS Morning News, CBS This Morning and The Early Show. A few years back, the newscast expanded to four hours moving Live with Regis & Kelly up to 9 AM.
However, WWL carries all other CBS programming. (The Early Show was added to sister station WUPL's schedule in April 2005.)
Popeye & Pals, a kiddie program which delved in showing classic Max Fleischer/Famous Studios Popeye theatrical shorts (the 1960 King Features Syndicate made-for-TV shorts were presented as well), was a major fixture on WWL-TV from its inception in 1957 until August 1991, starting at a Monday-Friday afternoon slot and graduating to Saturday morning and at some points Sunday morning status.
In 1979, the station was one of a handful nationwide to air a syndicated feature program called PM Magazine. Hosted locally by Paulsen and Lea Sinclair, the show became an instant hit and dominated the local TV scene for five years, becoming one of the best localized PM Magazine broadcasts in the country.
From 1989-1996, weekday anchor Angela Hill hosted the very popular talk show Angela, which aired right after The Oprah Winfrey Show. It dealt with local and national matters and featured local and national talent in entertainment, academics and business.
Since they usually preempt CBS programming for coverage of Mardi Gras and primetime political debates, viewers in Biloxi/Gulfport, Mississippi could see them - and The Early Show - on Mobile, Alabama's CBS affiliate WKRG; both stations are available to that area's cable subscribers.
The station has used the Eyewitness News format for many years and according to local AC Nielsen ratings, has had the leading newscast in New Orleans for nearly 30 years. The November 2007 sweeps period - the first major ratings period in New Orleans reported to Nielsen since Hurricane Katrina - did not change that, as WWL continues to lead its nearest competitors, WDSU and WVUE, by a wide margin.
As mentioned above, WWL-TV has a strong syndicated programming lineup. However, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! moved to WVUE once the contract with the station expired. Dr. Phil now airs at 3 PM followed by The Oprah Winfrey Show at 4 PM. WWL-TV originally kept Oprah at 3 and aired Dr. Phil afterwards at 4. After a short time, they flipped them around as they air in most other markets. Inside Edition now airs at 6:30 PM with The Insider at 11:40 PM delaying CBS's Late Late Show to 12:10 AM.
In March 2006, WWL began "I-News", a 30-minute newscast featuring more in-depth reporting on topics important to viewers. The newscast also features live interviews with local, state and national officials. The newscast aired weekday evenings on the station's Web site after the 6 PM news and rebroadcasted on Ch. 4. The webcast has since been canceled.
On June 4, 2007, WWL-TV began airing a 30-minute weekday newscast called "Eyewitness News at 9" on WUPL-TV. It's anchored by Lucy Bustamante and Mike Hoss, the current "Eyewitness News Nightwatch" anchors.
WWL-TV celebrated a half a century of broadcasting on September 7, 2007. The station remains as one of America's top-rated CBS affiliates.
- Lucy Bustamante: 9 and 10 PM weeknights
- Angela Hill: 5 and 6 PM weeknights
- Mike Hoss: 9 and 10 PM weeknights
- Rob Nelson: 5 AM weekdays
- Eric Paulsen: weekday mornings (6-9 AM) and at Noon
- Sally-Ann Roberts: weekday mornings (6-9 AM) (sister of Good Morning America 's Robin Roberts)
- Dennis Woltering: 5 and 6 PM weekdays (also hosts Sunday Morning with Dennis Woltering; had a previous stint at WWL-TV as weekend anchor from 1977-84 as Dennis Wolter)
- Lee Zurik: Weekends
- Krystal Boothe: Traffic, weekday mornings
- Bill Capo: "Action Report"
- Frank Davis: "In The Kitchen" Tuesday mornings and "The Fishing Game" and "Naturally N'Awlins" and 6 PM Thursdays and Wednesdays, respectively. Davis died in December 2013.
- Susan Edwards
- Meg Farris: "Medical Watch"
- Jill Hezeau
- Katie Moore
- Doug Mouton: North Shore bureau chief
- Paul Murphy
- Maya Rodriguez
- Scott Satchfield
- Bigad Shaban
- Carl Arredondo (Hot) (AMS Seal of Approval): Chief meteorologist at 6, 9 and 10 PM
- Dawn Brown: Weekends
- Laura Buchtel: Morning
- Jonathan Myers (AMS Seal of Approval): Noon and 5 PM
- Jim Henderson: Sports Director at 5, 6 and 10; now at WVUE-TV.
- Scott Cody: weekends, host of "4th Down on Four"
- Juan Kincaid: on-site reporter, also subs for Cody and Henderson when needed
Former on-air staffEdit
- Jason Allen (now at WGCL-TV in Atlanta)
- Dave Barnes - meteorologist (1984-1996)
- Jim Basquil - sports anchor/reporter (?-2007; now at ESPN Radio)
- David Bernard - meteorologist (1997-2005; now chief meteorologist at WFOR-TV in Miami)
- Sandy Breland - (1997-2008; now at WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge; married to Dave McNamara)
- Karen Carlson - anchor
- Len Cannon - anchor (now at KHOU-TV in Houston)
- Doug Darby - reporter
- Jean Doherty - station's first female weathercaster (1967)
- Albert "Al" Duckworth - meteorologist (1968-1984; also worked at WDSU, later went to WVUE, died August 17, 2001 at age 71)
- Henry Dupre (a.k.a. "Uncle Henry") - first host of Popeye and Pals (deceased)
- Jeremy Eisenzopf (now Jeremy Eisen) - meteorologist (2006-2007; now at WXYZ in Detroit)
- Bill Elder - anchor/investigative reporter, nicknamed the "Mike Wallace of Louisiana" (1965-2000; died September 17, 2003 at age 65 of complications from cancer treatment)
- Patrick Evans (now at WVUE; currently on leave in Iraq)
- John Ferguson - weekend sportscaster (1970s; also broadcast LSU sports over WWL radio from 1946-1987, died December 16, 2005 at age 86)
- Tom Foreman - now at CNN.
- Terry Jones - (1979-2006; now at Sat-Link of Arkansas)
- Lloyd "Hap" Glaudi - Sports anchor, dubbed "The Dean of New Orleans Sports" (1964-1978; succeeded by Jim Henderson, died December 31, 1989)
- Bob Greene - reporter (2005[?]-2006)
- John M. Gumm - weekend meteorologist (1999-2005; now at WKRC in Cincinnati)
- Taylor Henry - reporter (1981-1986; later at CNN, now news director at KNOE-TV in Monroe, Louisiana)
- Paul Hornung - sportscaster (1967)
- Ginny Hostetler - "Miss Ginny" on WWL's version of Romper Room
- Dana Howard - Reporter (1988-1992; now at KXTV in Sacramento)
- Jennifer Huntley - Eyewitness News Early Edition at Eyewitness Morning News anchor (2000-2006; now external relations coordinator at Washington State Department of Personnel)
- Ron Hunter - anchor/reporter (1967-1972; later at WGRZ-TV in Buffalo, WMAQ-TV in Chicago, WVUE, WTIX-AM and WSMB-AM; also hosted New Orleans' Most Wanted on WGNO-TV from 1988-89; retired to Las Vegas in 1998, died June 24, 2008 at age 70) 
- Rosemary James - station's first female anchor/reporter (1968-197?)
- Ken Johnson - reporter
- Phil Johnson - editorialist/news director/station manager (1960-1999)
- Bob Jones - anchor (1960s)
- Jim Kincaid - anchor (1960s)
- Hoda Kotb - anchor/reporter (1992-1998; now at NBC News as a co-host of The Today Show)
- Bob Krieger - anchor/reporter (also worked at WDSU and WVUE; Died August 13, 1996)
- Dr. Janet Lawhon - anchor/medical reporter (now a board certified psychiatrist & clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas)
- Ben Lemoine - Reporter, also covered Hurricane Katrina (2005-2007; now at KTVK in Phoenix)
- Mike Longman - Award-winning reporter
- Josh McElveen (now at NECN)
- Dave McNamara - reporter (1982-2006; later at KTVK in Phoenix)
- Larry Matson - sports anchor (1979?-1985?; later at WGNO-TV; then play-by-play man for the Tulane ISP Sports Network, next WJBO in Baton Rouge, morning sportscaster for Z-100 (KLRZ) in LaRose and after that St. Charles Parish Recreation Department)
- Jim Metcalf - Anchor/reporter; A Sunday Journal (1966-1977; died March 8, 1977 at age 49, the Jim Metcalf Memorial Award is named in his honor)
- Michelle Miller - anchor/reporter (1994-2003; now at CBS News)
- Miles Muzio - meteorologist (now at KBAK in Bakersfield, California)
- Chris Myers - sports anchor/featured reporter (1982-1988; now at FOX Sports)
- Brad Panovich - Meteorologist (now at WCNC-TV in Charlotte)
- John Pela - host of The John Pela Show, a dance show styled after American Bandstand (1961-1972; also the first replacement host of Popeye & Pals in the wake of Henry Dupre's retirement; provided voiceovers)
- John Quaintance - reporter (1976-1984), morning news anchor (1979-1984; now syndicated radio host)
- Stephanie Riegel - political/investigative reporter (1993-2005; now at 225BatonRouge.com)
- Susan E. Roberts - anchor/reporter (1995-1997; later at WDSU-TV, now at CBS News)
- Nash C. Roberts Jr. - meteorologist (1978-2001)
- Garland Robinette: Anchor/reporter (1970-1990; married to co-anchor Angela Hill from 1978-1987; now at WWL-AM-FM)
- Norman Robinson - reporter (1970s-1992; now at WDSU)
- Mike Ross - reporter (1988-2006) now anchor at KTUU-TV in Anchorage, Alaska
- Nancy Russo - meteorologist (later at WVUE)
- Shauna Sanford - anchor/reporter (2003-2006; now a project advisor at the Louisiana Department of Education/Recovery School District)
- Dan Simon - (now at CNN)
- Lea Sinclair - hosted local version of PM Magazine with Eric Pulsen; now director of communications for the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation)
- John Snell - anchor (succeeded Garland Robinette, 1990-1994; now at WVUE)
- Judy Storch
- Karen Swensen - anchor/reporter (1992-2005; now at NECN)
- André Trevigne - (later at WGNO)
- Thahn Truong - reporter (2002-2005; now at KUSA in Denver)
- Ronnie Virgets - feature reporter
- Don Westbrook - meteorologist; also provided voiceovers (retired July 30, 1999, simultaneously with Phil Johnson)
- Charles Zewe - anchor/reporter (1972-1977; later at WDSU and CNN; now VP of communications for the Louisiana State University System)
- Eyewitness News (1970s-present)
- The Spirit of Louisiana (1990-present)
- Louisiana's News Leader (1995-present)