Grand Rapids, Michigan
Branding WZZM 13 (general)
WZZM 13 News (newscasts)
Slogan People Make the Difference
Channels Analog: 13 (VHF)

Digital: 39 (UHF)

Affiliations ABC
Owner Gannett Company, Inc.
Licensee Combined Communications Corporation of Oklahoma, Inc.
First air date November 1, 1962
Call letters' meaning call letters form an ambigram
Transmitter Power 257 kW (analog)
1000 kW (digital)
13kW (post-transition)
Height 324.3 m (analog)
305.4 m (digital)
Facility ID 49713
Website WZZM 13 News' Website

WZZM-TV, ch. 13, is a TV station affiliated with the ABC network, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. WZZM's transmitter is located in Newaygo County, 5 miles (8 km) west of the city of Grant, Michigan. WZZM transmits it's signal from an antenna with a height of 1,064 feet (324 m).

Although WZZM is the primary ABC affiliate in West Michigan, it primarily serves the northern portion of the Grand Rapids/Muskegon Market. It's transmitter is about 40 miles (65 km) north of that of other regional channels, so it's signal is unavailable in the 2 southern tiers of counties of Michigan except in Kalamazoo. Persons living in counties beyond the access of it's signal must rely upon WOTV for ABC programming & for the broadcasts of TV stations in the South Bend/Elkhart or Lansing area for the syndicated programs that WZZM offers.


A local group known as West Michigan Telecasters received a construction permit for ch. 9 in 1961. However, in mid-1962, John Fetzer, owner of WWTV in Cadillac, then on ch. 13, persuaded the group to swap channel locations.

The station officially went on the air on November 1, 1962 @ 6:30 PM. The station went off the air just 20 minutes later, due to transmitter tube failure & went back on 10 minutes later.

However, as a result of the swap with WWTV, WZZM was now short-spaced to WSPD-TV in Toledo, Ohio (now WTVG). It had to build it's transmitter about 40 miles farther north than the other West Michigan stations & conform it's signal to protect WSPD. As a result, WZZM's signal barely reached Kalamazoo & just missed Battle Creek. Southwestern Michigan viewers had to rely on WSJV in Elkhart, Indiana; WXYZ-TV in Detroit, or WLS-TV in Chicago for ABC programming until WUHQ-TV (now WOTV) signed on from Battle Creek in 1971.

WZZM certainly had humble beginnings, it's first broadcasts were from a banquet room-turned studio @ the Pantlind Hotel (now the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel). Live broadcasts included This Morning with Bud Lindeman, Shirley's Show & an evening news program, though the station's most notable show in many minds is The Bozo Show, which was broadcast for more than 30 years. The news program improved in 1971 with the addition of the 1st weather radar in the West Michigan area, upgraded in 1974 to a computerized color version.

In August 1971, a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art studio was opened in Walker, with Congressman Gerald Ford presiding over the ceremony. In the following years, WZZM became a formidable force in the Grand Rapids viewing community, gathering high ratings & a reputation as 1 of the top news programs in the West Michigan area.

In 1978, West Michigan Telecasters sold WZZM to Wometco Enterprises of Miami. Wometco's stations were sold to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts in 1985. KKR sold the station to Price Communications in 1986. A local investor, Richard Appleton, formed Northstar Television in 1989 & bought WZZM. He tried to buy WUHQ in 1991 & turn it into a satellite of WZZM, which would have created a strong combined signal with about 40% overlap. The deal fell through @ the last minute, however. Ironically, WUHQ had served as a de facto satellite of WZZM for most of it's history; it's engineers had to switch to & from WZZM's signal on most occasions before the station was able to buy a network feed from ABC.

In 1995, the Northstar Television group (WZZM, plus WNAC-TV in Providence, Rhode Island & WAPT-TV in Jackson, Mississippi) was sold to Argyle Television. Gannett, WZZM's current owner, bought WZZM & sister station WGRZ-TV in Buffalo, New York in January 1997 by swapping WLWT-TV in Cincinnati, Ohio & KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Argyle.

In the 1990s, WZZM made an array of changes with the new millennium looming. New news vehicles were purchased, a new tape format (Beta SP) was introduced to digitize all media, a new radar receiver & new weather cameras were added across the state & a new set was built, coinciding with WZZM's introduction of a new logo. In 2003, WZZM first started broadcasting in HD.

For most of it's history, the newscast was called Eyewitness News until the late 1990s when it was replaced by WZZM 13 News.

5:30 Edition was introduced in 1993. It had soft news features in addition to the day's headlines. Many of it's features were phased out & it became a standard newscast by 1997. Many of the features returned in 2004 when Take 5 Grand Rapids premiered, later shortened to Take 5. Take 5 originally aired @ 5 PM but later moved to 4:30. In late August 2008, it was expanded to an hour, moved to 9 AM & renamed Take 5 & Company.

In 2005, the station launched the 13 On Target Weather Network, a Wx channel broadcast on Ch. 13-2; on Comcast & Charter Communications cable systems in West Michigan on ch. 247 & on My 13 On Target Weather is a customizable e-mail & website service powered by It features headlines, weather conditions & severe weather warnings.

In early spring of 2006, WZZM finalized a major station over-haul, complete with a new logo, graphics & promotional campaign, in order to recover from low viewership & to compete with 1st place West Michigan station WOOD (Ch. 8).

In late September 2006, WZZM announced on air through a series of commercials that the morning newscast with Derek Francis, Lauren Stanton & Hally Vogel beat #1 morning newscast "Daybreak" on WOOD-TV 8, according to recent Nielsen ratings.

On September 14, 2006, WZZM premiered a local HDTV special Great Lakes Adventure. Lee Van Ameyde and Juliet Dragos host the special about Sleeping Bear Dunes, Mackinac Island, Mackinac Bridge, as well as Michigan's wine country & charter boats. It re-aired on December 4, 2006 & is available for purchase. The opening sequence can be seen on the show's page.

Jay Schadler worked @ WZZM during the 1970s. He currently works @ ABC News. CNBC's Scott Cohn was @ WZZM in the 1980s, as was John Keating, a sportscaster for FSN Detroit. However, Keating was known on air as "Steve Knight". Patrice Formby, a former anchor @ CNN, also was @ WZZM in the 1990s. Tom Helmer, host of BCS Breakdown & The Official BCS Ratings Show on FSN, worked @ WZZM in the 1990s as sports director.

In 2007, WZZM started promoting 3 websites co-produced with the Gannett newspapers in Michigan: (now, &

WZZM 13 is 1 of the 1st stations in Michigan to produce & broadcast local TV commercials & promotions in HD. They also are the 1st station to air segments like their popular high school franchise 13 On Your Sidelines in HD.


The station's DT signal is multiplexed:

Channel Programming
13.1 / 39.1 WZZM 13/ABC programming
13.2 / 39.2 13 On Target Weather Network

Analog-to-DT conversionEdit

After the analog TV shutdown & DT conversion, which is tentatively scheduled to take place on February 17 2009, WZZM-TV will move it's DT broadcasts back to it's present analog ch. number, 13.


As a Gannett-owned TV station, WZZM continues to carry the entire ABC lineup.

Theater 13 is the umbrella title for movies the station airs.


The weather radar is called "13 X-RAD 3D". It combines the power of 3 National Weather Service doppler radars to produce a 3D radar image you see on TV.


  • "Most Trusted Information Center" (current)
  • "Wake up to a better morning." & "Come home to a better evening." (current)
  • "The Most Accurate Forecast in West Michigan" (current)
  • "Mornings Are Better" (current)
  • "People Make the Difference" (current)
  • "The Breaking News Leader" (2006)
  • "The Severe Weather Leader" (2006)
  • "WZZM Means Business" (2003)
  • "The WZZM 13 News Difference" (2003-2004)
  • "Feel the Difference" (1998-2003)
  • "13 Works for You" & "Working for You" (1996-1997)


  • ABC
  • USA Today
  • Gannett
  • Careerbuilder
  • Captivate Networks
  • Grand Haven Tribune
  • The Daily News


Over the years, WZZM has received numerous awards for journalistic excellence. Some of these include:

  • United Press International's Michigan News Station of the Year, 1980-1985.
  • Michigan Association of Broadcasters' Best Newscast & Best Coverage of Spot News awards, 1998
  • Michigan Association of Broadcasters' Station of the Year award, 2002.
  • Michigan Television News Photographers Association' Station of the Year award, 2002.

Take 5 & CompanyEdit

Take 5, originally named Take 5 Grand Rapids, is a live talk & entertainment show on WZZM weekdays @ 4:30 PM (from it's premiere in early 2004-September 2005, it aired @ 5 PM). It's hosted by Catherine Behrendt with reporter/substitute host Stephanie Webb.

It's slogan is "Learn a little. Live a little. Have some fun." It has some of the same soft news features that were on 5:30 Edition in the 1990s, such as movie reviews & cooking segments.

A key segment of this series is "Rescue My Home", which is similar to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Several times a year, a house is chosen for the makeover of a specific room. In early 2005, there was an "Extreme Mini-Makeover," which is similar to Extreme Makeover. In addition to a week's worth of segments about the project, they air primetime "Rescue My Home" specials. Past projects included the living room, bedroom & the yard.

In addition to segments about gardening, cooking, being a mother, healthy lifestyle, movies, restaurants, money management & auto maintenance, the show features celebrity interviews & performances by local artists & national artists who are visiting Grand Rapids.

Starting in 2008, Take 5 will begin a new segment. It's called the Take 5 Book Club. Each month a book is revealed. Then, on the first Monday of the next month, there is a discussion about the book. Take 5 teamed up with The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to work on the book club.

Effective August 25 2008, Take 5 moved to 9 AM following Good Morning America & expanded to 1 hour, displacing Live With Regis And Kelly, which had held the 9 AM timeslot @ WZZM for 20 years. The show was picked up by WWMT. Along with a new timeslot, the show received a new name: Take 5 & Company. Tara Kuhnlein was added as a 3rd member of the cast

WZZM 13's Healthy YouEdit

WZZM 13's Healthy You debuted on Sunday June 24th, 2007.

The show airs every Sunday @ 11 AM & is hosted by weekend anchor & health reporter Valerie Lego. In September 2008, it began airing Saturdays @ 7:30 PM in addition to the Sunday morning time slot


On Target ForecastEdit

The WZZM 13 team of meteorologists holds themselves accountable with a well-known target. The meteorologist reviews his or her forecast everyday from the previous day in comparison to the actual weather. If they were exactly right, an arrow shoots & hits the bullseye. If they were only a degree or 2 off, it's called a "Very Close" forecast. If they were 3-5 degrees off or if they were wrong in their prediction of sunlight or precipitation, it's called a "Close" forecast. If they were more incorrect than that, it's called a "Try Again" & the arrow shoots past the target completely.

Advance NewspapersEdit

Meteorologist George Lessens writes a weekly column for Advance Newspapers. The column includes the forecast for the upcoming week, as of February 2006. It originally had a review of the previous week.


The original weatherball was perched on top of the Michigan National Bank building in downtown Grand Rapids. The colors it displayed were representative of the coming weather pattern. A poem was written about the weatherball's colors:

Weatherball red, warmer weather ahead.
Weatherball blue, cooler weather in view.
Weatherball green, no change foreseen.
Colors blinking bright, rain or snow in sight.

However, due to questions about it's stability, it was removed in 1987, after 20 years of existence. WZZM located the weatherball, which had resided in a Kalamazoo junkyard since it's removal & purchased it in 1999. In 2002, plans were announced to refurbish the stainless steel ball & add new neon lights. The weatherball was perched on a 100-foot (30 m) monopole & was lit on May 7, 2003. It's visible from both I-96 & US Highway 131, the 2 major freeways in the area.

Shortly after the reintroduction of the WZZM 13 Weatherball, a contest was held where viewers submitted video recordings of songs to coincide with the meanings of the weatherball. The winner chosen had their song on a new commercial that aired to inform the viewership of the significance of the colors. The winners were Dale Ray Schumaker & Allison Rae Schumaker of Holland, MI with their jingle, "Know Before You Go". "DJ Dale" Schumaker & Allison Rae Schumaker are prominent hit songwriters.

On June 5 2008, the Weatherball was struck by lightning for the first time in it's history. The lightning scrambled the electronics of the Weatherball, causing it to glow in a rainbow of colors. The Weatherball was afterwards turned off for repairs.

The station also has a costumed character mascot of the Weatherball named "Blinkie". A similar weatherball is also located on the Citizen's Bank building in Flint.

Weather ChaserEdit

The Weather Chaser was introduced in 2001. It's a mobile version of the in-studio weather office capable of live broadcasts from anywhere in the broadcast area. During severe weather, the meteorologist using the Chaser can track & report storm conditions on location. It has not been mentioned on-air in recent months but as late as August 2006 was spotted @ the Unity Christian Music Festival in Muskegon, Michigan being used as a live shot vehicle for the meteorologist.

Weather DeckEdit

The weather deck is a deck set up for weather reports. Most weather reports are done outside, except when the weather makes it unsafe for the meteorologist to go outside, such as severe weather situations. The weather deck was introduced in 1999. From 1995-1999, the evening meteorologist reported from the parking lot. Once a week, the noon newscast has a "Weather Deck Guest" segment - a live interview from the deck.


WZZM started expanded coverage of high school football in 1995 with Friday Night Football. A few years later, the name was changed to 13 On Your Sidelines.

During the 5:30 & 6 PM news, a meteorologist does a weather report from the "Game of the Week" location with Blinkie the Weatherball mascot. During the 6 PM news, the "Game of the Week" is previewed.

The 11 PM news is shortened to 1 news segment & 1 weather segment. During the weather segment, cheerleaders join the meteorologist on the weather deck.

The current format for 13 On Your Sidelines is:

  • "Game of the Week"
  • Reports on 12 other games, giving a total of 13.
  • The in-studio audience is composed of cheerleaders & marching bands.
  • Scoreboard segments announcing the results of all other games.
  • Commentary on the 13 games.
  • Ticker showing scores from all sports, not just high school football.
  • Other sports news.

Major personalitiesEdit

Take FiveEdit

  • Catherine Behrendt - Host. She joined the station in 1987. During the 1990s, she anchored the news in the morning & noon. She is currently head of the Community/Local Programming Department & host of Take 5, a talk & entertainment show airing weekdays @ 9 AM
  • Stephanie Webb - Co-Host & Reporter for Take 5. She does many interviews with celebrities & other famous people. She formerly worked @ WGRD & FOX 17 in Grand Rapids.

WZZM 13 NewsEdit


WZZM 13 Morning News

  • Weekdays (5-7 AM):
    • Derek Francis - Anchor, Super Saver Reporter
    • Lauren Stanton - Anchor, Try It Before You Buy It Reporter
    • Hally Vogel - Meteorologist
    • Dave Kaechele - Traffic
  • Weekends (6-8 AM):
    • Jennifer Pascua - Anchor
    • Linda Paige - Meteorologist, Science Reporter

WZZM 13 News @ Noon

  • Weekdays:
    • Lauren Stanton - Anchor, Try It Before You Buy It Reporter
    • Hally Vogel - Meteorologist

WZZM 13 News @ 5:30

  • Weekdays:
    • Lee VanAmeyde - Anchor. He first joined WZZM in 1977. He also hosted DIY Grand Rapids on Sundays. This program was produced by the DIY Network, a spinoff of Scripps-Howard-owned HGTV.
    • Juliet Dragos - Anchor. First joining WZZM in 1991, she often goes to different locations to broadcast major stories. She has traveled to New York City, Hollywood & most notably to Bosnia in the wake of their civil war.
    • George Lessens - Chief Meteorologist; or Joe Kopecek - Meteorologist

WZZM 13 News @ 6

  • Weekdays:
    • Lee VanAmeyde - Anchor
    • Juliet Dragos - Anchor
    • George Lessens - Chief Meteorologist; or Joe Kopecek - Meteorologist
    • Tom Clyde - Sports Director
  • Weekends (6:30 on Sundays):
    • Valerie Lego - Anchor, Health Reporter
    • Joe Kopecek - Meteorologist (Saturday), Journey with Joe
    • George Lessens - Chief Meteorologist (Sunday)
    • David Solano - Sports

WZZM 13 News @ 11

  • Weekdays:
    • Lee VanAmeyde - Anchor
    • Juliet Dragos - Anchor
    • George Lessens - Chief Meteorologist; or Joe Kopecek - Meteorologist
    • Tom Clyde - Sports Director
  • Weekends:
    • Valerie Lego - Anchor, Health Reporter
    • Joe Kopecek - Meteorologist (Saturday), Journey with Joe
    • George Lessens - Chief Meteorologist (Sunday)
    • David Solano - Sports

WZZM 13's Healthy You

  • Sundays @ 11 AM:
    • Valerie Lego - Anchor, Health Reporter

13 On Your Sidelines

  • Fridays @ 11:15 PM during high school football season
    • Tom Clyde - Sports Director
    • Dan Harland - Anchor
    • David Solano - Anchor


  • Angela Cunningham
  • Phil Dawson
  • Amy Fox
  • Lambrini Lukidis
  • Nick Monacelli
  • Peter Ross
  • Sarah Sell

External links Edit