Cbsatlanta logo.png
Atlanta, Georgia
Branding CBS Atlanta (general)
CBS Atlanta News (newscasts)
Slogan We Ask the Tough Questions
Channels Digital: 19 (UHF)
Virtual: 46 (PSIP),
809/46.1 (Comcast)
Subchannels 46.1 - CBS (1080i)
46.2 - March Madness (480i)
Owner Meredith Corporation
First air date June 6, 1971
Call letters' meaning Georgia's CLear News
(former slogan)
Former callsigns WHAE-TV (1971-1977)
WANX-TV (1977-1984)
WGNX (1984-2000)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
46 (UHF, 1971-2009)
Former affiliations Independent (1971-1994)
Transmitter power 1000 kW (digital)
Height 329 m (digital)
Facility ID 72120
Transmitter coordinates 33°48′26.3″N 84°20′21.5″W / 33.807306°N 84.339306°W / 33.807306; -84.339306
Website www.cbsatlanta.com/

WGCL-TV, virtual channel 46.1 (digital channel 19) is the CBS-affiliated television station serving the Atlanta, Georgia area. Its city of license is Atlanta, and the station is owned by Meredith Corporation, making it the largest-market CBS station not owned by the network. It was the largest affiliate of any of the original "Big Three" networks (ABC, CBS or NBC) on analog UHF prior to the digital TV transition, and remains the largest such station to identify via PSIP with a channel number above the traditional 2-13 VHF range. The station is seen on Comcast cable channel 9 and HD channel 809 in the Atlanta area.

As of late 2009, Meredith's broadcasting division is headquartered in the WGCL facility. As a result, WGCL is the flagship television station of the company.[citation needed]

The station transmits from the "Richland" site near North Druid Hills from the east tower, along with several other stations. The station's digital TV signal on channel 19 formerly datacasted TV Guide On Screen for the area. WGCL has studios located on 14th Street in Midtown in the Home Park neighborhood, just blocks down the road from PBS affiliate WGTV.



Channel 46 first went on the air on June 6, 1971. It was originally owned by the Continental Broadcasting Network, an arm of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network. Its original broadcast callsign was WHAE-TV, which stood for "Heaven And Earth." It originally was programmed for an eight-hour broadcast day. It also had a low-budget lineup consisting of a few hours of general entertainment and another few hours of religious shows per day. It ran only religious programming on Sundays.

By 1976, the station had expanded to a 20-hour broadcast day, airing cartoons, classic sitcoms, family dramas, westerns, and religious programming (including The 700 Club twice a day) on weekdays. Children's programming, westerns and movies were shown on Saturdays and the station continued to air strictly religious programming on Sundays until the fall of 1980. At that time, it began to run general entertainment programming during the afternoon. In 1977, it changed calls to WANX-TV, which stood for "Atlanta IN Christ (X)." It also began offering more mainstream programming. However, its programming policy was somewhat more conservative than its two main rivals at the time, WTBS (channel 17, now WPCH-TV) and WATL). It didn't air any programming that would offend the sensibilities of its mostly fundamentalist and Pentecostal audience.

The station was bought by Chicago-based Tribune Broadcasting in 1984. Tribune changed its call letters once again, this time to WGNX, named after then-sister station in Chicago WGN-TV: it took WGN, and added an X from the previous callsign (essentially WGN + WANX). The 700 Club was now only broadcast once a day, before being dropped altogether until 2007, when WGCL picked it up again. The station significantly upgraded its programming, picking up more racier programming than it had aired under CBN ownership. When Tribune partnered with Time Warner to form the new WB Network, WGNX was slated to become the new network's Atlanta outlet upon that new network's launch in January 1995.

However, those plans were suddenly altered on May 22, 1994. On that day, New World Communications announced an affiliation agreement with the Fox Broadcasting Company, months after Fox won the broadcast rights to NFC football games. This resulted in most of its stations set to become Fox affiliates. One of the stations due to switch was Atlanta's longtime CBS affiliate, WAGA-TV (channel 5). CBS needed to find a new affiliate in what had become the nation's 9th largest market, and approached all of Atlanta's major stations, including WGNX. However, neither were interested at first.

By October 1994—only a month before WAGA was slated to join Fox--CBS faced the prospect of having to pipe in WSPA-TV in Spartanburg, WDEF-TV in Chattanooga, WRBL in Columbus and WMAZ-TV in Macon for cable customers until it could find a new affiliate in Atlanta. Almost out of desperation, CBS made a deal to buy WVEU, a low-rated station on channel 69 with the weakest signal of Atlanta's full-power stations. Around the same time that the WB launched, another new network, the United Paramount Network (UPN), co-owned by Paramount Pictures/Viacom and Chris-Craft Industries, was set to launch, with WATL as the most likely pick to be that network's Atlanta affiliate. However, CBS still wanted to affiliate with a station that people were more familiar with (and that had a functioning news department). It continued to negotiate with Tribune, who finally relented in November and allowed WGNX to become a CBS affiliate.

WGCL's logo from 2006 to 2009.

This move left WGNX with cartoons and sitcoms that it would no longer have time to air as a CBS affiliate, so it sold some of its syndicated programming to WVEU, which became the UPN affiliate (while WATL joined the WB), and was later sold to Viacom, who changed its calls to WUPA.

The affiliation switch became official on December 11, 1994. It would have originally occurred on November 27, but Fox, New World and CBS were still ironing out the final details. As a CBS station, it began airing more syndicated talk and reality shows; it also began calling itself "CBS46," though these references were mostly verbal; graphics continued to refer to "channel 46."

With the move to WGNX, however, CBS lost significant viewership in the northern portion of the Atlanta market. This area is somewhat mountainous, and despite its 5 million-watt analog signal, WGNX didn't penetrate nearly as far into this area as WAGA did. Much of this region was among the few areas where cable still wasn't readily available. CBS didn't return over-the-air to this area until the following August, when WNEG-TV (channel 32, now WUGA-TV) in Toccoa joined CBS. Although it was located in the Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville market, WNEG served as the de facto CBS affiliate for the far northern portion of the Atlanta market until that station's sale to the University of Georgia in 2008. By this time, increased cable and satellite availability in this area increased WGNX' footprint in the area.

Tribune began to manage the station in tandem with WATL in 1996 under a local marketing agreement. In 1998, Tribune swapped WGNX to Meredith Corporation in a three-way deal which saw Tribune acquire KCPQ in Seattle from Kelly Broadcasting; that deal allowed Tribune to buy WATL outright the next year.[1] Also around the same time, WGNX began branding as "CBS Atlanta." The station changed its calls to WGCL-TV in 2000 to reflect its new branding tagline, We're Georgia's CLear TV, along with "Clear News", a soft news concept. A few months later, WGCL was "CBS Atlanta" again, then two years later readopted the "CBS 46" moniker.

On June 20, 2007, WGCL's website underwent a redesign as part of a partnership between Meredith Corporation and Internet Broadcasting, following the successful testing of the websites of five of its sister stations, which had joined Internet Broadcasting the year before. WGCL's website was the sixth Meredith station website to switch from WorldNow to Internet Broadcasting. Meredith's contract with IB will expire in June 2011, and the Meredith station sites will be operated by WorldNow again. WGCL and Fox-affiliated sister station WHNS in Greenville, South Carolina were the first two stations to relaunch new WorldNow-operated sites on June 6, 2011.

In March 2009, Meredith announced that WGCL would begin handling the master control operations of WSMV-TV in Nashville, Tennessee and WHNS in Greenville, South Carolina. The new hub operation began operations in Fall 2009. Three other stations—KCTV in Kansas City, Missouri, WFSB in Hartford, Connecticut and WNEM-TV in Saginaw, Michigan—were later added to the WGCL hub; those three stations are slated to go online at the hub sometime in 2010. A similar hub is planned at sister station KPHO-TV in Phoenix, Arizona to handle stations in Portland, Oregon (KPTV and KPDX) and Las Vegas (KVVU-TV). [3]

In late 2010, due to a lack of original content from WGCL's website, the station decided to copy and paste the "history" section off Wikipedia[2]. It is no longer available at WGCL's website.

On March 12, 2011, WSB-TV and WGCL-TV turned on their ATSC-M/H signals for the first time, becoming the first stations in the Atlanta area to offer Mobile DTV broadcasts.

Digital transition

WGCL-TV shut down its analog signal, on June 12, 2009, as part of the DTV transition in the United States. The station remained on its pre-transition channel 19, using PSIP to display WGCL-TV's virtual channel as 46.

Although the DTV Delay Act extended the mandatory shutdown of analog television until June 12, WGCL-TV applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to end its transmissions on February 17, the original deadline.[3] However, the station did not appear on the FCC list of such stations, which was released on February 11.[4] (WATC (digital channel 57) and WGTV (digital channel 8) were the other local stations on this list.) Since then, the station ran crawls that indicated that it would switch on June 12. The station applied to be an "analog nightlight" station, ending its regular programming on June 12 as required by law, but continuing to broadcast information regarding the DTV transition for an additional two weeks until June 26. (This is the same bilingual subtitled loop, alternating in English and Spanish, as was seen on several other nightlight stations across the country.)

WGCL-DT 46.2 "March Madness" test card.

After this, WYGA-CA may be allowed to increase its analog LPTV signal on adjacent channel 45, as it was forced from channel 55 by MediaFLO, and has been operating on special temporary authority (STA) at very low power to protect adjacent-channel WGCL from RF interference. WSB-TV 39 (2.x) may be also allowed to begin transmitting a co-channel digital TV fill-in translator from south of Gainesville. Both are pending FCC approval of their applications, and WSB also filed for an STA to begin as soon as possible after WGCL ended analog transmissions. Like most CBS stations, WGCL's digital signal transmits in 1080i high definition.

WGCL-TV has multiplexed additional digital subchannels on its over-the-air transmitter during the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship period during select days and time periods in March. This is done in order to broadcast several basketball games in progress simultaneously carried by CBS Sports. The subchannels, which can number as many as three, have a typical video resolution of 480i at 4:3 aspect ratio. In March 2009, only one subchannel (46.2, labeled WGCLDT2) was used. Since then, no subchannels have been needed because the additional games in progress are now broadcast on TBS and TNT due to a deal between CBS, the NCAA and Turner Networks.

WGCL-TV also has a Mobile DTV feed of subchannel 46.1, broadcasting at 1.83 Mbit/s.[5][6]

Station timeline

  • 1971: WHAE-TV as an independent general entertainment/religious station owned by CBN
  • 1977: Callsign change to WANX-TV
  • 1984: Sold to Tribune, becoming WGNX
  • 1989: WGNX begins a local news broadcast
  • 1994: Switched to CBS (previously on WAGA-TV 5)
  • 1995: Became known as "WGNX CBS46"
  • 1999: Meredith closes on purchase of station, renamed "CBS Atlanta"
  • 2000: Callsign change to WGCL-TV renamed "Clear TV"
  • 2002: Renamed "CBS Atlanta" again
  • 2003: Renamed "CBS46" again
  • 2009: Renamed "CBS Atlanta" yet again

News operation

Currently, WGCL broadcasts a total of 32 hours of local newscasts every week (with six hours on weekdays and one hour each on weekends). Unlike most CBS affiliates, the station does not carry local newscasts in weekend morning timeslots.

In 1989, WGNX started its first ever newscast, Channel 46 News at Ten, a nightly primetime newscast at 10 p.m. After affiliating with CBS, WGCL (as WGNX) moved the 10 p.m. newscast to 11 p.m. and added newscasts at noon and 6 p.m., as well as a short-lived 7:30 p.m. newscast. It would add on a short-lived 5 p.m. newscast, a morning newscast, and a 4 p.m. newscast as well.

On January 11, 2009, WGCL became the third station (behind WSB-TV and WXIA-TV) to broadcast its local newscasts in high definition. With the switch to HD, WGCL has rebranded back to "CBS Atlanta", which it used in 1999 and 2002. Weekend evening meteorologist Justin Lock is currently the only meteorologist at WGCL's weather department that has earned a Seal of Approval in Broadcast Meteorology, as Lock earned a television seal of approval from the American Meteorological Society.

Unlike most television station news operations, WGCL does not operate its own sports department; in October 2009, WGCL announced that it would shut down its in-house sports department and laid off sports anchors Gil Tyree and Mark Harmon in a cost-cutting decision; the station then outsourced sports coverage to local sports talk radio station WQXI (790 kHz).[7] On August 30, 2010 WGCL added an hour-long 5 p.m. newscast, this created a 2½ hour block of local news that begins with the existing hour-long 4 p.m. newscast and concludes with its 6 pm newscast.[8] This fall, WGCL will remove their noon newscast and add an additional newscast from 9 a.m to 10 a.m.[9]


As a CBS affiliate, WGCL has struggled in the local viewership ratings, usually ranking fourth behind WSB-TV, WAGA and WXIA-TV. As such, WGCL has been one of CBS' weaker affiliates, despite its status as that network's largest affiliate. In contrast, WAGA was one of CBS' strongest affiliates. However, in the last three Nielsen ratings periods, it has traded third and fourth place with WXIA-TV.

News/station presentation

Newscast titles

  • Channel 46 News at Ten (1989–1994)[10]
  • WGNX News (1994–1999)
  • CBS Atlanta News (1999–2000, 2002–2003, 2009–present)[11][12]
  • Clear News (2000–2002)[13]
  • CBS 46 News (2003–2009)

Station slogans

  • Giving Atlanta a Choice! (1985–1989)[14]
  • Georgia's News at Ten (1989–1994)
  • Working to Be Your New Choice (1997–1999)
  • News That Clearly Matters (2000–2002)
  • Atlanta's NewsChannel (2003–2004)[15]
  • Breaking News. Breaking Stories. (2004–2005)
  • We Ask the Tough Questions (2008–present)[16]
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On-air staff

Current news staff

  • Brandon Rudat [4] - weekday mornings Better Mornings Atlanta (5:00-7 a.m.)and (9:00-10:00 a.m.)
  • Tracye Hutchins - weekday mornings Better Mornings Atlanta(5:00-7 a.m.)and (9:00-10:00 a.m.)
  • Stephany Fisher - weekdays at 4, weeknights at 5, 6 and 11 p.m.; also health reporter
  • JaQuitta Williams - weekdays at 4, weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.; also reporter
  • Hena Daniels - weeknights at 5 p.m.; also reporter
  • Katie Brace - weekend anchor; also reporter
Storm Tracker Weather Team
  • Markina Brown (AMS member; NWA member) - Chief meteorologist; weekdays at 4, weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.
  • Cris Martinez (Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM)) - Severe weather meteorologist;weeknights at 5
  • Jennifer Valdez (NWA member) - meteorologist; weekday mornings Better Mornings Atlanta (5:00-7 a.m.)and (9:00-10:00 a.m.), also traffic reporter
  • Justin Lock (AMS Seal of Approval) - meteorologist; Saturdays at 6, Sundays at 6:30 and weekends at 11 p.m.

The station currently has no sports department, though one did exist in the past.


Former on-air staff

  • John Doyle, weathercaster (1997–2005, retired from broadcasting; currently doing voice-overs, working part-time as bailiff at the Gwinnett County Courthouse)
  • Tony Harris, 5:00, 6:00, and 11:00 anchor (2003–2004, now co-anchor of CNN Newsroom)
  • Dagmar Midcap, evening weather anchor/reporter (2007–2010)
  • Toni Neal, Traffic Reporter (2004)
  • Chau Nguyen, general assignment reporter (?–2003, last seen at KHOU-TV Houston, and believed to no longer be in the TV business)
  • Jane Robelot, 5:00, 6:00, and 11:00 anchor (1999–2003, now a reporter and substitute anchor at WYFF-TV)
  • Lesley Tanner - general assignment reporter; also photographer

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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