18 Facts About WBAL-TV


WBAL-TV is a television station in Baltimore, Maryland, United States, affiliated with NBC.

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WBAL-TV began operations on March 11,1948, from its original studios on North Charles Street in Downtown Baltimore.

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WBAL-TV is one of two Hearst-owned broadcast properties to have been built and signed on by the company, and the oldest to be continuously owned by Hearst through its various television subsidiaries through the years.

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At its launch, WBAL-TV was an NBC affiliate, owing to its radio sister's long affiliation with the NBC Red Network.

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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.

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WBAL-TV has boasted many television firsts, including becoming the first Baltimore television station to broadcast in color, the first station in Maryland to acquire a videocassette machine ; the first station in Baltimore to acquire a mobile satellite news-gathering system and the first Baltimore station to hire an African-American news anchor and a Black news director.

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WBAL-TV had been invited to switch to ABC in 1977, but opted to remain with NBC out of concerns about the poor ratings for ABC's then-recently revamped evening newscasts.

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WBAL-TV is one of the few NBC affiliates that does not air the fourth hour of Today.

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In 1970, when the then-Baltimore Colts moved to the newly-formed and realigned American Football Conference as part of the AFL–NFL merger of professional football of 1970, WBAL-TV displaced WMAR-TV as the station of record for the team.

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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.

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In recent years, WBAL-TV's newscasts placed first at 5,6 and 11 pm However, in the November 2009 Nielsen ratings sweeps period—the first since the debut of The Jay Leno Show—WBAL's 11 pm newscast fell precipitously from first to a distant second behind WJZ.

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WBAL-TV brought in talented anchors like Sue Simmons and Spencer Christian but replaced long-time local news anchor Rolf Hertsgaard with controversial out-of-towner Don Harrison and streamlined the news operation.

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WBAL-TV lent then-meteorologist Sandra Shaw to Hearst sister station WDSU-TV in New Orleans on September 1,2008, to assist with the Louisiana station's coverage of Hurricane Gustav.

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On January 3,2009, WBAL-TV became the second station in Baltimore to begin broadcasting its local news programming in high definition.

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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.

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WBAL-TV chose to test its equipment before making a commitment.

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Outside of the Baltimore market, WBAL-TV can be seen on Maryland's Eastern Shore from Dorchester County to Worcester County, and Sussex County, Delaware.

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In Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, WBAL-TV can be seen in Frederick, Clarke and Warren counties along with the independent city of Winchester.

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