call_letters = WAKA
station_slogan = Coverage You Can Count On
station_branding = CBS 8 News
analog = 8 (VHF)
digital = 42 (UHF)
digital_temporary = 55 (UHF)
March 17, 1960
location = Selma /
former_callsigns = WSLA (1960-1984)
owner = Bahakel Communications, Ltd.
licensee = Alabama Broadcasting Partners
former_affiliations = ABC/
effective_radiated_power = 316 kW (analog)
1000 kW (digital)
HAAT = 515 m (analog)
481 m (digital)
facility_id = 701
coordinates = coord|32|8|57.9|N|86|46|42.6|W|type:landmark_scale:2000
homepage = [http://www.waka.com/ www.waka.com]
WAKA is a
CBS-affiliated television stationbroadcasting 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 at Gordonsville in Lowndes County.
Channel 8 debuted on
March 17, 1960as WSLA ( acroynmfor 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. It 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 of the time. Interestingly, it might be argued that WSLA was almost always a "CBS" affiliate. Once it ended its brief stint as an independent and affiliated with ABC, it also established a secondary affiliation with CBS by carrying 1 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 facility, Montgomery's WSFA. It specified a convert|360|ft|m|sing=on tower just west of Selma, with only 3,000 watts of visual power--which would have only provided grade B coverage to Montgomery. Almost at once, Deep South applied to amend the permit, specifying full power and a much taller tower located just north of the Montgomery suburb of Prattville. However, the
FCCblocked this move due to a protest from 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 CBS would yank its affiliation if WSLA were permitted to expand its signal. 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 built the originally specified facility at Selma and signed it on in March 1960.
The station's facilities burned down in 1968. WCOV made a move to purchase the silent channel 8 facility from Deep South, and 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 facility (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 now own the facility).
Due to intense competition from the Montgomery stations, especially
WSFA, and the enormous amount of money Deep South had invested in the legal fight, WSLA was not rebuilt until 1972, when Charles Grishamof Huntsville, then owner of WHNTthere, purchased the station. The station was rebuilt in Selma and returned to the airwaves in 1973, this time 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 it. One of WSLA's applications to increase coverage (but out of direct fire from WCOV and WKAB) involved placing their tower in a position that would have allowed respectable coverage into Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, as well as Selma and Montgomery. This application, however, was challenged by UHF stations WCFT-TVin 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 frequency, 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 becoming more neutral in the protection of UHF facilities, channel 8 was issued a construction permit in 1984, which would give the station primary coverage of Montgomery.
The callsign changed to WAKA on
October 28, 1984 (unofficially said to stand for, in jest, "We Are Kicking Ass"). It was thought the calls WSLA would be confused with WSFA, the NBCaffiliate for Montgomery. Bahakel Communicationsbought WAKA from Grisham in 1985 and remains the owner today. That same year, in April, WAKA began broadcasting from its long-sought convert|1757|ft|m|sing=on tower, with 316,000 watts of power. WAKA now boasted the largest coverage area in the entire state of Alabama. The station moved its main operations to a new facility in Montgomery in 1986. CBS officially dropped its programming from WCOV, and WAKA became the sole CBS affiliate for Montgomery effective January 1, 1986. 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 operate its digital channel at the full power of 1 megawatt. 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 Andalusia. These expansions along with improved production values have helped WAKA make gains in the ratings against long-dominant WSFA.
Because of WAKA's original digital allocation of Channel 55, WAKA petitioned to th FCC to move their post-transition channel to 42 since any channel above 51 would not be allocated for digital television after 2/17/09. In order to get their post-transition channel up and running, WAKA must cease analog broadcasting on Channel 8 on November 28, 2008. At that time, the analog antenna and broadcasting equipment will be removed from their tower and replaced with digital equipment. Digital channel 42 is slated to sign on January 19, 2009 while digital channel 55 will sign off on the mandated date(2/17/09). WAKA should have a full-powered digital facility up and running on March 19, 2009.
CBS 8 News has 6 newscasts during the week, which are:
*CBS 8 This Morning (6am-7am)
*CBS 8 News At Noon (12pm-12:30pm)
*CBS 8 News At 5 (5pm-5:30pm)
*CBS 8 News At 6 (6pm-6:30pm)
*The CW "FIRST" News At 9 (9pm-9:30pm)- On WBMM
*CBS 8 News At 10 (10pm-10:35pm)
A total of 3 hours and 35 minutes daily
CBS 8 News has 2 newscasts on Saturdays and Sundays
*CBS 8 News Weekend(6pm-6:30pm & 10pm-10:30pm)- Saturdays(5:30pm-6pm & 10pm-10:30pm)- SundaysA total of 1 hour of newscasts for both days
Current News Personalities
*Jeff Sanders - CBS 8 News at Noon,5.
*Glenn Halbrooks - CBS 8 News at 6, 10 & CW "First" News at 9.
*Stefanie Hicks - CBS 8 News at 5, 6, 10 & CW "First" News at 9.
*Joy Lambert - CBS 8 News Weekend
*David Hagood - CBS 8 This Morning (Came back in June of 2008)
*Elise Burkart - CBS 8 South Alabama Newsroom
*George McDonald - CBS 8 West Alabama Newsroom
*Jerry Howell - CBS 8 This Morning & CBS 8 News at 5
CBS 8 First Alert Weather Network
*Ashley McDonald - Morning & Noon Meteorologist
*Chris Bailey - Weeknights, Meteorologist
*Matt Tanner - Weekend Meteorologist
The 8 Team:
*Dee Jackson - Weeknights,
*Stu McCann - Weekend Sports Anchor
*John Longshore - Sports Analyst
Former News Personalities:
*David Baxley (now Chief Meteorologist at
KSWO-TVin Lawton/Wichita Falls)
*Lauren Bethune (now with the Alabama Dept. of Homeland Security)
*Tiffany Bittner (now at
WBRC-TVin Birmingham, AL)
*Lisa Gurevitch (now with
*David Hagood (Left as a reporter in June 2007, back in June of 2008 as an anchor)
*Melissa Lee (now at
WBMAin Birmingham, AL)
*Jon Mangum (later of
WBMAin its Anniston bureau, deceased)
*Cynthia Milledge (now at
KNOE-TVin Monroe, LA)
*Amber Moody (now at
WHNT-TVin Huntsville, AL, as Amber Stuart)
*Dee Dee Railey
*Sean Temple (now with Cox Sports TV and CSS)
*Trish Williford (now at
KTBS-TVand KPXJin Shreveport, LA)
* [http://www.waka.com/ WAKA website]
* [http://www.waka.com/cbs8info.html?sid=13037 WAKA history]
* [http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/getattachment_exh.cgi?exhibit_id=619376/ FCC submission on digital TV transition plan]
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