This article is about the television station in Baltimore, Maryland. For the former WJZ-TV located in New York City, see WABC-TV.
Baltimore, Maryland
United States
Branding WJZ 13 (general)
WJZ Eyewitness News (newscasts)
Slogan Maryland's news station
Complete coverage
Channels Digital: 13 (VHF)
Virtual: 13 (PSIP)
Subchannels 13.1 CBS
13.2 Decades
Affiliations CBS (O&O) (1995–present)
Owner CBS Corporation
(CBS Television Licenses, LLC)
Founded May 1946 [1]
First air date November 2, 1948 (1948-11-02)
Call letters' meaning named after the former callsign of what is now WABC (AM), which stood for its original location in New Jersey
Sister station(s) WJZ, WJZ-FM, WLIF, WLZL, WWMX
Former callsigns WAAM (1948–1957)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
13 (VHF, 1948–2009)
38 (UHF, 1997–2009)
Former affiliations Primary:
ABC (1948–1995)
DuMont (1948–1955)
Transmitter power 33.8 kW
Height 295 m (968 ft)
Facility ID 25455
Transmitter coordinates 39°20′5″N 76°39′3″W / 39.33472°N 76.65083°W / 39.33472; -76.65083Coordinates: 39°20′5″N 76°39′3″W / 39.33472°N 76.65083°W / 39.33472; -76.65083
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
Website baltimore.cbslocal.com

WJZ-TV, channel 13, is a CBS owned-and-operated television station located in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. The station is owned by the CBS Television Stations subsidiary of CBS Corporation. WJZ-TV's studios and offices are located on Television Hill in the Woodberry section of Baltimore, adjacent to the transmission tower it shares with four other Baltimore television stations.


Early history

Baltimore's third television station started on November 2, 1948 as WAAM. The station's original owner was Radio-Television of Baltimore, Inc., which was operated by a pair of Baltimore businessmen, brothers Ben and Herman Cohen.[2] Channel 13 was originally an ABC affiliate, the network's fifth outlet to be located on the East Coast. Until 1956, it carried an additional primary affiliation with the DuMont Television Network. On the station's first day of operations, WAAM broadcast the 1948 presidential election returns and various entertainment shows, remaining on the air for 23 consecutive hours.[3] Channel 13 has been housed in the same studio, located on what is now known as Television Hill, since its inception; the building was the first in Baltimore specifically designed for television production and broadcasting. As a DuMont affiliate, WAAM originated many Baltimore Colts games for the network's National Football League coverage.[4][5]

The Westinghouse Electric Corporation purchased WAAM from the Cohen brothers in May 1957.[6] Westinghouse took control of the station in August of that year, and changed its callsign to WJZ-TV the following month.[7] The WJZ call letters had previously resided on ABC's flagship radio/television combination in New York City, which changed its calls to WABC-AM-FM-TV in 1953. However, Westinghouse's history with that set of call letters went back even further, as it was the original owner of WJZ radio, the flagship station of NBC's Blue Network, which would eventually become ABC.

All of Baltimore's television stations had fairly short transmitter towers in the medium's early years. But in 1959, the three stations banded together to build the world's first three-pronged candelabra tower.[8] Constructed behind the WJZ-TV studios, it was the tallest free standing television antenna in the United States at the time of its completion. The tower significantly improved channel 13's signal coverage in central Maryland, and also added new viewers in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware.[9]

The WJZ-TV studio and office facility, on Television Hill in Baltimore.

Later ABC years

Over the years, WJZ-TV frequently preempted ABC programming in favor of local shows and syndicated content from Westinghouse's broadcasting division, Group W (notably the former ABC daytime soap opera Dark Shadows, which WJZ-TV preempted during the mid-1960s). However, ABC was more than satisfied with channel 13, which was one of its strongest affiliates. Additionally, Baltimore viewers could watch ABC programs on Washington, D.C.'s WMAL-TV/WJLA-TV (channel 7), whose signal decently covers most of the Baltimore area.

From 1957 to 1964, one of the station's highest-rated programs was The Buddy Deane Show, an in-studio teen dance show similar to ABC's American Bandstand, which WJZ-TV also preempted in favor of the Deane program. Deane's program was the inspiration for the John Waters 1988 motion picture Hairspray and its subsequent Broadway musical version, which in turn has been made into a film.

WJZ-TV nearly lost its ABC affiliation in 1977, when the network briefly pursued WBAL-TV (channel 11) just as ABC became the most-watched broadcast network (in primetime) in the United States for the first time. However, WBAL-TV declined the ABC affiliation offer due to ABC's last-place network evening newscast offerings of the time, keeping ABC on channel 13.[10][11]

Switch to CBS

In 1994, ABC agreed to an affiliation deal with the broadcasting division of the E. W. Scripps Company, which resulted in three of Scripps' television stations becoming ABC affiliates. ABC agreed to the deal as a condition of keeping its affiliation on Scripps' two biggest stations, WXYZ-TV in Detroit and WEWS in Cleveland. Both stations had been heavily courted by CBS, which was about to lose its longtime Detroit and Cleveland affiliates to Fox. One of the stations that was tapped to switch was Baltimore's then-NBC affiliate, WMAR-TV (channel 2). ABC was reluctant to include WMAR in the deal; it had been a ratings also-ran for over 30 years while WJZ-TV was one of the strongest ABC affiliates in the nation. However, not wanting to be relegated to UHF in two markets with few viable choices for a new affiliate, ABC opted to end its 47-year affiliation with channel 13 and move its affiliation to channel 2.[12]

Group W felt betrayed by ABC after so many years of loyalty, as channel 13 had been ABC's longest-tenured affiliate at the time (a distinction that now belongs to WJLA-TV). As a safeguard, it began to shop for an affiliation deal of its own. Eventually, Westinghouse agreed to a long-term affiliation contract with CBS, resulting in WJZ-TV and its sister stations in Philadelphia and Boston switched to CBS (Westinghouse's two other television stations, in Pittsburgh and San Francisco, were already CBS affiliates).[13] The affiliation switch, the second in Baltimore television history, occurred early on the morning of January 2, 1995.[14] As a result, channel 13 became the third station in Baltimore to affiliate with CBS. The network had originally affiliated with WMAR-TV in 1948 before moving to WBAL-TV in 1981. Westinghouse then bought CBS on November 24, 1995, making WJZ-TV a CBS owned-and-operated station. Notably, this marked the first time that CBS had wholly owned a station in the Baltimore/Washington corridor; it had been minority owner of WTOP-TV in Washington (now WUSA) from 1950 to 1955.

Since 1998, the station has been the default home station for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, airing both of the team's Super Bowl victories in 2001 and 2013.

WJZ-TV has used its current stylized "13" logo, using a font face exclusive to Group W, since 1967. The only real change came in May 1997, when it added the CBS Eye to its logo. WJZ currently does not brand under the "CBS Mandate" (which would have required WJZ to call itself "CBS 13"), preferring to use its call letters.

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[15]
13.1 1080i 16:9 WJZ-DT Main WJZ-TV programming / CBS / ACC Network
13.2 480i DECADES Decades [16]

Analog-to-digital conversion

WJZ-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 13, 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. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 38 to VHF channel 13 for post-transition operations.[17][18][19] WMAR-TV took over the channel 38 allocation as it moved its digital signal from channel 52 as a result of the phaseout of channels 52-69.

The switch caused problems for some viewers due to reception issues related to the transition, but the Federal Communications Commission granted WJZ-TV a power increase that helps some people.[20]

On October 21, 2014, CBS and Weigel Broadcasting announced the launch of a new digital subchannel service called Decades, scheduled to launch on all CBS-owned stations in 2015, including on WJZ-TV on channel 13.2. The channel will be co-owned by CBS and Weigel (owner of CBS affiliate WDJT-TV in Milwaukee), with Weigel being responsible for distribution to non-CBS-owned stations. It will air programs from the extensive library of CBS Television Distribution, including archival footage from CBS News.[21]

Out-of-market coverage

In Delaware, WJZ is carried on Comcast in Sussex County. There is no coverage in most of Kent County except in the area of Chesapeake City for Atlantic Broadband cable subscribers. There is no coverage in all of New Castle County. New Castle and Kent counties are part of the Philadelphia market, which also carries WJZ's sister station KYW-TV. Only Sussex County is part of the Salisbury, Maryland market which carries its CBS affiliate, WBOC. In the beginning of CATV, almost if not all of Delaware once carried WJZ.[22]

In Maryland, the eastern shore communities of Cambridge, East New Market/Secretary, Pocomoke City, Ocean City, Salisbury and Snow Hill carry WJZ. These areas are in the Salisbury market which WBOC is carried. From Hagerstown and west towards Cumberland, WJZ is carried there as well in the far northwestern part of the Washington, D.C. market. Between Hagerstown and Cumberland, the towns of Hancock, Ellicott City and Oldtown do not carry WJZ.

In Pennsylvania, it is carried in Greencastle, Delta, Hanover, Rising Sun, Waynesboro and York County (but not in the city of York) which are in the Harrisburg-Lancaster-York market. In the Philadelphia market, it is carried in Oxford in Chester County.

WJZ is carried on cable in portions of Virginia located in the far western end of the Washington, D.C. market, alongside Washington's CBS affiliate WUSA. It is carried on cable in the Shenandoah Valley in Elkton, Front Royal, Luray and Winchester. In West Virginia, it is carried in the Martinsburg area; it is part of the Washington, D.C. market, which carries WUSA as well. In Keyser, Mineral County, WJZ is carried on cable.

During the 1970s and possibly the 1980s with CATV, WJZ was once on the cable lineups in Salem and Cumberland counties in southwestern New Jersey.[22]

WJZ's former analog signal could be picked up via antenna as far west as Warrenton and Culpeper, Virginia and as far east as Salem County, New Jersey. There is no satellite coverage outside of the Baltimore market for WJZ.


WJZ-TV is the Baltimore area affiliate of the It's Academic high school quiz competition. Channel 13 has also served two stints as the television home of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team, from 1954 to 1978 and since 1994. It is one of the few "Big Three" stations that airs baseball on a regular basis.

Since becoming a CBS affiliate, WJZ-TV has carried the network's lineup in pattern with virtually no pre-emptions except for breaking news emergencies and Orioles Baseball games, as per an agreement between Group W and CBS. One of the few significant exceptions is that the CBS Evening News is broadcast a half-hour later (at 7 p.m.) than most CBS stations in the Eastern United States, due to an hour-long weeknight 6 p.m. newscast. The weekend editions are shown normally at 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays and 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Syndicated programming carried on the station includes Maury, Dr. Phil and Entertainment Tonight. The former is the only CBS O&O station in the nation to carry it. The last two are distributed by CBS' corporate cousin.

News operation

WJZ anchors Don Scott and Jessica Kartalija preparing for a live-shot during the funeral of former Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer, April 28, 2011.

WJZ-TV presently broadcasts 32½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 5½ hours on weekdays, three hours on Saturdays and two hours on Sundays). Like other CBS-owned stations, channel 13 offers a web-only newscast, "WJZ At Your Desk", which is produced each weekday.

Soon after Westinghouse bought WJZ-TV, it significantly beefed up the station's news department. On October 12, 1957, WJZ-TV camerman John Kelly filmed a motion picture of the final stage of Sputnik 1's rocket crossing the pre-dawn sky of Baltimore, featured in a half-hour special program on Sputnik, broadcast that evening by Westinghouse sister station WBZ-TV in Boston.[23] Within a few years, it passed WMAR-TV for second place. Like the other Group W stations, WJZ-TV adopted the Eyewitness News format pioneered at Philadelphia sister station KYW-TV. By the early 1970s, WJZ-TV had passed WBAL-TV for first place – a lead it held for over 30 years. Around 2001, however, WBAL-TV passed WJZ-TV for first place in all evening timeslots, though WJZ-TV still placed a strong second. However, in the official November 2009 Nielsen ratings sweeps period, the first since the debut of The Jay Leno Show (which aired on WBAL-TV), WJZ-TV returned to a dominant position at 11 p.m. for the first time since the early 2000s. Both stations spent the next two years in a virtual dead heat in the late news. However, since the November 2011 Nielsen sweeps period, WJZ has dominated over WBAL in all news time slots in both total households and the critical 25-54 demographic; however, WBAL remains a strong second. It has been one of CBS's strongest O&Os ever since the 1995 affiliation switch.

WJZ-TV was the first station in Baltimore to hire a full-time consumer reporter, as well as the first station to organize an investigative reporting team. In 1965, shortly after it adopted the Eyewitness News format, Wiley Daniels became the first African-American anchor in Baltimore. He worked alongside Jerry Turner, one of the most popular anchormen in Baltimore television history. Al Sanders succeeded Daniels in 1977; he and Turner were the top news team until Turner succumbed to esophageal cancer. Denise Koch succeeded Turner upon his death in 1987; she remains at the anchor desk alongside Vic Carter, who succeeded Sanders following the latter's death in 1995.

In 1976, Oprah Winfrey became an anchor for the station's 6:00 p.m. newscast. She also co-hosted channel 13's local talk show, People Are Talking with Richard Sher, which premiered on August 14, 1978, and ran until she left for Chicago in 1983. The segment continues to run on the morning newscasts.

Since 1987, WJZ-TV's news theme has been "Chroma Cues" by Music Oasis, which was specifically written for the station. WJZ's on-air appearance has remained autonomous from other CBS owned-and-operated stations, and the station has not adopted the standardized graphics and Enforcer theme music used by its sister stations.

Since September 2008, The Baltimore Sun has had a news partnership with WJZ-TV; involving sharing content, story leads, and cooperating together on stories. Channel 13 promotes stories featured in the Sun on its news broadcasts. The Sun promotes WJZ's stories and weather team on its pages. Coincidentally, The Baltimore Sun was the founder and original owner of WMAR-TV from 1947 to 1986.

On October 25, 2009, WJZ-TV became the third Baltimore station to begin airing newscasts in high definition. For several months after the upgrade, field reports were still presented in 4:3 standard definition until it switched over to the 16:9 widescreen format. As of September 2011, all of WJZ-TV's locally produced video footage, including remote field reports, are in HD, making it the first station in Baltimore to do so.

Current on-air staff

Notable former on-air staff


  1. "Television stations granted to three." Broadcasting - Telecasting, May 27, 1946, pg. 90.
  2. "Baltimore's WAAM(TV) opens as DuMont affiliate." Broadcasting - Telecasting, November 8, 1948, pg. 27.
  3. "WAAM's big day; new TV outlet was on air 23 hours Nov. 2-3." Broadcasting - Telecasting, November 15, 1948, pg. 98.
  4. http://www.dumonthistory.tv/3.html
  5. http://www.dumonthistory.tv/a9.html
  6. "WBC'S WAAM (TV) buy: $4.4 million." Broadcasting, May 13, 1957, pg. 112.
  7. "WAAM (TV) becomes WJZ-TV as FCC waives call rule." Broadcasting, August 5, 1957, pg. 92.
  8. "Candelabra." Broadcasting, August 10, 1959, pg. 60
  9. "In brief." Broadcasting, March 21, 1977, pg. 30
  10. "In brief." Broadcasting, March 28, 1977, pg. 34
  11. Foisie, Geoffrey (June 20, 1994). "ABC pre-empts CBS in Cleveland, Detroit." (PDF). Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
  12. Zier, Julie A. (July 18, 1994). "CBS, Group W form historic alliance" (PDF). Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved March 16, 2013.
  13. Zurawik, David (1 January 1995). "Get ready, get set, get confused, in TV's big switch in Baltimore Changing Channels". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  14. RabbitEars TV Query for WJZ
  16. "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
  17. CDBS Print
  18. http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/getattachment_exh.cgi?exhibit_id=616897
  19. Dickson, Glen (2009-06-22). "WPVI Gets Power Boost From FCC". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-06-25.
  20. CBS Stations, Weigel Partner on Oldies Digi-Net Decades Broadcasting & Cable (10/21/2014)
  21. 1 2 http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/coals7/forms/search/cableSearchNf.cfm
  22. Molczan, T. (June 30, 2013). "Motion Picture of Sputnik 1 Rocket from Baltimore on October 12, 1957". satobs.org. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  23. Esiason
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