WALB is the NBC-affiliated television station for Southwestern Georgia that is licensed to Albany. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 10 from a transmitter (east of Doerun) along the Colquitt and Worth County line. Owned by Raycom Media, WALB has studios on Stuart Avenue in Albany.
The station signed on the air on April 7, 1954 as WALB-TV and was sister to WALB-AM 1590 as well as The Albany Herald. When the radio station's studios were built back in 1953, Stuart Avenue was a dirt road running through a pecan grove. For its first three years on-air, WALB-TV transmitted an analog signal on VHF channel 10 from a tower at its studios. As the first television outlet in Albany, it was a primary NBC affiliate with secondary relations with ABC and DuMont.
The latter network was dropped in 1955 when it shut down and ABC remained on WALB until 1980 when WVGA (now WSWG) started up in Valdosta. The station's first tower near Doerun was built in 1957. The radio station was sold in 1960 to Allen Woodall, Sr. and became known as WALG to distinguish itself from the television station. In March 1976, a fire destroyed WALB's main broadcasting facilities but did not damage its offices.
Until 1983, it was the default NBC affiliate for Tallahassee, Florida. Although WTWC-TV has been that area's affiliate since then, WALB still provides city-grade coverage to almost all of the Georgia side of the Tallahassee market and Grade B coverage to the city itself. WALB dropped the -TV suffix to its call sign in 1993. As a result of flash flooding caused by Tropical Storm Alberto, WALB stayed on-the-air with non-stop 24-hour coverage to alert citizens and provide a vital link between the public and government agencies.
The station operated as the flagship of Gray Communications Corporation (now Gray Television) until Cosmos Broadcasting bought the station in 1998. That company later became known as Liberty Broadcasting Corporation. Although Gray no longer operates WALB, the company currently maintains Albany administrative offices (located in the Albany Herald building) and operates WSWG in Valdosta that serves Albany. WALB's original digital signal on UHF channel 17 started operating from the Doerun tower in 2001.
WALB launched NBC Weather Plus in 2005 on a new second digital subchannel. Known as "WALB 24/7 Weather", the service gave continuous forecasts for up to thirty cities around Southwestern Georgia. After NBC Weather Plus shut down in December 2008, WALB-DT2 became part of This TV. In March 2006, the station was sold to Raycom Media after that company merged with Liberty. It violated Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules regarding station ownership because Raycom already owned Fox affiliate WFXL. As a result, the company announced the sale of that station and eleven others to Barrington Broadcasting.
On June 1, 2006, a MH-47 Chinook military chopper traveling from Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia to Fort Rucker in Alabama for a training mission hit a guy wire connected to WFXL's 1,000-foot-tall (300 m) tower resulting in a crash. While the tower remained standing and intact (other than the guy wire), the station was forced to temporarily cease its over-the-air signal although broadcasts on cable were not affected. If its tower collapsed, this could have also caused the tower of WALB to topple as both were only 150 feet (45 m) apart.As a result, Raycom (which at that time still operated WFXL while the sale to Barrington awaited FCC approval) acquired auxiliary transmitters and antennas for both WALB and WFXL which were installed at the tower at WALB's studios in Albany.
On June 7, WFXL's tower was demolished but in doing so one of the tower's guy wires wrapped around one for WALB's tower as feared. As a result, this channel's tower collapsed in an incident shown on live television. Since both stations were already transmitting signals from the tower at the WALB studios, the two were still on-the-air although at low-power. Thirteen months later, the new WALB and WFXL state of the art mega-tower in Doerun was completed and began broadcasting on July 3 at 11:35 p.m.
WALB shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 10, 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 17 to VHF channel 10 for post-transition operations.
It was announced on November 19, 2010 that WALB would begin airing ABC on its second digital subchannel scheduled to begin in early 2011.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|10.1||1080i||16:9||WALB-DT||Main WALB programming / NBC|
|10.2||720p||WALB AB||WALB ABC|
Along with WFXL, WALB is one of two stations in Albany (but the only big three affiliate) to produce local news that actually focus on the city. Despite WSWG technically being the market's CBS affiliate, it serves as a semi-satellite of WCTV in Tallahassee and simulcasts most newscasts from the Florida-based station with no Southwestern Georgia-specific segments.
On WSWG, there is no news coverage of Albany itself provided by WCTV as there is more of a focus on events in Thomasville and especially Valdosta and Moultrie. WALB supplies secondary coverage of those areas by operating news bureaus on North Broad Street (in Thomasville) and on North Patterson Street/SR 31 (in Valdosta).
In 2004, WALB gave its news operation a complete makeover renaming itself from NewsCenter 10 to WALB News 10. It also changed its logo as part of a graphics change. However, it kept the "little one, big zero" 10 which has been part of the logo since the late-1970s at the earliest. This is similar to sister station WIS in Columbia, South Carolina. The station also changed its music from a theme composed by Collier Concepts to "The Tower" composed by 615 Music used by many other NBC affiliates. Continuing its modernization, WALB built a new set in 2005 replacing the previous one used for at least twelve years.
Its weekday morning show, Today in Georgia, was expanded to a full two hours (from 5 until 7 a.m.) beginning September 10, 2007 coinciding with the expansion of Today to a four-hour program. On August 4, 2012, WALB upgraded local news production to high definition level. The change made it the second station in the market to perform the upgrade (WSWG's simulcast of WCTV's news programs was first back on August 3, 2009).
With the addition of ABC to WALB-DT2, there are simulcasts of local newscasts from the main NBC channel. More specifically, this includes the second hour of Today in Georgia, its midday show at noon, as well as weeknight newscasts at 6 and 11. In addition, the area's first prime time broadcast at 7 was added on weeknights that is exclusive to the ABC subchannel. Weekend newscasts are simulcasted on both of WALB's NBC and ABC channels although there can be a delay or pre-emption on one due to network obligations.