WDAM-TV is the NBC and ABC affiliated television station for Southeastern Mississippi's Pine Belt that is licensed to Laurel. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 7 from a transmitter at its studios on U.S. 11 in unincorporated Moselle in southern Jones. Owned by Raycom Media, the station can also be seen on Comcast channel 4 and in high definition on digital channel 432. Syndicated programming on WDAM includes The Meredith Vieira Show, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, Inside Edition, and Judge Judy among others.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP short name||Programming|
|7.1||1080i||16:9||WDAM-DT||Main WDAM-TV programming / NBC|
|7.2||480i||4:3||Tube||WDAM-DT2 / ABC|
WDAM-TV, named for the initials of the original owner David A. Madison, signed-on June 8, 1956 airing an analog signal on VHF channel 9. At that time is carried both NBC and ABC. During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network. In September 1959, then licensed by South Mississippi Broadcasting, Inc., it moved from channel 9 to channel 7 to allow WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to move from UHF channel 28 to VHF channel 9 and to protect Tupelo's WTWV (now WTVA) that also broadcast on channel 9. After moving to 7, the station was designated as serving the Laurel-Hattiesburg area. In 1962, WDAM dropped its secondary ABC affiliation to become a sole NBC affiliate. In 1967 the license holding changed its name to Service Broadcasters, Inc. In 1978, Beam Communications purchased the stations from Service Broadcasters. who later changed their name to Beacon Communications in 1989 (the company also owned KYEL-TV (now KSWT) in Yuma, Arizona/El Centro, California). Beacon sold the station to Federal Broadcasting in 1990, The station was acquired by current owner Raycom Media in 1997. However, Raycom owned CBS affiliate WHLT at the time and had to sell it to Media General in order to comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) duopoly rules. In 2008, the station added a new position, web manager, and updated its website to conform to modern standards. That same year, the station launched "wdamtogo.com", a site designed for internet-capable mobile devices. In 2010, the station launched news and weather smart phone applications along with a photo and video sharing service called Send It to Seven. In 2011, the station launched a secondary set of websites for each community of over 20,000 people in the station's viewing area called WDAM Neighborhoods; those sites were retired in early 2014. In early 2012, WDAM launched tablet applications.
Over the years, WDAM has been home to personnel who achieved fame either locally or nationally. Bobby Smith worked at the station since a week after it signed-on until 2011. Weathercaster Jim Gibbon was a staple of WDAM's weekday morning and noon shows for 43 years until his retirement in March 2007. He died nearly two months later on April 25. Sports Director Mitchell Williams retired in 2011 after 27 years at the station. In January 2012, William "Dubbie" White retired after 45 years with the station. Jim Cameron retired in 2013 after 22 years as general manager. Randy Swan, formerly news director for 24 years, and news anchor was with the station for over three decades leaving for only a brief period when he served in the same position with WABG-TV in the Greenwood/Greenville, Mississippi market. Swan's father, Jimmy Swan, was a well known radio personality and country/bluegrass singer/bandleader during the late-1950s and 1960s who also ran for Governor of Mississippi. Randy Swan retired in 2015 and his last day on air was February 27, 2015. Miranda Beard was with the station nearly three decades. Her last day on air was February 25, 2016. Current Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts was a sports anchor at WDAM in the early-1980s.
In 2001, WDAM signed-on its digital signal on UHF channel 28. By federal mandate on June 12, 2009, the analog transmitter of WDAM was shut down and the station began broadcasting exclusively in digital. With the digital television transition, the station added two new channels to its lineup on 7.2 and 7.3. On January 28, 2010, WDAM moved from UHF channel 28 to the pre-digital allotment on VHF channel 7. An early field test showed a dramatically improved signal in areas that were lost after the original digital transition.
On July 28, 2012, the station added ABC programming on its DT2 subchannel while retaining NBC programming on its main subchannel, and also added the Bounce Network on 7.3. Comcast subsequently replaced WDAM's sister station WLOX, who had previously served as the default ABC affiliate for the Hattiesburg market, with WDAM-DT2 on cable channel 2.
|News 7 Sunrise||M-F||7.1,7.2|
|WDAM Seven News At Five||M-F||7.1,7.2|
|WDAM Seven News At Six||M-Sun||7.1|
|WDAM Seven News At Six-Thirty||M-F||7.2|
|WDAM Seven News At Ten||M-Sun.||7.1,7.2|
Since WDAM is the only local television station to offer the most newscasts, it has traditionally been a ratings powerhouse. As a semi-satellite of Jackson's WJTV, rival CBS affiliate WHLT provides local coverage. WHLT airs a 30-minute local newscast weeknights at 10pm. In addition, the only other newscast simulcasted on WHLT is WJTV's weekday morning show. Through its former status as the default ABC affiliate for the Pine Belt, sister station WLOX in Biloxi shares resources with WDAM.
With the addition of ABC network programming on WDAM-DT2, simulcasts of some local newscasts from the main channel are included on its schedule. More specifically, WDAM's half-hour early afternoon newscast at noon and weeknight 6 p.m. newscast are not seen on the second subchannel. There is also a newscast airing weeknights at 6:30 that in seen exclusively on WDAM-DT2.
On September 10, 2012, WDAM became the first television station in the Pine Belt to broadcasts its newscasts in high definition. This included a new set and weather center, along with HD versions of its graphics.