WMAZ-TV, virtual and VHF channel 13, is a CBS-affiliated television station located in Macon, Georgia, United States. The station is owned by Tegna, Inc., after the Gannett Company split into two companies. WMAZ-TV maintains studio facilities located on Gray Highway on the northeast side of Macon, and its transmitter is located on GA 87/U.S. 23/U.S. 129 Alternate (Golden Isles Highway) along the Twiggs-Bibb County line.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|13.1||1080i||16:9||WMAZ-TV||Main WMAZ programming / CBS|
|13.2||720p||WMAZTV2||Central Georgia's CW / The CW Plus|
The station first signed on the air on September 27, 1953. It was the second station to start TV broadcasting in Macon. WNEX, Channel 47 began operation in August 25, 1953 and operated until 1955. WMAZ was originally owned by Southeastern Broadcasting Company, owners of WMAZ radio (940 AM, now WMAC; and 99.1 FM, frequency now occupied by WDEN). WMAZ-TV is the fourth-oldest television station in the state of Georgia and the oldest located outside of Atlanta, beating WDAK-TV (now WTVM) in Columbus to the air by only one day. The Federal Communications Commission awarded Southeastern Broadcasting a license to operate a television station on its second try; it had previously made an unsuccessful bid for the VHF channel 7 allocation one year earlier in 1952. The new station was one of the most powerful VHF stations in the country, providing at least secondary signal coverage from the southern Atlanta suburbs to the western suburbs of Savannah.
The station has been a primary CBS affiliate from its launch, owing to WMAZ-AM's longtime affiliation with the CBS Radio Network; however, WMAZ originally carried secondary affiliations with ABC, NBC and the DuMont Television Network. It lost DuMont in 1955, one year before the network ceased operations. Southeastern Broadcasting sold WMAZ-AM-FM-TV to Southern Broadcasting Corporation in 1963, earning a healthy return on its 1935 purchase of WMAZ-AM. Southern Broadcasting merged with the Greenville, South Carolina-based News-Piedmont Company to form Multimedia, Inc. in 1967.
WMAZ was the only commercial television station in the Macon market until September 1968, when WCWB-TV (channel 41, now WMGT-TV) signed on and took the NBC affiliation. The station continued to carry select ABC programs (notably the soap opera General Hospital in the afternoons and Saturday NCAA football coverage in the fall) until WGXA (channel 24, now a Fox affiliate) started operations in April 1982. In 1974, WMAZ-AM-FM-TV moved to a new studio facility on Gray Highway in Macon. Multimedia merged with the Gannett Company in 1995; as a result, WMAZ-TV became a sister station to Georgia's third-oldest television station, WXIA-TV in Atlanta. WMAZ remains the only VHF station allocated to the market, due partly to the fact that Macon is sandwiched between the much larger Atlanta market to the north, Columbus to the west, and the respective Augusta and Savannah markets to the east. Partly because of this, the station has dominated the ratings in central Georgia for most of its history.
The station's longtime slogan, "Straight from the Heart," dates back to 1983, when WMAZ debuted an image campaign based on Bryan Adams' song of the same name. Its NBC-affiliated sister station in Knoxville, Tennessee, WBIR-TV, also uses the slogan and image campaign.
On June 29, 2015, the Gannett Company split in two, with one side specializing in print media and the other side specializing in broadcast and digital media. WMAZ was retained by the latter company, named TEGNA.
WMAZ-TV presently broadcasts 26½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with four hours on weekdays and three hours each on Saturdays and Sundays); in addition, the station produces five hours of newscasts each week (with one hour each on weekdays) for WMAZ-DT2. Unlike most CBS affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone, WMAZ does not broadcast a local newscast in the 5:30 p.m. half-hour on weeknights, opting to air syndicated reruns of The Andy Griffith Show during that timeslot.
On November 4, 2011, WMAZ moved production of its newscasts to the set used by its legal advice program Law Call, with the normal red and black newsroom/control room backdrop. Three days later, on November 7, the station (via the Facebook page of then-morning anchor Stephanie Susskind) announced during its 5:00 p.m. newscast that it would be upgrading its news production to HD in the coming weeks. Ten days later, on November 17, 2011, WMAZ-TV became the second television station (after Warner Robins-based WRWR-LD (channel 38), which had debuted its newscasts on September 17, 2010 in the format) and the first full power station in the Macon market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. With the launch of WMAZ-DT2 on October 14, 2013, the station began producing a half-hour weekday morning newscast (airing at 7:00 a.m.) and a half-hour primetime newscast at 10:00 p.m. for the sub-channel.
Notable former on-air staff
- Vanessa Echols - reporter (1983–1987, now at WFTV in Orlando, Florida)
- Joel Godard - weather anchor (early 1970s; later worked as an announcer, notable for working on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade)
- Phil Keating - reporter (1990; now at Fox News Channel)
- Scott McGrew (1991–1993, now at KNTV in San Jose, California)
- Maureen O'Boyle - morning anchor/reporter (1982–1987; later anchor of the syndicated newsmagazines A Current Affair and Extra; now evening anchor at WBTV in Charlotte)