WXIA-TV virtual channel 11 (VHF digital channel 10) is an NBC-affiliated television station located in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. The station is owned by Tegna, Inc, as part of a duopoly with MyNetworkTV affiliate WATL (channel 36). The two stations has shared studio facilities and offices located at One Monroe Place on the north end of midtown Atlanta; WXIA's transmitter located in the city's east section, near Kirkwood.
On cable, the station is also available on Comcast channel 6 and in high definition on digital channel 806. WXIA-TV is popularly known within the Atlanta metropolitan area by its longtime on-air brand, "11 Alive", which the station has used since 1976.
The station signed on the air on September 30, 1951 as WLTV, an ABC affiliate on VHF channel 8 (the second Atlanta station on this channel after WSB-TV moved to channel 2 a year before), and was originally owned by a group of Atlanta businessmen. In 1953, the station was bought by Cincinnati-based Crosley Broadcasting Corporation, who changed its call letters to WLWA (often rendered as "WLW-A"). This aligned their Atlanta property with Crosley's other television stations, who took their call letters from its flagship radio station, WLW. Crosley then moved the station's over-the-air frequency to channel 11 in order to alleviate signal interference with WROM-TV (channel 9) in nearby Rome (which later moved north to Chattanooga, Tennessee as WTVC), with channel 8 being reallocated for non-commercial educational use by the Federal Communications Commission in May 1960 (WGTV was started by the University of Georgia on channel 8 in 1960).
In 1962, WLWA was purchased by Indianapolis businessman Richard Fairbanks as part of a settlement between Crosley and Fairbanks. Crosley had started WLWI (now WTHR) in Indianapolis in 1957, but Fairbanks insisted that the last VHF allocation in Indianapolis should go to a local owner. Eventually, the two companies agreed to what amounted to a trade, in which Crosley kept WLWI while Fairbanks bought WLWA. The Atlanta station's callsign then became WAII-TV, using the slogan "The Eyes of Atlanta" and the calls standing for "Atlanta's 11" (II). The station was sold to Pacific & Southern Broadcasting in 1968 and became known as WQXI-TV, aligning it with WQXI (AM) and FM (the calls originally used on channel 36, currently WATL, from 1954 to 1955). Pacific & Southern later merged with Combined Communications. The station assumed the WXIA-TV call letters on December 25, 1973.
In September 1976, WXIA first adopted "11 Alive" as its on-air branding, as part of Combined's practice of using the word "Alive" as part of the brand of most of their stations (two stations not owned by Combined also adopted the "11 Alive" branding that same year, then-independent station WPIX (now a CW affiliate) in New York City – which used the brand until 1986, and NBC affiliate WIIC in Pittsburgh, now WPXI – which used it until 1979). In 1979, Combined merged with the Gannett Company in what became the largest media merger in history up to that time. Following the acquisition, most of the former Combined stations stopped using the "Alive" brand, though WXIA continued to call itself "11 Alive".
On September 1, 1980, WXIA swapped affiliations with WSB-TV and became an NBC affiliate. This could be traced to ratings: NBC slid to a very poor third place; meanwhile, ABC was in first place for most of the late 1970s and was seeking out affiliates with higher viewership in many markets, including Atlanta. ABC thus jumped at the chance to affiliate with longtime market leader WSB-TV. During the summer of 1980, the two stations conducted an experiment unusual for a large market: WXIA aired NBC daytime shows in the morning and ABC daytime shows in the afternoon, while WSB aired ABC shows in the morning and NBC shows in the afternoons. When the experiment was over, on that same day, both stations swapped affiliations full-time. In August 1994, Gannett dropped the "11 Alive" moniker as part of the introduction of new on-air graphics for its newscasts and promos; however, the brand was so well established in Atlanta that viewer outcry forced Gannett to restore it after only a month; even so, the "11 Alive" brand was not fully restored until 1996, when the 11 Alive News title was restored for its newscasts (which were retitled 11 News with the removal of the "11 Alive" brand).
On June 5, 2006, Gannett entered into an agreement to purchase WATL from the Tribune Company for $180 million, creating Atlanta's first television duopoly; the sale was finalized on August 7, 2006. WATL occasionally airs NBC programs when WXIA is not able due to extended breaking news and severe weather coverage, or special programming. As a result of the WATL acquisition, WXIA management decided to house the combined operation at WATL's facility at One Monroe Place, leaving WXIA's longtime studios at 1611 West Peachtree Street; WXIA and WATL began broadcasting from the new studios on July 27, 2008.
Around the first week of October 2012, Gannett entered a dispute against Dish Network regarding compensation fees and Dish's AutoHop commercial-skip feature on its Hopper digital video recorders. Gannett ordered that Dish discontinue AutoHop on the account that it is affecting advertising revenues for WXIA and WATL. Gannett threatened to pull both stations should the skirmish continue beyond October 7 and Dish and Gannett fail to reach an agreement. The two parties eventually reached an agreement after extending the deadline for a few hours.
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. WXIA and WATL were retained by the latter company, named TEGNA.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|11.1||1080i||16:9||WXIA-TV||Main WXIA-TV programming / NBC|
|11.2||480i||WXIA-WX||Weather Information Zone (WIZ)|
The NBC Weather Plus service was discontinued on December 1, 2008; however some stations, including WXIA, continued to air national and local radar with Weather Plus branding, supplied by The Weather Channel through the end of December. In January, WXIA rebranded the channel "11Alive Weather" and kept the "L-Bar" with weather information from The Weather Channel, but shifted the remainder of the content to a local radar loop, and eliminated the background music that aired with it. It was later rebranded as the "11Alive Weather Information Zone" or "WIZ" in 2010, along with the weather segments during newscasts on the main channel. This service was also carried on digital cable in the Atlanta area through Charter Communications and Comcast.
In early December 2010, the WIZ was moved to WATL, and aired on channel 36.2, while 11.2 continued to air a static message graphic directing over-the-air viewers to tune there and re-scan if necessary. One month later, on January 10, the channel was removed completely from WXIA, and 11.3 became 11.2, before being reversed the following day. In 2011, Atlanta-based Bounce TV launched on September 26 with WATL 36.2 as its de facto flagship affiliate, with the WIZ channel being restored two weeks later on 36.3. In early October, 11.2 again became Universal Sports and 11.3 was deleted, and was reversed again a week later, with WIZ bounced back to its original channel 11.2. In November 2011, 11.3 was deleted leaving 36.3 as the sole channel for Universal Sports until it became a cable channel in 2012. Eventually, WIZ was converted from being presented using internal station weather computers to presentation and programming from The Local AccuWeather Channel. But an agreement with WAGA-TV and AccuWeather, it has made WXIA switch its programming and presentation to WeatherNation TV.
The station added Universal Sports at the beginning of May 2009 on channel 11.3, added it to 36.3 in October 2011, and then deleted it from 11.3 in November 2011. However, it used severe video data compression, which left very obvious blurriness and pixelation during high-motion scenes common in sports. This low-bitrate sacrifice protects the quality of the main HD channel, and is unavoidable because Universal Sports transmits its programming via satellite in this highly compressed form (4.48Mbit/s). It was therefore not originally transmitted on sister station WATL (virtual channel 36.3, digital channel 25) because it would look the same there, and that station's bandwidth is being used for mobile television (ATSC-M/H), including WXIA's mobile channels. Additionally, mobile communications work better on higher UHF TV channels than on low VHF ones.
WXIA-TV originally had the only VHF allotment for digital television in the area, until WGTV (channel 8) was moved from UHF 22 to VHF 12 (now 8). The station shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 11, on June 12, 2009, at 12:30 p.m., singer Miley Cyrus would hold in Atlanta on November 13, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition VHF channel 10, using PSIP to display WXIA-TV's virtual channel as 11 on digital television receivers.
The station previously aired a program called Noonday for many years, beginning with the news at noon and at 12:30 continuing on for the rest of the hour with features, akin somewhat to the Today show. This program was cancelled in 1997, but the half-hour noon newscast was preceded by the hour-long Atlanta & Company, a program which has some similar features, but is partly paid for by the companies featured on it, until 2015, when the noon newscast was cancelled. The program then expanded to 90 minutes, currently running from 11-12:30 pm. Syndicated programs carried by the station include Rachael Ray, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, among others. Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! also air on the station, shown weekdays at 7:00 and 7:30 pm, respectively. The station has also been broadcasting episodes of The Andy Griffith Show on Sundays at 1:00pm since June 28, 2015.
WXIA presently broadcasts 28 hours 25 minutes of locally produced newscasts each week (with 4 hours 35 minutes on weekdays, 3½ hours on Saturdays and 2 hours on Sundays). Unlike most NBC affiliates like KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City, the station does not air a newscast one hour prior to the Sunday edition of Today. It also produces a half-hour primetime newscast at 10 p.m. for sister station WATL, which competes with the longer-running hour-long 10 p.m. newscast on Fox-owned WAGA-TV (channel 5). The station's Doppler weather radar site is located west of Atlanta in far southern Cobb County, south-southwest of Mableton, on the south side of Interstate 20 not far west of Six Flags Over Georgia.
The station began calling its newscasts News Watch in 1963 and began broadcasting news in color for the first time on March 20, 1967. From the early 1970s onward, channel 11's newscasts waged a spirited battle with WAGA for second place behind long-dominant WSB-TV. Since WAGA switched to Fox in 1994, WXIA has been a solid runner-up, usually finishing well ahead of perennial third-place finisher WGCL-TV; however, by May 2009, WXIA's ratings had been surpassed by WGCL at noon and 11 p.m. The morning news program Today in Atlanta had experienced a 40% ratings drop, leaving them a very distant third behind the local morning shows on WSB and WAGA, and sometimes fourth behind WGCL.
WXIA formerly had a partnership with The Weather Channel to use their weather forecasters and provide local weather forecasts (ironically, NBCUniversal – which owns NBC through parent company Comcast, Atlanta's primary cable television provider – holds a majority ownership stake in The Weather Channel). WXIA became the first Atlanta station to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition on February 2, 2006. As part of the conversion to HD, a new HD-ready news set from Production Design Group, Ltd. was built and the station began using a new graphics package from Giant Octopus.
In February 2010, WXIA began a nightly news segment, "Bull Fighters", which consists of eight reporters/anchors; the segment is usually provided by former WAGA sports reporter Jeff Hullinger. On April 28, 2010, a new 4:30 a.m. newscast called Wake Up with Chesley debuted, featuring meteorologist Chesley McNeil and travel producer Matt Holmes; in addition to news updates throughout the show, McNeil primarily gives weather updates while Holmes gives travel delays and information. On January 29, 2013 on the noon broadcast, WXIA debuted the new Gannett standardized graphics and music ("This is Home" by Gari Media Group); their renovated studio debuted on February 12, 2013. On January 29, 2015, WXIA announced that the 5 p.m. newscast would return for the first time since 2003, when Dr. Phil took over that time slot; that show will now over to the 3 p.m. timeslot. However, the new newscast will come at the cost of ending its noon and 7 p.m. newscasts, which are set to be replaced by an extension of Atlanta & Company and Wheel of Fortune, respectively (the latter makes its return to the station since leaving to WATL in 2007). These changes went into effect on March 2, 2015.
Notable current on-air staff
Notable former on-air staff
- Roz Abrams - anchor/reporter (1972–1980, last seen at WCBS-TV in New York City, now retired)
- Renee Chenault-Fattah - anchor/reporter (1989–1991, now at WCAU-TV in Philadelphia)
- Jim Huber - weekend sports anchor (1970s-84, later with CNN and Turner Sports; died in 2012)
- Walt Maciborski - anchor/reporter (now at KEYE-TV in Austin)
- Steve McCoy - "Noonday" co-host (1990–1992; formerly on Star 94, and B 98.5FM, now at KXKL-FM in Denver)
- Steen Miles - reporter; formerly MARTA spokesperson and former Georgia legislator
- Demarco Morgan – anchor/reporter (2012-2015, now at CBS News)
- Stone Phillips - reporter (1978–1979, formerly of Dateline NBC)
- Del Rodgers - sports anchor/reporter (1986–1997, now at KCRA-TV and KQCA-TV in Sacramento)
- Steve Somers - sports anchor/reporter (1976–1978, now at WFAN in New York)
- Tom Sullivan - "Atlanta & Company" co-host (2007–2009)
- Harmon Wages - sports anchor/reporter (?-1984)
- Monica Woods - morning and noon meteorologist (1999–2001, now at KXTV in Sacramento)