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WCBS-TV, channel 2, is the flagship station of the CBS television network, located in New York City and owned by CBS Corporation. The station's studios are located within the CBS Broadcast Center in midtown Manhattan and its transmitter is atop the Empire State Building.

In the few areas of the eastern United States where viewers cannot receive CBS programs over-the-air, WCBS-TV is available on satellite to subscribers of DirecTV, which also provides coverage of the station to Latin America and major U.S. air carriers via the LiveTV inflight entertainment system. As of March 4, 2009, WCBS-TV is once again available to Dish Network customers as part of All American Direct's distant network package.

New York, New York
Branding CBS 2 HD (general)

CBS 2 News (newscasts)

Slogan Bringing it Home 2 You
Channels Digital: 33 (UHF)

Virtual: 2 (PSIP)

Subchannels 2.1 CBS
Translators 22 (UHF) Plainview, NY

(construction permit)

Affiliations CBS
Owner CBS Corporation

(CBS Broadcasting, Inc.)

First air date July 1, 1941
Call letters' meaning W Columbia Broadcasting System

(former legal name of CBS)

Sister station(s) WCBS, WCBS-FM, WFAN, WINS, WWFS, WXRK
Former callsigns

W2XAB (1931-1941)

WCBW (1941-1946)

Former channel number(s) Analog: 2 (VHF, 1941-2009)

Digital: 56 (UHF, 1999-2009)

Transmitter power 349 kW
Height 397 m (1,302 ft)
Class DT

(Digital Television)

Facility ID 9610
Transmitter coordinates 40°44′54.4″N 73°59′8.4″W / 40.748444°N 73.985667°W / 40.748444; -73.985667


Early years

WCBS-TV's history dates back to CBS' opening of experimental station W2XAB on July 31, 1931. Its initial broadcast featured New York Mayor Jimmy Walker, Kate Smith and George Gershwin. The station boasted the first regular seven-day broadcasting schedule in American television, broadcasting 28 hours a week. On November 8, 1932, W2XAB broadcast the first television coverage of presidential election returns. The station suspended operations on February 20, 1933; it returned on September 3, 1940 with the first color broadcast in the United States.

On June 24, 1941 W2XAB received a commercial license as WCBW. It went on the air at 2:30 pm on July 1, an hour after rival WNBT (formerly W2XBS and now WNBC-TV), making it the second licensed commercial television station in the United States. Its first broadcast was the first local newscast aired on a commercial station in the country. Its assigned frequency was 60-66 mHz, now known as Channel 3 but then referred to as Channel 2 in the old 1940-46 alignment of the VHF band. Regular operations began on October 29 and it received a full license on March 10, 1942. After the war, the FCC re-allocated the television and FM bands. WCBW closed down its operation on the old Channel 2 at the end of February 1946 in order to move to a new channel 2 at 54-60 mHz. It quickly began operation on the new frequency, where it remained from the spring of 1946 until the end of analog full power television service in the late spring of 2009. The call letters were changed to WCBS-TV on November 1, 1946. It's the only station in the CBS television station group which was originally built by CBS and owned by CBS from its inception; all others were acquired from prior owners at various times from the late 1940s to the 1990s. In May 1997, it adopted the CBS 2 name along with sister stations KCBS-TV in Los Angeles and WBBM-TV in Chicago, while retaining a unique and distinctive logo. The practice of CBS-owned stations placing the network identity ahead of their local identity would end up being known as the CBS Mandate.

During the September 11, 2001 attacks, channel 2 stayed on the air. Unlike most of the other major New York television stations, it had long maintained a full-powered backup transmitter at the Empire State Building after moving its main transmitter to the North Tower of the World Trade Center in 1975. The station was also simulcast nationally on Viacom (which at the time owned CBS) cable network VH1 that day. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, WCBS-TV was briefly the only full-coverage over-the-air television service operating in New York City, although the station lent transmission time to other stations who had lost their transmitters until they found suitable backup equipment and locations. The backup transmitter had been put into operation once before, when the World Trade Center bombing of February 26, 1993 knocked most of the area's stations off the air for a week. It would once again become the main transmitter through the end of the analog era.

From 2003-2005, promos for CBS 2 This Morning featured Avenue 2, with puppet-made news personalities based on Avenue Q.

Digital television

Digital channels

Channel Name Programming
2.1 WCBS-HD main WCBS-TV/CBS programming

Analog-to-Digital Conversion

WCBS-TV ended programming on its analog signal, on VHF channel 2, at 3:00 P.M. on June 12, 2009 [1] as part of the DTV transition in the United States. WCBS-TV moved its digital broadcasts to channel 33, due to its pre-transition digital channel 56 being out of the core digital channel allotment [2]. Digital receivers display WCBS-TV's virtual channel as 2 using PSIP.

WCBS-TV was one of two stations in New York City that participated in the "Analog Nightlight" program, and did so until the early morning hours of July 13, 2009, possibly making it the last full power NTSC broadcast television station in the United States to discontinue analog transmissions.[3]

WCBS-TV currently has a construction permit for a digital fill-in translator on channel 22 in Plainview, New York. This translator will serve portions of eastern and central Long Island where WCBS-TV's signal is affected by the presence of WFSB, a CBS affiliate in Hartford, Connecticut which also broadcasts on channel 33.[4]

News operation

CBS broadcast news pioneer, correspondent, and Channel 2 anchor, Robert Trout helped identify the station with hard news--lots of investigative reports and features. It became one of the most respected local news operations in the country. In 1965, he left for a new assignment in Europe and was succeeded by Jim Jensen. Jensen had only come to WCBS-TV a year earlier, but was already well-known for his coverage of Robert F. Kennedy's 1964 campaign for the United States Senate. His gravelly voice and demeanor were very similar to that of Walter Cronkite, and he was reportedly the model for the character of Jim Dial (played by Charles Kimbrough) on the CBS sitcom Murphy Brown.

During the 1960s, WCBS-TV battled WNBC (Channel 4) for the top-rated news department in New York. After WABC-TV (Channel 7) introduced Eyewitness News in the late 1960s, WCBS-TV went back and forth in first place with Channel 7. This rivalry continued through the 1970s.

For much of the early 1980s, New York's "Big Three" stations took turns in the top spot. During this time, three of the longest-tenured anchor teams in New York—Jensen and Smith, WABC-TV's Roger Grimsby and Bill Beutel, and WNBC-TV's Chuck Scarborough and Sue Simmons—went head-to-head with each other.

WCBS-TV was #1 for most of the mid-1980s, with many well-known personalities during this era: anchors Dave Marash, Carol Martin, Rolland Smith, Michele Marsh and Vic Miles; meteorologists Dr. Frank Field, John Coleman and Irv "Mr. G." Gikofsky; reporters Meredith Vieira, Randall Pinkston, Tony Guida, John Stossel, Chris Borgen and Arnold Diaz and sportscaster Warner Wolf. Vieira, Pinkston and Guida later moved to the CBS network.

In 1987, WNBC and WABC-TV became the dominant players, while WCBS-TV fell to third place. This pecking order remained throughout the 1990s and well into the 2000s, before Channel 2 once again developed some ratings traction. The station built a solid #2 ranking, with a weakened WNBC. Channel 2 has even placed #1 in some ratings periods.

One of management's more controversial responses was to take Jensen off the anchor desk in late 1994 and demote him to host of a Sunday morning public-affairs show, Sunday Edition. He also hosted a few episodes of the regular "Sports Update" show on Sunday nights at 11:30. At the time, Jensen had served as an anchor longer than anyone in New York television history (he has since been passed by WABC-TV's Beutel and WNBC's Scarborough). The move was roundly criticized by many in New York, especially since WCBS-TV had supported him after he went into drug rehabilitation in 1988.

Another controversy involved an exchange between Jensen and co-anchor Bree Walker, whose fingers and toes are fused together (the condition is known as ectrodactyly). After Walker did a report about her experience with the condition, Jensen asked Walker, on the air, if her parents would have aborted her had they known she would have been born with the condition. Although Walker kept her composure on air, she was obviously disturbed by the question, and soon left the station ([3]). This incident took place shortly before Jensen's entry to drug rehabiliation. Station management came under more fire in 1995 when Jensen was forced to retire shortly after the Westinghouse Electric Corporation announced it was buying CBS. By the end of 1995, Channel 2 had crashed into last place for the first time in its history, and remained there for more than a decade.

1996 "massacre"

[2][3]WCBS-TV's news logo from 1998 to 2000On October 2, 1996, the station executed an unprecedented mass firing without any advance warning, citing the need to shake up its news operation. Seven people were fired: anchors John Johnson, Michele Marsh and Tony Guida; sports anchor Bernie Smilovitz; and reporters Reggie Harris, Roseanne Colletti, and Magee Hickey.[5] The firings came after the 6 p.m. newscast. Johnson and Marsh had anchored the 5:00 newscasts and signed off at 6:00 saying, "We'll see you at 11," but never got a chance to say goodbye on the air.

"The massacre," as it has come to be known, was part of a move to boost ratings, although it came at a time when CBS was under pressure to boost revenues, having been merged with Westinghouse. It was also part of a major reconstruction of the newscast, culminating in the May 1997 rebranding to News 2.

WCBS-TV news in the 2000s

[4][5]WCBS-TV news open, used from 2007-2010In 2000, Joel Cheatwood, creator of the 7 News format at WSVN in Miami, came in as news director. At his suggestion, the news department rebranded itself from News 2 to the CBS 2 Information Network, using "content partners" such as U.S. News & World Report and VH1. He also gave the newscasts more of a tabloid feel. While considerably watered down compared to Fox flagship WNYW and to Cheatwood's work at WSVN—and even compared to WSVN's sister station, WHDH-TV in Boston -- it was much flashier than had previously been seen on New York's "Big Three" affiliates. It didn't work, and Cheatwood was gone by 2002 in favor of New York veteran news director Dianne Doctor. The station became simply CBS 2, and gradually phased out the tabloid elements. In its place, Doctor introduced a "news for the people" approach similar to that of her previous employer, WNBC.

After Doctor's arrival, channel 2 placed a revived emphasis on hard news, while attempting to revive some elements of its glory days. For instance, in 2003 Arnold Diaz rejoined the station to revive "Shame on You," an Emmy-winning series of investigative segments. He had previously worked at the station from 1973 to 1995, leaving to serve a similar investigative role at ABC News. In December 2005, Diaz once again departed, this time leaving for WNYW. Another segment was "Eat at Your Own Risk," which highlighted unsafe conditions at New York-area restaurants. Ironically, the cafeteria at the CBS Broadcast Center was cited for violations by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Violations included the presence of rats and roaches, as well as food temperature issues.[6][7][8].

Despite this and other attempts at fixes, the ratings did not significantly improve under Doctor's watch. Doctor was criticized for airing "Shame on You" and "Eat at Your Own Risk" segments ahead of major stories. She also came under fire when channel 2 led its 11 p.m. newscast of May 24, 2005 with a story and exclusive video of actor Burt Reynolds slapping a CBS producer, while rivals WABC-TV and WNBC-TV led with an important vote in the U.S. House on stem cell research.

On May 27, 2004, Doctor fired popular sports anchor Warner Wolf, three months before his contract expired, without giving Wolf a chance to say goodbye on air. This incident was widely panned by several newspapers, including the New York Daily News, and the move alienated and angered many viewers. Wolf was replaced by the much younger Chris Wragge, who was brought in from NBC affiliate KPRC-TV in Houston.[9]

On June 1, 2005 Jim Rosenfield rejoined the station to anchor the 5 and 11 p.m. newscasts with Roz Abrams, who joined channel 2 the previous year after an 18-year run at WABC-TV.[10] Rosenfield previously worked at the station from 1998 to 2000, before moving to WNBC (to anchor Live at Five) after a contract dispute with channel 2. Rosenfield replaced Ernie Anastos, who moved to WNYW in July.

On August 22, 2005, WCBS-TV launched its new Doppler radar named "Live Doppler 2 Million". It has one million watts of power, and is live, compared to other dopplers in the market which are delayed by about 15 minutes. "Live Doppler 2 Million" was the punch line of a joke on an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live and also was ridiculed on the popular Opie and Anthony radio show. The station renamed the radar in 2006 to "Live Doppler". The station also uses a VIPIR radar. Coincidentally, transportation reporter Arthur Chi'en was fired from the station three months earlier after mistakenly using expletives live on the air in response to someone from Opie and Anthony disrupting his live report as part of their "Assault on the Media" contest.

On April 14, 2006, Dianne Doctor left WCBS-TV. The station decided to move its news department in a new direction under new general manager Peter Dunn, who axed "Shame on You" and "Eat at Your Own Risk". Doctor reportedly did not agree with the new plans, and opted to leave. The station has since overhauled its graphics and anchor lineup, winning praise from media observers.

Like other CBS-owned stations, WCBS-TV offers a web only newscast called "CBS 2 at Your Desk", available weekdays at 9 a.m. (anchored by Maurice DuBois or Kate Sullivan). Also, you can see streamlined news casts of the noon, 5 and 6 p.m, and the 11 P.M. newscasts (anchored by Kristine Johnson, Chris Wragge, Dana Tyler, and Don Dahler). There is also a "LoHud Report" edition of "At Your Desk", operated by WCBS-TV and, the website for The Journal News, a Gannett Company-owned newspaper covering Westchester County and other areas of the lower Hudson River valley. The Journal News has a partnership with the station where WCBS-TV uses their offices for their Westchester Bureau, and The Journal News gets a 30-second promotion during the 6:00 pm newscast for the next day's top story.

In early September 2006, WCBS-TV's weather department entered into a partnership with The Weather Channel, with meteorologists from the cable service often appearing on-air with existing WCBS-TV meteorologists. WCBS-TV also receives information from the Weather Channel in addition to using their radars and satellite imagery. The Weather Channel checked in with WCBS for New York's weather on its "Evening Edition" program with one of the WCBS meteorologist, and CBS 2 said before every forecast "Now time for your exclusive forecast from CBS 2 and the Weather Channel." On July 7, 2008, this partnership officially ended when it was announced that The Weather Channel had been sold to competitor NBC Universal.

On November 6, 2006, WCBS-TV made a personnel change on its noon and 5 p.m. newscasts. Former sports director and anchor Chris Wragge became co-anchor of both aforementioned programs, along with newly-hired Kristine Johnson.[11] Wragge and Johnson replaced Roz Abrams and Mary Calvi on those shows; Abrams' contract was allowed to lapse, and Calvi was reassigned to weekends as the sole evening anchor, and currently she anchors weekend evening solely and mornings with various co-anchors. More changes came in early 2007, as John Elliot was introduced as the new morning and noon meteorologist, replacing Audrey Puente, whose abrupt breach-of-contract demotion led to her being allowed to become the new chief meteorologist at WWOR-TV less than two weeks later. WCBS-TV also hired Lonnie Quinn, previously a weatherman in Miami, as they phased out John Bolaris who had rejoined WCBS in 2002. On June 25, 2007, anchors Chris Wragge and Kristine Johnson were promoted as the station's new 5 and 11 p.m. anchors, trading places with Dana Tyler and Jim Rosenfield on the noon program; Tyler and Rosenfield continued to co-anchor the 6 p.m. newscast. Rosenfield left WCBS in May 2008, being replaced with recently hired weekend anchor Don Dahler.

In the February 2007 ratings period, WCBS-TV finished second behind WABC-TV from sign-on to sign-off — its best showing in 16 years, although most of its newscasts still finished in third place at that time. By the November 2007 sweeps period, Channel 2's local evening newscasts had overtaken WNBC for second place (mainly due to declining ratings at WNBC). It was Channel 2's best news performance in 12 years, but it still trailed WABC-TV by a fairly wide margin.[citation needed] In May 2008, WCBS still led WNBC, by an even wider margin, but its longtime number 1 noon newscast, which had been on the decline since the early 2000s, then anchored by Dana Tyler and Jim Rosenfield, had fallen dramatically to WABC, their only competitor in the time period, with half the viewers of the year before when Chris Wragge and Kristine Johnson anchored it. This has been attributed to the serious personalities of Tyler and Rosenfield (and now Dahler) compared to the relaxed personalities of Wragge and Johnson, which is more traditional for a lunchtime broadcast. Since then, WCBS-TV has remained in distant second in all afternoon and evening time slots.

On April 11, 2007, WCBS-TV began broadcasting their newscasts in high-definition, becoming the third New York City television station to do so.

WCBS-TV cooperates with sister station KYW-TV in Philadelphia in the production and broadcast of statewide New Jersey political debates. When the two stations broadcast a statewide office debate, such as for Governor or United States Senate, they will pool resources and have anchors or reporters from both stations participate in the debate. Additionally, the two stations cooperate in the gathering of news in New Jersey where their markets overlap; sharing reporters, live trucks and helicopters.


  • Chris Wragge - weeknights at 5pm and 11pm. Also the regular co-anchor for the Saturday Early Show.
  • Kristine Johnson - weeknights at 5pm and 11pm
  • Don Dahler - weeknights at 6pm and reporter
  • Dana Tyler - weeknights at 6pm and reporter
  • Maurice DuBois - weekday mornings 5am-7am and noon
  • Kate Sullivan - weekday mornings 5am-7am and noon
  • Mary Calvi - Saturday - 6am-7am and 9am-10am, Sunday 6am-9am, weekends 6 (Sat) / 6:30 (Sun) and 11pm (Sat / Sun) and weekday reporter
  • Rob Morrison - Saturday - 6am-7am and 9am-10am, Sunday 6am-9am, weekends 6 (Sat) / 6:30 (Sun) and 11pm (Sat / Sun) and weekday reporter
  • Lonnie Quinn - Chief Weathercaster seen weekdays at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Also the regular weather anchor for the Saturday Early Show.
  • John Elliott - weekdays 5am-7am and noon
  • Elise Finch - Saturdays at 6pm and 11pm and Sundays at 6:30pm and 11pm
  • Megan Glaros - Saturday - 6am-7am and 9am-10am, Sunday - 6am-9am - also weekend morning entertainment reporter

Notable alumni

News/Station presentation

Newscast titles

  • News of the Night (1950s)
  • The Six O'Clock Report/The Eleven O'Clock Report (1960–1964)
  • Channel 2 News (1964–1996)
  • Channel 2 News: Six O'Clock Report/Eleven O'Clock Report (Update) (1976–1982)
  • WCBS-TV News (alternate branding, 1967–1972)
  • 2 News (1996–1997)
  • News 2 (1997–2001)
  • CBS 2 News (2001–present)

News Music Packages

  • Channel 2 News
  • Newsmakers
  • Palmer News Package
  • Total News
  • News Force
  • WCBS News
  • WCBS News Music Package
  • Grandeur
  • Nightcast
  • News In Focus
  • CBS Enforcer Music Collection

Station slogans

  • We've Got the Touch, You and Channel 2 (1983–1985; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Get Ready for WCBS Channel 2" / "Get Ready for Channel 2! (1989-1991; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • The Look of New York City is Channel 2 (1991-1992; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Get It First, Get It Right (1997-2000)
  • The Information Network (2000-2003)

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Sandomir, Richard (1996-10-03). "At WCBS-TV, a Big Round Of News Staff Dismissals". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
  6. ^ Celebrity Scandals and Gossip - NY Daily News
  7. ^ [2][dead link]
  8. ^ Restaurant Inspection Information : NYC DOHMH
  9. ^ Sports columnists
  10. ^ Latest Headlines - NY Daily News
  11. ^ Latest Headlines - NY Daily News

External links

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