Radio-TV Broadcast History

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Selma / Montgomery, Alabama
Branding CBS 8 News
Slogan CBS 8 News Is Everywhere!
Channels Digital: 42 (UHF)

Virtual: 8 (PSIP)

Subchannels 8.1 CBS
Owner Bahakel Communications, Ltd.

(Alabama Broadcasting Partners)

First air date March 17, 1960
Former callsigns WSLA (1960-1984)
Former channel number(s) Analog: 8 (1960-2008)

Digital: 55 (2005-2008)

Former affiliations Primary:

ABC (1960-1968) silent (1968-1973) Secondary: CBS (1960-1968)

Transmitter power 1000 kW
Height 536 m
Facility ID 701
Transmitter coordinates 32°8′57.9″N 86°46′42.6″W / 32.149417°N 86.7785°W / 32.149417; -86.7785


[hide]*1 History

[edit] History[]

Selma's channel Eight debuted on March 17, 1960 as WSLA (acronym for SeLmA). The station was an independent when it first started, but became Montgomery's ABC affiliate soon afterwards. However, the station only provided a grade B signal to Montgomery. The station was owned by the Brennan family and their company, Deep South Broadcasting, along with WBAM radio (740 AM, now WMSP). In 1964, WKAB-TV (channel 32, later WHOA-TV and now WNCF) started up as Montgomery's ABC affiliate, but WSLA continued to broadcast ABC programming to the western part of the market because of UHF's limited coverage at the time. Interestingly, it might be argued that WSLA was almost always a CBS affiliate. Once it ended its brief stint as a independent station and affiliated with ABC, it also established a secondary affiliation with CBS by carrying one hour of that network's programming every week: Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour.

The station found itself in a 30-year battle (probably the longest on record) over its current transmitting facilities. Channel 8 received its construction permit in February 1954, weeks before the area's only other VHF station, Montgomery's WSFA (channel 12). The Selma station was allowed just a 360-foot (110 m) tower just west of Selma, with only 3,000 watts of power. This provided grade B coverage to Montgomery. Almost at once, Deep South applied to amend its permit, requesting a much taller tower just north of Prattville, with 316,000 watts of power. The new location would have easily covered Montgomery while still being within 15 miles of Selma, as required by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules. However, the FCC blocked this move due to a protest from Montgomery's then-CBS affiliate, WCOV-TV, which claimed that the FCC would not be fostering the growth of UHF stations if it allowed the expansion. In truth, WCOV feared that if WSLA was permitted to expand its signal, CBS would move its programming there. Deep South proposed another facility, this time from unspecified facilities in southern Montgomery County--only to be rejected again due to protests from WCOV. Probably afraid the license would be in jeopardy, Deep South went on the air from its originally-specified facilities in Selma.

The station's facilities burned down in 1968. WCOV made a move to purchase the silent channel 8 facility from Deep South, and it intended to operate it as a low-powered west Alabama repeater of WCOV. However, the FCC would not allow WCOV to reduce channel 8's power. For some unknown reason, perhaps the enormous amount of capital expense that would have been required, WCOV passed on the chance to operate channel 8 as a full-power station (and one that probably would have not been contested to operate as such, since WCOV, the main protester in the channel 8 expansion case, would have owned the facility).

Due to intense competition from the Montgomery stations, especially WSFA, and the large amount of money Deep South had invested in the legal fight, WSLA was not rebuilt until 1972, when the dormant station was bought by Gala Broadcasting. Gala's owner, Charles Grisham of Huntsville, also owned that city's CBS affiliate, WHNT-TV. The station was rebuilt in Selma and returned to the airwaves in 1973 as a full-time CBS affiliate. Grisham continued the battle for a tall tower and full power to cover Montgomery. WCOV continued its fight to prevent this. One of WSLA's applications to increase coverage (but out of direct fire from WCOV and WKAB) involved placing its tower in a position that would have allowed respectable coverage into Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, as well as to Selma and Montgomery. This application, however, was challenged by UHF stations WCFT-TV in Tuscaloosa and WBMG (now WIAT) in Birmingham.

At one time, WCOV proposed that the FCC move the channel 8 frequency to Tuscaloosa as an educational station, and then make the entire Montgomery market UHF by re-assigning the channel 12 frequency to Columbus, Georgia (which would have made that market all VHF). This got nowhere, but did extend the battle. Finally, with all arguments exhausted, and the FCC (in keeping with its emphasis on deregulation) becoming more neutral in the protection of UHF facilities, channel 8 was issued a construction permit in 1984 for a new tower in Lowndes County, which would give the station primary coverage of Montgomery.

The station's call sign changed to WAKA on October 28, 1984, (unofficially said to stand for, in jest, "We Are Kicking Ass"). It was thought that with the move to Montgomery, the calls WSLA would be confused with those of WSFA. Bahakel Communications bought WAKA from Grisham in 1985 and remains the owner today. That same year, in April, WAKA began broadcasting from its long-sought 1,757-foot (536 m) tower, with 316,000 watts of power. WAKA now boasted the largest coverage area in the entire state of Alabama. It provides at least secondary coverage from the fringes of the Birmingham and Tuscaloosa suburbs to the Florida panhandle and Wiregrass Region to the southeast. On New Year's Day 1986, WAKA became the sole CBS affiliate for Montgomery as CBS dropped its programming from WCOV. WCOV later joined the then-upstart Fox network.

WAKA was the first station in the Montgomery market to broadcast in stereo, and is the only station there to broadcast with a full one megawatt in digital (equivalent to five megawatts for an analog transmitter). The station has expanded its news department over the past several years with additional personnel, news bureaus and more newscasts. News bureaus with live capabilities are located in Selma and Greenville. These expansions along with improved production values have helped WAKA become a solid runner-up to long-dominant WSFA.

[edit] News/station presentation[]

[edit] Newscast titles[]

  • Channel 8 World News (1960-1968; silent from 1968 through 1973)
  • Channel 8 News (1973-1979)
  • Action 8 News (1979-1994)
  • TV-8 News (1994-1998)
  • TV-8 Eyewitness News (1998-2002)
  • CBS 8 News (2002-present)

[edit] Station slogans[]

  • We're Looking Good, on Action 8 (1979-1980; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Looking Good Together, Action 8 (1980-1981; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Reach for the Stars on Action 8 (1981-1982; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Great Moments on Action 8 (1982-1983; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • We've Got the Touch, You and Action 8 (1983-1984; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • You and Action 8, We've Got the Touch (1984-1985; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • We've Got the Touch on Action 8 (1985-1986; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • The Spirit of Central Alabama (1986-2002)
  • Share the Spirit on Action 8 (1986-1987; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Action 8 Spirit, Oh Yes. (1987-1988; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • You Can Feel It On Action 8 (1988-1989; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Get Ready for Action 8 (1989-1991; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • The Look of Montgomery is Action 8 (1991-1992; localized version of CBS ad campaign)
  • Your 24-Hour News Connection (early 1990s)
  • Coverage You Can Count On (2002-2008)
  • CBS 8 News Is Everywhere! (2008-present)

[edit] Digital television[]

Because of WAKA's original digital allocation of Channel 55, and a belief by ownership that a return to VHF channel 8 for digital service may create reception issues, WAKA petitioned to the FCC to move its post-transition channel to channel 42 since any channel above 51 would not be allocated for digital television after February 17, 2009. In order to get its post-transition channel up and running, WAKA ceased analog broadcasting on Channel 8 on November 28, 2008. At that time, the analog antenna and broadcasting equipment were removed from its tower and replaced with digital equipment for channel 42 (digital channel 55 continued to operate via a side-mounted antenna at full power). Digital channel 42 signed on January 19, 2009, while digital channel 55 signed off on the mandated date (February 17, 2009). Although for only a month, WAKA has the distinction of being the only facility in the country to actually operate 2 digital channels at the same time--42 and 55--as part of the digital transition. WAKA continues to be the only "big 4" station in the market to operate at full power (1MW).

PSIP is used to display WAKA's virtual channel as 8.

[edit] Newscasts[]

[2][3]Unlike most stations, CBS 8 refers to its Top Story as The Big Story. This graphic can be seen weeknights at 6 & 10 and on weekend newscastsWeekday newscasts:

  • CBS 8 This Morning, 6-7 am (also simulcast on News Talk 107.9)
  • CBS 8 News at Noon, 12-12:30 pm
  • CBS 8 News at 5, 5-5:30 pm
  • CBS 8 News at 6, 6-6:30 pm
  • CBS 8 News at 10, 10-10:35 pm


  • CBS 8 News Weekend at 6, 6-6:30 pm
  • CBS 8 News Weekend at 10, 10-10:30 pm


  • On The Record with Tim Lennox, 5:30-6 pm
  • CBS 8 News Weekend at 10, 10-10:30 pm

[edit] On-air staff[]

[edit] Current on-air staff[]

News anchors:

News reporters:

Political analyst:

Eye on Traffic Reporter:

  • Jerry Howell - CBS 8 This Morning & CBS 8 News at 5

First Alert Weather Network:

  • Kait Parker - Weekdays, Meteorologist, CBS 8 This Morning & CBS 8 News at Noon
  • Ashley McDonald - Weeknights, Chief Meteorologist, CBS 8 News at 5, 6, 10
  • Matt Tanner - Weekends, Meteorologist, CBS 8 News Weekend at 6(Saturdays) & 10

The 8 Team:

[edit] Former on-air staff[]

  • Monica Allen
  • Rebecca Amos
  • Kelly Baker
  • David Baxley, Meteorologist (left in June 2008, now Chief Meteorologist at KSWO-TV in Lawton/Wichita Falls)
  • Jim Benedict
  • Lauren Bethune (left in January 2008, now with the Alabama Dept. of Homeland Security)
  • Tiffany Bittner
  • Estee Clark
  • Brian Corbett (now a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Corrections)
  • Damon Cullen
  • Laurie Davidson
  • Brooke Erickson (now in New Orleans)
  • Heather Graver, News Reporter (left in February 2008)
  • Angela Green, News Anchor (left in June 2008)
  • Lisa Gurevitch (now with CNN, Atlanta)
  • David Hagood, Anchor/Reporter (Reporer, 2005-2007, Morning Anchor 2008-2009)
  • Brendan Higgins
  • Matt Kelley
  • Kevin King
  • Paul King
  • Andrew Lackley
  • Melissa Lee (now freelancing with ESPN as college football sidelines reporter)
  • Kevin Long
  • Jon Mangum (later of WBMA in its Anniston bureau, deceased)
  • John Matson
  • Ashley McDonald, Meteorologist (left in May 2009, now at 11Alive in Atlanta)
  • Rob Mickler
  • Cynthia Milledge (now at KNOE-TV in Monroe, LA)
  • Kim Miller
  • Amber Moody (now at WHNT-TV in Huntsville, AL, as Amber Stuart)
  • Madiyah Mosley (March 2008-July 2009)
  • Patrick Nolan (Selma Bureau Reporter 1990-91, now evening anchor at WFTX-TV in Fort Myers, FL)
  • Cyndee O'Quinn (now at WCPO)
  • Ashley Paige (left in June 2008)
  • Chris Peddie
  • Doug Peters (now at WBNG)
  • Ben Plaut (now an actor)
  • Dee Dee Railey
  • Jim Reed
  • Diana Rugg
  • Don Schwenneker
  • Rob Smith
  • Karli Ritter, Meteorologist (left in March 2007, now at WDAF)
  • Sean Temple (now with Cox Sports TV and CSS)
  • Kim Wanous (now "down the road" as host of a weekly show at WSFA)
  • Trish Williford (left in December 2007, Now at KTBS-TV and KPXJ in Shreveport, LA)
  • Kristie Welch, weekend news anchor (left in April 2008, now a producer "down the road" at WSFA)
  • Kayla Anderson, Weekend Sports Anchor (Now the Weekend Sports Anchor at KECI in Missoula, MT.)

[edit] External links[]