WDIV-TV, virtual channel 4 (UHF digital channel 45), is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Detroit, Michigan, United States. The station serves as the flagship broadcast property of the Graham Media Group subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company. WDIV maintains studio facilities—which also house the headquarters of Graham Media Group—on West Lafayette Boulevard in Detroit. As such, WDIV-TV is the only major television station in the market whose offices and studios are located in Detroit proper, while the market's other television stations are located in Southfield (WDIV's transmitter is, however, located on Greenfield Road in Southfield).
On cable, the station is available in standard definition on channel 14 on Comcast Xfinity's Detroit city system (Mount Clemens-licensed independent station WADL (channel 38) is carried on cable channel 4), channel 9 on Xfinity's South Oakland County system, channel 4 in other suburbs and outlying areas and on AT&T U-verse, and channel 5 on Cogeco's Windsor system, and in high definition on Xfinity channel 232, Cogeco channel 714, and U-verse channel 1004.
History[edit | edit source]
Early history[edit | edit source]
The station first signed on the air as WWDT on October 23, 1946 for one day of demonstrative programming; regular programming commenced on March 4, 1947. It was the first television station in Michigan and the tenth station to sign on in the United States overall. The station was originally owned by the Evening News Association, parent company of the Detroit News, along with WWJ radio (AM 950 and FM 97.1, now WXYT-FM). On May 15, 1947, the television station changed its call letters to WWJ-TV to match its radio sisters. Channel 4 has always been an NBC affiliate owing to WWJ radio's longtime affiliation with the NBC Red Network, but also aired some programs from the DuMont Television Network prior to WJBK-TV (channel 2)'s sign-on in October 1948.
Channel 4 had a number of broadcasting firsts in Michigan including the first telecast of Detroit Tigers, Red Wings and Lions games as well as the state's first televised newscasts. The station's studios were originally located at 600 West Lafayette, across the street from the Detroit News building in downtown Detroit (and next door to its present studio location). In 1954, the station moved its 1,004-foot (306 m) transmitter from the Penobscot Building in downtown Detroit to the intersection of Greenfield and Lincoln roads in Southfield. Network programming was broadcast in color starting in 1954. The station began broadcasting its newscasts and other locally produced programs in color in 1960, when it purchased new studio camera equipment.
Over the years, the Evening News Association acquired several other broadcasting outlets, such as KTVY (now KFOR-TV) in Oklahoma City, KOLD-TV in Tucson, Arizona and WALA-TV in Mobile, Alabama. Eventually, the Evening News Association created Universal Communications Corporation as a holding company for its broadcasting interests, with WWJ-AM-FM-TV as the flagship stations.
Trade to The Washington Post Company[edit | edit source]
In 1969, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began to impose restrictions on the common ownership of print and broadcast media in the same market. The combination of the Detroit News and WWJ-AM-FM-TV was given grandfathered protection from the new regulations. But by the mid-to-late 1970s, the Evening News Association was under pressure to break up its Detroit cluster voluntarily. Fearing that an FCC-forced divestiture was imminent, the Evening News Association agreed to trade WWJ-TV to the Washington Post Company in return for that company's flagship station, WTOP-TV (later WDVM-TV and now WUSA). On July 22, 1978, due to an FCC regulation in place at the time that forbade TV and radio stations in the same market but with different ownership groups from sharing the same call signs, channel 4 changed its call letters to the present WDIV-TV, for Detroit's IV (representing the Roman numeral for 4). Additionally, in a series of promotional announcements with news anchor Dwayne X. Riley, the new call letters were said to represent the phrase, "Where Detroit Is Vital". The WWJ-TV call sign was later adopted for use by the former WGPR-TV (channel 62), after its 1995 purchase by CBS, which had acquired WWJ radio in 1989; the current WWJ-TV is a separate entity and not related to WDIV.
Ultimately, the FCC never imposed any limitations on ownership of television stations and newspapers in the same market and the exchange of stations between the Evening News Association and the Washington Post Company (which was renamed Graham Holdings Company following the sale of the Washington Post in 2013) became somewhat unusual in television broadcasting.
In 1982, WDIV moved out of its facility (which had been built in 1936 for WWJ-AM and expanded in 1948 and today is known as the Walker-Roehrig Building) adjacent to the headquarters of the Detroit News and moved one block to its current broadcast facility at West Lafayette Boulevard. The building has also housed the headquarters of Graham Media Group since 1997; the "Local" branding now utilized by most of the group's stations began at WDIV alongside its acquiring of flagship status in 2000. The station later became available outside the Detroit market when it was selected for inclusion on many Canadian cable providers in the late 1980s and early 1990s. WDIV's signal has been uplinked on C-band satellite since at least 1988. In 2004, the station bolstered local programming by securing broadcast rights to several Detroit Pistons basketball games (Fox Sports Detroit became the Pistons' sole broadcaster in 2008) as well as returning as the host television station for the North American International Auto Show. The station airs the auto show's charity preview, America's Thanksgiving Parade (both in high definition), The Ford Fireworks and the charity event "The Hob-Nobble Gobble" which is held the night before the Thanksgiving parade.
On April 15, 2005, former WDIV employee John Owens was shot in the station's lobby by Epifanio Rivas, Jr., a man with a history of harassing WDIV employees. Rivas was charged with attempted murder, while Owens remained in the hospital in critical but stable condition. On November 21, 2006, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge James Callahan sentenced Rivas to 16 to 32 years in prison for the shooting; he was also sentenced to two years for a felony firearm conviction. In December 2008, WDIV began streaming its newscasts online as part of a redesign of the station's website. On June 21, 2010, The 52nd Annual Target Fireworks were produced and aired entirely in high definition. On August 6, 2010, WDIV-TV and WXYZ-TV (channel 7) became the first stations in Detroit to offer Mobile DTV feeds.
On the evening of April 14, 2011, a suitcase containing a suspected improvised explosive device was left in the WDIV studio lobby after the person who planted the device was denied entry by the station's security guard, prompting the Detroit Police Bomb Squad to evacuate the studio as well as the Doubletree Hotel across the street. That night's 11 p.m. newscast was broadcast from the corner of Lafayette and Howard streets; the evacuation resulted in master control operations being inaccessible, preventing the broadcast or editing of news stories, and the broadcast of commercials. The station's PSIP virtual channel temporarily reverted to 45.1 (the station's physical digital channel), with HD content downconverted to 720p. The device was detonated minutes later, with police giving the all-clear at 11:15 p.m. for the news crew to re-enter the studio.
Upon re-entering the studio, anchor Devin Scillian explained that WDIV has a policy of not immediately reporting bomb threats, in case they turn out to be nothing. However, because staff was barred access into the studio for the 11 p.m. newscast, an explanation as to why they were on the street, broadcasting from the station's mobile truck instead of the studio, needed to be given. The news was first reported by the Twitter and Facebook accounts of WDIV's news staff; WJBK, WXYZ-TV and WMYD (channel 20) reported on the situation while during the lockout, before the WDIV mobile truck could return to the studios from its assignments. A sweater and some empty soda cans were later found in the briefcase which was left by a homeless man that had followed a WDIV employee in for warmth and coffee; the man was brought to Detroit Receiving Hospital for observation the next day. The Detroit Police Department and Post-Newsweek's management said that charges would not be filed as it was "just a big misunderstanding".
|TV stations in Michigan|
|TV stations in Southeast Michigan, including Detroit|
|WJBK 2 (Fox) |
WDIV 4 (NBC)
WXYZ 7 (ABC)
WHNE-LD 14 (LIGHT)
WDWO-CD 18 (AZA)
WUDL-LD 19 (Info)
WMYD 20 (MNTV)
WUDT-LD 23 (Daystar)
WPXD 31 (Ion)
WHPS-CD 33 (Ind)
WADL 38 (Ind)
WLPC-CD 40 (Impact)
WKBD 50 (CW)
WTVS 56 (PBS)
WWJ 62 (CBS)