WLAE-TV, virtual channel 32 (UHF digital channel 31), is an educational independent television station licensed to New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. The station is owned by the Educational Broadcasting Foundation, a partnership between Catholic-related organization, the Willwoods Community and the Louisiana Educational Television Authority (operators of Louisiana Public Broadcasting, which owns the PBS member stations in Louisiana that are located outside of New Orleans). WLAE's studios are located on North Causeway Boulevard in Metairie, and its transmitter is located on Paris Road/Highway 47 (northeast of Chalmette). On cable, the station is available on Cox Communications channel 14.

History[edit | edit source]

As a PBS member station[edit | edit source]

In 1978, a group of married couples, supported by the Catholic Church, formed the Willwoods Community. The organization joined forces with the Louisiana Educational Television Authority, which had been looking for a way to get its locally based programming into the state's largest market, to obtain the other non-commercial license allocated to the New Orleans market. On December 14, 1981, under the banner of the "Educational Broadcasting Foundation," the partnership was granted an educational station license from the Federal Communications Commission.

WLAE-TV first signed on the air on July 8, 1984; it originally served as a member station of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). WLAE-TV operated as a secondary member of the network through PBS' Program Differentiation Plan, as New Orleans' primary PBS station was WYES-TV (channel 12); as a result, the station only carried 25% of the programming broadcast by PBS. As a side note, Sesame Street was one of the few programs that was shown on both stations. In addition to offering PBS programming, WLAE also aired, and still airs, locally produced educational programs, as well as select programming from Louisiana Public Broadcasting (mostly consisting of news and public affairs programming).

WLAE is also one of very few public television stations to televise a daily Catholic Mass, presented live from the St. Louis Cathedral in the city's Jackson Square district; PBS had tightened its restrictions regarding religious programming on member stations in 2009, although WLAE was exempted from these restrictions through a grandfather clause. WLAE was one of at least two PBS member stations that were owned at least in part by a Catholic-related organization (KMBH in Harlingen, Texas was the other), and one of at least three in general that were run by a religious organization (counting KBYU-TV in Provo, Utah).

In 2000, WLAE and WYES both received a $691,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to negotiate and establish joint production and master control facilities. The two stations' operators agreed to build the facility on the grounds of a Lakefront research park owned by the University of New Orleans. In 2005, WLAE and WYES planned a campaign to raise $4 million in capital on behalf of their relocation plan. During most of 2016, WLAE underwent a technical upgrade, preventing the airing of its programming on its three subchannels, but it is now at full programming.

Hurricane Katrina[edit | edit source]

When Hurricane Katrina struck the New Orleans metropolitan area on August 29, 2005, WLAE was knocked off the air due to significant damage to its transmitter. It took two years for the station's over-the-air signal to be restored. Soon after the storm, it established a direct feed to New Orleans area cable providers (including the market's largest, Cox Communications) and to satellite provider DirecTV. The station's analog signal resumed operations in January 2007, its digital signal signed on the air for the first time two months later in March 2007.

Meanwhile, the University of New Orleans campus suffered major damage due to the storm. WYES and WLAE management agreed to forgo plans to build the new studio facility at the research park. Instead, the money earmarked for that project was used to purchase new master control equipment to replace the equipment at the WLAE studios that had been damaged by the storm.

As an educational independent station[edit | edit source]

On August 1, 2013, WLAE ended its membership with PBS to increase its focus on its locally produced programming; WYES became the market's exclusive PBS station once again as a result. The station had contemplated the move since the Louisiana state government reduced the station's funding by $270,000 in 2010. The decision to drop PBS programming was estimated to save the station around $130,000 annually (out of an annual budget of $2.3 million), allowing WLAE to invest the money into its local productions. The station's departure from PBS resulted in the PBS NewsHour only being available through WYES-TV's World subchannel on digital channel 12.2 until it was added to that station's primary channel the following month on September 2, 2013; the program had aired on WLAE under a longstanding arrangement with WYES. The station is considering entering into production and business partnerships with WYES.

TV stations in Louisiana
Alexandria market: Baton Rouge market: Lafayette market: Lake Charles market: Monroe market: New Orleans market: Shreveport market:
KWCE-LP, Alexandria KJUN-CD, Morgan City KDCG-CD, Opelousas KFAM-CD/KAGN-CD, Lake Charles/Crowley KMLU, Columbia WHNO, New Orleans KNTS-LP, Natchitoches
KBCA, Alexandria KPBN, Baton Rouge KAJN-CD, Lafayette KYHT, Lake Charles KMCT, West Monroe WTNO-LP, New Orleans KADO-CD, Shreveport
KZUP-CD, Baton Rouge KXKW-LD, Carencro K45HY, Lake Charles KNLD-LD, New Orleans K42FE-D, Shreveport
KWBJ-CD, Morgan City KLWB, Carencro KFOL-CD, Houma K54CB, Shreveport
WSTY-LP, Hammond WLAE, New Orleans W59GO, Shreveport
WLFT-CD, Baton Rouge KNOV-CD, New Orleans
KBTR-CD, Baton Rouge KGLA, Hammond
W48DW-D, Baton Rouge K47JO, New Orleans
TV stations in Greater New Orleans
WVUE 8 (Fox)
KNLD-LD 28 (Daystar)
KFOL-CD 30 (Ind)
WQDT-LD 34 (Buzzr)
WNOL 38 (CW)
KNOV-CD 41 (Info)
K47JO-D 47 (HSN2)
WPXL 49 (Ion)
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