WOLO-TV, virtual channel 25 (VHF digital channel 8), is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Columbia, South Carolina, United States. Owned by Bahakel Communications, WOLO maintains business offices on Shakespeare Road in Arcadia Lakes (though it uses a Columbia address); its news department operates from a separate studio facility at Gervais (US 1/US 378) and Main Streets (across from the South Carolina State House) in downtown Columbia. The station's transmitter is located on Rush Road in unincorporated southwestern Kershaw County, near Camden. Master control and some internal operations are based at the studios of CW affiliate and Bahakel flagship WCCB (channel 18) off Independence Boulevard in Charlotte, North Carolina.
On cable, WOLO is available on Charter Spectrum channel 5 in both standard and high definition.
The station first signed on the air on May 1, 1953 as WCOS-TV; founded by Columbia Radio, owners of WCOS radio (1400 AM and 97.9 FM, now 97.5), it was the first television station to sign on in South Carolina. The station was originally a primary NBC affiliate and a secondary affiliate of CBS and ABC. The station's original facilities were located in a Quonset hut near the station's current business offices, in what was then unincorporated Richland County (Arcadia Lakes did not become an incorporated community until 1959).
WCOS-TV had very modern equipment by the standards of 1953. However, UHF stations always found it difficult in those days to gain viewership traction as television set manufacturers were not required to equip televisions with UHF tuners until the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed the All-Channel Receiver Act in 1961; even then, UHF tuners were not included on all newer sets until 1964. During the 1950s, viewers had to purchase separate converters in order to watch UHF stations. Even with them, the picture quality left much to be desired.
The problem really manifested itself in the fall of 1953. First in September, channel 25 lost CBS to WNOK-TV (channel 67, now WLTX on channel 19). Then in November, Liberty Life Insurance Company, owner of longtime NBC radio affiliate WIS, signed on WIS-TV (channel 10) as the first (and during the analog television era, only) VHF station in the city. More or less by default, WCOS-TV was left with ABC, becoming the first primary affiliate of the network in the Carolinas. Even though channel 25's fate was sealed when WIS-TV signed on, the station limped along until 1956, when WNOK-TV offered to pay Charles W. Pittman, president of Columbia Radio, to take the struggling station off the air. Pittman, who had put much of his own money into WCOS-TV, accepted and shut the station down on January 21, 1956.
Channel 25 remained dark for over five years, in hopes of returning to the air again "in the near future". On October 1, 1961, local investors bought the channel 25 license and returned the station to the air as ABC affiliate WCCA-TV. As a result of its time off the air, while it was the first television station in the state, it is not the longest continuously operating station in South Carolina—a distinction held by WCSC-TV in Charleston. In 1964, Cy Bahakel, owner of fellow ABC affiliate WCCB-TV (later a Fox affiliate, now a CW affiliate) in Charlotte (100 miles (160 km) north of Columbia), bought the station and changed its call letters to WOLO-TV. WOLO's ownership by the Bahakel family is the longest of any of the Columbia market's television stations, with president Beverly Poston taking over as president of Bahakel Communications after her father's death in 2006.
In 2001, WOLO activated a new transmitter tower along I-20 outside Camden, one of the tallest structures in South Carolina at almost 1,800 feet (550 m). Prior to then, the station had long been plagued by a weak signal. Although it decently covered Columbia and its inner suburbs in Richland and Lexington counties, it only provided grade B signal coverage of the second-largest city in the market, Sumter, and was all but unviewable in the outlying areas. As such, many areas within the market were unable to receive a decent signal from channel 25 until cable television arrived in Columbia in the 1970s. Many residents in the western part of the market received a better signal from WJBF in Augusta (which often carried ABC programs that were preempted by WOLO). The new tower, in contrast, gave WOLO at least secondary coverage of 24 counties.
In the fall of 2005, WOLO changed its on-air branding from "ABC 25" to "ABC Columbia" (this was similar to sister station WCCB's 2002 rebranding from "Fox 18" to "Fox Charlotte"). Beginning in 2014, WOLO began a major expansion of its studio at Main and Gervais. This included the building of a new weather center and an interview set. During the summer of 2015, the station rebuilt the street-side studio set, incorporating multiple monitors and an improved light-control window system. The graphics and music were revamped in October 2015 when John Farley, formerly of WIS, was announced as the Chief Meteorologist for WOLO-TV.
In 2002, the station became the second commercial television station in the Columbia market to sign on a digital signal. WOLO's broadcasts became digital-only, effective June 12, 2009.
|TV stations in South Carolina|
| WOLO, Columbia|
|TV stations in the Midlands of South Carolina, including Columbia|
| WIS 10 (NBC) |
WLTX 19 (CBS)
WOLO 25 (ABC)
WRJA 27 (PBS)
WRLK 35 (PBS)
WZRB 47 (Ion)
WKDC-LD 50 (Daystar)
WACH 57 (Fox)
WKTC 63 (CW/MNTV)