WOOD-TV, virtual channel 8 (VHF digital channel 7), is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States and serving the Grand Rapids–Kalamazoo–Battle Creek television market. The station is owned by Nexstar Media Group as part of a duopoly with Battle Creek-licensed ABC affiliate WOTV (channel 41), and is also a sister station to Class A MyNetworkTV affiliate WXSP-CD (channel 15). All three stations share studios on College Avenue Southeast in the Heritage Hill section of Grand Rapids; WOOD-TV's transmitter is located in Middleville near the Barry and Allegan county line.
In addition to its main signal, WOOD-TV operates Class A digital translator WOGC-CD (UHF channel 25), licensed to Holland with a transmitter in Zeeland along I-196 on the tower of FM radio station WJQK. There is also a digital repeater on channel 46 licensed to Muskegon with a transmitter in the Wolf Lake section of Egelston Township.
The station signed on the air on August 15, 1949 as WLAV-TV, originally broadcasting on VHF channel 7; it was the fourth television station in Michigan and the first located outside of Detroit. The station was originally owned by Grand Rapids businessman Leonard Adrian Versluis, who in 1940 had also signed-on Grand Rapids' second radio station, WLAV (1340 AM, now WJRW). In 1951, Versluis sold the television station to Grandwood Broadcasting for $1.37 million. The Bitner Group subsidiary was also owner of WOOD, the first radio station in Grand Rapids.
Grandwood had originally applied for its television license back in 1948, but the application just barely made a deadline prior to the Federal Communications Commission's freeze on new television construction permits. In fact, the application for WLAV-TV had been one of the last construction permits issued before the freeze. Grandwood eventually grew tired of waiting and cut a deal with Versluis to buy the station. On October 19, WLAV changed its call letters to WOOD-TV to match its radio sister and began airing from a new transmitter in northeastern Grand Rapids.
During the FCC's licensing freeze the commission developed channel allocation and separation to eliminate interference between stations with the same frequency. As a result, WOOD-TV was reassigned to channel 8 to avoid interference with WLS-TV on channel 7 in Chicago. It moved to channel 8 and increased its transmitter power from 28,000 to 100,000 watts on December 8, 1953. The channel change was promoted as "Mark the date: We move to Channel Eight on December Eight". In 1955, it moved to its current facilities in the Heritage Hill section of Grand Rapids, where its new studios replaced the Bissell mansion (of Bissell vacuum fame) and are across the street from the Voigt House Victorian Museum. All of the Bitner Group's stations were then sold, for a then-record-breaking $16 million, to Time-Life, Inc. in 1957.
WOOD-TV has been an NBC affiliate from the very beginning, although it had a secondary affiliation with CBS until WKZO-TV (channel 3, now WWMT) in Kalamazoo expanded its signal to cover the greater Grand Rapids/Tri-Cities area. It also had secondary affiliations with ABC and DuMont; however, the DuMont affiliation would end in 1956 when that network ceased operations, and the ABC affiliation was terminated in 1962 when WZZM-TV (channel 13) began operations.
Due to a now-repealed FCC rule in place at the time that prohibited TV and radio stations in the same market, but different ownership from sharing the same callsign, the station's call letters were changed to WOTV on July 1, 1972 when WOOD-AM was sold; FCC regulations at the time required TV and radio stations in the same market, but with different ownership to have different callsigns. Time-Life also sold most of its television stations to McGraw-Hill that year (initially intending to include WOTV in the deal, though it was retained), but held on to WOTV until 1983 when it was sold to LIN Broadcasting. On June 1, 1992, the station reclaimed its original WOOD-TV callsign with WOOD-AM's permission (the above-mentioned FCC callsign rule had been repealed by that time). The station then donated the WOTV calls to WUHQ, the ABC affiliate for the southern portion of the Southwestern Michigan market with whom it had recently signed a local marketing agreement (LMA).
In 1994, LIN Broadcasting spun off its television division into a separate company known as LIN TV Corporation, but WOOD-TV was not included in the transaction. Instead, the station became wholly owned by AT&T (which also owned a 45 percent interest in LIN TV at the time), when that company absorbed the remainder of LIN Broadcasting in 1995; however, LIN TV continued to manage both WOOD-TV and WOTV. LIN TV reacquired WOOD-TV and its LMA with WOTV in 1999 when AT&T sold-off its stake in the company to Hicks, Muse, Furst, and Tate (now HM Capital). LIN TV eventually purchased WOTV outright in 2001.
On March 21, 2014, it was announced that Media General would acquire LIN. The deal closed on December 19, bringing WOOD, along with WOTV and WXSP-CD, under common ownership with CBS affiliate WLNS-TV in Lansing.
On January 27, 2016, Media General announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Nexstar Broadcasting Group. The combined company will be known as Nexstar Media Group, and will own 171 stations, including WOOD-TV, serving an estimated 39% of households. The acquisition was completed on January 17, 2017.
On December 3, 2018, Nexstar announced it would acquire the assets of Tribune Media (owners of Fox affiliate WXMI) for $6.4 billion in cash and debt. Nexstar is precluded from acquiring WXMI directly or indirectly, as FCC regulations prohibit common ownership of more than two stations in the same media market, or two or more of the four highest-rated stations in the market. As such, Nexstar was required to sell either WXMI, WOOD and/or WOTV to separate, unrelated companies to address the ownership conflict. A sale of WXSP-CD was not required, as WXSP does not rank among the four highest-rated stations in the Grand Rapids–Kalamazoo–Battle Creek market and is not subject to FCC duopoly rules as it is licensed as a Class A low-power station. On March 20, 2019, it was announced Nexstar would keep both the WOOD-TV/WOTV duopoly and WXSP-CD and sell WXMI to the Cincinnati-based E. W. Scripps Company, as part of the company's sale of nineteen Nexstar- and Tribune-operated stations to Scripps and Tegna Inc. in separate deals worth $1.32 billion.
|TV stations in Michigan|
|TV stations in West Michigan, including Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, and Battle Creek|
|WWMT 3 (CBS) |
WOOD 8 (NBC)
WZZM 13 (ABC)
WXSP-CD 15 (MNTV)
WXMI 17 (Fox)
WUHQ-LD 29 (Daystar)
WGVU 35 (PBS)
WMKG-CD 38 (TFC)
WOTV 41 (ABC)
WZPX 43 (Ion)
W48CL 48 (3ABN)
WTLJ 54 (TCT)
WLLA 64 (Rel)