About WZZM 13

WZZM 13 Station Overview
WZZM Studio The one constant throughout WZZM 13's entire history in West Michigan is our commitment to serve the local community. Our tradition of service and innovation continues in the 21st century. We are determined to make WZZM 13 the number one choice for news, information, and entertainment programming by working for and caring about our viewers, employees, advertisers and shareholders.

WZZM 13 History
On November 1, 1962, at 6:30 pm, WZZM 13 became a reality, fourteen years after television came to West Michigan. Founded by West Michigan Telecasters, WZZM 13 consisted of a staff of approximately 65 people, most of whom substituted devotion and drive in place of television experience. Twenty minutes after signing on the air, WZZM 13 went off again as the first of two transmitter tubes failed during its debut, causing an interruption of nearly ten minutes.

The original home of WZZM 13 was in the old Pantlind Hotel (now the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel). There, in a banquet room turned studio, camera operators dodged around pillars to broadcast their live programs: "This Morning with Bud Lindeman", "Shirley's Show" and one daily fifteen minute newscast at 11 pm consisting of five minutes each of news, sports and weather. One of the early programs, "The Bozo Show", aired on the station for more than 30 years.

The philosophy of management saw a dynamic news operation as the key factor in creating a successful new television station. What followed was a succession of firsts for the West Michigan market. In 1971, "Eyewitness News" introduced the first weather radar in Western Michigan. Three years later, the system was replaced by the first computerized color radar, and "Eyewitness News" provided viewers with the area's first broadcast trained staff of three professional meteorologists. In August 1971, the locally owned West Michigan Telecasters, moved the station to a new multi-million dollar studio on Three Mile Road in Walker. President Gerald R. Ford, then a congressman, presided over dedication ceremonies.

In 1978, the investors who comprised West Michigan Telecasters were rewarded for their patience and good business sense when WZZM 13 was purchased by Wometco Enterprises, Inc. a diversified communications corporation serving communities across the United States. In the years following, it was almost taken for granted that WZZM 13, a station that once gave away TV antennas to encourage viewers into finding the fledgling broadcaster's signal, had become a vital part of the West Michigan community. "WZZM has a quality news operation that should be the envy of many stations in larger markets," wrote the Associated Press in 1980. "No one could help but be impressed with the ability of its personnel and the depth of the stories they turn out ... there is an obvious concern for the quality of life for the station's viewers." United Press International agreed. It named WZZM 13 Michigan's "News Station of the Year" for six consecutive years, from 1980 through 1985, an unprecedented feat.

In the next decade the station changed ownership several times. In 1985, WZZM 13 was sold to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. A year later, KKR agreed to sell the station to Price Communications of New York. Three years later in 1989, Richard Appleton bought the station and founded Northstar Television. Northstar sold WZZM 13 to Argyle, Inc. in 1995.

On January 31, 1997, Gannett Co. Inc. became WZZM 13's owner. Gannett is an international diversified news and information company based in McLean, Virginia. The company owns USA Today, USA Today Weekend, numerous newspapers (including four in Michigan), and television stations throughout the United States. The company also owns newspapers in the United Kingdom.

The year 1997 marked a new era for WZZM 13. Gannett believes in building strong news departments and in giving back to the community. The company invested millions of dollars into the station to upgrade the facility. The company expanded and remodeled the newsroom and built a new control room. We purchased our first SNG truck, two new ENG trucks, a new fleet of news vehicles, and state of the art graphics equipment. WZZM 13 replaced its SVHS tape format with Beta SP. We installed a new radar receiver and erected tower cameras in Grand Rapids and along the Lakeshore. We built a new set and redesigned our logo and graphics package. The evolution of WZZM 13 continues even today. Gannett added staffing to news and created a new department head level position - Community Relations Manager - to focus on community projects. The station established community grants for local non-profit organizations.

This hard work paid off in early 1998, when the Michigan Association of Broadcasters awarded WZZM 13 its "Best Newscast" and "Best Coverage of Spot News" awards. More recently, WZZM 13 was named "Station of the Year" by both the Michigan Association of Broadcasters the Michigan Television News Photographers Association in 2002. Weatherball mascot

WZZM 13 has continued to expand its services to West Michigan. In July 2000, we launched our web site www.wzzm13.com. It is one of the most popular media web sites in West Michigan.

On May 7, 2003, area residents, friends, and WZZM 13 employees gathered to celebrate the long awaited return of a Grand Rapids icon. The Weatherball, renamed the 13 Weatherball, was officially turned on during a lighting ceremony on the 11pm news. After 16 years in mothballs, the beloved icon is back gracing the skyline of the Grand Rapids metro area. Click here for more Weatherball history and information.

Take Five Since May 2003, the station has introduced a new 13 Weatherball song and mascot to the community.

2003 was also the year that WZZM 13 entered into a new era of broadcasting. We launched WZZM-DT, which is our high definition television channel (also called HDTV). Nearly all of ABC's primetime programming line-up and many sporting events are produced in this high quality format. Click here for more information about DTV / HDTV.

In March 2004, the station created a new Local Programming unit, which launched a new Monday -- Friday local program called Take Five. WeatherballThe program is "talk radio on TV" and entertainment show wrapped into one half-hour program. It is the only program of its kind in West Michigan.

WZZM 13 prides itself in being the TECHNOLOGY leader in the market. We launched a 24X7 local weather channel in December 2004, which air weather information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The 13 On Target Weather Network can be viewed on WZZM-DT 13-2 over the air with an antenna and on Comcast and Charter digital channel 247.

2005: We started providing our news, weather and sports a number of other ways: audio podcasts, video podcasts, and webcasts, which can be accessed through www.wzzm13.com.

As we move into the 21st century, our commitment to service and innovation continues. WZZM 13 is determined to work hard every day to win the loyalty of our customers.

WZZM 13 is owned by Gannett Co. Inc. Gannett Broadcasting consists of 22 television stations reaching 17.4 percent of the U.S. television market.


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    Gannett Co., Inc. is an international news and information company that publishes 99 daily newspapers in the USA, including USA TODAY, the nation’s largest-selling daily newspaper. The company also owns in excess of 200 non-daily publications in the USA, including USA WEEKEND, a newspaper magazine. In the United Kingdom, Gannett subsidiary Newsquest plc publishes nearly 300 titles, including 15 daily newspapers. Gannett is an Internet leader with sites sponsored by most of its TV stations and newspapers including USATODAY.com, one of the most popular news sites on the web.



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