WKZO to WWMT - Fetzer Broadcasting to Sinclair Communications
Here is a history timeline for Newschannel 3, from the station's inception to the launch of the Lori Moore Show in 2014:
3/05/01 Mr. John Earl Fetzer (JEF) was born in Decatur, IN and married Rhea Yeager in 1926 in Benton Harbor.
1919 Mr. Fetzer received a license for a general amateur radio station.
April 1923 Mr. Fetzer started 8ZA, an experimental radio station while a student at Emmanuel Christian College (now Andrews University) in Berrien Springs. The success encouraged the college to start KFGZ, the Radio Lighthouse. The call letters were changed to WEMC in 1925.
In 1930 The college was unwilling to allow the solicitation of donations and it was a non-commercial operation, so due to financially being under, the college looked to sell the station. John Fetzer purchased WEMC for $5,000 from Emmanuel Christian College.
September 1, 1931 Mr. Fetzer moved WEMC to Kalamazoo and changed the call letters to WKZO. The radio station was owned by Mr. Fetzer until his death in 1991.
In 1939 WKZO won the landmark "590 Case" with a ruling from the FCC, which granted nighttime broadcasts using a directional radio antenna. The ruling allowed 3-5,000 additional radio stations to go on the air.
March 17, 1939 WKZO suite of offices and studios at Burdick Hotel are near completion. The entire west wing of the 7th floor accommodates the radio station.
1940 WKZO extended its coverage to 18 hours a day. Programs include Tigers baseball, "Helen Hayes Theater," the "Kate Smith Hour," "Lux Radio Theater," and "Amos and Andy."
7/14/40 WKZO joined the CBS network. WKZO was the exclusive outlet in Michigan, outside of Detroit. It was the 120th station to join CBS, which was the largest network.
1944 Mr. Fetzer was appointed Assistant Director of Censorship for Broadcasting by President Roosevelt.
1945 General Eisenhower approved the appointment of JEF and other distinguished journalists and broadcasting executives to conduct a National Association of Broadcasting (NAB) inspection tour of radio stations in Europe.
3/4/47 WWDT (now WDIV) Detroit Channel 4 began experimental broadcasts and was the first Michigan television station.
1949 Mr. Fetzer was granted a license for a television station in Kalamazoo and assigned Channel 3.
1/1/49 WKZO inaugurated its new "block long radio city" on the 2nd floor of the Burdick Hotel in downtown Kalamazoo. It moved from the 7th floor.
6/1/50 Mr. Fetzer turned to television. With a group of engineers and a room at the Burdick Hotel in downtown Kalamazoo, Mr. Fetzer's dream was soon a reality and WKZO-TV 3 debuted as West Michigan's CBS affiliate on June 1, 1950. Fetzer Broadcasting signed on WWMT as WKZO-TV3 (KalamaZoO), west Michigan's 2nd television station after WLAV (WOOD), which signed on 8/15/49, and the 2nd CBS in Michigan after WLNS (Lansing). Originally WKZO was part of the South Bend DMA. The station was the nation's 102nd station and Michigan's 5th.
From sign on, WKZO-TV was simultaneously the CBS, NBC and ABC Affiliates for SW Michigan. Starting in 1960 WZKO dropped the NBC sign and then shared the ABC signal with WOOD. Some nights it would televise CBS and other nights ABC. WKZO-TV dropped its ABC affiliation in 1962 when the FCC permitted WZZM to broadcast its Channel 13 signal on VHF channel 12 in the Kalamazoo area. The tower was on North 47th Street in Oshtemo Township.
Through the 1950s and 1960s, viewers enjoyed a variety of local live shows. Starting in 1955, Monday through Friday, kids were the stars of the "Channel 3 Clubhouse," a West Michigan staple until 1980. The last show was taped on January 30, 1980. Many baby boomers made their television debut on the Clubhouse.
Saturday was for Rem Wall and the Green Valley Boys on the "Green Valley Jamboree." Their country-western music was a hit for years, and members of the original band still perform now and then. His final WKZO broadcast was 11/29/1980.
At lunch time viewers enjoyed "Feminine Fancies," which later became "Accent." The original television host was Peg Small, who was the first female Mr. Fetzer had on air.
7/9/50 WKZO began transmission of regularly scheduled programs. Prior to this, the station had been airing test patterns and afternoon movies. WKZO became a basic CBS network station; but a few programs were picked up from the other networks. WKZO became one of 20 network stations selected to carry all top CBS programs.
1952 Mr. Fetzer became the first Chair of the Television Code Review Board of the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters, serving until 1955.
4/5/53 Newscaster Hugh Harper did the first live WKZO-TV local newscast. It was 5 minutes long at midday. In Sept. it moved and developed into a 15-min. newscast. It was a 3-man news team titled "News, Views and Sports" with Dr. Willis Dunbar, who did the national news and Len Colby, who read sports.
8/13/54 WKZO started transmitting with the world's largest television antenna; and the power increased to 10,000 watts.
1956 Mr. Fetzer purchased six acres at 590 W. Maple Street in Kalamazoo and broke ground to move the television and radio stations to the Fetzer Broadcast House. The land had been occupied by Keegan Motor Sales. The television and radio stations moved into the remodeled car dealership on June 1958. It has undergone extensive changes throughout the years and continues to morph as the industry needs change.
1956 Mr. Fetzer acquired the Detroit Tigers from the Briggs family for $5.5M as part owner and became full owner in 1961. WKZO became the television home of the Tigers in West Michigan to the delight of thousands of viewers who witnessed the team's World Series win in 1968. Mr. Fetzer sold the Tigers to Tom Monahan in 1983 for $53M.
1960 1,100 foot transmitter was built near the northern edge of Gun Lake, which was within 15 miles of Kalamazoo as required by the FCC, yet reached into the City of Grand Rapids. This made WKZO move it's DMA from South Bend to Grand Rapids.
1968 Color television came to Channel 3 with the station's first color film processor. "Living color" was a big step, but was consistent with John Fetzer's willingness to embrace technology and take risks.
Throughout the 1970s, WKZO and "NewsActive 3" covered West Michigan events. The remote cameras were seen in Holland at Tulip Time, in Grand Rapids for the Festival of the Arts, in Battle Creek at the Balloon Festival and in Kalamazoo for the Holiday Parade. From elections to festivals, Channel 3 was West Michigan's choice for local television!
12/3/85, Mr. Fetzer sells the television station to George Gillette's Gillette Holdings (Vail Resorts, Inc.). Mr. Fetzer did keep the radio stations. One era ended and a new chapter began to be written by the separate owners. The agreement allowed the radio station to remain in the building.
12/5/85 The television call letters were changed to WWMT (We're West Michigan Television).
8/27/87 Larry Busse purchased WWMT from George Gillette, along with KOLN, WEAU, KOKH, WRLH and Winnebago Color Press.
2/1/89 The first "Hello West Michigan" commercial is recorded in front of the State Theater.
4/24/89 WWMT Morning News debuted with Cindy Dole.
2/20/91 Mr. Fetzer passed away in Hawaii.
2/10/92 WWMT launched News 3 Midday. It was launched as a 15-minute segment during the Winter Olympics aired by CBS. After the Olympics (2/24/92) the show moved to one half hour. The show was hosted by Cindy Dole and Dennis House.
9/4/94 WWMT launched 5:30pm newscast hosted by Cindy Dole, Jamie Boll and Keith Thompson.
10/24/94 Jamie Boll moved from Midday (noon) and 5:30pm to main 6p/11pm anchor, replacing Barry Shanley.
12/4/94 Jim Mertens moved from weekends to replace Jamie at noon and 5:30pm.
6/1/95 Granite Broadcasting purchased WWMT for $95M.
At the end of 1995, WKZO radio moved out of the 590 W. Maple Street location and the television station remodeled its lobby, the radio side and back offices to be more efficient.
8/12/96 Morning news expanded to 6a-8a with hosts Amy Rutledge and Ron Boyd and evening news expanded to 5p-5:30p, hosted by Dave Balut and Meredith Swanson Boll.
8/26/96 Storm Tracker weather system debuted. The system integrated live radar data with the computer technology to pinpoint exact locations of strong weather.
9/7/96 Saturday/Sunday 7a-9a news blocks started hosted by Peter Sack and Diane Daniels Pilarski.
10/17/96 WWMT/Granite did a LMA (leased marketing agreement) with WLAJ.
10/28/96 New news set, graphics and music were unveiled on air with a large video wall, in-studio weather center and pivotal anchor desk.
7/15/1998, WWMT Channel 3 began writing another chapter in its long broadcasting history when it became part of the Freedom Communications family for $150M. Freedom also had the ability to change the WLAJ LMA to a station owned by Freedom for $19M; and it continued to be operated by WWMT. Freedom Communications was a privately owned diverse media company of newspapers, television stations and interactive media businesses. Freedom published 28 daily and 37 weekly newspapers, and the broadcast division included eight stations including five CBS and three ABC network affiliates.
2000 Channel 3 has celebrated its Golden Anniversary and the new millennium unfolded before us.
6/30/00 The station closed down its Grand Rapids sales office and by the end of the year had stopped the Saturday/Sunday morning newscasts.
7/1/02 WWMT went digital and had a 2nd channel WWMT-DT.
4/4/06 WWMT announced it will be the home of CW7 on its digital channel airing its first show on 9/18/06.
3/19/07 Newschannel 3 Live at 5am launched with Holly Doyle, Mike Bridges and Ron Boyd. The show was 1 hour long lengthening morning news to 5am - 8am.
9/18/08 WWMT launched a 10pm 1/2 hour newscast on CW7.
6/12/09 WWMT became Digital, shutting down its analog signal and moved to VHF channel 8.
6/9/10 WWMT converted its transmitter to HD.
4/17/11 WWMT converted its Newscasts to HD.
12/1/11 Sinclair Broadcasting Group LMA'ed the Freedom Stations, purchasing all of them on 4/1/12 for $385M.
4/23/12 WWMT started doing AM news at 4:30am with Josh Roe, Marcie Kobriger & Jeff Porter.
1/19/13 Restarted Sat (6-8a)/Sun (7-9a) morning news on WWMT - Jessica Harthorn weekend morning anchor with Cyndi Kahlbaum as Meteorologist.
3/1/13 Sinclair sold WLAJ to Young Broadcasting and WWMT had no further responsibilities to the station after 3/31/13.
9/8/14 CW7 launched "The Lori Moore Show." It was to be called "Lori Moore: Love Where You Live" but due to legal reasons it was changed. The show was launched as a 1/2 hour show airing 4-4:30p on the CW7.