ATLANTA — Channel 2 WSB-TV announces its plan for recognizing the milestone of seven decades on the air with the project called "70 Years of Coverage."
The station has mounted a multiplatform release of content using archival news footage that highlights the major stories over the decades, explores the changing technology at the station, the advances in weather forecasting and radar technologies, and, remembering the people who played vital roles with the station through the years.
Starting on Monday, September 24, and every day leading up to the anniversary on Saturday, Channel 2 Action News at 5 p.m. will be recognizing "70 Years of Coverage" with reports on key topics that defined the years: Weather, Civil Rights, Technology, Sports, Politics and Major News Stories and Events.
All during the week the station will publish content on its digital platforms, wsbtv.com, smart phone, Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire, along with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.
This content looks back at everything from old station promos, former anchors (and their hairdos) along with the serious news of the times and the station logos through the years.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution went into its archives and found the front pages of the Journal and the Constitution which capture the events that occurred on September 29, 1948 to put the reader into the context of that era in which the station went on the air.
The week ends with a one-hour prime time special airing Sunday, September 30 at 7 p.m. on Channel 2. The program, "70 Years of WSB-TV," was produced by Laura Reed, Senior Executive Producer in Channel 2's award winning Local Programming department. Jovita Moore and Justin Farmer, Anchors for Channel 2 Action News at 5, 6 and 11 p.m., host the program.
“This has been a pure work of love,” said Tracey Christensen, Director of Local and Digital Programming. “We could have produced many more hours with the rich resources of history WSB-TV has preserved. And, frankly, there are so many veterans of Channel 2 who spent their careers here available, we’re at no shortage of first-hand knowledge of most of the 70 year history."
“I think that our audience will really enjoy this special, as well as the rest of the content available online,” added Christensen.
- WHAT: 70 Years of WSB-TV
- WHO: Channel 2's Jovita Moore and Justin Farmer
- WHEN: Sunday, September 30, 7-8 p.m.
- WHERE: Channel 2 WSB-TV, BOUNCE TV, all WSBTV streaming channels on WSB News App and Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire
Atlanta’s History Lies in “The Vault”
Last year, Channel 2 partnered with The University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication which maintains the WSB-TV archives in a climate controlled, four-story underground bunker called “The Vault.”
Professor Janice Hume led a special class in historical journalism this past Spring in which the students took part in what was much like an archeological dig through the station’s film and video archives. Their classwork assignment was to break into teams, each of which tackled a decade and identified the big stories Channel 2 covered.
The class ended the semester with each team presenting their findings and how they would use today’s communication tools to present those stories to Channel 2’s audience. Through this process the students saw how the news stories of the day were treated, how they were reported based on the existing technologies, and how the daily news overtime became Atlanta and Georgia’s recorded history.
The fact that so much footage was saved impressed the students with the foresight shown by WSB-TV leaders to take such care to preserve the past.
“It’s important for people to go back and understand the past,” Professor Hume told Channel 2. “In early television, for example, it [video] was like Kleenex. They used it and threw it away. There's so much early television lost to history.” Hume added that it was, “impressive that WSBTV saved its footage. So many places, both national and local television, did not.”
“From the perspective of 2018, that initial technological feat of broadcast moving pictures with audio, transmissions that anyone could receive with an antenna, may not seem very impressive today in the light of all that seamlessly flows into our phones in our pockets,” said Steve Riley, Director of Marketing for Channel 2. “However, looking back in time through the lens of 1948, just three years after the end of World War II, the advent of television was so new there weren’t many people with TV sets at all. Estimates pin it to no more than 2,500 TV sets in homes in Atlanta at the time. It certainly exploded with popularity as everyone began buying TV sets. Today, there are more than 6 million in Channel 2’s coverage area.”
Also, in 1948, there were only a few dozen stations operating in the country, and one of those was WSB-TV.
The Mission Driving 70 Years of Coverage
“Channel 2 has always held to its core mission built upon impartially covering the important and major news events and breaking news stories and to be an effective voice for the community in issues facing the lives and livelihood of the citizens living here,” said Paul Briggs, Vice President of Content for Cox Media Group Atlanta.
“Everyone talks about the internet as the great disruptor,” Briggs continued. “It certainly has been. But make no mistake, TV, itself, was a disruptor in 1948. It changed people’s understanding and sense of urgency. It changed the news business. And, it changed how people planned and spent their evenings.”
“For the first time people could see the news as if it was right in their own living rooms. They could almost feel what was happening in their community, city and the world,” said Misti Turnbull, News Director for Channel 2 Action News. “And we want our viewers to feel that first-hand even more so today than ever before.”
“They will also see how TV made it impossible for the country to ignore the Civil Rights Movement,” added Turnbull. “A fact not lost on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
Many advancements gave the Channel 2 newsroom improved capabilities to react almost instantly to breaking news.
“From film to tape to digital, from live on the scene reports using microwave transmission, then satellite and now broadband, each new technology brought viewers closer to what was happening right when it was happening,” said Brian Smith, Director of News Technology for Channel 2.
“Weather technology has made dramatic leaps and Severe Weather Team 2 has always led the way with major advancements in weather forecasting and coverage. StormTracker2HD ranks as one of the most powerful radars in the world,” Smith added. “It has given Chief Meteorologist Glenn Burns and his team exacting data to track fast-moving tornadoes and storms across Channel 2’s coverage area. It’s our weapon to keep families weather-safe. “And now, almost everything that our crews shoot in the field immediately goes into the cloud so that it is available to our full team back at the station. It really is amazing.”
“Project ’70 Years of Coverage’ really shows how this station has taken every opportunity along the way in technological advancement to improve its coverage. To make it faster, more responsive, more available,” said Riley.
“But leading in technology is just part of what makes Channel 2 special. The rest, we say, lies in the ‘secret sauce’ that is the unique blend of the people, their connections, care and concern for the community, our overwhelming dedication to get it right through relentless organization, planning and focus that underpins this great station and its reputation. It’s the combination of those elements that separates WSB-TV from the rest. And it is the responsibility of that those of us honored to work here to leverage each and every day and to continue Channel 2’s legacy with the same simple mission: cover the major news, investigate and uncover what’s really going on in our state and community governments and businesses, and, to reflect the community of Northern Georgia in our coverage. It is at the root of why Channel 2 is undeniably the local resource that people depend on to get information quickly, accurately, when and how they want to receive it, and to trust that it is fair, balanced and based on facts.”
Recent Advances in Technology
In 2016, WSB-TV began broadcasting from its newly installed News and Severe Weather Center 2, the new studio home for Atlanta’s #1 station for local news and weather.
“We’ve taken full advantage of the latest in technological advancements to build in an almost limitless number of ways to tell the key news of the day,” said then Vice President and General Manager Tim McVay. “We’ve worked on this for the last 18 months. I am very excited about opening our new home up to our viewers. After all, we built it for them. We want them to feel immediately at home.”
“We took great care to evolve the style and tone of the Channel 2 brand while rocketing our technological capabilities forward,” said Riley. “The entire process has energized the team. Together, we will take every advantage the News and Weather Center affords.”
“This project was the next step in taking Channel 2 Action News into the future,” said Misti Turnbull, Channel 2’s News Director. “We reengineered our newsroom two years ago (2014) to transform our capacity to produce local, original content for all of our digital platforms. Now, our News and Severe Weather Center takes the television experience to a whole new level.”
The multi-functional areas make better places for detailed story-telling, breaking news, and in-depth weather coverage. The hub of the set features an anchor desk in front of a state of the art seamless video wall. The curved wall spans 22 feet. The anchor desk can also rotate 90 degrees to showcase Severe Weather Center 2, connecting the two together during breaking severe weather.
The versatility allows the newscasts to move and change with the content. A second monitor wall splits into as many as six different combinations of sizes so that different pieces of content and graphics can be used to break down a story. The goal of the new set was to inspire the team’s imagination of storytelling.
The latest high-tech scenic elements give anchors tools to engage in stories in new ways while in keeping with the personality traits of Channel 2 Action News: straightforward, balanced, reliable, friendly and, home.
Severe Weather Center 2 includes a specially designed “S” shaped command center that houses StormTracker2HD, the world’s most powerful radar. StormTracker2HD also now includes IceTracker2, exclusive new technology that predicts and tracks the formation of ice, a frequent and dangerous severe winter weather effect in our area. Severe Weather Center 2 includes its own large video monitor array for forecasting and displaying weather video coverage. This is also the office for Severe Weather Team 2 and includes four more high-tech work stations all connected to StormTracker2HD and additional storage.
“Our new home gives our team the most advanced way to show people at home where dangerous weather is moving,” said Chief Meteorologist Glenn Burns.
“It’s all about giving viewers the best pictures and the best information to keep their families safe during severe weather,” Burns added.
“The new set is one more demonstration of our commitment to bring viewers high quality news, weather and local sports coverage,” said McVay. “I am proud of how the News and Weather Center all came together and we are excited at the endless possibilities it provides.” McVay added. Channel 2 has a rich history of technological firsts.
About Channel 2 WSB-TV: The ABC Affiliate is part of Cox Media Group Atlanta and ranks as Atlanta's number one local television station. The station also operates its website, wsbtv.com, its mobile site, m.wsbtv.com, plus News, Weather and Traffic Apps, airs BOUNCETV on its digital sub-channel 2.2, and LAFF on 2.3. WSB-TV also provides news, weather and traffic on WSB-TV's Facebook page, on Twitter and on Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire.
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