Contact Us

The History Of WSB-TV/Channel 2

None — As the first television news operation in the South, Channel 2 Action News continues its position of leadership and strength. While many local competitors have joined the picture over the years, Channel 2 maintains the leadership role in the market that puts it in the top tier of stations in the country. From rating book to rating book, Channel 2 Action News regularly draws more than 55% of the total local news audience in the Atlanta area.

With 7 hours of local news each weekday and a total of 45 hours each week, Channel 2 Action News delivers a comprehensive “what’s happening now” picture of the community to its viewers. The amount of local news programming ensures a convenient time period for local news viewing for every lifestyle.

The day begins with 3.5 hours of early morning local news from 4:30-7 a.m., continues with a full hour of midday news from noon to 1 p.m., three hours of early evening news, 4-7 p.m., with Channel 2 Action News Nightbeat at 11 p.m. wrapping up the day.

The team doesn’t rest on the weekends. Saturday mornings begin early with three hours of local news from 6 to 9 a.m., followed by a half-hour of news at noon. On Sunday mornings, the local news runs from 7:30 to 11 a.m., followed up by the noon news.

According to the ratings, as reported by Nielsen Media Research, Channel 2 clearly epitomizes the words “overall dominance.” It consistently wins 21 of 24 hours of the total broadcast day; that’s 88 percent of the daily programming!

Today, Channel 2 Action News serves its viewers across multiple platforms beyond the traditional television channel. Online and on mobile phones, delivers comprehensive local news, weather and sports information, as well as breaking news and weather email and text alerts to its users. In 2009, the station launched Apps for the growing percentage of people using iPhone and Android smart phones in the Atlanta market.

Quick History

Atlanta has emerged from her early days as a railroad town to today’s new international city. Georgia’s capital has earned a reputation for quality, growth, initiative and urban innovation.

It was in this spirit that WSB Radio was born in 1922, becoming the South’s first radio station. The famous call letters stood for “Welcome South Brother” and during the decades since its debut, WSB and Atlanta have been inseparably linked as they’ve surged to prominence.

The relationship between WSB Radio and WSB-TV also go hand in hand. In 1948, as the new electronic frontier expanded, WSB was granted a license to operate a television station on channel 8 (now channel 2). It went immediately into production over closed circuit lines to show the public this “new fangled” thing called television. On Sept. 29, 1948, the station became one of the first television stations in the South. “WSB-TV is on the air,” announcer John Cone boomed from a new studio just north of the point where West Peachtree and Peachtree intersect.

That first night, viewers watched the Baptist Hour Choir, saw a national news film, Ace Richman’s Sunshine Boys and marionettes manipulated by Don and Ruth Gilpin. They also got a preview of local news coverage, featuring a remarkable 8-day-old baby who could stand and President Harry S. Truman, both of whom were among the newsmakers that day.

In 1955, WSB-TV and WSB Radio moved into the building that housed the operations for the next 43 years. A shortage of materials, caused by the Korean War, had delayed construction for six years. The new structure became known as “White Columns” and was a magnificent blend of history and emerging technology. Its columned front entrance evoked the grandeur and tradition of the South, warmly welcoming visitors into a state-of-the-art facility. Behind that entrance was 40,000 square feet of floor space housing TV and radio studios and offices. It cost $1.5 million to build.


In 1975, Channel 2 Action News switched from film to videotape for recording news reports on the scene. This marked a dramatic increase in the speed at which news could be recorded, edited and put to air. Since photographers no longer had to develop film, stories could be shot much closer to air, increasing the number of local stories the station could cover for a newscast. It also improved archival systems for the news library of stories, allowing reporters to search and use historical footage to add depth and detail as stories progressed.

Channel 2 led the way in many other newsgathering technical improvements including live remote capabilities and the use of satellite technology to file live stories from areas too remote or distant for standard microwave signals.

On Jan. 1, 1981, WSB-TV switched its network affiliation from the NBC Television Network to the ABC Television Network, bringing comedy hits like “Happy Days” and “Laverne and Shirley” into the living rooms of the growing North Georgia area.

In the late 90’s, Channel 2 became the first station in Georgia, and among a handful in the nation, to lead the industry into the digital age of television and the enhanced quality of high definition broadcasting. WSB-TV demonstrated an early commitment to the expensive technology and notified the Federal Communications Commission that it would begin transmitting its digital channel by 1998, well ahead of most of the country.

Jim Kennedy, chairman of Cox Enterprises, flipped the switch, putting WSB-DT, Channel 39, on the air on April 17, 1998, right on schedule. Very little programming was available in high definition at first. Now, almost all of ABC’s primetime shows air in the new format, offering a clearer picture on a wider screen with theatrical sound in Dolby 5.1 audio. It is changing the way people watch and experience television.

In June of 1998, WSB-TV and WSB Radio completed the move into their new home, which was constructed right next to White Columns on the corner of Beverly Road and West Peachtree Street. Fully digital and five times larger than White Columns, the 200,000 square-foot building was designed for the new millennium. The old building was razed once the new technical facility became operational. The station preserved four of the historic original white columns. They stand in the rear garden area of the midtown Atlanta building and commemorate the past accomplishments and community service of WSB TV and Radio. The columns also serve as a reminder of the responsibility to carry that legacy forward.

Channel 2 Action News made Georgia television history on September 27, 2006 when it flipped the switch to high definition with Channel 2 Action News at Noon. This made WSB the first Georgia station to bring viewers Doppler 2 Radar and News Chopper 2 pictures in HDTV.

Broadcasting technology continues to change and on June 12, 2009, WSB completed the switch from analog to digital broadcast television. Now, WSB-TV broadcasts only digital, over-the-air signals.

Key perennial hit shows such as “Entertainment Tonight” along with ABC programs like “Good Morning America,” “The View” and “ABC World News,” draw the largest and most loyal audiences in the market. These programs, when layered in with the power of Channel 2 Action News, create strength in reach and coverage unparalleled in other large markets.

Channel 2’s Local Programming department produces award-winning primetime specials that showcase people and stories in a significant way. On an average, WSB-TV turns out more than 20 local specials each year including specials such as “Georgia’s Hidden Treasures,” “The King Papers,” “Saving Grady” and the economy special “Path 2 Recovery.” The department also produces live coverage of events including “Salute 2 America Celebration at Lenox Square,” The Lighting of Macy’s Great Tree” and “The Children’s Healthcare Parade” each year.

In addition, Channel 2 produces several weekly programs including "Channel 2 High Q," a quiz show among the brightest minds in Georgia High Schools, "Sports Zone Friday," a game day high school football coverage project, and "Hot Topics," a weekly magazine show providing coverage of the most-talked about stories.

For community outreach, nothing equals the success of Channel 2's "Family 2 Family" project. This ongoing, statewide public service campaign includes prime time special programs, public service announcements, fundraising efforts and news coverage targeting family issues. Started in 1985, it has become a model for community-focused campaigns used by television stations around the country.

Digital Delivery

The new digital age opened the opportunity for Channel 2 to move into the Internet world and serve its viewers on the World Wide Web. Its website,, leads the way in Georgia as the most used, most frequently visited local television website in the market. It brings the world of late-breaking news to office workers through email alerts, streaming video of breaking news and important events, as well as personal weather forecasts.

Tripling in audience reach over the last three years, continues to expand and add more depth and information, giving viewers more ways to gain access to news and information, and affording advertisers a prime opportunity to reach their target markets. The high-speed connections of the office moved into neighborhoods through DSL and cable, creating greater accessibility. Channel 2 has been growing its online and mobile coverage on the weekends as families grew their internet and mobile access to their news and weather sources from home and on the go.

As more and more viewers depend on their mobile devices, cell phones, smart phones and PDAs, to stay in contact with local news, Channel 2’s mobile site has thrived, growing in users and page views at 40% a year.

Channel 2 joined the social media world of communication setting up pages on Facebook and regularly contributing to Twitter. This continues the station's approach to delivering news content when and where its viewers want it.

Taking advantage of the digital spectrum over which it broadcasts its major programming, the station also began broadcasting MeTV, on digital channel 2.2. The station programs family programming from the 60's and 70's with shows like "I Love Lucy," "Gunsmoke," "MASH," "Dick Van Dyke," "The Twilight Zone" and "Bonanza".

The Atlanta market, which includes 54 counties in North Georgia, continues to grow and is currently the 9th recently market in the country. Atlanta is a city that is full of history, and throughout many of those historical moments, Channel 2 has been right there, documenting the stories, clarifying the issues, and supporting and leading its community.

Channel 2, WSB-TV is part of Cox Media Group, Inc., a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises. CMG is an integrated broadcasting, publishing and digital media company that includes the national advertising rep firms of Cox Reps. With revenues exceeding $1.8 billion, the company operations include 15 broadcast television stations and one local cable channel, 85 radio stations, 8 daily newspapers and more than a dozen non-daily publications, and more than 100 digital services. Additionally, CMG owns and operates Valpak, one of the leading direct marketing companies in North America.

In addition to WSB-TV, CMG owns and operates Atlanta properties including four radio stations; WSB-AM, WSB-FM, WALR-FM and WSRV-FM, and, two newspapers; The Atlanta Journal Constitution and Mundo Hispanico.

Comments on this article