Introduction to Eyewitness News Wiki
WSOC-TV presently broadcasts 34½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 5½ hours on weekdays, and four hours each on Saturdays and Sundays); in addition, the station produces an additional 17 hours of newscasts each week for sister station WAXN-TV (in the form of a two-hour extension of WSOC's weekday morning newscast and an hour-long 10 p.m. newscast).
Since the early 1970s, WSOC-TV has used the Eyewitness News brand for its newscasts. However, its overall news presentation is very similar to the Action News format at Atlanta sister station WSB-TV. When channel 9 expanded its 6 pm newscast to a full hour, it began airing ABC World News Tonight at 7 pm, a half hour later than many ABC affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone. This ended in 1993, when the addition of a newscast at 5:30 pm led the station to cut back the 6 pm newscast to a half hour.
For most of its first quarter-century on the air, WSOC's newscasts placed a very distant second in the Charlotte market, behind the longer-established WBTV. However, in 1981, the station scored a major coup when longtime WBTV anchorman Doug Mayes moved to WSOC, where he stayed until his retirement in 1992. Mayes said years later that WSOC made an offer too generous for him to turn down, considering that he had two kids in college at the time. The move quickly paid off; in 1982, it overtook WBTV for the lead at 11 p.m., a lead it held for almost 25 years. It surpassed WBTV in most other timeslots beginning in 1990, but lost the lead in the noon time period to WBTV in 1994.
Channel 9's two-decade dominance of the early evening news timeslots largely stemmed from the former presence of Oprah as a lead-in to the 5:00 p.m. newscast; the syndicated talk show aired on channel 9 throughout its national run from 1986 to 2011. During the February 2011 ratings period, the station's newscasts won in every time slot except noon and 11 p.m., which were won by WBTV. WSOC-TV lost the lead at noon as well in the February 2013 sweeps period.
By the February 2016 sweeps, however, the departure of a number of key reporters in 2015 resulted in WSOC-TV falling to second place in all timeslots. However, it maintained its historic dominance east of the Catawba River.
Since 2000, WSOC-TV has produced a 10 p.m. newscast for sister station WAXN-TV. The program originated on then-Fox affiliate WCCB through a news share agreement established with that station in 1999, until the summer of 1999, when WCNC took over production of the primetime newscast shortly before WCCB launched its own news department in January 2000. During the February 2011 ratings period, WSOC's 10 p.m. newscast on WAXN placed second behind WCCB's in-house newscast; it also placed ahead of the WBTV-produced newscast on then-CW affiliate WJZY (channel 46, now a Fox owned-and-operated station), as well as the 11 p.m. newscast on WCNC. Bill Walker served as WSOC's main anchor from 1971 until his retirement in 2005, the longest tenure of any news anchor in Charlotte television history.
On April 22, 2007, WSOC-TV became the first television station in the Charlotte market and the second station in North Carolina overall (after Raleigh CBS affiliate WRAL-TV) to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition (WSOC was also the fourth Cox-owned station to upgrade its newscasts to HD, following WSB-TV and Orlando's WFTV); the WAXN broadcasts were not included in the upgrade until October 2008. In September 2010, WSOC began producing a two-hour extension of its morning newscast for WAXN, airing from 7:00-9:00 a.m. (which competes with WSOC's broadcast of Good Morning America).
On August 26, 2012, starting with its 6 p.m. newscast, WSOC-TV debuted a brand new news set and graphics package as well as an updated version of the station's "Circle 9" logo, which has been in use since 1984 (and is similar in resemblance to the "9" logo long used by KUSA in Denver and formerly by KWTV-DT in Oklahoma City). On December 2, 2013, WSOC expanded the WAXN 10:00 p.m. newscast to one hour, citing the growing audience for the program (which had been placing at #1, among the primetime newscast in the Charlotte market; ahead of WCCB's late evening newscast and a WBTV-produced program on WJZY, which has since been replaced with its own in-house newscast) as the reason for the expansion.
Notable former on-air staff
- Jim Cantore - meteorologist (1972-1982 now at The Weather Channel in Atlanta)
- Peter Daut - anchor/reporter (2012–2014, now at KCBS-TV in Los Angeles)
- Doreen Gentzler - anchor/reporter (1979–1983, now at WRC-TV in Washington, D.C.)
- Harold Johnson - sports director (1979–2006, retired; 2010 Republican candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, 8th District of North Carolina)
- Michelle Kosinski - reporter, now CNN correspondent
- Bob Lamey - sportscaster, now Indianapolis Colts radio play-by-play broadcaster
- Diana Williams - reporter (1979–1982; now at WABC-TV in New York City)
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