WIAT 42 is the CBS-TV affiliate for the Birmingham/Tuscaloosa/Anniston market. It is a UHF television station licensed to Birmingham on analog channel 42 (digital channel 30). Its transmitter, the WIAT Tower, is located on Red Mountain. The station is currently owned by Atlanta-based New Vision Television.
The station, originally proposed by the The Birmingham News Company as WSGN-TV, was approved by the Federal Communications Commission in December 1952. Post-war shortages of transmitters delayed the broadcast debut for several years. Eventually the channel launched as WBMG in 1965. The station was purchased by Park Communications in 1973, and sold to Media General in 1997. The new owners changed the station's call letters to WIAT (It's About Time) in 1998 as part of an overall rebranding of the station's flagging news department.
On New Year's Day, 1998, General Manager Eric Land cancelled WBMG's newscast and shut down the news department. Over the next month, the station went through a serious overhaul from graphics and set to logo and newscast format. During that time, the station showed a picture of a clock at 5 and 10 p.m. -- the slots where the news used to air. The new format debuted on February 5, 1998 — the same day as the start of the Winter Olympics — with a new name and motto, "CBS42 Daily News. It's About Time". As part of the overhaul, the station stopped using on-air reporters, focussing instead on the anchor personalities.
Ratings improved somewhat, and the station won its first-ever Emmy Awards in the year after the revamp. Behind-the-scenes disputes with management and on-air talent remained problematic, leading to a number of lawsuits. Nevertheless, WIAT has steadily improved its ratings over, reaching top place several times.
Beginning October 2005 WIAT teamed with WB affiliate WTTO to begin producing a 9 p.m. newscast. Using the same set and anchors as WIAT and a modified graphics package, the WB News at 9 aired 7 days per week until 2006, when WTTO became a CW affiliate.
In April 2006, Media General bought four NBC owned and operated stations, including WVTM. Since the FCC does not allow one entity to own two of the four largest stations in a single market, Media General opted to keep the higher-rated WVTM and sell WIAT to another owner. On August 1, 2006 Media General announced that they had made a deal to sell WIAT and another CBS station in Mason City, Iowa to Atlanta-based New Vision Television for $35 million.
In June 2008 the station debuted a new set for its news program. The set was designed by Chris Mitchell. The anchor desk was constructed by Brewer Cabinets and the backdrop image was created from a skyline photo by Brian T. Murphy, which the station found in the Magic City Flickr Group. Later that summer the station brought in meteorologist Mark Prater (long-time veteran of ABC 33/40), anchor Cynthia Gould (WBRC 6) and sportscaster Jim Dunaway (NBC 13). In October, David Neal was brought in to do the weekend weather, after formerly working as chief meteorologist at Fox 6. In late 2009 another NBC 13 veteran, Ken Lass, joined the station.
Lass left the station, along with morning host Brook Smith in April 2013. Trent Butler joined Sherri Jackson on the evening anchor desk while meteorologist Gene Norman stepped in, moving Mark Prater to the morning newscasts.
- Evening news anchors
- Morning news hosts
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1975
- "Media General sells WIAT-CBS to New Vision Television" (August 1, 2006) Birmingham Business Journal
- Mitchell, Chris (June 10, 2008) "CBS 42's New Set". CBS42.com - accessed July 3, 2008
- DeButts, Jimmy (September 30, 2008) "Weatherman David Neal returns to TV on CBS 42." Birmingham Business Journal
- Carlton, Bob (May 23, 2013) "CBS 42 in Birmingham makes several on-air personnel moves." The Birmingham News