History of WOOD TV8

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1949 — The first night of television in West Michigan occurs on August 15. WLAV-TV, the predecessor of WOOD TV8, broadcasts on Channel 7 from the Grand Rapids National Bank Building (now McKay Tower). The station’s owner is Leonard Versluis.

1951 — Grandwood Broadcasting (owner of WOOD radio) purchases WLAV-TV and changes the call letters to WOOD-TV. Willie Wood debuts. The cartoon woodpecker is the station’s visual hallmark.

1953 — The station switches from Channel 7 to Channel 8 on December 8, and increases its power from 28,000 to 100,000 watts. WOOD-TV is the first station in West Michigan to broadcast in color.

1954 — On New Year’s Day, WOOD-TV is one of 21 stations in the country to carry the Tournament of Roses parade in color. WOOD-TV becomes Michigan’s most powerful station with 316,000 watts.

1955 — WOOD-TV, along with WOOD radio, moves to its current building at 120 College S.E.

1957 — WOOD-TV is purchased by Time, Inc.

1964 — Warren Reynolds joined WOOD-TV.

1972 — WOOD-TV changes its call letters to WOTV when Time, Inc. sells WOOD radio.

1975 — WOTV is the first station in West Michigan to own electronic news gathering equipment.

1980 — WOTV is the first station in West Michigan to operate live news-gathering equipment and broadcast news from outside the studio.

1983 — LIN Broadcasting Corp. purchases WOTV from Time, Inc.

1983 — Chopper 8 becomes West Michigan’s first news helicopter.

1984 — News 8 Today premieres as the area’s first early morning newscast. It airs weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m.

1992 — On January 1, WOTV reclaims its old call letters and once again becomes WOOD. WUHQ (channel 41), because of its local marketing agreement with WOOD becomes WOTV.

1995 — News 8 expands early morning news to a two-hour format, weekday mornings from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. Also, the weekday noon newscast and weekend 6:00 p.m. newscast expand to one-hour formats. This gives WOOD TV8 more local news than any station in the market.

1996 — In November, www.woodtv.com premieres on the Internet.

1997 — 24 Hour News 8 receives eight awards for excellence from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, including Station of the Year. The station also receives six Associated Press Awards, the School Bell Award from the Michigan Education Association and the Gracie Allen Award from the American Women in Radio and Television.

1999 — WOOD TV8 celebrates 50 years of broadcast excellence and is the first station in West Michigan to broadcast in HDTV.

2002 — In May, the WAP site live8.com was launched, bringing local news and weather to cell phones across West Michigan.

2009 — June 12, WOOD TV8 ended analog transmission for the switch to Digital Television (DTV.) In 2009, WOOD also launched the lifestyle show eightWest with original hosts Terri DeBoer and Rachael Ruiz.

2011 — All 24 Hour News 8 newscasts begin broadcasting in high definition.

2012 — 24 Hour News 8 Daybreak newscast expands to 2.5 hours weekdays from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m.

2015 — Drone 8 takes flight as the first FAA-approved drone in the market, giving viewers a new perspective on the news. In this year, 24 Hour News 8 Weekend Daybreak expands to 3 hours on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m.

2016 — West Michigan’s first regular 7 p.m. newscast launches. It’s referred to on social media as #the7on8.

2017 — WOOD TV8 partners with the Grand Rapids Art Museum to launch the Media Arts Center. 24 Hour News 8 at Noon is anchored daily from the streetside studio overlooking Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids. The Kalamazoo streetside studio also opens in the Comerica Building overlooking Bronson Park in downtown Kalamazoo. Additionally, Storm Team 8 forecasts start airing on Kalamazoo-area radio stations owned by Midwest Communications.

The Firsts of WOOD TV8

First with live, local programs and news.

First to bring network television to West Michigan.

First to provide West Michigan with color television.

First in West Michigan to broadcast its audio in stereo.

First to close-caption local newscasts.

First to bring 24-hour news coverage to West Michigan.

First to offer West Michigan viewers a locally produced hour and a half of news five days a week.

First to have a fully operating computerized newsroom.

First in West Michigan to use satellite news gathering broadcasts.

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