WDBJ is the CBS television network affiliate serving the Roanoke-Lynchburg television market. It transmits its analog signal on VHF channel 7 and its digital signal on UHF channel 18. It's owned by Schurz Communications of South Bend, Indiana. Its transmitter is located on Poor Mountain near Roanoke, with studios located on Hershberger Road in northwest Roanoke.

The station is also available on cable in the Bluefield-Beckley, West Virginia area; it served as the market's default CBS affiliate until WVSX (now WVNS-TV) became a CBS affiliate in 2001. It is also available on cable systems as far east as South Boston, as far west as Glade Spring, Marion and Norton. As far south as Galax, Martinsville and two counties in North Carolina; Caswell and Rockingham counties. Glade Spring, Marion and Norton are part of the Tri-Cities market while Caswell and Rockingham counties are part of the Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem market. DirecTV offers WDBJ in several out of market areas in the Virginia counties of Mecklenburg and Patrick. In North Carolina, WDBJ is offered in Alleghany, Caswell, Person and Rockingham Counties.


The station--Roanoke's third-oldest--first went to the air on October 3, 1955 under the ownership of the Times-World Corporation, owners of the Roanoke Times, and Roanoke World-News newspapers along with WDBJ radio (AM 960, now WFIR; and FM 94.9, now WSLC). It has always been a CBS affiliate, owing to WDBJ-AM's long affiliation with CBS Radio.

The station's studio was originally located in the Mountain Trust Bank Building in downtown Roanoke. Its transmitter was located temporarily on Mill Mountain; it originally planned to broadcast from Poor Mountain, but couldn't due to concerns about interference with then-under construction WSPA-TV in Spartanburg, South Carolina. In 1956, WDBJ-AM-TV moved to the Times-World Building. It also relocated its transmitter to Poor Mountain.

Due to its affiliation with the Times and Virginia's second-oldest radio station, channel 7 overtook WSLS-TV as the area's highest-rated station within three years of signing on. It has remained in the lead more or less ever since.

As WDBJ-TV grew during the late 1950s, plans were drawn for a new studio at the corner of Brandon and Colonial Avenues in southwest Roanoke. WDBJ-TV moved to the then state-of-the-art building in the summer of 1961.

Times-World merged with Landmark Communications of Norfolk in 1969. The FCC forced Times-World to sell off WDBJ-TV due to a significant signal overlap with Landmark-owned WFMY-TV in Greensboro, North Carolina. WDBJ's city-grade signal reaches portions of the Triad market (particularly the northwest corner), and the station provides grade B coverage as far south as Reidsville, North Carolina. At the time, the FCC normally did not allow common ownership of two stations with overlapping signals, and would not even consider granting a waiver for stations with overlapping city-grade coverage. As a result, channel 7 was sold to its current owner, Schurz Communications. It is not likely that the FCC would have allowed Landmark to keep WDBJ-TV in any case, given that this would have brought two of Virginia's three CBS affiliates--WDBJ-TV and Landmark flagship WTAR-TV (now WTKR) in Norfolk--under common ownership.

In 2000, WDBJ announced plans for a new digital facility on the site of the Best Products building in northwest Roanoke. That June, the Best Products building was demolished and construction of a new digital facility began. Photos of the complete demolition of the Best Products building & construction of the new "Digital Broadcast Center" are located here In April of 2002, WDBJ began broadcasting from the new "Digital Broadcast Center." WDBJ has newsrooms in Lynchburg, Blacksburg and Richmond, along with its Roanoke newsroom.

In 2006, WDBJ began a news partnership with WFIR, its former radio sister.

Promos and Slogans

Its tagline is "Your Hometown Station". In the 1980s, the station did a series of spots for its programming featuring the popular "Ernest", portrayed by Jim Varney.

The new News 7 at Ten offers "Finally, a ten o'clock newscast you can trust"

WDBJ 7 Today

WDBJ 7 is currently in the 67th DMA according to Nielsen Media It passed Wichita, Kansas in July 2007. On average, an estimated 92,000 households tune in for News 7 at 6pm and 11pm. WDBJ 7 is the leading station in the Roanoke/Lynchburg market. Currently, the station produces six newscasts Monday-Friday, Friday Football Extra, and Virginia Tech Sports Today.

Schurz Communications owns WDBJ7 and WDBJ-TV. Schurz Communications is out of South Bend, Indiana, and is family owned and operated.

On August 13, 2007 WDBJ became the only station in the Roanoke/Lynchburg Market with 4 Meteorologists in its weather center. Brent Watts rounds out the cast that includes Chief Meteorologist Robin Reed, Leo Hirsbrunner, and Jay Webb. Also, the Skytracker 7 Weather Center is the Weatherbug Network affiliate for the Roanoke/Lynchburg market. The weatherbug network offers real-time statistics and information from all around the region. There are 24 Weatherbug locations in the WDBJ 7 viewing area.

On July 1, 2007, Jeffery A. Marks became the General Manager for WDBJ. Marks succeeded Bob Lee and became only the 4th GM in the history of the station.

Also in 2007, the News Department went tapeless and switched to a server-based playback system.

On April 22, 2008, WDBJ began broadcasting local news in high definition, with that transition they also became the first station in the area to broadcast the local forecast in HD.

My Network TV & News 7 at Ten

On September 5, 2006, WDBJ launched News 7 at Ten & My Network TV in the viewing area. Both services are available on digital subchannel 7.2, which is also available on area cable systems. It replaced Independent service "7 Too," which reaired WDBJ newscasts and syndicated programming, and aired special events such as sporting events and the 2004 Republican and Democratic National Conventions in their entirety.

News 7 at Ten brings a new format to WDBJ's other newscasts, providing "anchor movement" to a different set after each commercial break. News 7 at Ten is anchored by Natasha Ryan. Brent Watts serves as the Meteorologist and Mike Stevens serves as the sportscaster. Cara Stein is the producer.

News 7 at Ten also provides a "Fun Fact" every night. The "Fun Fact" is associated with one of the night's stories.

The Weather Deck & Weather Garden

In August 2006 WDBJ 7 added an outdoor "Weather Deck". This deck provides a new location for controlled outside weather & news segments. Alongside the "Weather Deck" is the "Weather Garden." WDBJ7 often presents feature packages about the "Weather Garden" and offers tips, advice and ideas about common gardening.


A key to WDBJ's rating success has been the continuity of its on-air team, which is not the norm in local news especially for a market of Roanoke-Lynchburg's size. Lead news anchor Keith Humphry has held the position since around 1980 after serving as the night and weekend anchor for a few years. (In the Roanoke-Lynchburg market, newcast ratings tend to be much higher at 6 PM than 11 PM.) Likewise, Robin Reed has been the lead weathercaster since the early 1980s. Sportscaster Mike Stevens joined WDBJ in the 1980s and became the lead sports anchor in the early 1990s; in 2008, he left WDBJ to become communications director for Salem, Virginia and was replaced by Travis Wells. Senior reporter Joe Dashiell has been at WDBJ since the 1970s and was the longtime Richmond newsroom correspondent.

The following is a list of WDBJ's current on-air personalities.

  • Sinu Abraham - Weekend Reporter
  • Susan Bahorich - Reporter/Weekend Morning Anchor (Sunday)
  • Joe Dashiell - Senior Reporter
  • Hollani Davis - 6 & 11 P.M. Weekend Anchor
  • Leo Hirsbrunner - Mornin' & Noon meteorologist
  • Jean Jadhon - 5:00 & 6:00 p.m. Anchor
  • Keith Humphry - 6:00 p.m. Anchor
  • Bob Grebe - Mornin' Co-Host
  • Alex Lawson - Reporter & substitute Anchor
  • Grant Kittelson - Sports Anchor/Reporter
  • Kimberly McBroom - Mornin' & Noon Anchor
  • Justin McLeod - Reporter
  • Robin Reed - Chief Meteorologist
  • Holly Pietrzak - New River Valley Bureau Chief & substitute anchor
  • Tim Saunders - Lynchburg Bureau Chief
  • Natasha Ryan - 10:00 p.m. & 11:00 p.m. Anchor
  • Travis Wells - Sports Director
  • Joy Sutton - Health Reporter/Weekend Morning Anchor (Saturday)
  • Brent Watts - Meteorologist
  • Chris Miles - Weekend Sports Anchor
  • Jay Webb - Weekend Meteorologist
  • Jennifer Wishon - Richmond Bureau Chief & substitute anchor

External links

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