WZZM-TV, channel 13, is a television station affiliated with the ABC network, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. WZZM's transmitter is located in Newaygo County, five miles (8 km) west of the city of Grant, Michigan. WZZM transmits its signal from an antenna with a height of 1,064 feet (324 m).
Although WZZM is the primary ABC affiliate in West Michigan, it primarily serves the northern portion of the Grand Rapids/Muskegon) Market. Its transmitter is about forty miles (65 km) north of that of other regional channels, so its signal is unavailable in the two southern tiers of counties of Michigan except in Kalamazoo. Persons living in counties beyond the access of its signal must rely upon WOTV for ABC programming and for the broadcasts of television stations in the South Bend/Elkhart or Lansing area for the syndicated programs that WZZM offers.
However, as a result of the swap with WWTV, WZZM was now short-spaced to WSPD-TV in Toledo, Ohio (now WTVG). It had to build its transmitter about 40 miles farther north than the other West Michigan stations and conform its signal to protect WSPD. As a result, WZZM's signal barely reached Kalamazoo and just missed Battle Creek. Southwestern Michigan viewers had to rely on WSJV in Elkhart, Indiana, WXYZ-TV in Detroit, or WLS-TV in Chicago for ABC programming until WUHQ-TV (now WOTV) signed on from Battle Creek in 1971.
WZZM certainly had humble beginnings; its first broadcasts were from a banquet room-turned studio at the Pantlind Hotel (now the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel). Live broadcasts included This Morning with Bud Lindeman, Shirley's Show and an evening news program, though the station's most notable show in many minds is The Bozo Show, which was broadcast for more than 30 years. The news program improved in 1971 with the addition of the first weather radar in the West Michigan area, upgraded in 1974 to a computerized color version.
In August 1971, a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art studio was opened in Walker, with Congressman Gerald Ford presiding over the ceremony. In the following years, WZZM became a formidable force in the Grand Rapids viewing community, gathering high ratings and a reputation as one of the top news programs in the West Michigan area.
In 1978, West Michigan Telecasters sold WZZM to Wometco Enterprises of Miami. Wometco's stations were sold to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts in 1985. KKR sold the station to Price Communications in 1986. A local investor, Richard Appleton, formed Northstar Television in 1989 and bought WZZM. He tried to buy WUHQ in 1991 and turn it into a satellite of WZZM, which would have created a strong combined signal with about 40% overlap. The deal fell through at the last minute, however. Ironically, WUHQ had served as a de facto satellite of WZZM for most of its history; its engineers had to switch to and from WZZM's signal on most occasions before the station was able to buy a network feed from ABC.
In 1995, the Northstar Television group (WZZM, plus WNAC-TV in Providence, Rhode Island and WAPT-TV in Jackson, Mississippi) was sold to Argyle Television. Gannett, WZZM's current owner, bought WZZM and sister station WGRZ-TV in Buffalo, New York in January 1997 by swapping WLWT-TV in Cincinnati, Ohio and KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Argyle.
In the 1990s, WZZM made an array of changes with the new millennium looming. New news vehicles were purchased, a new tape format (Beta SP) was introduced to digitize all media, a new radar receiver and new weather cameras were added across the state, and a new set was built, coinciding with WZZM's introduction of a new logo. In 2003, WZZM first started broadcasting in High Definition.
For most of its history, the newscast was called Eyewitness News until the late 1990s when it was replaced by WZZM 13 News.
5:30 Edition was introduced in 1993. It had soft news features in addition to the day's headlines. Many of its features were phased out and it became a standard newscast by 1997. Many of the features returned in 2004 when Take Five Grand Rapids premiered, later shortened to Take Five. Take Five originally aired at 5 p.m. but later moved to 4:30. In late August 2008, it was expanded to an hour, moved to 9 a.m., and renamed Take Five and Company.
In 2005, the station launched the 13 On Target Weather Network, a weather channel broadcast on Channel 13-2; on Comcast and Charter Communications cable systems in West Michigan on channel 247; and on wzzm13.com. My 13 On Target Weather is a customizable e-mail and website service powered by myweather.net It features headlines, weather conditions, and severe weather warnings.
In early spring of 2006, WZZM finalized a major station over-haul, complete with a new logo, graphics, and promotional campaign, in order to recover from low viewership and to compete with first place West Michigan station WOOD (Channel 8).
In late September 2006, WZZM announced on air through a series of commercials that the morning newscast with Derek Francis, Lauren Stanton, and Hally Vogel beat number one morning newscast "Daybreak" on WOOD-TV8, according to recent Nielsen ratings.
On September 14, 2006, WZZM premiered a local HDTV special Great Lakes Adventure Lee Van Ameyde and Juliet Dragos host the special about Sleeping Bear Dunes, Mackinac Island, Mackinac Bridge, as well as Michigan's wine country, and charter boats. It re-aired on December 4, 2006, and is available for purchase. The opening sequence can be seen here on the show's page.
Jay Schadler worked at WZZM during the 1970s. He currently works at ABC News. CNBC's Scott Cohn was at WZZM in the 1980s, as was John Keating, a sportscaster for FSN Detroit. However, Keating was known on air as "Steve Knight". Patrice Formby, a former anchor at CNN, also was at WZZM in the 1990s. Tom Helmer, host of BCS Breakdown and The Official BCS Ratings Show on Fox Sports Net, worked at WZZM in the 1990s as sports director.
In 2007, WZZM started promoting three websites co-produced with the Gannett newspapers in Michigan: MichiganMoms.com, MichiganSmartShopper.com, and MyMitten.com.
WZZM-13 is one of the first station in Michigan to produce and broadcast local TV commercials and promotions in HD. They also are the first station to air segments like their popular high school franchise 13 On Your Sidelines in High Definition.
|13.1 / 39.1||WZZM 13/ABC programming|
|13.2 / 39.2||13 On Target Weather Network|
Theater 13 is the umbrella title for movies the station airs.
A key segment of this series is "Rescue My Home", which is similar to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Several times a year, a house is chosen for the makeover of a specific room. In early 2005, there was an "Extreme Mini-Makeover," which is similar to Extreme Makeover. In addition to a week's worth of segments about the project, they air primetime "Rescue My Home" specials. Past projects included the living room, bedroom, and the yard.
In addition to segments about gardening, cooking, being a mother, healthy lifestyle, movies, restaurants, money management, and auto maintenance, the show features celebrity interviews and performances by local artists and national artists who are visiting Grand Rapids.
Starting in 2008, Take Five will begin a new segment. It is called the Take Five Book Club. Each month a book is revealed. Then, on the first Monday of the next month, there is a discussion about the book. Take Five teamed up with The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to work on the book club.
Effective August 25, 2008, Take Five moved to 9AM following Good Morning America and expanded to one hour, displacing Live With Regis And Kelly, which had held the 9am timeslot at WZZM for 20 years. The show was picked up by WWMT Along with a new timeslot, the show received a new name: Take Five and Company. Tara Kuhnlein was added as a third member of the cast
WZZM 13's Healthy You debuted on Sunday June 24th, 2007.
The show airs every Sunday at 11:00am and is hosted by weekend anchor and health reporter Valerie Lego. In September 2008, it began airing Saturdays at 7:30pm in addition to the Sunday morning time slot
However, due to questions about its stability, it was removed in 1987, after 20 years of existence. WZZM located the weatherball, which had resided in a Kalamazoo junkyard since its removal, and purchased it in 1999. In 2002, plans were announced to refurbish the stainless steel ball, and add new neon lights. The weatherball was perched on a 100-foot (30 m) monopole, and was lit on May 7, 2003. It is visible from both Interstate 96 and U.S. Highway 131, the two major freeways in the area.
Shortly after the reintroduction of the WZZM 13 Weatherball, a contest was held where viewers submitted video recordings of songs to coincide with the meanings of the weatherball. The winner chosen had their song on a new commercial that aired to inform the viewership of the significance of the colors. The winners were Dale Ray Schumaker and Allison Rae Schumaker of Holland, MI with their jingle, "Know Before You Go". "DJ Dale" Schumaker and Allison Rae Schumaker are prominent hit songwriters.
On June 5, 2008, the Weatherball was struck by lightning for the first time in its history. The lightning scrambled the electonics of the Weatherball, causing it to glow in a rainbow of colors. The Weatherball was afterwards turned off for repairs.
The station also has a costumed character mascot of the Weatherball named "Blinkie". A similar weatherball is also located on the Citizen's Bank building in Flint.
During the 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. newscasts, a meteorologist does a weather report from the "Game of the Week" location with Blinkie the Weatherball mascot. During the 6:00 p.m. newscast, the "Game of the Week" is previewed.
The 11:00 p.m. newscast is shortened to one news segment and one weather segment. During the weather segment, cheerleaders join the meteorologist on the weather deck.
The current format for 13 On Your Sidelines is:
WZZM 13 Morning News
WZZM 13 News at Noon
WZZM 13 News at 5:30
WZZM 13 News at 6:00
WZZM 13 News at 11:00
WZZM 13's Healthy You
13 On Your Sidelines