For years, CBS’ WWJ-TV Detroit held the dubious distinction of being the only major network owned-and-operated station without a news department. But that’s about to change: 20 years after eliminating its news presence, WWJ (Channel 62, branded as “CBS 62”) will launch a news department in 2022, as part of an ambitious plan to create a “CBS News Detroit” hub.
The announcement was made Tuesday by Wendy McMahon, president and co-head, CBS News and Stations; Adrienne Roark, president, CBS Stations; and Brian Watson, V?/general manager of WWJ-TV and sister station WKBD-TV (Channel 50, branded as CW 50).
“We view this as an unprecedented opportunity to start from scratch at a large-market, network-owned station and build the newsroom of the future – where we focus first on streaming and then have our content flow like water across our linear broadcast, digital and social media platforms,” McMahon said. “When Brian and his team presented their vision for CBS News Detroit earlier this year, I thought to myself ‘This never happens. Until now.’”
WWJ became a CBS-owned station in 1995 following the great affiliate scramble of that era, when New World Communications flipped 12 of its major-market CBS affiliates across the country to Fox, forcing the Eye network to scramble and find new homes. In Detroit, WJBK (Channel 2) was a CBS station that flipped to Fox; in a race to relocate, CBS eventually purchased a tiny UHF station, WGPR-TV (Channel 62). WGPR didn’t have a news operation; but later, after Viacom and CBS merged for the first time, Viacom’s station in the market, WKBD, did have a news department and began producing a newscast for Channel 62 (which had been given the heritage WWJ call letters, used by CBS’ then-owned all-news Detroit radio station).
But Viacom and CBS shut down the WKBD newsroom in 2002, leaving WWJ without a regular evening newscast for nearly two decades… until now. From 2009-2012, WWJ produced a weekday 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. newscast featuring weather, traffic and headlines from the Detroit Free Press and also WWJ Radio. In recent years, the station has also aired local weather reports several times a day.
CBS News Detroit is currently expected to launch in the late summer or early fall of 2022. It will feature a 24/7 streaming service with live local news coverage from 4 a.m. to 11:35 p.m. daily, for a total of 137 hours per week. In addition, CBS 62 will broadcast live CBS News Detroit newscasts 40 hours per week in early morning, midday, early evening and late news time periods.
CBS News Detroit will next hire a news director and then recruiting and hiring a full staff.
Roark added: “The time has come for our Detroit employees and the communities served by CBS 62 to have a full-fledged news department that utilizes the latest advances in newsgathering and streaming technology and a team of multi-skilled journalists who will be embedded in neighborhoods across the market.”