WBRZ History

Television Comes Of Age
WBRZ: In Fast Forward, the 1960s

The infant medium, television, grows up quickly.

Baton Rouge television thrives, breaking new ground with its unique power to inform and its ability to captivate the imagination, affording residents of South Louisiana an incisive view of their changing world.

Broadcasting in "living color," WBRZ's daily coverage of local news, sports, weather, community and civic events rapidly expands, creating new departments and doubling staff size. Doug Manship takes to the airways with editorials that, among other issues, advocate peaceful desegregation within the state. WBRZ airs a locally-produced documentary entitled, Without Violence, featuring interviews from other southern cities where integration has taken place peacefully. The program attracts national attention, winning the station's first Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Science.

WBRZ remains actively involved with all aspects of the community. It pioneers remote broadcasts with its own mobile production bus, covering news-making events, concerts and cultural happenings. During Hurricane Camille, the station provided around-the-clock coverage with its self-sustaining weather radar equipment, bringing viewers up-to-the-minute accounts of the Gulf Coast devastation.

The station provides start-up funding for LSU's Center of Excellence, promoting outstanding academic and business achievements within the community. Thousands visit WBRZ's "Singing Christmas Tree." "Fireworks on the Mississippi" becomes the hallmark of July 4th festivities.

WBRZ has now firmly established what will become its legacy - uncompromising response to the needs of Baton Rouge and to the surrounding parishes. With a clear vision of its past and a vigilant eye on its future, WBRZ fast forwards into the next decade with unbridled confidence and renewed dedication to its founding principles of broadcast leadership.

Television Leads The Way
WBRZ Celebrates, the 1970s

The Baton Rouge television market is rapidly maturing. One station remains the most watched in all of Louisiana…influencing and enhancing the lives of viewers along the way. WBRZ begins 1970 in celebration of its fifteenth birthday. The Louisiana Association of Broadcasters names station President Doug Manship "Broadcaster of The Year."

Technological breakthroughs develop at the speed of light. Portable videotape recorders replace bulky, Hollywood-style film cameras, eliminating time-consuming delays in airing fast-breaking news events. WBRZ becomes the flagship provider of television news footage to scores of out-of--town stations across the state and around the nation. It broadcasts Louisiana's first gubernatorial debates from the capital city. It produces an award-winning series entitled, "Louisiana Heritage," which establishes an historic collaboration between local education and commercial television.

The Associated Press, United Press International, Peabody, Columbia, and Scripps Howard are just a few of the prestigious organizations that bestow awards on the station's staff. WBRZ provides hundreds of civic, cultural and charitable organizations countless hours of air-time publicity and fund-raising promotion.

In keeping with a policy of bringing the best programming to viewers, WBRZ changes network affiliations by joining the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) in 1977. Jules Mayeux becomes general manager of Channel 2. The station adds LiveEye broadcasting and Early Warning Radar to its considerable array of high-tech innovations.

WBRZ stands poised on the cutting edge of the emerging '80s technology - technology that will enable viewers to control the times they watch television and will offer them access to more programming choices than ever before. It is a time of great challenge that will create even greater opportunity.

Television Delivers News And Information
WBRZ: The Source, the 1980s

The decade opens with WBRZ being named "Station Of The Year" by the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters. Richard Manship assumes the responsibilities of General Manager.

The Eyewitness News investigative reporters, operating from a computerized newsroom, further establish WBRZ as Louisiana's most authoritative source of information. Each year the station is recognized locally, nationally and internationally for excellence in broadcast journalism, consistently delivering in-depth coverage that sets the standard by which other news organizations are measured. United Press International cites "Louisiana's Legacy of Neglect" as Best Documentary. The American Bar Association presents its Gavel Award for a program entitled, "Equal Opportunity Abuser."

The station broadcasts with a circular polarization transmission system that vastly improves viewer reception in all directions. It acquires Newstar 2, one of only 10 satellite uplink vehicles in the U.S. The truck sends news stories back to the WBRZ newsroom by transmitting them to a satellite orbiting 23,000 miles overhead.

A two-year construction project triples the original size of WBRZ, now a total Telecommunications Center. Doppler Radar comes on-line. The station expands its sponsorship of community programs with public service innovations like 2 On Your Side, CrimeStoppers, Feed-A-Family and Pat's Coats For Kids. Closed captioning for the hearing-impaired is introduced. "We Play Baton Rouge," the city's first and only television game show, airs. WBRZ resurrects the 3-D movie by broadcasting "Revenge of the Creature." Innovation, leadership and commitment to community continue to be the standards pursued at WBRZ…through the '80s and into the decade ahead.

Broadcast Excellence, Community Contribution
WBRZ: "To Be The Best", the 1990s

The '90s see WBRZ living its "legacy of excellence" at every level.

Its mission statement is "To make a meaningful contribution to our community, customers and employees and to provide the highest quality news, entertainment and information. We strive to be the best."

The Louisiana Association of Broadcasters names WBRZ "Television Station of the Year" in 1990, 1991, 1994 and 1997, and "Community Station of the Year" in 1996. Richard Manship becomes president of WBRZ in 1991.

The station begins a five-year community service project with Baton Rouge Green to plant the I-10/I-12 split with several hundred crape myrtles and thousands of annual flowers. WBRZ celebrates a 40th anniversary in 1995.

Richard Manship notes:
"When my father, Douglas Manship, and my uncle, Charles Manship, started this station in 1955, they were deeply committed to the well-being of the Baton Rouge area community. I believe that sense of commitment still defines and distinguishes WBRZ and all the great people who work here…more than all the innovations in technology, news and programming we will ever offer."

The station establishes "WeatherNET 2," a fully automated weather observation system designed specifically for classroom instruction and education. WBRZ and its private business partners in education donate the systems and computer software to schools in the Channel 2 viewing area.

"WasteBusters," an investigative news segment, is launched. It focuses on financial waste and mismanagement in government agencies and other public offices and institutions. In 1996, mergers, acquisitions and sales bring new owners and management to television stations throughout the city. By 1997, WBRZ stands alone as the only major network affiliate with Baton Rouge owners.

In 1997 WBRZ/Channel 2 announces that it will offer TCI customers in surrounding parishes better weather coverage plus new information sources on cable channel 2, formerly NOAA.

The station purchases and updates equipment to provide TCI's cable subscribers with traffic and weather conditions utilizing SkyEye 2 and Doppler Storm TrackRadar. In making the announcement, President of WBRZ, Richard F. Manship said, "In this day and age, it is not enough to continue doing the same old things. At Channel 2 we are constantly trying to change or upgrade our product. Not only does the viewer deserve better, they expect it."

The Louisiana Association of Broadcasters awards its highest honor to WBRZ. Channel 2 is named "Television Station of the Year". The award recognizes WBRZ's leadership in news, sales, production, programming, marketing, public service and commitment to its community. Judges noted that Channel 2's major projects including the Children's Miracle Network Telethon, Feed a Family, Pat's Coats for Kids and WeatherNet 2, an advanced weather system that allows students from local schools to take an active role in weather forecasting and data analysis. The Television Station of the Year Award is presented annually to a television station in Louisiana which, as a member of the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters, best exemplifies the very highest standards and practices of the LAB and of the broadcast industry. WBRZ also received the award in 1990, 1991, and 1994.

General Manager Pat Cheramie is inducted into the LSU Manship School of Fame.

The Louisiana Association of Broadcasters recognizes WBRZ Channel 2 as the recipient of its "Community Service Award" (Year-Long Project), noting campaigns such as: The Children's Miracle Network Telethon, Feed-A-Family, Pat's Coats for Kids, 2 On Your Side, Party Smart, WeatherNet 2, Alcohol and Accountability, Channel 2 News Talks to Schools, and more.

The Louisiana Association of Broadcasters names Richard F.Manship, President of WBRZ "Broadcaster of the Year".

The Louisiana Association of Broadcasters recognizes WBRZ Channel 2 as the recipient of its "Television Station of the Year" Prestige Award in 1999. This is the fifth time in this decade WBRZ has received this honor.

Defining News in the New Millenium

WBRZ receives The Louisiana Association of Broadcasters "Promotion of the Year Award" in 2000 for its "Buckle Up for Tony" campaign.

Radio-Television News Directors Association awards the Edward R. Murrow for Excellence in investigative reporting to anchorman George Ryan for his investigative series "Silent Trust."

Later in 2000, "Silent Trust" wins the 2000 National Edward R. Murrow Award for WBRZ.

WBRZ introduces the WeatherBug computer desktop tool to the Baton Rouge area. Weatherbug serves the area as the only live neighborhood weather source with information available free to anyone with PC accessibility. The weather information comes direct from Automated Weather Source's Worldwide School WeatherNet; part of the world's largest automated real-time weather network.

WBRZ introduces "You 2 TV," an interactive concept to area viewers. You 2 TV kiosks give residents a chance to speak their minds and possibly see themselves on television. The "You 2 TV" portable booths can be seen around the Baton Rouge area.

The Louisiana Association of Broadcasters recognizes WBRZ in 2001 as the recipient of its "Community Service Award" for a single project. The LAB honored Channel 2 for its "Fill a Prescription for the Needy" campaign.

WBRZ announces expanded services on WBRZ Cox Cable Channel 2. In addition to airing live weather 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, WBRZ News begins re-broadcasting newscasts on WBRZ Cox Cable Channel 2. WBRZ news repeats have been requested for many years, reinforcing a growing trend across the nation due to viewers' daily changing schedules.

The Douglas L. Manship family receives the 2001 Outstanding Philanthropist Award. The family is honored for their record of generosity to charitable causes including a gift of $2 million to build a center for the performing arts in downtown Baton Rouge.

The Louisiana Association of Broadcasters selects WBRZ in 2002 as "Community Station of the Year." This marks the fifth year in a row that WBRZ wins this award because of campaigns such as "Fill a Prescription for the Needy," "Pat's Coats for Kids," "Feed a Family," and the "Children's Miracle Network Broadcast."

Richard F. Manship, President of WBRZ is also named President and CEO of Capital City Press.

On April 2, 2003 wbrz.com and theadvocate.com combined resources and the two Web sites became 2theadvocate.com

A new television era dawns in Baton Rouge on April 22, 2002 when WBRZ becomes the first local commercial station to broadcast programming in Digital TV on WBRZ-DT 13. HDTV has twice the picture resolution of older analog television, producing images that are as sharp as 35 mm film, yet wider than analog. HDTV also provides CD-quality sound. "WBRZ has always been the pioneer of broadcast technology in Louisiana, and we know that Digital TV is the future of the commercial station," said WBRZ President Richard Manship. Due to the popularity of Digital television broadcasts on DT 13, WBRZ begins airing Digital TV 24 hours a day starting September 29, 2003. Previously, owners of high-definition television sets could only view DT 13 between the hours of 12:00 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. each day.

Continuing the Legacy

Beginning October 6th, 2003, WBRZ expands the noon newscast from 30 minutes to one hour, making it the only local station to offer an hour-long noon show. The newscast will not only contain the day's top stories, but also in-depth interviews and coverage of events in the community.

In an effort to provide the most up-to-date news and weather information, WBRZ adds a 4:00 p.m. newscast beginning September 13, 2004, and is the only station in the area to offer news coverage in that time slot.

True ViewA new era of weather forecasting begins in South Louisiana on October 16th, 2004, when WBRZ officially launches its new TrueView weather system. Live TrueView Doppler Radar utilizes NEWRAD radar data from the National Weather Service, the most powerful radars in the world. Now, WBRZ has the power of four Dopplers that sweep beyond Dallas, Mobile and Memphis, covering the entire state of Louisiana, and reaching far out into the Gulf of Mexico. Using the TrueView system before its official launch, WBRZ Chief Forecaster Pat Shingleton was able to declare live on the air that "(Hurricane) Ivan's center of circulation has made landfall off the Alabama coast" at 1:21 a.m. on Thursday, September 16th, 2004. Shingleton issued the announcement well before the National Weather Service made its official announcement, and hours before any other station in Baton Rouge. "Weather forecasting is all about presenting the clearest 'picture' to the viewer," Shingleton said. "As the technology has changed, we've changed with it at WBRZ. With the TrueView technolgy we are presenting the most accurate weather picture available."

WBRZ General Manager Pat Cheramie announces that she will retire on January 31st, 2005 -- her 39th anniversary at the station. In making the announcement, Cheramie said, "I will always be committed to the mission and success of the station and available to anyone who wants to seek my counsel. Working for Richard Manship and with all of the WBRZ family is truly one of God's blessings in my life." While at WBRZ, Cheramie earned many prestigious honors, including LAB Broadcaster of the Year and Lifetime of Distinction Awards, Ad Fed's Pete Goldsby Award, YWCA's Women of Achievement, American Women in Radio and Television's Broadcaster of the Year, SME's Marketer of the Year, Baton Rouge Business Report's 25 Most Influential Women in Baton Rouge, and was inducted into LSU's Manship School of Mass Communications Hall of Fame.

WBRZ names Rocky Daboval to succeed Pat Cheramie as General Manager. Daboval served as Director of Sales for WBRZ for 16 years and is considered one of the leading experts on political advertising and has been instrumental in developing special convergence projects between The Advocate and WBRZ. In making the announcement, WBRZ President Richard Manship said, "Rocky is not only well respected by the business community in Baton Rouge and around the country, but in his 25 years of service to WBRZ, he has earned the respect of the Channel 2 staff."

The Louisiana Association of Broadcasters on March 19th, 2005 recognized WBRZ as the recipient of its 2005 Community Station of the Year award. WBRZ was honored for its yearlong commitment to serving the needs of the community, and this is the 6th time in the last 10 years that WBRZ has won this award.

Also honored by LAB was Andrea Clesi, anchor and reporter at WBRZ for more than 28 years, as the recipient of the 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award. Clesi was recognized for her commitment to giving help, hope and heart to her family, her viewers and her community. Throughout her career, Clesi has positively influenced and inspired others with her work and dedication.

WBRZ News 2 announces that the first ten minutes of its 6:00 p.m. newscast will be simultaneoulsy broadcast on Baton Rouge Citadel station 1300AM WIBR, beginning August 15, 2005. "I'm excited about this opportunity," said WBRZ News Director Chuck Bark. "We're going to be more aggressive in letting South Louisiana know what we're doing. Simulcasting the first portion of our 6 p.m. broadcast on radio will allow us to extend our brand and to get listeners to sample our product. Listeners are our viewers."

In addition to celebrating its 50th year of broadcasting, WBRZ set new records in fundraising efforts for the community in 2005. A series of investigations by News 2 prompts the Legislature to close a loophole in state law that gave convicted sex offenders easy access to children. WBRZ’s weather team launches the most advanced 3-D Doppler radar images Louisiana had ever seen.

Hurricane KatrinaIn August 2005, Pat Shingleton and the rest of the WBRZ weather team begins to track a storm in the Gulf that forever changed the course of Louisiana history. It also challenges the station unlike any news event in its first half-century. Hurricane Katrina brough about arguably the high point in the history of local broadcasting, as one station reached out to another in its most desperate hour.

On Sunday, August 28, 2005, as the outer bands from Hurricane Katrina began to batter Louisiana’s coastline, WBRZ/Channel 2 in Baton Rouge opened its doors and its airwaves to WGNO/Channel 26 in New Orleans.  For weeks, the two stations pool personnel, resources and broadcast signals in an effort to bring critical information to Baton Rouge and the hundreds of thousands evacuees from the New Orleans area who had arrived there seeking shelter. The partnership stands out through not one but two major hurricanes, and the resulting coverage became a testament to what happens when broadcasters work together and strive for excellence.

After the turmoil of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, things would never be the same. At the beginning of 2006, WBRZ shifts focus. While keeping an eye on the continuing struggle of New Orleans, Baton Rouge faces its own problems.  How could a school system already in trouble accommodate the needs of so many new children? Traffic that was already bursting at the seams of a strained interstate system took on a life of its own. Property values skyrocketed; good news or bad depending on which side of the door you were on.  As the city faced these major hurdles, WBRZ works to help it all make sense to citizens that were looking for answers, covering the important issues in traffic, education and development and growth.

News 2 GoWBRZ also makes a technological leap with News 2 Go in 2006, a free service that gives viewers access to WBRZ’s news and weather video any time of the day wherever they have Internet access. WBRZ is the first in Louisiana to offer News 2 Go downloads through Apple’s iTunes.

2007 found Louisiana residents faced with some of the most important decisions that will affect their lives for years to come. Voters would decide on everything from school board members to a new governor to lead our state through the post-Katrina phase. But with voter turnout in the area slipping to well below 50%, WBRZ News 2 Louisiana decides to take a different approach. The station makes a commitment to covering the issues leading up to the elections so that viewers could be as informed as possible when they went to the polls. But how would it get people out to vote? WBRZ also decides to start with an awareness campaign that included several PSA’s. Using cold hard facts and famous quotes WBRZ hopes to motivate people to see the importance of getting out and voting.

As part of the push, WBRZ also decides to use existing technology to make it as easy as possible to be registered to vote Using its website, www.2theadvocate.com, WBRZ creates “Register 2 Vote”, a link that allows viewers to register to vote through its own website.

The station also emphasizes an important approach in reporting the news: BALANCED. FAIR. ACCURATE.

For more than 50 years the only locally owned and operated station in Baton Rouge fulfilled that promise to viewers every day, but in 2007 the station decides to put those words to the forefront: a reminder to ourselves and a promise to our viewers. In our commitment to getting answers for our viewers, WBRZ did more than just report the facts; we Station of the Yearasked the tough questions. In many cases “asking” those questions resulted in positive changes for our community. News 2 Gets Answers.

Most recently, The Louisiana Association of Broadcasters recognized WBRZ as the recipient of its 2009 Television Station of the Year Award.  The award recognizes WBRZ’s leadership in news, sales, production, programming, marketing, public service, and commitment to our community.

WBRZ History was excerpted from station press releases and "The Best of Baton Rouge," a public service booklet published by WBRZ in 1997 as a history of both Baton Rouge and WBRZ and dedicated to Douglas L. Manship Sr. (History from 1997 on was added in 2003 and more was added in 2009.)

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