05 Jan WREG Celebrates Milestone: Happy 60th Birthday, News Channel 3!
WREG-TV News Channel 3 celebrated 60 years on air on New Year’s Day. The station which officially signed on the air January 1, 1956, has seen tremendous growth since its humble beginnings in the basement of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.
In 1971 the station’s call letters changed from WREC to WREG, and in 1975 it began broadcasting from its new studios overlooking the Mississippi River.
Looking back over 60 years of coverage, WREG reporters and crews were first on the scene covering the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. WREG reported on the building of the Pyramid and later, the Fed Ex Forum when the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies came to town. The station was the media sponsor when the Memphis Zoo became the fourth zoo in the country to house giant pandas. Good news or bad, WREG has remained a leader in covering all of it. And WREG’s Weather Experts have made weather safety their number one priority. They were the first Memphis team to broadcast uninterrupted severe weather until the threat passes.
Today, WREG is the number one news station in daily viewers, according to ratings released by Nielsen Media Research in November 2015. And WREG has been number one, morning, noon, and night, since February of 2011.
Ron Walter has been president and general manager of WREG for 11 years.
“For the past 60 years the station has been quite strong going all the way back to the the visionary Hoyt Wooten who actually founded the station.
Walter said the news team’s commitment to covering news is what made WREG the undisputed leader in the Memphis market.
“The WREG team really gives the station its flavor and its strength. It’s the entire staff who comes together each day to deliver the best on air and online product for the community and our viewers , he said.
And now WREG reaches viewers on even more screens.
“We have our desktop website. Then we have the website you can access on your mobile device. We have apps for Apple and Android. Then we have our Facebook page and our Twitter page and our Instagram and Snapchat. So many ways out there to get your news and for us to get it to you,” said George Brown, WREG’s web content manager.
News Channel 3 meteorologist Todd Demers loves what the web and social media have added to weather reporting. “The information comes in, and I’m able to get it right there on the screen. If somebody sends me a picture of three or four inches of snow, I’m able to put that on the air within seconds now”. Demers said that forecasting technology, coupled with WREG’s Weather App gave viewers advanced warning of December’s killer tornadoes. “So the technology has really ramped up our ability to get very pertinent information out to viewers as quickly as possible,” said Demers.
WREG also sets the standard for locally produced programs and features, like Bright Spot, Memphis On A Mission, Knowledge Bowl, Informed Sources and Pass It On.
“Take (the hour-long special) Memphis: On A Mission. We were nominated for an Emmy award for it. We’ve had two programs so far where we’ve taken time out, a full hour—no commercials—to explore what we can do to make our community a better place to live. No other TV station does that,” said WREG Anchor Richard Ransom.
WREG-TV News Channel 3 is owned by Tribune Media Company (NYSE: TRCO), home to a diverse portfolio of television and digital properties driven by quality news, entertainment and sports programming. Tribune Media is comprised of Tribune Broadcasting’s 42 owned or operated local television stations reaching more than 50 million households, national entertainment network WGN America, available in approximately 73 million households, Tribune Studios, and Gracenote, one of the world’s leading sources of TV and music metadata, powering electronic program guides in televisions, automobiles and mobile devices. Tribune Media also includes Chicago’s WGN-AM, and the national multicast networks Antenna TV and THIS TV. Additionally, the Company owns and manages a significant number of real estate properties across the U.S. and holds other strategic investments in media. For more information please visit www.tribunemedia.com.