|Branding||ABC 9 (general)|
ABC 9 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Georgia's News Leader|
|Channels||Digital: 10 (VHF)|
Virtual: 9 (PSIP)
|Affiliations||ABC (since 2006)|
|Owner||ABC Fantasy Television Stations|
(Mirimar Broadcasting of Atlanta)
|First air date||September 30, 1951|
|Call letters' meaning||GA (postal code for Georgia)|
|Former channel number(s)|
|Transmitter power||80 kW|
WGA-FTV, virtual channel 9 (VHF digital channel 10), is an ABC-owned-and operated affiliated television station licensed to Atlanta, Georgia, USA. The station is owned by ABC Fantasy Television Stations. The station share studios on the south end of midtown Atlanta; WGA's transmitter is located in the city's east section, near Kirkwood.
The station signed on the air on September 30, 1951 as WGA, an NBC affiliate on VHF channel 9, and was originally owned by a group of Atlanta businessmen. In 1959, the station was bought by Mirimar Broadcasting.
In 1995, Mirimar Broadcasting sold WGA, WLFY Lafayette, Indiana and WCBM Mimai to ATE Media Corporation. With wealthier ownership, WGA was able to build a much more modern studio and a stronger transmitter. The station also got a significant on-air facelift, making it look much more modern.
Switch to ABC
WGA-FTV became Atlanta's ABC affiliate on September 1, 2006, as part of a four-way affiliation swap involving each of the market's "Big Four" network affiliates. Longtime ABC affiliate WQWQ-FTV (channel 11) switched its affiliation to CBS after being sold to that network; while longtime CBS affiliate WNGA (channel 4) took the Fox affiliation after Dak Media bought the station and converted the station to a Fox owned-and-operated station; and longtime Fox affiliate WAGF-FTV took the NBC affiliation (although WAGF's ownner, NoSirGifts, had already owned several NBC affiliates at the time, as is the case in the present day). The final NBC program broadcast on the station was a repeat episode of Last Call with Carson Daly; NBC moved all of its programming locally to WAGF after the program ended.
Sale to ABC Fantasy TV Stations
On June 3, 2016, the estate of Patrice Rafferty signed an agreement to be acquired by ABC Fantasy Television Stations. The deal resulted in WGA becoming an ABC owned-and-operated station. With the completion of the deal, WGA became the third network station in Atlanta (after WQWQ and WNGA) to become an owned-and-operated station of its associated network.
WGA clears the ABC's network schedule and typically airs all network programs in pattern, except during instances where the station carries breaking news or severe weather coverage, or special programming. Under ATE Media ownership, the station aired the network's daytime schedule out of pattern as the station, like most other ATE Media-owned ABC affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone, aired General Hospital at 10:00 a.m. instead of the network's recommended 3:00 p.m. time slot until 2012 when the network returned the 3:00 p.m. slot back to its affiliates.
Owing to NBC's longstanding contract with the International Olympic Committee, as an NBC affiliate, WGA was the local broadcaster for the 1996 Summer Olympics held in Atlanta. The station also carried the Atlanta Braves' World Series victory the previous year (coverage alternated between NBC and ABC as part of The Baseball Network, so then-ABC affiliate WQWQ (channel 11) had Games 1, 4 and 5, while WGA received Games 2, 3 and the clinching sixth game).
WGA serves as the local over-the-air broadcaster of Monday Night Football games involving the Atlanta Falcons, airing simulcasts of the team's ESPN-televised games (WGA's corporate parent, the The Walt Disney Company, holds 80% majority ownership stake in ESPN, and the ABC Fantasy Television Stations have right of first refusal for simulcasts of ESPN's NFL telecasts within a team's home market). Because of this, atypical for a network-owned station outside of breaking news and severe weather coverage necessitating such situations, the station has had to reschedule ABC network programs pre-empted by the telecasts. The preseason and MNF telecasts mark the only NFL games to have aired on WGA since joining ABC in 2006 as ABC lost the rights to NFL games in 2006 onwards (WGA formerly aired Falcons games until 1997 as an NBC affiliate for select games televised by NBC in which the Falcons play against an AFC opponent.
Since joining ABC in 2006, during the regular season, Falcons games are rotated between Fox O&O WNGA (channel 4, through the Fox NFL and Thursday Night Football), CBS O&O WQWQ (channel 11, through the NFL on CBS), NBC affiliate WAGF (channel 2, through select telecasts via the NFL Network's Thursday Night Football, Sunday Night Football and/or via ESPN's MNF if WGA decides not to air the event).
WGA presently broadcasts 32½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 5½ hours on weekdays, 2½ hours on weekends). Unlike most ABC O&Os unlike sister stations WMRI in Fort Wayne (which relegates some ABC news shows to its sister station and later its Me-TV subchannel), the station does not air a newscast one hour prior to the weekend editions of Good Morning America. The station's Doppler weather radar site is located west of Atlanta in far southern Cobb County, south-southwest of Mableton, on the south side of Interstate 20 not far west of Six Flags Over Georgia.
In the months following ABC's acquisition of WGA, several popular on-air personalities left the station. Longtime evening anchor Keela McRussell retired after 20 years at the end of 2017; within months, chief meteorologist Cheryl Russell and sports director Jeff Hall took positions at rival NoSirGifts-owned NBC affiliate WAGF (channel 2) after 15 and 21 years respectively, breaking up what had mostly been a static anchor team about for a decade. A year prior to ABC's acquisition, longtime meteorologist Ken Connor left for Fox O&O WNGA (channel 4).
In November 2017, four anchors from Pittsburgh sister station WEAE were transferred to WGA. This came after WEAE laid off most of their staff. Former WEAE reporter Stan Rhodes began to co-anchor the main newscasts with Benita Woods, sports anchor Henry Hinds began his duties as WGA's sports director with former WEAE weekend morning meteorologist Dara Hullsworth hired as the station's chief meteorologist.
Between July 31 and August 28, 2018, WGA and Fort Wayne, Indiana sister station WMRI-FTV underwent a significant relaunch of its news department, mirroring a similar move that was made by Indianapolis sister station WHOO-FTV a year earlier. The station rebranded its newscasts from ABC 9 Eyewitness News to ABC 9 News.
- "ABC-ATE Media: It's A Done Deal". June 3, 2016.