Ask just about anyone and they can tell you that ABC11/WTVD has three newsrooms in the greater Triangle region – one in downtown Durham, one in downtown Raleigh and one in downtown Fayetteville.
After all, the station covers 23 counties in North Carolina, and that takes a lot of people and some strategic geographical planning. But for those who know the history of ABC11, they know that WTVD will always share a special bond with Durham.
ABC11 WTVD was the first successful and longest-running commercial television station in the Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville viewing area, signing on September 2, 1954, on Channel 11 on the VHF band. The first studios were in an old converted tuberculosis sanitarium on Broad Street in Downtown Durham. While WTVD started as an NBC affiliate, and then a CBS affiliate, the station ultimately formed a lasting partnership with ABC, and became part of the same company, when WTVD’s owners bought the ABC Network. The network was subsequently bought by The Walt Disney Co. in the mid 1990’s, so ABC11 is now part of the Disney family.
While owned by Disney, WTVD is operated squarely in the Triangle, with the local management and employees making all business and editorial decisions for the station. Station employees are distributed among its three newsrooms, but Durham holds a special place in their hearts. Not just where the station began, Durham is also where long-time anchor Larry Stogner started in 1976, when the Raleigh-Durham- Fayetteville viewing area was the 63rd largest in the nation and the station only had a little more than 80 employees. Now, the bustling Triangle and beyond is the 25th largest media market in the country, with nearly three million viewers. And while the region has grown, WTVD has grown with it, with Durham still being a key location. In 1978, WTVD built a new 32,000 square foot broadcast facility at 411 Liberty Street in Durham, where one of two main high definition broadcast studios remains to this day, with the second studio being added in Raleigh in 2007. When Larry retired from WTVD after 39 years in 2015, he was in the Durham Eyewitness News studio to pass the baton on to his co-anchor Tisha Powell and ABC11 veteran Steve Daniels.
Throughout its history, ABC11 WTVD has held a steadfast commitment to serve the diverse needs and interests of its Central and Eastern North Carolina viewing areas. Toward that end, the station organized the WTVD Minority Advisory Committee and continues to meet regularly with committee members, including annual meetings hosted by local Historically Black Colleges and Universities. ABC11 is one of only two stations in the nation that have such a committee. The Minority Advisory Committee has been instrumental in providing ongoing guidance for employee recruitment and original local programming. As another way of serving its community, ABC11 recently launched its ABC11 Together program which highlights all of the ways we come together, by featuring stories about community needs, good deeds and how we all can help. It’s the stories that inspire us and the stories that unite us. ABC11 on air personalities are also committed to the community and participate in many events and engagements throughout the Triangle. ABC11’s Durham partners include the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, the Durham Literacy Center, Urban Ministries of Durham, the Ronald McDonald House of Durham, Boys of Girls Club of Greater Durham, St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation, and more.
The Durham Chamber is proud to have ABC11 as a Durham 2.0 investor and strong member of the Durham community.
By Caroline Welch, president and general manager WTVD