WJZ’s “Eyewitness News”

MARMIA-WJZ-01

Oprah Winfrey was first hired at WJZ as a news anchor for “Eyewitness News” in 1976

The first “Eyewitness News” format began in 1959 at a local television station in Cleveland (now WKYC-TV), which was a Group W-owned station. It was the United States’ first 90-minute local newscast and defined the role of the reporter as a “witness” to news events for its audiences. Following its success, the other Group W stations adopted the format and name, including WJZ-TV. The first instance of “Eyewitness News” that we can find in the Baltimore Sun was Monday, February 5, 1962, when it aired for 30-minutes on WJZ at 1pm and 6pm, with 15-minute shows of “Eyewitness News: Sports” at 11pm and “Eyewitness News: Man to Man” at 12:45am.

The WJZ-TV Collection’s “Eyewitness News” series starts with the recorded daily broadcasts (about 2-3 broadcasts per day) beginning on November 15, 1977. It is interesting that some years are missing from this series, and we are not sure why. For example, we have the daily broadcasts through the first date mentioned in 1977 through January 5, 1979. But from there, the date doesn’t pick up again until January 11, 1980, starting up recording the daily broadcasts again, up through July of that year where it stops again. There seems to be one tape from 1981, and then daily recording picks up again in August of 1982. We seem to be missing a lot of 1986, 1987, 1991, 1995, and 1997. Other than those years, we have just about every daily broadcast of “Eyewitness News” from late 1977 through mid-2000, totally about 8,000 videocassette tapes.

Check out this digitized tape from April 1978 of “Eyewitness News”. Please donate today to help us digitize and make accessible more of these tapes!

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