WBAL-TV began operations on March 11, 1948. The station boasts many television firsts, including becoming the first Baltimore television station to broadcast in color, the first station in Maryland (and the eighth in the world) to acquire a videotape cartridge machine (video cassette recorder of “U-matic” system); the first station in Baltimore to acquire a mobile satellite news-gathering system (dubbed “NEWSTAR 11”) and the first Baltimore station to hire an African-American news anchor and a Black news director.
On January 3, 2009, WBAL-TV became the second station in Baltimore (behind WBFF-TV) to begin broadcasting its local news programming in high definition. Only the in-studio cameras and footage from the station’s helicopter were in HD at the time of the switch. For over a year, most field reports were still in pillar boxed 4:3 standard definition.
In addition, WBAL-TV became the first Baltimore television station to win a Peabody Award for local news coverage, specifically of their Chesapeake Bay pollution investigation (and the first Baltimore television station to win the award in any category in more than fifty years). WBAL’s news department was also awarded as one of the top three Best Television Newscasts by the National Headliners Association. WBAL’s purpose is one of service, providing quality news and information to the local television markets in which they operate.