Syndication-Free WAVE Fully Committed to Louisville

(Image credit: Gray Television)

So committed is WAVE Louisville to local content that the station has no syndicated programming, a rarity among TV outlets. WAVE has long been devoted to its tireless local approach, and stepped it up when COVID became a major story earlier this year. Civil unrest, a giant story in Louisville due to Breonna Taylor living there before her death, followed. 

WAVE, part of Gray Television, is local from 4:30 a.m. until primetime on weekdays, except for Today, Days of Our Lives and NBC Nightly News. That includes business program Listens Live! 12 p.m-1 p.m., public affairs show WAVE Country with Dawne Gee 2-3 p.m. and local news 4 to 5 p.m., added in April and replacing Family Feud. A live hour of news at 7 p.m. has been in place for around a decade. 

“We are all in, because it’s working,” said Ken Selvaggi, VP/general manager. “People are watching.” 

WAVE does not subscribe to Nielsen. For Comscore ratings in September, it had a 4.5 in sign on/sign off, ahead of WLKY’s 4.4, WDRB’s 4.1 and WHAS’s 2.8. 

Saturday news starts at 5 a.m. Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. newscasts were added Oct. 3, leading out of Inside the Cards, a look at Louisville Cardinals sports. 

The station also runs a variety of spontaneous local programming, such as church services during Holy Week in April, a 10-part reading series on behalf of Louisville’s libraries, and specials related to Juneteenth. “We just got into the mindset of doing local content for organizations who couldn’t have their events,” said Selvaggi. (The Louisville TV market is profiled in the new issue of B+C. Selvaggi spoke after that story’s deadline.)

WAVE airs Secrets of Bluegrass Chefs 7 p.m. Saturdays, and various local programming, including high school sports show GameOn, with sports director Kent Taylor and former NFL star Deion Branch among the hosts, at 7:30. That hour used to have Family Feud. On Sundays, it runs Gray Television’s Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren.

The station added five people to the newsroom this year. Selvaggi said WAVE is the oldest TV station in Kentucky. “This is an extension of who we are, and what we do,” said Selvaggi. “This is in our DNA.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.