Georgia stations to rebrand under ‘Atlanta News First’ name

Gray Television is rebranding its hometown TV stations under a single name, becoming the latest in a series of monikers for the two properties.

WGCL, the Atlanta CBS affiliate currently known on-air as CBS 46 and independent WPCH will both start using the name “Atlanta News First” for news branding in October 2022, Gray announced.

WGCL will also change call letters to WANF — with the last three letters being the initials of the new branding.

“The people of Northern Georgia deserve a better, community-focused local news service on all platforms. This is the start of something new that will benefit Atlanta and its surrounding communities for years to come,” said Vice President and General Manager Erik Schrader in a statement.

ANF will be used across both stations as well as their accompanying digital properties, including streaming offering ANF+.

WGCL’s current call letters are a holdover from when the station switched from WGNX in 2000. The “GCL” letters were a nod to the name “Georgia’s Clear TV,” representing a two-year period when the station used the “Clear News” branding on air as a way to try to distinguish itself in the market, where it has traditionally trailed other stations.

During much of this period, the station used a graphics package and sets with a lighter, airier feel dominated by white, green and orange. Ostensibly, the concept behind “Clear News” was that information was presented in a way that was easy to understand while also focusing less on the crime, fire and accident stories that are a staple of many local newscasts.  

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The format never caught on in terms of generating significantly improved ratings and was eventually dropped altogether in 2002, switching back to a more traditional format and look and the CBS 46 name along with the “Atlanta’s News Channel” tag.

WPCH, which Gray also acquired as part of its Meredith buy, is known on air as Peachtree TV, and airs a collection of syndicated programming as well as local news produced by WGCL.

WPCH was formerly known as WTBS after CNN and Turner Broadcasting founder Ted Turner bought the call sign from a radio station in Massachusetts. It had been known as WTCG prior to that, during which time Turner laid the groundwork for the first “superstation” format where a local TV station’s signal was uplinked to TV providers in other parts of the country via satellite. 

Atlanta’s news market is fairly crowded — in addition to all of the “big three” stations’ newscasts plus Fox, CBS’s CW station WUPA also airs a 10 p.m. newscast under the name “Atlanta Now News” that’s produced mainly out of KTVT in Dallas. 

That effort was part of a nationwide launch of hybrid national-local newscasts CBS launched in July 2022 in most markets where it owns at least one station. Although WUPA’s 10 p.m. news doesn’t directly compete with WGCL’s 11 p.m. show, it is an interesting juxtaposition for a non-O&O station being in the somewhat unique situation of having to keep on eye on a station owned by the network it’s affiliated with.

The “Atlanta News First” name was likely meant to avoid any references to station affiliations or channel numbers so content can be used on both WATN and WPCH interchangeably. 

It also has some parallels to the “Atlanta Now News” name, though it trades “now” for “first.”

As part of its Aug. 31, 2022, announcement of that new name, Gray also released the new brand’s logo design.

The design features the letters “ANF” spelled out in a wide sans serif typeface but with some key customizations made, including eliminating part of the left leg of the “N” to make room for the dramatic slope of the right side of the “A.” In addition, the two horizontal bars of the “F” have angled ends.

Under this is a two-tone angled banner with the venture’s full name spelled out, with “News” in bold. The word “First,” meanwhile, is in a reg segment and also has a numeral “1” standing in for the “I.” The “F” here matches the one above, which also means the top horizontal bar’s angle aligns perfectly with the cap on the “1.”

Angles found in parts of both the “A” and “F” match the ones used on either end of the banner, though the “N” in the initialism has a slightly more severe tilt that doesn’t quite match with the two “N”s in the spelled out name below.

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