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WIVB-TV is the CBS-affiliated television station for Western New York that is licensed to Buffalo. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 39 from a transmitter on Center Street in Colden. Owned by the LIN TV Corporation, the station is sister to CW affiliate WNLO and the two stations share studios on Elmwood Avenue in North Buffalo. However, master control and some internal operations for both are based at hub facilities in WISH-TV's North Meridian Street studios in Indianapolis, Indiana. Syndicated programming on WIVB includes: Access Hollywood, Inside Edition, Oprah, and The Dr. Oz Show.


Contents

[hide]*1 History

[edit] History

[1][2]An early WBEN-TV identification card.The station went on-the-air in May 13, 1948 as WBEN-TV almost three years after its owner the Buffalo Evening News applied for a license. It is the oldest television station in the market and one of the oldest in the nation. As the only channel in Buffalo for its first several years, it carried programming from all four networks of the time (CBS, NBC, ABC, and DuMont) However, it was a primary CBS affiliate due to then-sister station WBEN-AM's longtime affiliation with CBS Radio. It lost NBC when WGR-TV (now WGRZ-TV) signed-on in 1954 and ABC to that station when NBC purchased WBUF-TV in 1956. WBEN-TV continued to share DuMont programming with WGR until 1956 when it ceased network operations.

It operated from studios on the eighteenth floor of Hotel Statler until 1960 when it moved to its current facilities on Elmwood Avenue originally built for WBUF which had gone dark in 1958 two months prior to the sign-on of present-day ABC affiliate WKBW-TV. One early show running from the late-1940s until 1970 was Meet the Millers featuring Bill and Mildred Miller and their cooking and household tips each weekday afternoon. Another staple throughout the 1950s and early-1960s was a short visit to the North Pole with Santa Claus and Forgetful the Elf. This was a daily show that aired only during December and was sponsored by Hengerer's Department Store. During the late-1970s, WIVB took over the cable-access program Disco Step by Step.

When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) disallowed same market co-ownership of newspapers and broadcast licenses in the early 1970s, the combination of the Buffalo Evening News and WBEN-AM-FM-TV was grandfathered under the new rule. However, the 1977 death of Katherine Butler (longtime owner and publisher of the Evening News) led to the sale of the newspaper to its current owner, Berkshire Hathaway. This sale brought an end to 104 years of Butler family ownership of the Evening News. As a result, the Buffalo media combination lost its grandfathered protection and Berkshire Hathaway opted to keep the newspaper and sell off the broadcasting properties. The television station was sold to newspaper publisher Robert Howard of Oceanside, California for $25.5 million dollars.

The new owner changed this station's callsign to WIVB which stands for "We're IV (4) Buffalo". The WBEN callsign remains on 930 AM which along with its FM sister station had been sold to Larry Levite's Algonquin Broadcasting. Both of those stations are currently owned by Entercom Communications. WIVB added the -TV suffix to its legal call sign in 1981. Channel 4 was then sold to King World Productions (at that time a separate entity from both Viacom and CBS) in 1988.

WIVB nearly became an NBC owned-and-operated station in 1994 when that network's parent company General Electric announced plans to purchase King World. However, the planned purchase fell through, and WIVB was instead sold to current owner LIN in 1995. Ironically, King World is now owned by CBS and has since been absorbed into CBS Television Distribution. The new owner renewed the station's CBS affiliation for the long term, ending any hope of NBC airing on Channel 4 in Buffalo and returning to the studio building it had originally built for WBUF-TV. At the time of the aborted NBC purchase, WIVB was in a strong second place in the local viewership ratings while NBC's existing affiliate WGRZ was in third place although not as distant as it had been throughout much of the 1980s and early 1990s. Both stations have since passed then-first-place WKBW.

In 2000, LIN bought the station then known as WNEQ, the region's secondary PBS affiliate. On January 23, 2001, WNEQ was relaunched as independent station WNLO. That station began serving as the region's UPN affiliate in 2002. The previous UPN stations, WNGS/WONS, later switched to the Retro Television Network and were eventually sold to the Daystar Television Network. In September 2006, WNLO became The CW affiliate in Buffalo. On May 18, 2007, LIN announced that it was exploring strategic alternatives that could have resulted in the sale of the company.

As part of the national switch to digitally-only broadcasting, WIVB switched-off its analog signal on VHF channel 4 on June 12, 2009 at 9 in the morning. Its digital signal remained on UHF channel 39. However, digital televisions with PSIP capability display WIVB's virtual channel as 4. It is one of several local Buffalo stations seen in Southern Ontario Canada, including Toronto, which happens to be the channel's biggest target audience. As of April 30, 2009, Shaw Broadcast Services and Shaw Direct no longer transmit the WIVB signal replacing it with WWJ-TV in Detroit. [1] It was also, due to the absence of a CBS affiliate in the Elmira market, the default station for portions of Steuben County. This lasted until 2009 when WENY-DT3 signed on as a CBS affiliate from Elmira. WIVB currently airs no local non-news programming except for its public affairs program By the People which has been a staple of its programming on Sunday mornings at 6 for many decades. Televangelists that buy time on WIVB include: The 700 Club, Lakewood Church, and the Nation of Yahweh.

[edit] Cable disputes

WIVB has had significant contract disputes with both of the major cable television providers in the station's coverage area, Time Warner Cable (which covers most of Western New York) and Atlantic Broadband (which covers much of its Northern Pennsylvania area as well as the rest of the Western New York region). In both cases, WIVB is demanding a rights fee of 25 cents per month per subscriber (in addition to another 25 cents for sister station WNLO) and is refusing to allow the carriers the right to carry the signal. The agreement with Time Warner expired October 2, 2008. [2] WIVB and WNLO were taken off Time Warner Cable at 12:30 in the morning on October 3 and were replaced with CBS College Sports and HBO Family respectively in the channel lineup when an agreement between LIN Television and Time Warner Cable could not be reached. According to this station, LIN Television and Time Warner Cable were still trying to work on a deal even after the channels were dropped. Time Warner Cable says negotiations broke off at the time of the shutoff.

After that, WIVB openly advocated for Time Warner customers to switch to DISH Network. Time Warner, in turn, gave away free antennas and struck a deal with the Buffalo Bills Radio Network to simulcast the audio of the games on cable channel 4. Buffalo Bills games and some CBS programs were restored in Niagara County through Toronto-based CFTO-TV (and in other parts of the region through WROC-TV and WSEE-TV). In Erie, Cattaraugus, Allegany, and Western Steuben Counties, WIVB continues to (in addition to block its signal) enforce its syndication exclusivity on Bills games preventing them from being brought in from another market. An agreement was reached between LIN TV and Time Warner Cable on October 29 allowing WIVB and WNLO to return to Time Warner channel lineups. Terms of the deal were not made available.

There is no agreement or negotiation with Atlantic Broadband but that company continued to retransmit WIVB without permission through 2008. [3] Atlantic Broadband announced it would discontinue carrying WIVB in favor of WSEE-TV on January 1, 2009 and were apparently making no effort to negotiate a new deal. [4] However, due to this date being over a holiday, WIVB granted a thirty day extension at the end of which was an agreement that allowed WIVB to remain on-air uninterrupted. [5] The agreement will expire in January 2012. WNLO was not included in the agreement, and CW service is now provided in these areas by WSEE-DT2.

[edit] Accolades and honors

For most of the time since 2000, WIVB has been the most-watched news channel in Western New York (according to Nielsen) after rival WKBW's long winning streak ended. The station regularly scores ratings wins for every newscast it airs from morning to night. It has become so dominant in the market that it at one time garnered the highest television ratings for a local newscast in the entire nation, according to advertisements run by the station, an honor regained in February 2008. As of late, rival WGRZ which has also had strong ratings in the area has begun to challenge WIVB's dominance specifically in the weeknight 5 and 5:30 newscasts according to Nielsen's May 2007 sweeps data.

By July 2007, WGRZ's morning show was soundly beating WIVB's Wake Up! in the ratings likely because WGRZ picked up former WIVB reporter Kevin O'Neill (a.k.a. "The Why Guy"). This station reclaimed the top position in the November 2007 sweeps although still in a statistical tie with WGRZ, and as of May 2009, is now solidly back in first place. All three stations in the Buffalo market have been, at various times in their history, among the highest rated stations in the country and they continue to be fiercely competitive. However, the cable coverage disputes threatened WIVB's high standing. Although the dispute did not fall during an official sweeps month, preliminary instant data from The Buffalo News showed that WIVB fell precipitously from a strong first to a distant third for the month of October 2008 with less than half the viewership of second-place WKBW for its weeknight 6 o'clock show. Its weeknight 11 o'clock broadcast fared slightly better but is still in distant third. [6]

With the official November sweeps out, WIVB regained the lead in most newscasts (except weekday mornings where it remains second to WGRZ) although third-place WKBW made significant gains on this channel. [7] The station and its staff have won several Emmy awards including one in 1999. Meteorologist Don Paul has recently been voted Buffalo's favorite television personality according to advertisements run on the station.

[edit] News operation

WIVB currently produces forty hours of news programming per week (including that which airs on WNLO). This is by far the most of the three broadcast stations in the Buffalo market; WGRZ produces thirty hours and WKBW produces 24½. The news operation at WIVB is generally considered a straight newscast, as opposed to the more activist approach of WGRZ (WIVB highlighted this in an advertising campaign in the mid-2000s, when it used the slogan "today's news and tomorrow's weather" and asserted that it "doesn't take sides," a reference to WGRZ's use of the "On Your Side" slogan). The station has long been considered to favor older viewers, even dating back to the 1970s when its rivals were promoting flashier, more sensational approaches to the news. WIVB frequently places significant emphasis on its weather operation, which is operated by veteran meteorologists Don Paul and Mike Cejka, both of whom have spent over twenty years each at the station.

This station added a weekday morning show on September 19, 1994 known as Wake Up!. It was the second local broadcast in the market after WKBW's Good Morning Western New York which launched in 1987. During the mid-1990s, WIVB used the 24 Hour News Source format which had been seen prior to this on WGRZ. In March 2001, WIVB began airing a nightly 10 o'clock newscast on WNLO known as The 10 O'Clock News. During the week, this competes with another prime time broadcast that airs on MyNetworkTV affiliate WNYO-TV. Produced by WGRZ, it has consistently lagged behind WNLO in the ratings because it is not a seven day operation.

Starting on February 2, 2009, WNLO began airing a two hour extension of WIVB's weekday morning newscast. It also re-airs this station's weekend morning show and simulcast the hour-long weekend evening news at 6 on Saturday nights. If CBS programming runs over this time slot, WNLO airs the news. WIVB does not broadcast the Saturday editions of The Early Show or CBS Evening News from the network. WNLO airs the CBS Morning News on weekday mornings.

As of May 2010, WIVB's newscasts remain in pillarboxed 4:3 standard-definition, with only a few of the station's graphics (namely the scrolling scoreboard used in its sportscasts) in high-definition. This is in contrast to WGRZ and YNN Buffalo, both of which are currently broadcasting their newscasts in 16:9 widescreen. [1]

From approximately 1995 until the end of 2009, WIVB built and operated a large network of over eighty AWS/WeatherBug weather stations (under the name "Neighborhood WeatherNet"), mostly on local school buildings. WIVB's involvement in the Neighborhood WeatherNet was discontinued at the beginning of 2010, though the stations, now under WeatherBug's control, remain operational. WIVB also previously operated a local Doppler radar in the 1990s and early 2000s (known as "4 x 4 Warn Doppler" because it factored in stations in Rochester, Syracuse and Cleveland), but shut it down in the early 2000s in favor of the nearby National Weather Service Doppler Radar in Cheektowaga.

[edit] Newscast titles

  • First Team News (late 1970s)
  • News 4 Buffalo (1980s-1992)
  • News 4 (1992–present)

[edit] Station slogans

  • "We're 4 Buffalo" (1982-1990s, general)
  • "Western New York's #1 Newscast" (1980s-1992)
  • "Your 24-Hour News Source" (1992-1997)
  • "4 Today's News, 4 Tomorrow's Weather" (mid-2000s)
  • "Gotta Watch 4" (2000–present, general)
  • "Keeping You Connected" (2007–present, primary news)
  • "WIVB, Home of Western New York's News Leader" (2007–present, secondary news)

[edit] News music packages

  • "WBEN News"
  • "The News Image" and "The News Image Plus"
  • "The One for All"
  • "Prime News"
  • "Third Coast"
  • "360"

[edit] News team

Anchors

  • Joe Arena - weekday mornings and 7 am hour (on WNLO)
  • Mylous Hairston - weekend evenings
  • Melissa Holmes - weekday mornings (on WNLO) and reporter
  • Victoria Hong - weekday mornings and Noon
  • Lia Lando - fill in, currently 5:30 and 10 (effective July 1)
  • Michelle McClintick - weekend mornings
  • Don Postles - weeknights at 5, 6, and 11
  • Jacquie Walker - weeknights at 5, 6, and 11

Weather Watch 4 Meteorologists

  • Mike Cejka (AMS Seal of Approval) - Wake Up! and noon (Monday-Friday)
  • Don Paul (AMS Seal of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist, 5 pm, 5:30 pm, 6 pm, 10 pm and 11 pm (weeknights)
  • Lindsay Schwarzwaelder - Wake Up! (weekends)
  • Amelia Segal - 6 pm, 10 pm, and 11 pm (weekends), joined March 2010 from WJET in Erie [2]

Sports

  • John Murphy - weeknights at 6 pm, 10 pm, and 11 pm
  • Paul Peck - weekend evenings

Reporters

  • Rich Newberg - Senior Correspondent
  • Dr. Peter Ostrow, MD - medical
  • Nalina Shapiro
  • Michele McClintick
  • Luke Moretti
  • George Richert
  • Lorey Schultz
  • Tricia Cruz
  • Al Vaughters

[edit] Notable former staff

  • John Beard - evening anchor (1978–1981). Later worked at KNBC and KTTV in Los Angeles, California; Now at WGRZ anchoring Daybreak and Midday.
  • Brian Blessing, sports anchor in the early 1990s. Went on to co-host Hockey Hotline on Empire Sports Network. Now in Las Vegas, hosting Sportsbook Radio and Behind the Lines on KBAD.
  • Erika Brason, anchor of Weekend Wakeup!. (2000–2005) (Now at WGRZ-TV in Buffalo)
  • Ray Collins , news anchor and the first anchor of Wake Up! alongside Sue Serio. (1994–2000) (Now at WTVT in Tampa)
  • Jericka Duncan, anchor/reporter and sports. Left 2010 for KYW-TV.
  • Pat Fagan, actor (1948?-1952). Left for WICU-TV and later WGR-TV. Died 2010.
  • Lisa Flynn, anchor and reporter (1996-2010). Left due to a desire to focus on her family.[8]
  • Maria Genero, weather anchor (1980s). Went on to host Good Day New York; currently the weekend morning/fill-in weather anchor at WGRZ. [9]
  • Chuck Gurney, meteorologist and (for a brief time) co-anchor of Weekend Wake Up!. (Now at WBNS-TV)
  • Chuck Healey, former boxer and sports announcer. He was WBEN's news anchor from 1965 until 1971 when he returned to the sports desk where he remained until his retirement in 1978.
  • Carol Crissey Jasen Nigrelli (AKA Carol Crissey and Carol Jasen), evening anchor. (1979-June 2002) Left the station to marry former WIVB reporter Craig Nigrelli and move to New Mexico.
  • Jodi Johnston, did hourly news updates (1994–2000) (Now at WGRZ-TV in Buffalo).
  • Bob Koop, variously anchored the 11 p.m. news and the 5:30 news amongst other from 1980 until his leukemia forced him to go on sick leave in 1994; he died the next year.
  • Van Miller was associated with WBEN/WIVB's from 1955 until his retirement from the station in 1998. For much of that time he was the station's sports director. He also hosted the station's high school quiz show It's Academic from the late 1960s until the 1990s. He also hosted the bowling show Beat the Champ from 1978 through the 1980s taking over from Healey. Probably best known for radio broadcasting Buffalo Bills games on the radio for about 4 decades.
  • Kevin O'Connell was an anchor at WIVB throughout the 1970s before moving to Los Angeles, where he worked as a weather man at KNBC, KABC-TV and KCBS-TV, as well as hosted the short-lived NBC game show Go!. Now the chief weather anchor at rival WGRZ-TV.
  • Pam Oliver, reporter (1988–1990). Went on to become a sideline reporter for NFL on Fox and NBA on TNT.
  • Kevin O'Neill a.k.a. "The Why Guy." (September 1994-November 2006) O'Neill resigned after 12 years as WIVB's feature reporter. Now at WGRZ
  • Alysha Palumbo, reporter (2005–2008). (Now at NECN in Boston)
  • Marie Rice, longtime WIVB reporter and morning update anchor since the 1970s, retired in 2006.
  • Wadi Sawabini, longtime WIVB reporter (Now head of Sawabini & Associates Law Enforcement Video)
  • Lisa Scott, anchor of Wake Up! and Noon news (1997- December 15, 2008). Now retired from television, and currently doing freelance reporting, writing and voice-over work.
  • Sue Serio, joined WIVB as the first female co-anchor of Wake Up! in 1994. Serio married sports reporter Bill Vargas during her time at WIVB; by 1997, she was pregnant with his child. She went on maternity leave in 1997 but never returned to Buffalo; instead, both Serio and Vargas quietly went to Philadelphia's WTXF-TV where she is today.
  • Kathy Swenson (nee Straitiff), weekend anchor. Now the head of the Gateway Longview group home.
  • Dennis Williams, sports director (1996–2008). Currently in sales at WGRZ-TV.
  • Mary Beth Wrobel, meteorologist (2000–2009). Released due to an expired contract on June 30, 2009. Now a fill-in at WGRZ.
  • Rob Macko, reporter (2006–2009). Released due to an expired contract along with Mary Beth Wrobel on June 30, 2009. Now at WGRZ
  • Robin Adams, sports reporter. Left on maternity leave, informed station she would not be returning on December 24, 2009.
  • Ellen Maxwell, reporter. Hired for Erie County Executive Chris Collins' top-floor staff. [10]
  • John Stehlin, (NWA Seal of Approval) fill-in meteorologist (2009-2010). Now back full time with Stehlin Media Group [

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