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WNEP-TV is the ABC-affiliated television station for northeastern Pennsylvania licensed to Scranton. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 50 from a transmitter on Penobscot Knob in Mountain Top. Owned by Local TV, the station has studios on Montage Mountain Road in Moosic.


WNEP-TV
[1]

[2]

Scranton / Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Branding WNEP-TV 16 (general)

Newswatch 16 (newscasts) WNEP 2 (on DT2)

Slogan The News Station
Channels Digital: 50 (UHF)
Subchannels 16.1 ABC

16.2 RTV

Translators see article
Affiliations ABC
Owner Local TV

(Local TV Pennsylvania License, LLC)

First air date WILK-TV: September 16, 1953

WARM-TV: February 6, 1954 WNEP-TV: January 1, 1956

Call letters' meaning We're in NorthEast Pennsylvania
Former callsigns WILK-TV (1953-1955) & WARM-TV (1954-1955)
Former channel number(s) Analog:

WILK-TV: 34 (UHF, 1954-1955) WNEP-TV: 16 (UHF, 1956-2009) Digital: WNEP-TV: 49 (UHF)

Transmitter power 500 kW
Height 517 m
Facility ID 73318
Transmitter coordinates 41°10′57.2″N 75°52′13.9″W / 41.182556°N 75.870528°W / 41.182556; -75.870528
Website wnep.com

Digital programming

The station's signal is multiplexed.


Virtual

Channel

Video Aspect Programming
16.1 720p 16:9 main WNEP programming / ABC HD
16.2 480i 4:3 RTV "WNEP 2"

[edit] Translators

WNEP serves one of the largest coverage areas east of the Mississippi River. This area is very mountainous meaning that some areas cannot get a clear signal from channel 50. As a result, it operates one of the largest translator systems of any station in the Eastern Time Zone. WNEP-TV is also one of a very few television stations that operates the entire translator system in digital.


Call letters Channel City of license Transmitter location
W07DC-D 7 Allentown / Bethlehem (Philadelphia market) near South Mountain in Mountainville section of Allentown
W10CP-D 10 Towanda south of Monroeton
W14CO-D 14 Clarks Summit north of Scranton between I-476 and I-81 in Lackawanna County
W15CO-D 15 Towanda south of Monroeton
W20AD-D 20 Williamsport near downtown
WNEP-TV 22 Waymart A fill-in translator next to wind turbine #5, Moosic Mountains.
W26CV-D 26 Mansfield near Mainesburg along the Tioga and Bradford County line
W26DE-D 26 Stroudsburg Foxtown Hill
W28DP-D 28 Pottsville southwest of downtown
W36BE-D 36 State College (Johnstown market) south of Pine Grove Mills along PA 26

[edit] History

[edit] WILK and WARM

There were originally two ABC network affiliates in Northeastern Pennsylvania. WILK-TV channel 34 (owned by WILK (AM)) in Wilkes-Barre took to the air on September 16, 1953. It was followed by WARM-TV channel 16 (owned by WARM (AM) in Scranton on January 2, 1954. During the late 1950s, WILK-TV was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.[1]

WILK wanted to get a head start on the other local stations when it signed on in 1953, going on the air at 2 p.m. rather than the 3 p.m. sign on that the other stations did. The engineers got the signal ready by noon and decided to take a break. However, at lunch, they turned on the station to inspect their handiwork, only to find the signal was dead. They rushed back and were able to establish the link by 1:50 PM, 10 minutes before sign-on.[2]

Getting a signal from ABC headquarters in New York City was a challenge in the early days with no access to satellites. As a result, WILK set up a microwave tower in Effort, about 45 miles east of Wilkes-Barre. From there, the network signal was bounced to the Penobscot Knob transmitter site. Often, station engineers had to adjust the Effort transmitter to accept a signal from WFIL-TV in Philadelphia (now WPVI-TV) if they were unable to receive the New York feed.

WILK-TV and WARM-TV were both losing money, in large part because their network, ABC, was not on an equal footing with NBC and CBS (and would not be until the 1970s). However, they stayed on the air because they were owned by well-respected local radio stations.

[edit] Early years as WNEP-TV

By 1955, however, it was obvious that Scranton and Wilkes-Barre were going to be a single television market. Accordingly, WILK and WARM agreed to merge. The new station, WNEP-TV, went on the air on New Year's Day in 1956. It operates under WILK's license, but uses WARM-TV's channel 16 to provide more signal to its vast coverage area at less cost. Along with the merger came a new owner, Transcontinent Broadcasting of Buffalo, New York. WILK's old channel 34 was reassigned to WBJA-TV (now WIVT), another ABC affiliate in Binghamton, New York; the WARM-TV transmitter was donated a decade later to the area's PBS member station, WVIA-TV. WNEP-TV was based in WILK-TV's old studio in downtown Wilkes-Barre, but then as now it was licensed to Scranton since it assumed WARM-TV's old channel allocation. In 1962, it moved to a new studio near the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.

WNEP initially struggled to survive, just like its predecessors. However, the station took off in 1958 thanks in part to ABC's color programming and the station's new transmitter on Penobscot Knob. The new transmitter, which was the first million-watt signal in the market, increased WNEP's broadcast range to cover 15 counties [2].

Despite its increased coverage area, WNEP bounced back and forth in the ratings for most of the next two decades. It was never able to achieve any consistency because viewers in Scranton thought of it as a Wilkes-Barre station, while viewers in Wilkes-Barre thought of it as a Scranton station. In the mid-1970s, news director Elden Hale decided to take a regional approach. He billed the station as serving "Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania," and stepped up coverage of the remote portions of the market. These areas had largely been ignored by the other stations in town. He also added the area's first (and as of 2008, only) news helicopter. This approach quickly paid off. In November 1976, WNEP surged to first place for the first time in a decade. After briefly falling back to second it surged to number one in 1978, around the same time ABC became the nation's number one network. Apart from a brief period in the mid-1990s when WBRE passed it, it has been number one ever since.

Transcontinent merged with Taft Broadcasting in 1964. When Taft bought WIBF-TV in Philadelphia and changed the calls to WTAF-TV in 1969 (now WTXF-TV), it sought a waiver to keep both stations. WNEP's Grade B signal reaches the Lehigh Valley, which is part of the Philadelphia market. WNEP has also operated an outlying transmitter on channel 7 in Allentown for many years. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) normally did not allow one company to own two stations with overlapping coverage areas. While it initially granted the waiver, it reversed itself later in 1969 and forced Taft to sell WNEP.

An employee group, NEP Communications, bought the station and presided over its surge to first place. NEP Communications operated a remote production company. Following the sale to the Times, Tom Shelburne spun off the production company into NEP Broadcasting which has become a world leader in providing remote broadcast facilities for the Olympics, World Cup Soccer and the Academy Awards as well as New York City's largest studio production facility owning the studios where Colbert Report, The Daily Show, Sesame Street and People's Court are produced.[3]

In 1985, The New York Times Company bought the station and WNEP moved to its current studios in Moosic in 1989. The station's new facility is almost an exact copy of the building the New York Times built for sister station WHNT-TV in Huntsville, Alabama, but on a larger scale. On January 4, 2007, the station, along with the eight other stations owned by the New York Times' broadcast media group, were sold to Oak Hill Capital Partners in a $575 million transaction. As of 12:01 a.m., May 7, 2007, the station is operated as part of Local TV LLC.[4]

[edit] Analog broadcast tower collapse

WNEP-TV's transmission tower broadcasting the analog signal on channel 16 collapsed on December 16, 2007 due to severe ice, winds, and snow at the transmitter location on Penobscot Knob[5]. The tower collapse also destroyed the transmitter building. No one was injured during the incident[5]. WCLH's FM antenna and transmitter, which was co-located on WNEP's analog TV tower, was also destroyed during the incident [6]. Transmission of the digital signal on channel 49 was restored after a brief interruption of power to the tower supporting the digital transmitter and antenna. WNEP's signal on local cable systems and satellite was restored by the end of the day on December 16, 2007. WNEP-TV partially restored its analog over the air TV signal by January 1, 2008 [7] by broadcasting from the nearby American Tower on Penobscot Knob supporting the WNEP-DT antenna as well as WOLF-TV/DT's antenna[8][9].

As the WNEP-TV analog broadcast tower collapsed on December 16, 2007, one of the falling guy wires supporting the WNEP-TV tower damaged the neighboring tower broadcasting WVIA-TV (analog and digital) and WVIA-FM by shearing off the top section of the WVIA tower supporting the antenna for the analog and digital TV signals. The antenna for WVIA-FM remained intact, as it is located on the lower section of the shared WVIA-FM-TV tower. The WVIA-TV analog signal on channel 44 was temporarily put off the air until service was restored through a back-up tower on Penobscot Knob[10].

The collapse of WNEP-TV's analog tower also severed power to the transmitters for WYOU-TV and WBRE-TV putting those stations off the air for a time[11].

On June 12, 2009 WNEP was to operate on a new tower which is currently complete, though the antenna had not arrived in a timely fashion. Their goal was to have the new facility operating by August 2009, but it was delayed a few months.[12] On December 5, 2009, WNEP turned off Channel 49 and moved to channel 50. Moving to channel 50 was necessary so it can alleviate possible interference from WWSI which currently operates out of Atlantic City, New Jersey on UHF channel 49.[13]

On February 15, 2010 the channel 49 facility was put back into use by WNEP on a temporary basis with FCC approval to accommodate PBS member station WVIA-TV (Channel 44), which had suffered a partial tower collapse and electrical fire which had destroyed WVIA's transmitter building and the equipment within [14][15].

[edit] Local programming

Many of the programs air on WNEP have been in-house productions rather than syndicated shows. The most popular of these was a children's program called The Land of Hatchy Milatchy. Another program, Uncle Ted's Ghoul School, once employed Bill O'Reilly as a writer. He was also a reporter at the station for a brief period during the mid-1970s. Also during the 1970s, WNEP produced two game shows, Bowling for Dollars and Dialing for Dollars. Unlike the station's newscasts, the game shows were absolute failures considering that they were pitted against other more successful national syndicated primetime games such as Family Feud and Match Game.

Today, WNEP produces two in-house programs: Pennsylvania Outdoor Life, a show about hunting and fishing in Pennsylvania, and Home & Backyard, a show about do-it-yourself home improvements, cooking and gardening. 'Pennsylvania Outdoor Life' airs Sundays at 6:30 p.m. on WNEP and 'Home & Backyard' airs Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. on WNEP. Both of these programs re-air on the "Newswatch 16 Anytime" channel. The station also participates in several local charity events, including the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon and Scranton's annual Santa Parade.

[edit] News operation

[3][4]WNEP's news open.The station is best known for its local newscasts which are among the highest rated in the United States.[16] It runs their newscasts under the branding of Newswatch 16. WNEP has led the ratings in northeastern Pennsylvania for most of the last 30 years and according to Nielsen data attracts more viewers than the other stations in town combined. In 2000, the weekday morning program earned shares between 50 and 60 meaning that 50 to 60% of televisions in the market were tuned to this station. Their on-air personalities are well-known in the area. Chief Meteorologist Tom Clark has been with the station since 1981 and is one of the region's more popular broadcasters. His wife Noreen does forecasts on the weekend newscasts and has been with the station since 1982. Marisa Burke, a native of nearby Danville, has been with the station since 1984 and now solo anchors at noon and co-anchors the weeknight 6 o'clock newscast with Scott Schaffer. Fox requested most of its affiliates to air local news in 1990. To satisfy this, WNEP began producing a nightly 10 o'clock newscast on the area's affiliate WOLF-TV (then channel 38) in 1991. In November 2009, after being unable to reach an agreement with WNEP on a contract extension, WOLF announced its intention to turn to WBRE to produce an hour long 10pm newscast beginning January 1, 2010. WNEP then announced that it would begin a 10:00 p.m. newscast on its sister station WNEP2 on the same date.

Known as Newswatch 16 at 10 on FOX 38, it was the first instance of one station producing a newscast for another.[citation needed] When the FOX affiliation moved from channel 38 to channel 56, the 10 o'clock news switched stations as well. It then became known as FOX 56 News at 10 with a secondary title of Newswatch 16 at 10 on FOX 56. WNEP airs this broadcast from a secondary set at its studios. The station runs a secondary service, known as "WNEP 2" (formerly "Newswatch 16 Anytime" and before that "Newswatch 16 on Adelphia 63"), on its second digital subchannel and area cable systems. This channel currently airs RTV programming along with other local programming. WNEP was the only media outlet in the market to utilize a helicopter, known as "Skycam 16", for news gathering purposes. The helicopter was operational from 1984 until being decommissioned in February 2009.[17] The station airs the Pennsylvania Lottery televised nighttime drawings live seven nights a week and the live Powerball drawing on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

In March 2009, its weekday morning news at 6 added another two hours (7-9 a.m.) seen on WNEP 2. Also in March, the station started up-converting its news programs to 720p wide screen format becoming the first one in the area to make such a change. (As of April 2010, it is still the only station in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre DMA to air local newscasts in widescreen even though it is in merely upconverted 16:9 enhanced definition rather than true high definition.) WNEP announced on August 6, 2009 that they would begin broadcasting a 4:00 p.m. newscast on September 8, known as "Newswatch 16 at 4" which would have Norm Jones solo anchoring along with Tom Clark doing weather.

Since 1994, the station has used an updated version of Al Ham's Move Closer to Your World, which is composed by Cliff Schwarz. From 1981 to 1994, the station used the original theme, which is currently used by ABC affiliates WPVI-TV & WKBW-TV.

[edit] News team

[edit] Current on-air staff

Anchors

  • Tom Williams - weekday mornings at 6 and 7.
  • Mindi Ramsey - weekday mornings at 6 and 7.
  • Marisa Burke - weekdays at Noon and 6. Burke is the solo anchor at noon.
  • Norm Jones - weeknights at 4, 5, and 5:30. Jones is the solo anchor at 4.
  • Paola Giangiacomo - weeknights at 5, 5:30 and 10.
  • Scott Schaffer - weeknights at 6, 7, 10 and 11. Schaffer is the solo anchor at 11. (husband of Julie Sidoni)
  • Julie Sidoni - weeknights at 7 and Scranton / Lackawanna County reporter (wife of Scott Schaffer)
  • Kim Supon - Fill In (Former Anchor of Newswatch 16 This Morning)
  • Andy Palumbo - weekend mornings and weekday morning reporter
  • Jon Meyer - weekend evenings and reporter

Storm Tracker 16 Meteorologists

  • Tom Clark (AMS Seal of Approval) - Chief - Weekdays at Noon, 4, 5, 5:30, 6, & 7 (husband of Noreen Clark). Tom is seen in the "Home & Backyard" segment on WNEP.
  • Joe Snedeker - weekday mornings at 6 and 7
  • Noreen Clark - weekend mornings and "In Your Neighborhood" segment producer (wife of Tom Clark)
  • Ryan Coyle - (Certified Broadcast Meteorologist) - weekend evenings and midweek reporter
  • Kurt Aaron - Weeknights at 10 & 11. Kurt is also shown on the Action 16 segments.

Sports

  • Jim Coles - weeknights at 6, 7, 10, and 11
  • Sharla McBride - weekend evenings and reporter
  • Steve Lloyd - reporter and photojournalist

Reporters

  • Kurt Aaron
  • Dave Bohman - Investigative Reporter
  • Jim Hamill - Central Pennsylvania Bureau
  • Ryan Leckey - weekday mornings, Noon, and weekends
  • Raegan Medgie - Poconos Bureau
  • Bob Reynolds
  • Sarah Buynovsky
  • Trish Hartman
  • Renie Workman
  • Peggy Lee
  • Jennifer Borrasso
  • Kena Vernon
  • Barry DeWitt

The Pennsylvania Outdoor Life Team

  • Don Jacobs - host and "Home & Backyard" segment producer
  • Mike Stevens - "On the Pennsylvania Road" segment producer
  • Dave Aucker
  • Dale Butler
  • Susan Gallagher
  • Bob Hawkins
  • Rick Koval
  • Mike Stevens
  • Jackie Vassell

[edit] News/station presentation

[edit] Newscast titles

  • Your Esso Reporter (1953–1958)
  • The Pennsylvania Report (1958–1961)
  • WNEP-TV News (1961–1965)
  • WNEP-TV News Service (1965–1968)
  • NewsWatch 16 (1968–present)

[edit] Station slogans

  • The News Station (1981–present)

[edit] News music packages

[edit] References

  1. ^ "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films". Boxoffice: 13. November 10, 1956. http://issuu.com/boxoffice/docs/boxoffice_111056-1.
  2. ^ a b WNEP history page
  3. ^ http://guardian.nepinc.com/newsArchive/2006/newsHarmarFirm.php
  4. ^ "New York Times sells TV stations for $575M". Reuters. 2007-01-04. http://money.cnn.com/2007/01/04/news/companies/times.reut/index.htm. Retrieved 2007-01-05.
  5. ^ a b Steve Mocarsky and Mark Sowers (December 17, 2007). "Storm tips TV towers". The Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania). http://www.timesleader.com/news/20071217_17storm_sm_ART.html. Retrieved December 17, 2007.
  6. ^ "Current News: WCLH FM off the air". WCLH (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania). December 17, 2007. http://www.wclh.org/. Retrieved December 17, 2007.
  7. ^ "Restoring WNEP's Analog Signal". WNEP (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania). January 1, 2008. http://www.wnep.com/global/story.asp?s=7529835&ClientType=Printable. Retrieved January 2, 2008.
  8. ^ Scott Fybush. "Northeast Radio Watch - December 24, 2007 - Pennsylvania". Northeast Radio Watch (Rochester, New York). http://www.fybush.com/NERW/2007/071224/nerw.html#pa. Retrieved January 10, 2008.
  9. ^ Scott Fybush. "Northeast Radio Watch - January 7, 2008 - Pennsylvania". Northeast Radio Watch (Rochester, New York). http://www.fybush.com/NERW/2007/071224/nerw.html#pa. Retrieved January 10, 2008.
  10. ^ WVIA-TV (December 17, 2007). "Ice Storm affects WVIA-TV Signal - FM and TV 44 still on the air". WVIA-TV (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania). http://www.wvia.org. Retrieved December 17, 2007.
  11. ^ PAHomePage.com (December 17, 2007). "WYOU and WBRE TV Signal Update". WYOU (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania). http://pahomepage.com/content/fulltext/?sid=ad33b5d15a314d89ba45b097f538d5ef&cid=22546. Retrieved December 17, 2007.
  12. ^ http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/ws.exe/prod/cdbs/forms/prod/cdbsmenu.hts?context=25&appn=101315829&formid=337&fac_num=73318
  13. ^ http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-09-523A1.pdf
  14. ^ http://www.wnep.com/news/countybycounty/wnep-wvia-fire,0,7610541.story
  15. ^ http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/wvia-tv-signal-restored-after-blaze-radio-signal-follows-1.618914
  16. ^ http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA14061.html?display=RTNDASPECIAL
  17. ^ http://www.scrantontimes.com/articles/2009/02/04/news/sc_times_trib.20090204.a.pg1.tt04mrmedia_s1.2278977_top5.txt

[edit] External links

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