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WPBN-TV / WTOM-TV
WPBN: Traverse City / Cadillac, Michigan

WTOM: Cheboygan / Petoskey, Michigan

Branding TV 7&4 (general)

7&4 News (newscasts) ABC 29&8 (on DT2)

Slogan Fair. Accurate. Honest.
Channels Digital:

WPBN: 47 (UHF) WGTU-DT2: 31.2 (UHF) WTOM: 35 (UHF) WGTQ-DT2: 8.2 (VHF)

Subchannels 7.1 / 4.1 NBC

7.2 / 4.2 ABC

Translators 50 (UHF) Harrietta
Owner Barrington Broadcasting

(Barrington Traverse City License, LLC)

First air date WPBN: September 13, 1954

WTOM: May 16, 1959

Call letters' meaning WPBN: Paul Bunyan Network

WTOM: Top Of Michigan

Sister station(s) WGTU / WGTQ

"WBVC"

Former channel number(s) WPBN:

7 (VHF analog, 1954-2009) 7 (VHF digital, 2009) WTOM: 4 (VHF analog, 1959-2009) 35 (UHF digital)

Former affiliations ABC (secondary, 1954-1971)

WPBN-DT2: The Tube (2006-2007) RTV (2007-2008) WPBN-DT3: NBC WX+

Transmitter power WPBN:

500 kW WGTU-DT2: 68.4 kW WTOM: 78 kW WGTQ-DT2: 15 kW

Height WPBN:

393 m WTOM: 168 m WGTQ-DT2: 288 m

Facility ID WPBN: 21253

WGTU-DT2: 59280 WTOM: 21254 WGTQ-DT2: 59279

Transmitter coordinates WPBN & WGTU-DT2:

44°44′53.0″N 85°4′8.0″W / 44.74806°N 85.06889°W / 44.74806; -85.06889 WTOM: 45°39′0.6″N 84°20′36.9″W / 45.650167°N 84.343583°W / 45.650167; -84.343583 (WTOM-TV) WGTQ-DT2: 46°3′8.2″N 84°6′38.8″W / 46.052278°N 84.110778°W / 46.052278; -84.110778 (WGTQ)

Like other network affiliates in this vast and rural area, it operates a full-time satellite (WTOM-DT) that is licensed to Cheboygan. This station broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 35 from a transmitter on U.S. 23 east of the city and reaches as far as Petoskey, Cedarville, Indian River, and Brevort. Unlike the previous analog signal, it does not cover Sault Sainte Marie, Kinross, Pickford, or Brimley but is carried on cable, DirecTV, and Dish Network in those cities. WTOM also serves as the default NBC affiliate for the Alpena market as that area does not have an affiliate of its own.

Contents

[hide]*1 Overview

  • 2 History
  • 3 News operation
    • 3.1 Newscast titles
    • 3.2 Station slogans
    • 3.3 News team
  • 4 Former on-air staff
  • 5 External links

Overview

Together the two stations are known on-air as TV 7&4 and serve 23 counties in the northern Lower, three counties in the eastern Upper Peninsula, and portions of Northern Ontario including Sault Ste. Marie's Canadian sister city. However, WTOM is not on cable there because Shaw Communications replaced it with Detroit's WDIV in the early-2000s.

Owned by Barrington Broadcasting, TV 7&4 operate ABC affiliate WGTU, its full-time satellite WGTQ, and a CW cable-only channel through a shared services agreement (SSA). Those stations are owned by Tucker Broadcasting of Traverse City and are based at TV 7&4's studios on M-72 west of Traverse City. Syndicated programming on the station includes: Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, Oprah, and Dr. Phil. They had aired America's Store paid programming overnights before it was discontinued in 2006 and now airs NBC All Night. The Tube was aired on weekend overnights before its discontinuation with NBC All Night replacing it.

At one point, WPBN's digital signal had two subchannels. On DT2 and Charter digital channel 200 was the Retro Television Network (RTV). That network now airs on low-powered MyNetworkTV affiliate WLLZ-LP. From 2006 until 2007, it aired The Tube (a 24-hour music video channel). On DT3 and Charter digital channel 201 was a national feed of NBC Weather Plus. WTOM's digital signal do not offer RTV, The Tube, or Weather Plus although they were all carried locally on Charter.

A result of TV 7&4 being in an operation agreement with ABC 29&8 is the ability to transmit a digital signal from both NBC and ABC by utilizing second digital subchannels at each of their transmitter locations (in Kalkaska, Harrietta, Cheboygan, and Goetzville). This allows significantly more viewers across the northern Lower and eastern Upper Peninsulas to receive clear NBC and ABC programming in more areas than ever before.

History

WPBN-TV began broadcasting on February 13, 1954 airing an analog signal on VHF channel 7. It was signed-on by Les Biederman who had established the oldest radio station in the northern Lower Peninsula, WTCM-AM 1400 (now 580), in 1940. Over the next decade, he bought or signed-on several other AM stations throughout northern Michigan. These were known as the Paul Bunyan Network with WTCM being the flagship station. Since channel 7 covered much of the territory covered by the radio stations, Biederman decided not to call his new station WTCM-TV (for Traverse City, Michigan) but rather WPBN-TV (for Paul Bunyan Network).

In the 1950s, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled that the eastern half of the Upper Peninsula was part of the Traverse City/Cadillac market. At the time, the only television station in that area had been CBC Television private affiliate CJIC-TV. Since WPBN was already operating at the maximum power allowed, Biederman signed-on WTOM-TV in Cheboygan on May 16, 1959 bringing American television to the eastern Upper Peninsula for the first time. It aired an analog signal on VHF channel 4. The two stations became known collectively as TV 7&4.

Until 1971, it shared ABC programming with CBS affiliates WWTV/WWUP. TV 7&4 aired ABC's sports programming on the weekends while that station aired some of the network's game shows and soap operas. In 1971, WGTU in Kalkaska signed-on and took the affiliation. In 1980, Midwest Broadcasting (which was the Biederman family's company) wanted to expand their broadcast operations in northern Michigan. However, the FCC told the family that they could do so only if they sold some stations to stay under ownership limits. One of the stations sold off was TV 7&4 to U.S. Tobacco.

Until recently, the station was owned by Raycom Media. In late-2005, following the company's purchase of The Liberty Corporation, Raycom announced that TV 7&4 would be sold along with another NBC affiliate in the Upper Peninsula, WLUC-TV in Marquette. The sale was necessary to help meet FCC restrictions on station ownership. On March 27, 2006, Raycom announced that Barrington Broadcasting would acquire twelve Raycom stations including TV 7&4. The FCC approved the deal in June 2006 and the finalization took place on August 12. At that point, TV 7&4 joined WLUC, Saginaw's NBC affiliate WEYI-TV and (to a degree) Toledo, Ohio's NBC affiliate WNWO-TV as part of Barrington's family of stations in and around Michigan.

On September 19, 2007 an application was filed to the FCC by Max Media to sell WGTU, its full-time satellite WGTQ, and CW cable station to Tucker Broadcasting for $10 million. After approval, that company entered into a shared services agreement with Barrington Broadcasting. According to the FCC filing, TV 7&4 would sell advertising time and provides other programming for Tucker's stations. After TV 7&4 renovated its studios over the summer, it merged its operations into the facilities. TV 7&4 and ABC 29&8 began to share a website as well.

For the digital transition on June 12, 2009, WPBN filed a petition with the FCC move its Traverse City digital signal on UHF channel 50 to the analog tower in Harrietta to maintain coverage in that area. It then signed-on a new digital signal on UHF channel 47 from WGTU's tower in Kalkaska. Unlike WPBN, WTOM-DT on UHF channel 35 did not initially offer NBC programming in full high definition. Instead, the signal was transmitted in an unconverted format. A true high definition signal for that station was included once WTOM shut down its analog signal on the transition date. WTOM's new digital signal covers a fraction of the area once served by the VHF analog signal due to the rather low powered 78kW digital signal on UHF.

News operation

When WTOM first began broadcasting, it had its their own news department based at their studios on U.S. 23. However, it eventually became a full-time satellite of WPBN. TV 7&4 has long been second in the news ratings in the market behind WWTV/WWUP according to Nielsen Media Research. Much like WWTV/WWUP, the quality of 7&4's newscasts is considered to be higher than expected for a station in the 116th market.

In terms of news coverage, TV 7&4 has more of a Traverse City focus compared with WWTV/WWUP who have studios south of Cadillac.

Former staff of the station include Christa Quinn and the immortal "Deputy" Don Melvoin who first hosted the Deputy Don kids show in the 1950s. After a stint in Hollywood that included roles on The Twilight Zone and a movie filmed on Mackinac Island called Somewhere in Time, Melvoin came back to TV 7&4 to host Deputy Don Rides Again and the horror flick Count Zappula. Don Melvoin died in 2002. In addition to its main studios, TV 7&4 operates a bureau in Gaylord on West Main Street. In the past, it had also maintained bureaus in Petoskey and Cadillac. The latter was closed in November 2008 after a reporter based there was laid off. On September 10, 2007, TV 7&4 began airing an weekday morning show at 11 after Today expanded to four hours.

After ABC 29&8 consolidated its operations with TV 7&4, it became possible there would be full newscasts on that station. Since 1984, there have been virtually no local broadcasts except for weekday morning news and weather cut-ins during Good Morning America (which were dropped) as well as a ten minute news and weather update seen weeknights at 11. ABC 29&8's only on-air newsperson Lori Puckett (who continues to anchor the weeknight update) appeared on TV 7&4 in the local segments of the 2008 Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. The station airs its newscasts in 16x9 standard definition widescreen. Though not truly high definition, the broadcasts match the ratio of HD television screens. In January 2009, the station laid off nine employees and canceled the weekday midday show.

Newscast titles

  • Newswatch 7&4 (1980s-early 1990s)
  • NewsChannel 7&4 (early 1990s-1999)
  • 7&4 News (1999-present)

Station slogans

  • "Come Home to 7&4" (1986-1987; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "Come on Home to 7&4" (1987-1988; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "Come Home to the Best, Only on 7&4" (1988-1990; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "TV 7&4, The Place to Be!" (1990-1991; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
  • "Your Only 24-Hour Local News and Weather Source" (1990-1999)
  • "Coverage You Can Count On" (1999-2008)
  • "Fair. Accurate. Honest." (2008-present)

News team

Anchors

  • Melissa Smith - weekday mornings and reporter
  • Marc Schollett - weeknights and "Fact Finder" segment producer
  • Diana Fairbanks - weeknights at 6 and 11
    • "Fact Finder" and "Buddy Check" segments producer
  • TBD - weekends
  • Giacomo Accardo - weeknight sports at 6 and 11

7&4 News Storm Team Meteorologists

  • Mark Watkins - Chief seen weeknights
  • Joe Charlevoix - weekday mornings
  • Alana Nehring - weekends and news reporter

Reporters

  • Bob Rhodes - Chief Photojournalist
  • Andrew Keller - WTOM
  • Brody O'Connell
  • Melissa Smith
  • Lauren Amstutz
  • Erika Erickson

Former on-air staff

Anchors

  • Alysha Palumbo - reporter (now at NECN)
  • Dee Morrison - weekday mornings (now at WOOD-TV)
  • Adam Bartelmay - weekday mornings and reporter (now at KTRV-TV)
  • Stacey Skrysak - weekday mornings and 11 a.m. (now at KTRV)
    • "Peninsula Kitchen" segment producer
  • Kristin Maciorowski - weeknights at 5 and 5:30
    • education reporter and "Buddy Check" segment producer
  • Scott Michael Trager - now at WWTV/WWUP
  • Matt Soltysiak - weekend sports anchor and sports reporter
  • Bill Froehlich - weekends and reporter

Meteorologists

  • Greg MacMaster - chief, seen weeknights
  • Rob Williams - chief, seen weeknights (now at WJHL-TV)
  • Dave Fraser - weekday mornings (now at KRIS-TV)
  • Matt Kirkwood - now at WOOD-TV
  • Dave Barrons - retired from WWTV/WWUP on January 1, 2009

Reporters

  • Jeni DiPrizio - Petroskey Bureau (now at WPTY-TV)
  • Rob Preston - Cadillac Bureau
  • Judi Lykowski - Cadillac Bureau
  • Courtney Rehmer - fill-in news anchor (now at WJZQ-FM 92.9)
  • Jessica Leffler - now at WOOD-TV
  • Michele McClintick - now at WIVB
  • Sheena Elzie

Others

  • Dave Walker - deceased in November 2008
  • Dave Fortin - retired in December 2006 after 42 years
  • Doug DeYoung- Former News Director- currently at Traverse City Chamber
  • Jennifer Borrasso - currently at WNEP-TV
  • Halley Vogel - currently at WZZM-TV
  • Anne Dill - now at WCIA
  • Katie O'Mara - now at WNEM-TV

External links

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