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| Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
<tr><th style="vertical-align: top; text-align: right;">Branding</th><td style="text-align: left;">The CW Philly 57(general)
|Channels||Analog: 57 (UHF)|
Digital: 32 (UHF)
|Owner|| CBS Corporation |
(Philadelphia Television Station WPSG, Inc.)
<tr><th style="vertical-align: top; text-align: right;">First air date</th><td style="text-align: left;">June 15, 1981</td></tr><tr><th style="vertical-align: top; text-align: right;">Call letters’ meaning</th><td style="text-align: left;">We're the Paramount Stations Group
WPSG channel 57 is a CW flagship television station located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. WPSG is owned by the CBS Corporation (which owns 50 percent of the CW Network) and it's a sister station to KYW-TV (channel 3). The two stations share a studio and office facility in Center City Philadelphia and WPSG's transmitter is located in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia.
The channel 57 frequency was originally assigned to Easton, Pennsylvania. In the 1950s it was home to WGLV-TV, a dual ABC-DuMont affiliate owned by the Easton Express newspaper. Unfortunately, the station struggled to get an audience mainly because it was a UHF station at a time when television manufacturers were not required to offer UHF tuners. Its fate was sealed when the Federal Communications Commission collapsed the Lehigh Valley into the Philadelphia market. The Philadelphia stations built tall towers in Philadelphia's hilly Roxborough neighborhood, adding Easton and the rest of the Lehigh Valley to their city-grade coverage. WGLV went dark soon afterward, and somewhere along the line the FCC reassigned channel 57 to Philadelphia.
Channel 57 first signed on the air as a Philadelphia station on June 15, 1981 as WWSG-TV, named for station founder William S. Gross. The station aired Financial News Network programming during the day and SelecTV subscription television at night. The station ultimately dropped the FNN feed when it decided to switch to a full-time subscription format eighteen months later, picking up the now-defunct PRISM pay-cable service (a forerunner to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia) in 1983.
In April 1985, Gross sold channel 57 to Milton Grant, who immediately purchased an inventory of strong programming other stations passed on. Many of these shows were Viacom-syndicated programs that were formerly on WKBS-TV (channel 48) before that station went off the air in August 1983. On October 13, 1985, Grant relaunched the station as WGBS-TV, a general-entertainment station with a typical mix of cartoons, sitcoms, movies, dramas, sports and westerns.
Under Grant, WGBS adopted a very slick on-air look, even by major-market independent standards. The station boldly branded itself as Philly 57, and also used CGI graphics of near network-quality. The station's announcer, Kim Martin (then an announcer at WPEN radio), offered bold, brash, and entertaining voice-overs.
Early on, the new channel 57 competed with WRBV-TV/WSJT (channel 65, now WUVP) in Vineland, New Jersey to fill the void left by WKBS's departure two years earlier. However, channel 65 suffered from a poor signal in the northern portion of the market. At the same time, channel 57 became the broadcast home of the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers. Except for a brief period from 1993 to 1998, when the Flyers moved to WPHL-TV, they have been on channel 57 ever since. Additionally, Wilmington, Delaware-based WTGI (channel 61, now WPPX) signed on in the summer of 1986 as a general entertainment station, but its schedule was comprised of largely low-budget programs. At the end of 1986, WSJT's owners, the Asbury Park Press, conceded and sold the station to the Home Shopping Network while other stations picked up some of WSJT's syndicated shows. Also, WTGI switched to a format featuring paid programming and religious shows in January 1987. By then, WGBS had clearly established itself as the third independent in Philadelphia.
WGBS prospered even in the midst of a battle for its survival -- and that of its owner. Grant had hoped to have his stations -- in addition to channel 57, Grant owned UHF independents in Miami and Chicago at the time -- become regional or national superstations. In his bid to boost his stations' status, Grant wound up overpaying for programming. He soon became so badly overextended that he filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late 1986. Under the bankruptcy deal, WGBS cut back on the number of runs they had on each show causing shows to be seen less. Still, in 1989, Grant Broadcasting was forced into receivership after the company failed to meet the terms of its bankruptcy agreement. Combined Broadcasting, a creditor-controlled holding company, took control of the former Grant stations. Combined put the stations up for sale in 1993, but it would be two years before Combined found a buyer, and only then in a roundabout way.
In early 1994, Viacom's newly-acquired subsidiary Paramount Pictures announced plans to form the United Paramount Network, in tandem with Chris-Craft Industries. In Philadelphia, Viacom owned Fox affiliate WTXF-TV, and initially planned to make that station the market's UPN outlet. Although there was no official word that WTXF was about to change networks, Fox received enough unofficial indications that it made a tentative deal with Combined to buy WGBS and move its programming there.
However, later that year, Westinghouse Broadcasting, owners of NBC-affiliated KYW-TV, cut a deal with CBS to switch channel 3 and two of Westinghouse's other stations to CBS. New World Communications had recently partnered with Fox in most markets, and emerged as a candidate to purchase CBS' longtime owned-and-operated WCAU-TV (channel 10). Fox then canceled its preliminary deal with Combined to buy channel 57 and entered into the WCAU bidding just in case New World's offer either fell through or in case New World chose to affiliate WCAU with NBC. However, NBC and CBS opted to make a complicated multi-market station swap which gave WCAU to NBC. Viacom opted to sell WTXF to Fox. Using the cash received from Fox for channel 29, Viacom then bought WGBS and its Miami sister station, WBFS-TV. As soon as the deal was announced, Viacom announced both stations would join UPN.
Ironically, of course, Viacom had been the owner of the majority of channel 57's schedule back in 1985, and in fact was one of Grant's former creditors and a part-owner of Combined. Grant had been under particularly strong pressure to repay his debt to Viacom prior to filing bankruptcy. The closing of the sales of both WTXF and WGBS happened at the same time. All of Channel 29's syndicated programming except for the Star Trek shows was included in the sale to Fox. All three Star Trek shows and syndicated cartoons previously on WTXF moved to WGBS.
WGBS became Philadelphia's UPN station on January 16, 1995, the day the network was launched. After UPN launched, the station's image changed to fit its new status. The on-air name changed to UPN Philly 57, and finally UPN 57, the graphics got simpler, and Martin was replaced by the more staid Larry Van Nuys. The UPN 57 branding was kept for the remainder of the network's run, save for one exception. When UPN launched its new logo and identity in 2002, WPSG's on-air branding was changed to simply UPN. This lasted exactly one season, and by fall of 2003 it was back to UPN 57.
Viacom officially became sole owner of WGBS on August 25, 1995, the same day Fox closed on its purchase of WTXF. On December 11 of that year, Viacom changed the call letters to WPSG, for "Paramount Stations Group." The station very slowly began phasing out the old sitcoms and cartoons in favor of first run syndicated talk/reality/court shows. Viacom bought CBS in 2000, and WPSG later moved into KYW-TV's studios on Independence Mall. In the same year Viacom also purchased Chris-Craft's 50-percent share of UPN, making WPSG UPN's largest owned-and-operated station.
In recent years, WPSG has tried to reposition itself as more of a local station, using the slogan So Philly, So You! (spelled as So Philly, So U! during the waning days of its UPN run). Weekend movie marathons, usually hosted by local personalities (or KYW/WPSG staff like Sean Murphy), have become normal, and the station recently broadcast the Philadelphia version of "Gimme the Mike!", a competition for aspiring singers. In recent years, WPSG has become Philadelphia's leading sports station. Since the late 1990s, it has acquired over-the-air rights to MLB's Philadelphia Phillies and the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers in addition to its long-standing coverage of the Flyers (although the majority of those teams' games are on Comcast SportsNet). However, in November 2008, Phillies games moved as of 2009 to WPHL.
When Viacom and CBS Corporation split in 2005, WPSG became part of the latter company along with the rest of Viacom's broadcasting interests.
On January 24, 2006, the UPN and WB networks announced they would merge into a single network called The CW, to be owned jointly by CBS and the Warner Bros. Television unit of Time Warner. As part of the deal, the new network signed a 10-year affiliation contract with 11 of CBS' UPN stations, including WPSG. Channel 57 was the largest UPN station to join the new network. However, it would not have been an upset had WPHL, Philadelphia's WB station, been chosen instead. The new network's officials were on record as preferring the "strongest" WB and UPN stations, and Philadelphia was one of the few markets where the UPN and WB stations were both relatively strong.
WPSG continued to carry UPN programming until September 15, 2006. The CW commenced operations on September 18, 2006.
While the Philly 57 branding was removed in 1995, it had been so effective that many still call the station by that name today. It is probably for this reason that, in a surprising move, WPSG announced in the summer of 2006 that it would revive the old Philly 57 moniker as part of the station's new branding, CW Philly 57, although on-air promotions refer to the station as CW Philly. In addition, WPSG would continue to broadcast Phillies, Flyers and Sixers games, a move that had been uncertain after the station became a CW affiliate.
On April 2, 2007, WPSG and sister station KYW-TV relocated to new studios at 1555 Hamilton Street in Philadelphia, near the Community College of Philadelphia.
After the analog television shutdown and digital conversion, which is tentatively scheduled to take place on June 12, 2009, WPSG will continue digital broadcasts on its current pre-transition channel number, 32.  However, through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers will display WPSG's virtual channel as 57.
In September 2002, KYW radio, KYW-TV and WPSG launched a morning news program called KYW NewsRadio This Morning. Originally anchored by KYW radio anchor Beth Trapani, the broadcast was essentially an embellished radio newscast, with simple graphics and video borrowed from KYW-TV. Trapani was succeeded by Ed Abrams, who gave way in turn to Lesley Van Arsdall. The newscast did surprisingly better than expected, but the effort would be short-lived. KYW Newsradio This Morning aired its final broadcast on May 30, 2005.
The following day, a new program called WakeUPNews, whose production is outsourced by KYW/WPSG to Traffic Pulse, premiered in the four-hour time slot previously held by KYW NewsRadio This Morning. This show is fronted by news anchor Natasha Brown, meteorologist Christa Quinn, and traffic reporter Sean Murphy. The music was written especially for the station, while the graphics were created by Emmy Award winner Randy Pyburn. The graphics were a variant of KYW-TV's package, with red as the primary color (KYW-TV's primary color is blue). Interestingly, the Pyburn graphics package was similar to the one created for WNBC-TV in 2003, which some NBC owned-and-operated stations are currently standardizing around. The program unveiled new graphics in September 2006 to coincide with WPSG's new CW affiliation. The program's name was retained, but the spelling was changed to deemphasize the UPN: it is now known as WakeUp News.
Since the fall of 2004, KYW-TV has broadcast its news on WPSG whenever it had an obligation to show network sports programming. These broadcasts carried KYW-TV's regular CBS 3 branding and graphics, but the channel bug was changed to WPSG's UPN 57 and ultimately the current CW Philly 57 bug.
A new 10PM newscast entitled Eyewitness News on CW Philly debuted on February 2, 2009 produced by KYW-TV and anchored by KYW-TV weekend anchor Dave Huddleston. KYW-TV is trying to compete with myPHL17 News at 10 Powered by NBC10 and FOX 29 News at Ten.