|Branding||WABI-TV 5 (general)
WABI-TV 5 News (newscasts)
Eastern and Central Maine's CW (on DT2)
|Slogan||Spirit of Maine
TV to Talk About (DT2)
|Channels||Digital: 13 (VHF)
Virtual: 5 (PSIP)
5.2 The CW
(Community Broadcasting Service)
|First air date||January 25, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||taken from former radio sister|
|Former channel number(s)||5 (VHF analog, 1953-2009)
19 (UHF digital, 2002-2010)
61 W61AO Calais
|Former affiliations||NBC (primary, 1953-1959)
DuMont (secondary, 1953-1955)
ABC (secondary, 1953-1965)
CBS (secondary, 1953-1955)
|Transmitter power||12 kW|
WABI-TV is the CBS-affiliated television station for Central and Eastern Maine licensed to Bangor. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 13 (or virtual channel 5.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter on Peaked Mountain in Dixmont. The station can also be seen on Time Warner Cable channel 6 and in high definition on digital channel 705. DirecTV and Dish Network also carry the station. As of October 12, 2012, Dish also carries WABI-TV in Franklin, Kennebec, Knox, and Oxford counties, in the Portland market, on channel 6265. It is the flagship station of Diversified Communications, which is owned by the Hildreth family of Bangor. Its studios are located on Hildreth Street in West Bangor. Syndicated programming on WABI includes How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, Glee, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and The Dr. Oz Show among others.
WABI-TV was the first television station in Maine signing-on January 25, 1953 and aired an analog signal on VHF channel 5. It was owned by former Governor Horace Hildreth along with WABI radio (910 AM, now WAEI, and 97.1 FM now WBFB), and managed in its early years by Murray Carpenter. The station was a primary NBC affiliate, but carried secondary affiliations with the other three major networks of the day. (CBS, ABC, and DuMont). It lost CBS to WTWO (channel 2) in 1955; that station had been founded by Carpenter. It lost DuMont soon afterward when that network shut down. After Carpenter sold WTWO to the Rines-Thompson family in 1959, the new owners changed that station's calls to WLBZ-TV and swapped affiliations with WABI-TV, making channel 5 a primary CBS affiliate. The two outlets then began to share ABC programming, which had previously been exclusive to WABI. This ended when WEMT (now WVII-TV) signed-on in 1965 and took the affiliation. During the late-1950s, WABI was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.
On July 28, 2006, WABI announced it was creating a new second digital subchannel to become affiliated with The CW which would be the result of The WB and UPN merging. On Time Warner Cable (which was in the process of taking over cable coverage in the Bangor area for bankrupt Adelphia) systems, the subchannel would replace cable-only "WBAN" which was an affiliate of The WB through cable-exclusive WB 100+. This arrangement was part of a three-year deal with WABI which also allowed continued carriage of its primary channel. The CW officially launched on WABI-DT2 at the network's inception on September 18.
At one point in time, WABI operated an analog repeater (W61AO channel 61) licensed to Calais with a transmitter in Meddybemps. The transmitter tower was shared with W57AQ channel 57 which repeated WLBZ. Until the mid-1990s, W61AO was used to feed cable systems across the border in the Canadian Maritimes. With the advent of CANCOM, however, WABI's cross-border carriage declined. It is not offered on any systems across the border today including those in St. Stephen, New Brunswick within W61AO's former signal range. Most cable systems in Atlantic Canada now carry WBZ-TV from Boston, Massachusetts for CBS programming. The W61AO license was canceled by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at WABI's request on November 9, 2009.
On June 12, 2009, the station discontinued analog broadcasts on VHF channel 5. At that time, it continued digital broadcasts on its existing pre-transitional digital channel, UHF channel 19. On January 4, 2010, the FCC issued a "Report & Order" allowing WABI to move from this allotment to VHF channel 13. The station made this move to be consistent with other full-power stations in the market (which are also on the VHF dial) in order to save on energy costs as well as improve reception of the station. At 2 in the afternoon on December 13, 2010, WABI turned-off channel 19 and commenced operations on channel 13.
Currently, WABI generally carries the full slate of CBS programming except for CBS News Up to the Minute (which is replaced by syndicated reruns). It does not carry all of the network's Southeastern Conference (SEC) college football games on weekends. For several years, the games that were not shown appeared on low-powered Ion affiliate WBGR-LP. WABI preempted CBS games that conflicted with local sports programming and/or its weekend 6 o'clock news and 7 o'clock programming during Nielsen ratings periods. The national games were moved to CW outlet WABI-DT2 effective with the 2009 season.
The station often preempted CBS programming to air University of Maine sports. It usually re-scheduled network prime time to air late-night or the next morning. WABI ended its longtime carriage of UMaine sports in 2013 after failing to reach a new contract with Learfield Sports (which handles marketing for UMaine sports broadcasts); it had been the television flagship of the Black Bear Sports Network for the bulk of its history, with the only break coming from 1989 through 1997, when WLBZ-TV held the rights. WABI now airs a package of six high school football games on Friday nights during the season (in addition to its long-standing coverage of the championship games). Black Bear sports telecasts would subsequently move to WVII-TV and WFVX-LD. On July 15, 2014 WABI-TV and WABI-DT2 The CW contract with Dish Network expired and the channels were blacked out early on July 16, 2014 contract talks have broken down and have picked up slowly the issues are related to Designated Market Area (DMA) switching viewers in several counties to another CBS station likely WGME in the Portland area, financial terms, customer service issues WABI has with Dish, and other issues.
|Channel||PSIP Short Name||Video||Aspect||Programming|
|5.1||WABI-DT||720p||16:9||Main WABI-TV programming / CBS|
|5.2||THE CW||Eastern and Central Maine's CW|
For its entire existence, WABI has been a ratings powerhouse, often earning more viewership than competitors WLBZ and WVII combined. Diversified has always devoted significant resources to channel 5's news department, resulting in a higher-quality product than conventional wisdom would suggest for a station in the 155th market. Of the big three network-affiliated television stations in the area, it offers the most live newscasts originating from Bangor. WLBZ largely serves as a semi-satellite of sister station WCSH in Portland and only provides locally-produced news weeknights at 5 and 6. Otherwise, it simulcast broadcasts from the parent outlet in all other time slots. WVII tapes the news and weather segments of its weeknight show at 11 in advance and does not provide any news at all on weekends. WABI's longtime dominance can also be attributed to its status as the market's only locally owned-and-operated commercial station. Furthermore, some of its main personnel have remained employed at the station for more than 20 years, which is unusual since Bangor has always been a fairly small market.
Corresponding with the launch of The CW on September 18, 2006, WABI-DT2 added local news and weather cut-ins during its airing of the nationally syndicated morning show The Daily Buzz from 6 until 8. A simulcast of the weekday noon news was also added. This was subsequently shifted to a rebroadcast at 12:30 in September 2008. A new half-hour weeknight newscast at 10 known as WABI-TV 5 Prime Time News on The CW debuted on its schedule featuring a modified set and "CW" labeled mics. That show competes with a 1 hour broadcast seen at the same time on low-powered Fox affiliate WFVX-LD which is produced by WVII. In January 2008, WABI-DT2 replaced the first half hour of the second hour of The Daily Buzz with a thirty-minute extension of the main station's weekday morning show.
Known as WABI-TV 5 Morning News on The CW, this production is taped in advance and competes with live local news seen at the same time on WFVX (which is also produced by WVII). On October 11, 2010, WABI became Maine's first station to upgrade newscasts to high definition level. Unlike sister station WCJB-TV in Gainesville, Florida which revamped its on-air appearance when it converted to high definition newscasts back in January 2009, WABI's newscast elements stayed the same except for slightly updated on-screen graphics. Newscasts seen on WABI-DT2 were not included in the upgrade because the subchannel only airs in standard definition. In addition to its main studios, WABI operates a Central Maine Bureau on Main Street in Waterville.
- Telejournal News (1950s-1980s)
- Channel 5 News (1980s-2001)
- WABI-TV 5 News (2001–present)
- "Keep Your Eye on 'ABI, Maine's First Television Station" (1950s)
- "The Spirit of Maine" (late 1980s-1992 & 2001–2013)
- "The News Station" (1992–2001)
- "60 Years 1953-2013" (2013-Present)
- Joy Hollowell - weekday mornings from 5 - 7
- Wayne Harvey - weekday mornings from 5 - 7
- Caitlin Burchill - weekdays at noon, weeknights at 5 and 5:30, also general assignment reporter
- Jim Morris - News Director seen weeknights at 5 and 5:30
- Jon Small - Assistant News Director seen weeknights at 6
- Catherine Pegram - weeknights at 6
- Terry Stackhouse - weeknights at 10 and 11, also general assignment reporter
- Adrienne DiPiazza - weekend evenings at 6 and 11, also general assignment reporter
- Danny Cashman - The Nite Show host on Saturday nights at 11:30
WABI-TV 5 StormWatch Meteorologists
- Todd Simcox - Chief Meteorologist seen weekday mornings from 5 - 7 and weekdays at noon
- Chris Ewing - weeknights at 5, 5:30, 6, 10, and 11
- Jessica Conley - weekend evenings 6 and 11
- Tim Throckmorton - Sports Director seen weeknights at 6, 10, and 11
- Eric Gullickson - weekends and sports reporter
- Rob Poindexter - general assignment reporter (Central Maine Bureau Chief)
- John Krinjak - general assignment reporter
- Erica Stapleton - general assignment reporter
Notable former on-air staff
- Mike Cejka - meteorologist, now at WIVB-TV in Buffalo, New York
- Bill Karins- meteorologist, now at NBC
- "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films". Boxoffice: 13. November 10, 1956.
- "Application Search Details (WABI sale)". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved March 13, 2010.
- "Application Search Details (WYOU-FM sale)". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved March 13, 2010.
- Hashemzadeh, Hossein (November 9, 2009). "In re: LPTV/TV Translator Station Of...". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved November 29, 2009.
- Mahoney, Larry (May 30, 2013). "WABI TV5 and UMaine part ways; Bangor station to televise high school football". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
- Mahoney, Larry (July 15, 2013). "UMaine signs deal to broadcast sports on ABC, FOX". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
- "Mike Cejka". Retrieved 26 June 2012.
- Bill Karins
- Official website
- WABI-DT2 website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WABI
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WABI-TV