|Branding||16 WAPT (general)
16 WAPT News
|Slogan||The One to Watch|
|Channels||Digital: 21 (UHF)
Virtual: 16 (PSIP)
(WAPT Hearst Television Inc.)
|First air date||October 3, 1970|
|Call letters' meaning||We're American Public Television (reference to American Public Life Insurance Company)|
|Former channel number(s)||16 (UHF analog, 1970-2009)|
|Transmitter power||1,000 kW|
WAPT is the ABC-affiliated television station for Central Mississippi that is licensed to Jackson. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 21 (or virtual channel 16.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter at its studios on Leggett Drive (next to Fox outlet WDBD) in unincorporated Hinds County. Owned by Hearst Television, the station can also be found on Comcast channel 4 and Cable ONE channel 12. There is a high definition feed provided on Comcast digital channel 431 and Cable ONE digital channel 455. Syndicated programming on WAPT includes Wheel of Fortune, Judge Judy, Live! with Kelly and Michael, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, among others. In addition, Jeopardy! airs overnight, at 12:07 a.m. after the Jimmy Kimmel's normal network schedule.
The station began broadcasting on October 3, 1970 with a rerun of Stagecoach West. Prior to its debut, ABC was limited to coverage on NBC affiliate WLBT and CBS affiliate WJTV, even though Jackson had been big enough since the 1950s to support three full network affiliates. In fact, Jackson was one of the largest markets, if not the largest, in the U.S. with only two network stations by the 1960s. It has long been speculated that the Federal Communications Commission delayed granting licenses to any potential broadcasters in central Mississippi because of WLBT's blatant bias against African-Americans in news coverage and advocacy against the civil rights movement.
A more likely reason, however, has to do with geography. The Jackson market is a fairly large market, covering a large swath of west-central Mississippi. Jackson had been allocated only two VHF frequencies—channels 3 and 12, occupied by WLBT and WJTV respectively. UHF stations initially didn't cover large stretches of territory very well. Even after the FCC mandated all-channel tuning in 1964, it took a long while for UHF to be a viable option to cover large areas. With Jackson sandwiched between New Orleans and Monroe/El Dorado and with several VHF stations already operating elsewhere in Mississippi, it is not likely there would have been room to drop in a third VHF allocation in Jackson.
In 1971, WAPT started broadcasting local news, weather, and sports Monday through Friday evenings following the ABC Evening News. The broadcast, which aired at 5:30 p.m., was called The Case-Jefferies Report. A 10:00 p.m. news broadcast was later added. This was later moved to 10:30 when the station began broadcasting the syndicated comedies Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and Forever Fernwood. at 10 instead, as an attempt to counter-program the newscasts on WLBT and WJTV, whose ratings were well ahead of WAPT at the time. Other syndicated programming, such as The Addams Family, Hee Haw Honeys, and The Andy Griffith Show. filled that time slot following the cancellations of the comedies set in Fernwood.
In 1972, the station began a series of horror movies airing on Saturday evenings. These were hosted by a character named "Scartisha" who was played by an actress who has not been identified until this day. In 1973, the station's sports anchor, Dick Slayton, was killed in a helicopter crash as he was preparing a news story.
WAPT was founded by the American Public Life Insurance Company, an insurer which is still in business today but is now an affiliate of American Fidelity Assurance. American Public Life sold the station to Clay Communications in 1979. That company then sold its television stations—WAPT, plus KJAC-TV (now KBTV-TV) in Port Arthur, Texas, KFDX-TV in Wichita Falls, Texas and WWAY in Wilmington, North Carolina--to Price Communications in 1987. Price Communications sold three of its stations—WAPT and then-sister stations WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan and WNAC-TV in Providence, Rhode Island--to the newly founded Northstar Television Group in 1989. Northstar Television was bought out by Argyle Television Holdings II, a company which was formed in late 1994 by a group of managers and executives who left the first incarnation of Argyle Television (the former Times-Mirror Broadcasting) after that company sold all of its stations to New World Communications, in January 1995.
In August 1997, Argyle merged with the Hearst Corporation's broadcasting unit to form what was then known as Hearst-Argyle Television (now Hearst Television after the Hearst Corporation became sole owner of the group in mid-2009).
WAPT shut down its analog signal on June 12, 2009, as part of the DTV transition in the United States. The station remained on its pre-transition channel 21, using PSIP to display WAPT's virtual channel as 16.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||PSIP Short Name||Video||Aspect||Programming|
|16.1||WAPT||720p||16:9||Main WAPT programming / ABC|
|16.2||WAPT-2||480i||4:3||Storm Shield 16|
For most of the last thirty years, WLBT has been the dominant news station in Jackson according to Nielsen ratings. WAPT currently broadcasts 26 hours of local newscasts per week with four hours of news aired on weekdays and three hours seen on weekends. On April 30, 2011, WAPT debuted weekend morning newscasts to bookend the weekend editions of Good Morning America. 
Unlike most ABC affiliates, WAPT does not currently carry a midday news show during the week. In 2008, however, WAPT announced its intention to begin a noon newscast offering a third option in the time slot. It has since dropped the program from the schedule most likely due to inconsistent viewership and tough competition from WLBT and WJTV.  The station operates a Baron Services VHD 250 Doppler weather radar next to its studios that is known on-air as "Storm Shield 16". There is a live video feed of this radar available on WAPT's website. In addition, all newscasts are streamed online.
While the station's main news studio completes a renovation, the newscasts are produced from a set in the newsroom.
- WAPT News (1971–1975)
- Action News 16 (1975–1982)
- The News on WAPT (1982–1989)
- Channel 16 News (1989–1993) 
- Eyewitness News 16 (1993-1997)
- 16 WAPT News (1997–present) 
- "We're WAPT Television, Channel 16" (1970–1975)
- "Part of Your Life" (1975–1978)
- "If It Happens in Mississippi, It Happens on Action News 16" (1978–1982)
- "Always One Step Ahead" (1986–1989)
- "Your 24 Hour News Source" (1989–1993)
- "Metro Jackson's #1 News" (1993–1997)
- "Stories That Hit Home" (1997–2002)
- "Building Our Station Around You" (2002–2007)
- "Built Around You" (secondary, 2007–present)
- "Finding Who's Accountable" (primary, 2008–2012)
- "The One to Watch" (2012-present)
- Megan West - weekday mornings (4:30-7:00 a.m.)
- Keegan Foxx - weekday mornings (4:30-7:00 a.m.)
- Darron Dedo - weeknights at 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00 p.m.
- Stephanie Maxwell - weeknights at 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00 p.m.
- Andrew Kinsey - weekend mornings (6:00-7:00 and 8:00-9:00 a.m.); also reporter
- Scott Simmons - Saturdays at 6:00, Sundays at 5:30 and weekends at 10:00 p.m.; also reporter
Storm Shield 16 Meteorologists
- David Hartman - (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - Chief Meteorologist; weeknights at 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00 p.m.
- Ethan Huston - (NWA Seal of Approval) weekday mornings (4:30-7:00 a.m.)
- Adam McWilliams - weekend mornings (6:00-7:00 and 8:00-9:00 a.m.)
- Brittany Bell - Saturdays at 6:00, Sundays at 5:30 and weekends at 10:00 p.m.
- Aslan Hodges - Director seen weeknights at 6:00 and 10:00 p.m.
- Ray Coleman - Saturdays at 6:00, Sundays at 5:30 and weekends at 10:00 p.m.; also sports reporter
- Hallie Jackson - Washington D.C. Bureau
- Sally Kidd - Washington D.C. Bureau
- Nikole Killion - Washington D.C. Bureau
- Tammy Estwick
- Lauren Taylor
- Ben Bowman
- Bert Case
- Brad McMullan
- Jim Jeffries
- Cal Adams
- Stephanie Bell/Stephanie Bell-Flynt
- Cynthia Bowers
- Joyce Brewer
- Sherita Erves
- Gene Edwards
- Travel Eiland
- Omari Fleming
- Mittie Griffis
- Marcus Moore
- Lori Roberts
- Desiree Robinson
- Katina Rankin
- Adrienne Stein
- Cory Thompson
- Mary Weiden
- "Heavy" Herb Anderson
- Barbie Bassett
- Ken Johnson
- Joe Lee
- Heather Sophia
- Edward St. Pe'
- Terry Tiller
- Rex Thompson
- Sheldon Thompson
- Meagan Quigley
- Judy Alsobrooks
- Brad Carter
- Angela Clack
- Audrey Garrett
- Crystal Hillar
- Ken Holley
- Katheryn Kight
- Joseph Pleasant
- Susan Roberts
- Melissa Tamplin
- Whitney Vann
- Erin Kelly
- Meg Pace
- Brett Bullers
- Bob Burkes
- Larry Ridley
- Tom Rosso
- Mike Rowe
- Dick Slayton
- Rick Whitlow
- CDBS Print
- WAPT Morning News Expands To Seven Days, TVNewsCheck, May 2, 2011.
- WAPT 10pm News Open - 1990
- WAPT 5pm open
- 16 WAPT News Team