|Fort Myers/Cape Coral/
|City of license||Fort Myers, Florida|
|Branding||NBC 2 (general)
NBC 2 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Count on NBC 2 First|
|Channels||Digital: 15 (UHF)
Virtual: 20 (PSIP)
20.2 local news and weather
|Owner||Waterman Broadcasting Corporation|
|First air date||December 18, 1968|
|Sister station(s)||WVIR-TV, WZVN|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
20 (UHF, 1968–2009)
NBC Weather Plus (2006–2008)
|Transmitter power||1,000 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WBBH-TV, virtual channel 20 (UHF digital channel 15), is a NBC-affiliated television station located in Fort Myers, Florida, United States. The station is owned by the Waterman Broadcasting Corporation; Waterman Broadcasting also operates ABC affiliate WZVN-TV (channel 26) under a local marketing agreement with owner Montclair Communications. The two stations share studio facilities located on Central Avenue in Fort Myers; WBBH's transmitter is located along SR 31 in unincorporated southeastern Charlotte County. The station is also available on CenturyLink and Comcast channel 2. There is a high definition feed provided on Comcast digital channel 432 and CenturyLink digital channel 1002.
Known on-air as "NBC 2", the branding is derived from WBBH's primary cable position in the market on Comcast Xfinity and most other cable providers in the area. This practice stems in part from the area's exceptionally high cable penetration rate, which is one of the highest in the United States.
The station first signed on the air on December 18, 1968 as WBBH-TV. Before its existence, NBC programming in the market was relegated to off-hours clearances through a secondary affiliation with CBS affiliate WINK-TV (channel 11). As the second television station in Southwest Florida (after WINK-TV), WBBH shared ABC programming with that station until WEVU (channel 26, now WZVN-TV) signed on the air on August 21, 1974. Founded by local businessmen, the station originally transmitted its signal from a 1,000 feet (300 m) tower in Lehigh Acres which increased to 1,500 feet (460 m) in 1983. Waterman Broadcasting purchased the station in 1978; the -TV suffix was removed from the call letters on October 16 of that year (the suffix was later bought back).
The driving force behind the emergence of WBBH was Joe Buerry, who had worked as a sales manager and a DJ at WMYR radio. When the Federal Communications Commission assigned the channel 20 allocation to Fort Myers, Buerry put together a group of investors and filed for the construction permit. The station was granted to Buerry and his partners; Buerry ran the station for seven years taking it through its growth period, and successfully obtained the NBC affiliation with the help of NBC's regional manager Pier Mapes, who eventually became president of the network. WBBH became the ratings leader in the market under Buerry's management. After seven years, he left WBBH to become general manager at WEVU-TV. At that time, WEVU was losing revenue averaging at $25,000 a month. Buerry, because of his knowledge of the market, was able to turn the station around by the end of his first year as general manager. He ran WEVU until it was purchased by The Home News Publishing Company, which retained him as its general manager (Buerry left that station to run WVGS-TV in Valdosta, Georgia six years later). Two plaques listing Buerry's accomplishments at the Fort Myers Historical Society.
In 1994, WEVU (by then owned by Ellis Communications) entered into a local marketing agreement with WBBH and moved into channel 20's Central Avenue facilities. At that time, both stations began identifying by their respective channel slots on local cable providers. Ellis Communications merged with Raycom Media in 1996 although due to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ownership limits in effect at the time that barred common ownership of two television stations in the same market, WZVN's license was spun-off to Montclair Communications, which continued the LMA with WBBH. It should be noted WBBH owner Waterman Broadcasting holds an investment interest in Montclair Communications, even though the two companies file separate financial reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|20.1||1080i||16:9||WBBH HD||Main WBBH-TV programming / NBC|
|20.2||480i||WBBH SD||NBC 2 News Now|
WBBH began offering NBC Weather Plus on a new second digital subchannel in September 2006. In December 2008, after the national service folded, WBBH-DT2 switched formats and became a 24-hour local news and weather channel known as "NBC 2 News Now".
WBBH-TV became the second station in the market to begin broadcasting a high definition digital signal on October 31, 2002. The station discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 20, at noon on February 17, 2009, the original date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 15, using PSIP to display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 20.
WBBH-TV presently broadcasts 45 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 7½ hours on weekdays, 3½ hours on Saturdays and four hours on Sundays); in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the highest local newscast output among all Big-Three affiliated broadcast television stations in the United States. It is one of the few Big Three stations in the United States whose weekly news programming total exceeds 40+ hours (which is more common with news-producing affiliates of the post-1986 broadcast networks, even surpassing the amount produced locally by one such station, Fox affiliate WFTX). Between the two, WZVN and WBBH air a combined twelve hours of news on weekdays and 4½ hours on weekends. In addition to the main studios, WBBH and WZVN operate a Collier County Bureau on Tamiami Trail North (U.S. 41/SR 45) in Naples. The two stations operate a Baron Doppler weather radar at the main facilities that is known on WBBH as "NBC 2 First Alert Power Doppler HD". The radar has a range of 300 miles and can survey approaching storms in three dimensions.
In 1994, WZVN and WBBH merged their news departments, and began having news reporters appear on both stations. Resources such as video footage and stories also began to be shared between the stations. During this period, each station maintained separate unique sets at the Central Avenue facilities and featured a distinct on-air style. There were primary personalities (such as news anchors) that would only appear on one station. The joint operation was billed as the Eyewitness News Network. It should be known that if WZVN chose not to become a junior partner in the LMA with WBBH, the station would have been required to shut down its news department. Traditionally in the past, WBBH tended to cover more stories from Charlotte County, while WZVN had a slight Collier County focus since it is licensed to Naples and had the former analog transmitter located further south than the area's other television outlets.
Today, WZVN continues the practice of maintaining its own primary on-air team on weekdays that only appear on the station. Otherwise, all other personnel – including most reporters – are shared amongst one another. WBBH's newscasts are broadcast from a separate set at the Central Avenue facility, allowing it to have a different on-air identity and graphics scheme from WZVN. Compared with that station, channel 26's newscasts usually tend to air in a more flashier fast-paced format with promotions referring to the station providing more news coverage in 30 minutes than the market's other stations. WBBH traditionally covers more investigative and consumer stories through its "NBC 2 Investigators" unit. On weekends, there are separate news and sports anchors, but the same meteorologists are seen on both WZVN and WBBH. This is possible because the two stations maintain individual sets and do not always air local newscasts at the same timeslots.
Since it was the first station to sign on in Southwest Florida and was the only one located on the VHF dial, WINK-TV has long been the most watched television station according to Nielsen. One of the best known former personalities and a veteran of Southwestern Florida broadcasting is Harry Horn. He lost his battle with ALS in August 2005. During major hurricanes, most recently Charley and Wilma, WZVN and WBBH combined their news resources to provide 24-hour continuous coverage. Commercial breaks are dropped for several hours preceding and following landfall. Coverage is simulcast on both stations and a common live video stream is featured on both stations' websites. During previous years, WBBH's news set was used during hurricanes along with both WBBH and WZVN's weather sets. As of 2007, WZVN's high definition news set is now used in the event of a hurricane as its internal location at the Central Avenue facility provides the best protection against damaging winds.
In early February 2008, following the lead of WZVN, WBBH became the second television station in the market to upgrade its newscasts to 16:9 enhanced definition widescreen. Rival WINK-TV became the first station in Southwestern Florida to begin broadcasting its news programming in high definition on October 20, 2007. WBBH would itself upgrade its newscasts to HD on July 19, 2008. On October 26 of that year, several changes occurred to WZVN and WBBH's news programming in order to better compete with WINK-TV. WZVN dropped the first hour of its weekday morning newscast (as of 2012, that hour has since been restored) and a mid-morning newscast at 10 a.m. WBBH debuted a new hour-long midday broadcast at 11 a.m. while keeping its hour-long noon newscast. Meanwhile, WZVN added an hour-long weekday morning newscast at 9 a.m. On September 8, 2009, the station began producing a half-hour 7 p.m. newscast on weeknights to compete against WINK-TV's newscast airing in the same timeslot. On January 16, 2012, WZVN debuted an hour-long newscast at 5 p.m. weeknights, which incidentally directly competes with WBBH's own 5 p.m. newscast.
Notable former on-air staff
- Gene Lavanchy (now at WFXT in Boston)
- Shepard Smith (now at Fox News Channel)
- Ukee Washington (now at KYW-TV in Philadelphia)
- RabbitEars TV Query for WBBH
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- "Gene Lacanchy biography". WFXT. Retrieved 26 September 2013.
- "Shepard Smith biography". Fox News. Retrieved 26 September 2013.
- "Ukee Washington biography". KYW-TV. Retrieved 26 September 2013.
- WBBH-TV "NBC 2"
- WBBH-TV mobile
- Waterman Broadcasting Corporation
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WBBH-TV