|This article is outdated. (August 2013)|
|Charleston/Huntington, West Virginia|
|Branding||WCHS-TV 8 (general)
Eyewitness News 8
|Slogan||West Virginia's Source for News|
|Channels||Digital: 41 (UHF)
Virtual: 8 (PSIP)
|Owner||Sinclair Broadcast Group
(WCHS Licensee, LLC)
|First air date||August 15, 1954|
|Call letters' meaning||CHarleSton|
|Former channel number(s)||8 (VHF analog, 1954-2009)|
|Former affiliations||CBS (1954-1958, 1962-1986)
|Transmitter power||475 kW|
WCHS-TV is the ABC-affiliated television station for Charleston and Huntington, West Virginia. This area is the second-largest market in terms of area east of the Mississippi River and consists of 61 counties in Central West Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, and Southern Ohio. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 41 from a transmitter south of Scott Depot along the Putnam and Kanawha County line.
Owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the station operates Fox affiliate WVAH-TV (owned by Cunningham Broadcasting) through a local marketing agreement (LMA). The two share studios on Piedmont Road in Charleston along I-64/I-77. Syndicated programming on WCHS includes: Entertainment Tonight, Judge Judy, Maury, The Steve Harvey Show, The Ricki Lake Show and Anderson Live.
The station's digital signal is no longer multiplexed, for a period of time it carried the Cool TV on 8.2, but like all other Sinclair stations, it dropped this without announcement on August 31, 2012.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|8.1||720p||16:9||WCHS-DT||Main WCHS-TV programming /ABC|
WCHS-TV signed-on August 15, 1954 airing an analog signal on VHF channel 8. It was owned by the Tierney Company along with WCHS-AM 580 which is now owned by the West Virginia Radio Corporation. The station was actually the second in Charleston after WKNA-TV. That channel had launched on UHF channel 49 as an ABC affiliate in 1953 but went dark in 1955 due to lack of viewership. Originally a CBS station with secondary ABC affiliation, WCHS became a full CBS affiliate when WHTN-TV in Huntington signed-on in 1955. During the late-1950s, it was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.
In 1958, WCHS swapped affiliations with WHTN and became an ABC affiliate. The WCHS stations were sold to Rollins Telecasting in 1960. This television station reversed the swap and went back to CBS in 1962. In 1986, the station swapped affiliations once again with WOWK-TV.
The following year, Rollins Telecasting merged with Heritage Broadcasting to form Heritage Media. The company sold off WCHS-AM in 1991. Heritage sold all of its remaining broadcasting properties (four television stations, LMAs for two other television stations, and 24 radio stations) to Sinclair in 1997 just as Heritage itself was being swallowed up by News Corporation. As such, the former Heritage stations retained the current network affiliations instead of becoming Fox owned-and-operated stations.
The Sinclair purchase of WCHS forced the company to sell WVAH which it had acquired three years before when it merged with Abry Communications to Glencairn as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) did not permit duopolies at the time. However, Glencairn's stock was almost entirely controlled by the Smith family, owners and founders of Sinclair. In effect, Sinclair now owned both stations. The company further circumvented the rules by entering into a local marketing agreement with WVAH which allowed Sinclair to continue operating WCHS.
The other station retained its own studios on Mount Vernon Road in Hurricane along I-64 even although most of its operations were merged with WCHS. Eventually, WVAH's separate facilities were put on sale. Sinclair tried to merge with Glencairn in 2001 after the FCC decided to allow duopolies but could not repurchase WVAH because the FCC does not allow common ownership of two of the four highest-rated stations in a single market. Glencairn changed its name to Cunningham Broadcasting and the local media agreement with WCHS continues to this day. There is overwhelming evidence that Glencairn/Cunningham is merely a shell corporation used by Sinclair to circumvent FCC ownership rules.
WCHS-TV ended analog operations on June 12, 2009, as part of the DTV transition in the United States. The station remained on its pre-transition channel 41. Although digital tuners still also display it as 8 through the use of PSIP. One of the first televised presidential debates featuring John F. Kennedy took place at WCHS' studios. The nationally syndicated "Produce Corner" segments were taped at the studios as well.
Transition to Local HD
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Pre HD Transition
WCHS/WVAH started the switch over to High Definition in June 2012 by first installing a new HD Master Control room. In July 2012 the station started to remove the set from the studio that was installed in the late 90's. The old news desk, backdrop, monitors and the chroma key wall was moved to a small conference room in the station until the transition of HD news was completed. In late July 2012 the new set arrived from Devlin Design Group based out of Crested Butte, CO. During the entire month of August the new set was installed. New lighting, chroma key wall, HD cameras and rehearsing happened into the month of September.
Local High Definition News
On September 29, 2012 WCHS/WVAH became the third station in the market to launch high definition newscasts. Following in the footsteps of WOWK became 2nd station in the market to launch high definition newscasts on May 5, 2012 and WSAZ launching high definition newscasts on June 26, 2011.
In Summer 2006, Charter Communications streamlined its operations which included selling off portions of its cable system which were "geographically non-strategic". Charter accounts in WCHS's market area were purchased by Suddenlink Communications (formerly known as Cebridge). Sinclair requested a $40 million one time fee and a $1 per sub per month fee from Suddenlink for retransmission rights of WCHS and WVAH on the Suddenlink cable system. This led to a protracted media battle and smear campaign between the two companies and Sinclair pulled the two stations off-the-air in the Beckley market. After several weeks of negotiations, the two companies reached an agreement allowing WCHS and WVAH to continue transmission over the Suddenlink cable system. The terms of the agreement were not released to the public.
Time Warner Cable
It was announced on December 20, 2006, that Time Warner Cable systems in the Charleston/Huntington market would lose WCHS and WVAH starting December 31. However, this only applied to cable subscribers that were previously owned by Adelphia. An extension agreement was made until January 12, 2007 for negotiations.
For most of its history according to Nielsen ratings, WCHS has been a distant runner up to longtime dominant WSAZ-TV. This station and WOWK are usually more competitive in Charleston but WCHS ultimately has higher viewership. The two outlets have rarely come close to WSAZ except for a brief period in the late-1990s when WOWK overtook it for first place in the Charleston side of the market. WSAZ also came in a close second to WCHS for a short period in late 2009-early 2010. This was due to lower lead-in numbers originated by The Jay Leno Show and WSAZ has since regained its first place ratings.
WCHS currently uses the Eyewitness News branding for its news operation and produces three newscasts for sister station WVAH. This includes Eyewitness News This Morning on Fox 11 seen for an hour on weekday mornings from 7 until 8. There is also an hour long nightly prime time broadcast known as Eyewitness News at 10 on Fox 11. Although it competes with a nightly show at 10 on MyNetworkTV affiliate WSAZ-DT2, WVAH's broadcast is the market's only sixty minute late night news.
During the yearly college football season, its Saturday night newscast at 6:00 is regularly pre-empted by game coverage from the network. Unlike most ABC affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone, WCHS does not air news weeknights at 5:00 and/or 5:30.
- Jennifer McAndrews - weekday mornings (5:00-7:00 on WCHS and 7:00-8:00 a.m. on WVAH) and "Baby Steps" segment producer
- Patrick McMurtry - weekday mornings (5:00-7:00 on WCHS and 7:00-8:00 a.m. on WVAH) and weekdays at noon (also "Behind the Kitchen Door" and "West Virginia Wildlife" segments producer)
- Rick Lord - weeknights at 6:00, 10:00 (WVAH) and 11:00 p.m.
- Elizabeth Noreika - weeknights at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.
- Kallie Cart - weeknights at 10:00 p.m. (WVAH); also reporter
- Dave Benton - weekends at 6:00, 10:00 (WVAH) and 11:00 p.m.; also reporter
- Kera Mashek - weekends at 6:00, 10:00 (WVAH) and 11:00 p.m.; also reporter
Eyewitness News Storm Team Meteorologists
- Jim Barach (AMS-CBM and NWA Seals of Approval) - Chief seen weeknights at 6:00, 10:00 (WVAH) and 11:00 p.m.
- Douglass Harlow - weekday mornings (5:00-7:00 on WCHS and 7:00-8:00 a.m. on WVAH) and weekdays at noon
- Brandon Stover - weekends at 6:00, 10:00 (WVAH) and 11:00 p.m.
- Mark Martin - Director seen weeknights at 6:00, 10:00 (WVAH) and 11:00 p.m.; also "Scholar-Athlete of the Week" segment producer
- Josh Lewis - weekends at 6:00, 10:00 (WVAH) and 11:00 p.m.; also reporter
- A.J. Good - reporter
- Brad Rice - "West Virginia Wildlife" photojournalist and "Traveling West Virginia" segment producer
- Darrah Wilcox - weekday mornings (5:00-7:00 on WCHS and 7:00-8:00 a.m. on WVAH) and "Food Revolution Now" segment producer
- Kennie Bass - fill-in news anchor
- Dan Matics
- Leslie Rubin - "Fugitive Files"
- Bob Aaron
- Katy Brown
- Mark E. Hyman - Sinclair Vice President for Corporate Relations and Behind the Headlines host
- Lee Ann Miller - Ohio's Amish Country Recipes
- Armstrong Williams - The Right Side host
- Stephen Anderson - On the Trail host
- Kennie Bass - Screen Gems
- Joe Matusic - Baby Steps
- "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films", Boxoffice, November 10, 1956: 13
- CDBS Print