||This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2013)|
|Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Branding||NBC Charlotte (general)
NBC Charlotte News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Looking Out For You|
|Channels||Digital: 22 (UHF)
Virtual: 36 (PSIP)
Live Well Network (DT2)
|First air date||July 9, 1967|
|Call letters' meaning||Charlotte, North Carolina
(and Carolinas' News Channel)
|Former callsigns||WCTU-TV (1967-1971)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
36 (UHF, 1967-2009)
|Former affiliations||independent (1967-1978)|
|Transmitter power||791 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WCNC-TV is the NBC-affiliated television station in Charlotte, North Carolina. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 22 (virtual channel 36.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter in north-central Gaston County, North Carolina. Owned by Belo, WCNC maintains studios in the Wood Ridge Center office park, off Billy Graham Parkway in south Charlotte just east of the Billy Graham Library (adjacent to the headquarters of NBC News' satellite news service NBC News Channel). Its signal is relayed on low-powered translator W30CR-D in Biscoe, North Carolina. Syndicated programming on WCNC-TV includes Judge Judy, The Doctors, Jeopardy!, and Wheel of Fortune.
Original Channel 36 allocation 
The first station on the channel 36 frequency in Charlotte signed on in December 1953, and was known as WAYS-TV and then WQMC-TV. However, it made no headway against WBTV (channel 3) because television set manufacturers were not required to include UHF tuning capability. It left the air in March 1955. A plan to return it to the air under different ownership in 1957 was unsuccessful. Cy Bahakel bought the station's license in 1964 and returned it to the air as WCCB, which broadcast on channel 36 before moving to its final analog location on channel 18 in 1966.
Early history 
The current incarnation of channel 36 debuted on July 9, 1967, as WCTU-TV, owned by Twisdale-Steel Stations. It was North Carolina's first independent station, beating Hickory's WHKY-TV by only a few months.
WCTU was a typical UHF independent, airing a lineup of cartoons, sitcoms, old movies and sports. It was also the original home of Jim Bakker's television ministry after he broke off from Pat Robertson and CBN. The station hit hard times financially and was sold to Ted Turner in 1970. Turner renamed it WRET-TV (after his initials, Robert Edward Turner). He significantly upgraded the station's programming and made it profitable almost immediately, as he did in Atlanta with what became WTCG, and later WTBS. Briefly, Turner tried putting WRET on cable systems outside the immediate Charlotte area, as he did with his Atlanta station, via microwave transmission; this effort was not quite as successful as WTCG's was in states adjacent to Georgia.
In 1978, ABC moved its Charlotte affiliation from WCCB to the higher-rated WSOC-TV (channel 9). Conventional wisdom suggested that the longer-established WCCB should have taken the NBC affiliation from WSOC-TV. However, in a considerable upset, NBC moved its affiliation to WRET-TV, even though channel 36 had been on the verge of closing down earlier in the decade. NBC chose WRET over WCCB as its new affiliate on the basis of a commitment by Turner to invest $2.5 million in upgrading the station, increasing its signal strength and launching a local news department comparable in size to channel 9's, and twice the size of WCCB's existing small-scale operation. WCCB's owner, Cy Bahakel, was not willing to spend the money required to make the upgrades NBC wanted. (This was the first news operation ever owned by the future founder of CNN.) Within a few months, Action News 36 had become competitive with longer-established WBTV and WSOC-TV. Robert D. Raiford was the first news anchor. Upon becoming a network affiliate, Turner sold about half of WRET-TV's programming to WCCB, including older sitcoms, movies and most of its inventory of syndicated cartoons.
Group W era 
Turner's ambitious ownership of the station would not last long, however. In 1980, he sold WRET-TV to Westinghouse Broadcasting (also known as Group W), using the proceeds to start CNN. The $20 million sales price was then the highest ever paid for a UHF station. Westinghouse changed the call letters to WPCQ-TV (People [of the] Carolinas [and the] Queen [City]), and added more syndicated game shows and talk shows to its lineup. It was Group W's only station on UHF, and at the time the only one not located in a top-25 market (however, due to the area's large population growth since then, Nielsen Media Research ranks Charlotte the 23rd-largest market as of fall 2010).
Under Westinghouse, channel 36 went into a ratings slump that lasted for almost two decades. Despite the record purchase price, Group W did not have much interest in financing the station. The news department was significantly cut back. Group W immediately dropped the station's weekend news programs, and moved the 11 p.m. newscast to 12:30 a.m. before canceling it altogether in 1981. The early evening newscast was shifted between the 5:30 and 6 p.m. time slots until the fall of 1982, when it was canceled as well. For the remainder of Group W's ownership, the station's only remaining local news programming consisted of a half-hour broadcast at noon, hourly cut-ins, five-minute local inserts during the Today show, a weekly magazine program and occasional specials. Network news also suffered; WPCQ dropped NBC Nightly News on weekends in 1980, and on weeknights in 1982 (making it the only NBC affiliate not to carry Nightly News). The David Brinkley-anchored NBC Magazine, an early-1980s attempt to compete with 60 Minutes, was bumped from its prime-time network time slot to Sunday at midnight in Charlotte. Even Westinghouse's own productions were not guaranteed an audience on the station; Group W's nationally popular PM Magazine had been seen on WBTV since before Westinghouse's purchase of WPCQ, while Hour Magazine moved to WBTV after being canceled due to low ratings on WPCQ.
By the fall of 1982, and for the rest of Group W's ownership, the station's programming lineup and on-air look resembled those of an independent station rather than a major-network affiliate. In addition to airing minimal news programming, the station pre-empted significant amounts of NBC's schedule, probably figuring that local ad revenues would be much higher than network payments, which were comparatively small due to low ratings. Its daytime and late afternoon lineup consisted mostly of syndicated cartoons (long after other major-network affiliates in markets of Charlotte's size dropped cartoons from their daytime schedules) and reruns of 1960s and 1970s situation comedies. Local pre-emptions of network programs were common practice for Group W's affiliates, even though NBC was historically far less tolerant of this than the other networks at the time. However, in contrast to WPCQ, most of Group W's other stations (including its two NBC affiliates) turned profits, ran full-time newscasts, and aired Group W's syndicated programs but still aired most of their network's programming.
Not long after Group W took over, it reduced channel 36's transmitter power to only 100,000 watts, far lower than expected for a major-network affiliate on UHF. It only provided grade B coverage of many inner-ring suburbs (such as Gastonia and Rock Hill) and was virtually unviewable over-the-air in much of the South Carolina and western portions of the market.
For most of the 1980s, WPCQ was the third station in what was essentially a two-station market, even though this was a very prosperous period for NBC as a whole. Besides having to compete with WBTV and WSOC-TV, it also lost significant audience share to WXII-TV in Winston-Salem, WIS-TV in Columbia and WFBC-TV/WYFF in Greenville, all of which were much longer-established NBC affiliates on the VHF band and whose grade B signals reached into the outer portions of the Charlotte market. For instance, many viewers on the South Carolina side of the market got a better signal from Columbia's WIS, whose transmitter is 80 miles south of Charlotte, even though WPCQ's transmitter was only 20 miles north of the state line.
Renaissance and Journal 
Renaissance Broadcasting bought the station from Group W in 1984. NBC Nightly News returned to the schedule in the spring of 1985, but the local newscast at noon was discontinued. It also dropped cartoons from the weekday schedule, though syndicated reruns continued to make up a significant portion of the station's daytime programming. In addition to the return of a news department in 1986, Renaissance also gave WPCQ a significant technical facelift. For many years, WPCQ had operated from a transmitter and tower located at its studio in the Hickory Grove neighborhood of northeast Charlotte. However, in 1987 it built a more powerful transmitter and tower in Dallas, near WBTV's tower. It boosted the signal to 2.1 million watts. Not long afterward came another power boost to 5 million watts, the maximum power allowed for a UHF station by the FCC. This gave it a coverage area comparable to WBTV and WSOC-TV. WPCQ heavily promoted its stronger signal, billing itself as "Coming in Proud and Clear!" For a brief time, it was the most powerful station in Charlotte, until WJZY (channel 46) signed on from a nearby tower later in 1987.
Renaissance sold WPCQ to The Providence Journal Company in 1988. Journal Broadcasting renamed the station WCNC-TV (for Charlotte, North Carolina) on September 3, 1989 and added a distinct 6 p.m. newscast to the weeknight schedule. On the same day of the call letter change, it moved to channel 6 on all Charlotte area cable systems, and began promoting itself as "WCNC-TV 36, Cable 6." In 1991, the station moved from its longtime studios in Hickory Grove to its current studios. From 1995 to 2003, the station was known on-air as NBC6, after its cable location. It called itself "channel 6" on-air for some years after dropping the NBC6 moniker. Despite making a more credible effort at news than ever before, WCNC continued to drag along in the ratings until Journal Broadcasting merged with Belo in 1997.
Belo ownership 
When Belo took over in 1997, it invested large amounts of money in the station. Among the improvements were new sets, a news helicopter, a powerful live Doppler weather radar system and other equipment. Following its sale to Belo, WCNC began poaching talent from the other major stations. The first major hire came when Terri Bennett moved from WSOC-TV. Bennett had been in the running for the chief meteorologist spot upon Ray Boylan's retirement, but channel 9 opted instead to hire Steve Udelson, chief weatherman at WFLA-TV in Tampa. Bennett left the station in the fall of 2007 when her contract was not renewed; Boylan filled in at WCNC until Bennett's non-compete clause was up. Sonja Gantt, formerly of WBTV, was lured back to her hometown from Chicago, where she had been working at WGN-TV.
On October 30, 2009, WCNC broke the record for most Halloween costume changes during a local news program, during its weekday morning newscast, with 11 costumes worn by the station's morning anchor team. Jeff Campbell, Colleen Odegaard, producer Natalie Ridley and Larry Sprinkle were involved in setting the record.
In 2008, WCNC changed its branding from "NBC6" to "NewsChannel 36." In 2012, the branding was changed once again to "NBC Charlotte." WCNC's reasoning for the change was that few people actually watched the station on channel 36.
Digital television 
|Channel||PSIP Short Name||Video||Aspect||Programming|
|36.1||WCNC-HD||1080i||16:9||Main WCNC-TV programming / NBC|
|36.2||WCNC-LW||480i||Live Well Network|
WCNC 36.2 had carried NBC Weather Plus; national network feeds for this service ceased operation in December 2008. In January 2009, it became known as the First Warn Storm Channel, an in-house version of NBC Weather Plus. On November 8, 2010, First Warn Storm Channel was replaced with Live Well Network.
Analog-to-digital conversion 
News operation 
Although the station's newscasts have long placed third in the ratings, WCNC's news operation is one of the country's most frequent recipients of Regional Emmy and Edward R. Murrow Awards. In 2011, WCNC won an award for its investigative reporting.
In 1986, WPCQ restarted a full-scale news department. At first, WPCQ scheduled its early-evening newscast for 5:30 p.m., knowing at the time that it couldn't compete with WBTV and WSOC-TV at 6 p.m. After a few fits and starts, it turned out to be the first truly successful attempt to program a drive-time newscast in the Charlotte market. In 1987, WPCQ expanded the 5:30 news to one hour, and added a 6 p.m. newscast on weekends.
For much of the 2000s, it waged a spirited battle with WBTV for second place behind WSOC-TV, though it has recently returned to a distant third place in most timeslots. However, it almost ties WBTV at 6 a.m. WCCB's 10 p.m. newscast also draws a larger audience than WCNC's at 11 p.m.  WCNC receives its highest viewership in Mecklenburg County (home to Charlotte itself), and it actually leads WSOC and WBTV in higher income neighborhoods in Charlotte (as opposed to the outlying suburbs and rural counties). WCNC has a higher percentage of college-educated viewers than WSOC and WBTV.
In late 2005, WCNC debuted the Charlotte market's first 4:30 p.m. newscast, creating a two-hour local news block from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. In 2007, the station phased out its longtime brand of 6News and rebranded itself as "WCNC, the Carolinas' News Connection." In August 2008, it rebranded once again to NewsChannel 36, making it the first time that WCNC had used its over-the-air channel number in its branding in 12 years. In September 2008, WCNC moved its 4:30 p.m. newscast to 4 p.m., with Judge Judy filling the newscast's former timeslot; the program later expanded to one hour in January 2012, while simultaneoutly shortening its hour-long noon newscast to a half-hour.
On May 18, 2009, WCNC began broadcasting its local newscasts in 16:9 widescreen standard definition; this change came alongside the revamping of the station's on-air news graphics. WCNC is the only Charlotte station which broadcasts its local newscasts in widescreen but has not yet upgraded to full high definition. On July 16, 2012, during the station's 4 p.m. newscast, WCNC debuted a new state-of-the-art news set that features 21 monitors, interactive areas and an "electronically based" weather center; the set can also change themes for the appropriate time.
News staff 
- Amy Cowman - weekend mornings on NBC Charlotte Today (6:00-7:00 and 9:00-10:00 weekends + 7:00-8:00 a.m. Sundays); also reporter
- Ira Cronin - weekday mornings on NBC Charlotte Today (4:30-7:00 a.m.)
- Anjanette Flowers - weekdays at noon and weeknights at 5:30 p.m.
- Sonja Gantt - weeknights at 4:00 and 6:00 p.m.
- Dion Lim - weeknights at 5:00 and 11:00 p.m.; also 4:00 p.m. segment Dion's Daily Deals
- Bill McGinty - weeknights at 5:30 p.m.; also "I-Team" investigative reporter
- Kellie Patterson - weekday mornings on NBC Charlotte Today (4:30-7:00 a.m.); also 4:00 p.m. segment Your Health
- Ben Thompson - weekends at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.; also weeknight reporter
- Dave Wagner - weeknights at 5:00, 6:00 and 11:00 p.m; also 4:00 p.m. segment World News
- First Warn Storm Team
- Brad Panovich (AMS Seal of Approval) - chief meteorologist; weeknights at 4:00, 5:00, 5:30, 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.
- Meghan Danahey (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist and NWA Seals of Approval) - meteorologist; weekends at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.; also fill-in traffic reporter
- Larry Sprinkle - weather anchor; weekday mornings on NBC Charlotte Today (4:30-7:00 a.m.) and weekdays at noon; also weekday morning segment Larry's Look
- John Wendel (AMS Seal of Approval) - meteorologist; weekend mornings on NBC Charlotte Today (6:00-7:00 and 9:00-10:00 weekends + 7:00-8:00 a.m. Sundays)
- Traffic Team
- Brittany Begley - Traffic Reporter, weekday mornings (4:30-7:00 a.m.)
- Dayvee Sutton - Fill-In Traffic Reporter; also Charlotte Today Reporter
- Sports team
- Chris Clark - sports director; weeknights at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.
- Russ Owens - sports anchor; weekends at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.
- Digital Media Center Team
- Amy Lehtonen - DMC Fill-In
- Caleb Troop - DMC, weekdays at 4:00 p.m.
- Ryan Wixted - DMC Freelance
- Rad Berky - investigative reporter
- Michelle Boudin - general assignment reporter
- Tony Burbeck - general assignment reporter
- Glenn Counts - general assignment reporter
- Richard Devayne - general assignment reporter
- Dianne Gallagher - general assignment reporter
- Bora Kim - general assignment reporter
- Amy Lehtonen - general assignment reporter; also WCNC.com managing editor
- Diana Rugg - weekend reporter
- Ann Sheridan - general assignment reporter
- Stuart Watson - investigative reporter
- Local Program Hosts
- Ramona Holloway - Charlotte Today, weekdays from 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. (hosts an afternoon show on 107.9 FM 107.9 The Link from 3:00-7:00 p.m.)
- Colleen Odegaard - Charlotte Today, weekdays from 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Notable former on-air staff 
- Sharon Crews - reporter/talk show host/community affairs manager (1986–1989; now screenwriter in Los Angeles)
- Allen Denton - anchor (1996-2000; now at KUSI in San Diego)
- Paul Ingles - reporter (1979; now a public radio reporter, NPR contributor and music documentarian living in Albuquerque, NM)
- Doug McKelway - reporter (1980–1982; later at WRC-TV and WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C.)
- Bob Raiford - anchor and talk show host (1978–1986; now on The John Boy and Billy Big Show)
- Hannah Storm - sports anchor (1988–1989; later at NBC Sports and on The Early Show on CBS, now with ESPN)
Out-of-market cable carriage 
In recent years, WCNC has been carried on cable in multiple areas outside of the Charlotte media market. That includes cable systems within the Greensboro market in North Carolina, the Greenville and Myrtle Beach markets in South Carolina, and the Tri-Cities market in Tennessee.
- http://fjallfoss.exe-prod.com/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-288186A1.pdf, Retrieved on 2009-06-19.
- The Charlotte Observer, Apr. 25 and 29, 1978.
- NewsChannel 36 morning team sets world record
- Washburn, Mark (2012-10-06). "Struggles remain in the air for WTVI". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 2012-10-06.
- Photos | WCNC's new studio set
- News Team
- "Allen Denton's LinkedIn profile". Retrieved 12 March 2013.
- WCNC.com - Official Website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WCNC
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WCNC-TV