|This article does not cite any references or sources. (February 2014)|
WDHN News (newscasts)
|Slogan||First In Local News|
|Channels||Digital: 21 (UHF)
Virtual: 18 (PSIP)
|Owner||Nexstar Broadcasting Group
(Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc.)
|First air date||August 7, 1970|
|Call letters' meaning||DotHaN|
|Former callsigns||WDHN-TV (1970-1998)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
18 (UHF, 1970-2009)
|Transmitter power||1,000 kW|
WDHN is the ABC-affiliated television station for Southeastern Alabama's Wiregrass Region. Owned by the Nexstar Broadcasting Group and licensed to Dothan, it broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 21 (or virtual channel 18.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter at its studios on AL 52 in Webb. The station can also be seen on Comcast, Bright House Networks, and Time Warner channel 8 with high definition available on Bright House Networks digital channel 241 and Comcast digital channel 431. Syndicated programming on WDHN includes Entertainment Tonight, Dr. Phil, Steve Harvey, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
WDHN-TV launched August 7, 1970 as the area's second television station and aired an analog signal on UHF channel 18. Original ownership consisted of a group of investors headed by Dothan businessman Betts Slingluff, Jr. Although conventional wisdom then suggested that it should have opted for an NBC affiliation, geography played the decisive part in channel 18 going with ABC, still the third-ranked network, instead. The main reason was that the Alabama part of the market received a fairly strong signal from WSFA-TV in Montgomery. Further, at the time of the station's start, the only nearby ABC programs were on WJHG in Panama City, Florida on a part-time basis (WJHG was NBC primary then, and covered the Florida part of the market as well as WSFA did in Alabama). WDHN chose ABC with these considerations in mind.
In 1979, reflecting an era when small, local-based TV broadcasters were losing profitability, Slingluff's group sold WDHN to Hi Ho Television, which also owned WVGA in Valdosta, Georgia. In 1986, Hi Ho sold WDHN and WVGA to Morris Multimedia. It dropped the -TV suffix in 1998. In 2003, Nexstar purchased WDHN along with KARK-TV in Little Rock, Arkansas from Morris.
For its first four decades on the air, the station operated from a tiny 500-foot tower behind its studios. Its analog signal only operated at 1.07 million watts, one of the weakest signals in the country for a full-powered network affiliate. As a result, WDHN's coverage area was only half that of CBS affiliate WTVY, which operated from a tower more than four times as tall, at over 2,000 feet. Recently, WDHN replaced its old tower with a new 600-foot tower, still fairly tiny by modern television standards. As a result, while channel 18's digital signal operates at a full million watts (equivalent to five million watts in analog), its digital coverage area is not much larger than its analog coverage area. By comparison, WTVY's digital signal covers parts of three states.
Rival WTVY has historically been a ratings powerhouse in the Wiregrass consistently winning every news timeslot. This is partly because WDHN has a coverage area only half as large due to its low transmitter tower. In addition, unlike most ABC outlets and other big three network-affiliated stations, it does not offer local news on weekends. Fox affiliate WDFX-TV does not operate a full news department of its own but has a nightly prime time newscast at 9 and weekday afternoon broadcast at 4 produced by sister station WSFA in Montgomery. During the prime time program, WDFX provides some coverage of its home territory with localized news and sports contributions from two personalities based at its Dothan studios.
- WDHN Evening News (1970s)
- NewsWatch 18
- News 18 (early 1990s-2006)
- WDHN News 18 (2006-2009)
- WDHN News (2009-current)
- Kevin Presley - weeknights at 5, 6 and 10; also Assistant News Director
- Charlie Platt - Top of the Morning host
- Scott Roberts (Member NWA & AMS) - Chief Meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 6 and 10
- Hannah Trippett - Sports Director; weeknights at 6 and 10
- Ken Curtis - News Director, Fill-in Anchor, and Reporter
- Carolyn Brewster - General Assignment Reporter
- Valencia Jones - General Assignment Reporter
- Official website (Mobile)
- DothanFirst.mobi - Official Mobile Website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WDHN