|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|
|Sister station(s)||WZDX, WMBB|
|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, The Doctors, Hot Bench, The Insider, The 700 Club, 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, it has been an ABC affiliate for its entire existence. This seemed to be an unusual move for a two-station market, especially one (then as now) as small as Dothan. ABC was the smallest and weakest network, and would not be anywhere near par with CBS and NBC in terms of ratings until later in the decade. However, geography played the decisive part in channel 18 going with ABC. The Alabama side of the market received a fairly strong signal from WSFA-TV in Montgomery. Further, at the time the station signed on, no ABC affiliate provided even a grade B signal to the Wiregrass. The only nearby ABC programs were on WJHG in Panama City, Florida on a part-time basis. Slinguff thus figured that if WDHN aligned with ABC, he wouldn't face much local competition.
In 1979, reflecting an era when small, locally-owned stations 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 operates 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.
WDHN broadcasts three newscasts daily at 5:00 PM, 6:00 PM and 10:00 PM. "Top of the Morning" with Charlie Platt can be seen each morning at 5:30 AM.
Historically, WDHN has been well behind WTVY in the ratings. This is partly because WDHN has a coverage area only half as large due to its low transmitter tower, as well as competition from WSFA. In addition, unlike most ABC outlets and other big three network-affiliated stations, it does not offer local news on weekends.