WDRB News (newscasts)
|Channels||Digital: 49 (UHF)
Virtual: 41 (PSIP)
41.2 Antenna TV
(Independence Television Company)
|First air date||February 28, 1971|
|Call letters' meaning||DeRBy|
|Sister station(s)||WMYO, WBKI-TV|
|Former callsigns||WDRB-TV (1971–1997)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
41 (UHF, 1971–2009)
|Former affiliations||independent (1971–1987)|
|Transmitter power||1,000 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WDRB, virtual channel 41 (UHF digital channel 49), is a Fox-affiliated television station located in Louisville, Kentucky, United States. The station is owned by Block Communications, as part of a duopoly with MyNetworkTV affiliate WMYO (channel 58); Block also operates Campbellsville-licensed CW affiliate WBKI-TV (channel 34) under a local marketing agreement with owner LM Communications, LLC. WDRB and WMYO share studio facilities located on West Muhammad Ali Bloulevard (near Route 150) in downtown Louisville; WDRB maintains transmitter is located in rural northeastern Floyd County, Indiana (northeast of Floyds Knobs). On cable, WDRB is available on Time Warner Cable channel 9 and in high definition on digital channel 910.
As an independent station
The station first signed on the air on February 28, 1971, becoming the first independent station in the Louisville market. Initially, the station signed on at 3:00 p.m. each day; its programming included low-budget afternoon children's programming and occasional news updates provided by anchor Wilson Hatcher, and most notably, the shock-theater program Fright Night and afternoon children's host "Presto the Magic Clown." Fright Night showcased low-budget horror movies (similar to the Shroud film showcast on then-fellow independent WFFT-TV in Fort Wayne, Indiana); the program was hosted by local theater actor Charlie Kissinger and was unique in that it ran during Saturday prime time, directly competing against high-rated network programs. Presto the Magic Clown was a daily mix of cartoons, magic tricks, viewer participation and birthday greetings, all hosted by Bill "Presto" Dopp and his puppet sidekicks, J. Fred Frog and Hunny Bunny.
By 1976, WDRB carried a mix of cartoons, westerns, outdoor shows and classic movies. By 1977, the station expanded its broadcast day to 11:00 a.m., with the addition of a four-hour block of religious programs. By 1979, WDRB began signing on daily at 7:00 a.m. At that point, the station aired cartoons from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m., religious programs from 9:00 a.m. to noon, movies or westerns from noon to 3:00 p.m., cartoons from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., classic sitcoms from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., movies from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. and a mix of sitcoms and drama shows after 10:00 p.m. until sign-off. After the station was acquired by Toledo, Ohio-based Block Communications in 1984, WDRB began to increase its profile in the market by acquiring higher-rated, and more recent off-network sitcoms and dramas to its schedule.
As a Fox affiliate
On April 5, 1987, when the network expanded its programming nationally to primetime, WDRB became an affiliate of the Fox network (prior to WDRB joining the network, Fox had carried only a late night talk show, The Late Show, during its first year-and-a-half in existence). WDRB became one of two Fox affiliates serving the Louisville market in 1990, when Campbellsville-based WGRB (channel 34, now CW affiliate WBKI-TV) affiliated with the network, channel 34 served the southern portions of the market before it moved its transmitter farther north to service more of the market; WDRB became the sole Fox station in Louisville when WGRB became a WB affiliate in 1997.
During the 1990s, WDRB shifted away from running older movies and classic sitcoms, in favor of acquiring more talk and reality shows; around this time, the station began branding itself as "Fox 41". In 1994, Block Communications entered into a local marketing agreement to operate Salem, Indiana-based WFTE (channel 58, now WMYO); Block acquired WFTE outright in 2001, creating the first television station duopoly in the Louisville market. WDRB continued to carry cartoons through Fox Kids throughout the 1990s; the Fox Kids weekday afternoon lineup was discontinued at the end of 2001, when the remaining Saturday block moved to channel 58 until its successor 4KidsTV was discontinued by Fox in November 2008 due to a dispute with block lessee 4Kids Entertainment over compensation and affiliate clearance for the block.
On April 21, 2007, WDRB became the first television station in Louisville to televise the Kentucky Derby Festival's all-day "Thunder Over Louisville" air and fireworks show in high definition – which at the time, was one of the largest technical undertakings ever attempted by an American television station. This was followed by a second – even more elaborate – "Thunder" telecast in HD in April 2008.
The station began phasing out the "Fox 41" branding in favor of simply branding by the WDRB call letters in May 2011. While this occurred shortly after sister station KTRV-TV in Boise, Idaho unexpectedly lost its Fox affiliation, station management stated that the rebrand was done in order to bring its branding in line with Louisville's other major network stations (NBC affiliate WAVE (channel 3), ABC affiliate WHAS-TV (channel 11) and CBS affiliate WLKY-TV (channel 32), which have long branded with their call letters) and to distinguish the station from Fox News Channel; WDRB is one of only three Fox affiliates that omit network references in their branding (alongside KHON-TV in Honolulu, Hawaii – which had branded as "Fox 2" when from 1996 to 2003 – and WSVN in Miami; KTVU in San Francisco similarly omits Fox references in its news branding, but brands as "KTVU Fox 2" for all other purposes).
In early 2011, the master control operations for WDRB and WMYO were upgraded to allow the transmission of syndicated and locally produced programs in high definition; it also upgraded its severe weather ticker seen on both stations to be overlaid on HD programming without having to downconvert the content to standard definition.
On June 1, 2012, WDRB, WMYO and their respective subchannels were pulled from the market's major cable provider Insight Communications, as Block was unable to come to terms on a new retransmission consent agreement with Time Warner Cable (which purchased Insight in February 2012 and officially took over and rebranded the company under the Time Warner Cable name in 2013). The affected stations were restored on June 6, 2012, as a result of a new carriage agreement between Block and TWC.
In May 2013, WDRB began construction of an additional 11,000 square feet of space at its Muhammad Ali Boulevard studio facility, including an expanded newsroom and sales area; the addition of two conference rooms; offices for finance and editing departments; and the addition of a secondary studio to be used for commercial and station projects. The expanded facility opened on May 5, 2014; as a result of the expansion, sister station WBKI relocated their employees from that station's offices in the Kaden Tower into the WDRB facility.
This station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|41.1||720p||16:9||WDRB-DT||Main WDRB programming / Fox|
|41.2||480i||4:3||Ant. TV||Antenna TV|
In late 2010, Block Communications began testing digital subchannels on both WDRB and WMYO; on or about January 30, 2011, WDRB began carrying the Tribune Broadcasting-owned Antenna TV network over its second digital subchannel. WDRB-DT2 was added to Insight Communications systems in the area on digital channel 187 on April 20, 2011.
WDRB discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 41, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 49. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 41.
WDRB had previously been carried on many cable systems in areas adjacent to the Louisville market, including Kentucky's capital city, Frankfort. On January 1, 2012, WDRB was removed from most out-of-market cable systems as a result of a new directive from Fox as part of its newest affiliation agreement that forbade WDRB from being distributed on providers outside of the station's home market to protect the network's ratings; this rule has been a source of conflict in several other markets, which have had out-of-market Fox affiliates from adjacent areas pulled from local cable providers. A few months later, the station removed the county outlines of Anderson and Franklin counties in Kentucky (the westernmost counties in the Lexington market) and Switzerland County in Indiana (within the Cincinnati market) from weather maps and severe weather alert displays; as a result, WDRB is the only Louisville area station that does not recognize Frankfort as being part of its viewing area. Despite this, Frankfort and Lawrenceburg are still occasionally mentioned during on-air weather segments.
In the eastern half of the Bowling Green media market, WDRB was carried on the Glasgow Electric Plant Board’s cable service, and the cable lineup of the South Central Rural Telephone Cooperative in spite of WZTV in Nashville, Tennessee being closer to the Glasgow area. However, blackouts of Fox programming by WBKO-DT2 were common, as was the blackouts of ABC programming from WHAS-TV were caused by WBKO’s main channel. The two cable systems dropped WDRB, WDRB-DT2, and WMYO in January 2015, making WBKO-DT2 the sole Fox affiliate available to their customers.  WMYO was replaced by WCZU-LD, Bowling Green’s upstart new station that provides MyNetworkTV programming on weeknights, and Antenna TV programming outside MyNet programming. WDRB’s main channel was also dropped due to the presene of WBKO-DT2 as a Fox affiliate, while WDRB-DT2 was dropped from SCRTC and Glasgow EPB due to Antenna TV programming being served by WCZU outside MyNetworkTV’s primetime schedule, with WCZU's second subchannel replacing WDRB-DT2.
Syndicated programs broadcast by WDRB include Live! with Kelly and Michael, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Modern Family, Two and a Half Men, Judge Judy, Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil. For many years, through the 1990s, WDRB held the broadcast rights to University of Louisville football and basketball games; WDRB currently broadcasts a number of University of Kentucky basketball games.
WDRB presently broadcasts 54 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with seven hours on weekdays and four hours each on Saturdays and Sundays); in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the highest local newscast output among the broadcast television stations in the Louisville market and in the commonwealth of Kentucky. The station produces 2½ hours of local newscasts each week for CW affiliate WBKI in the form of a half-hour weeknight 7:00 p.m. newscast.
WDRB launched its news department on March 12, 1990 with the debut of a half-hour 10 p.m. newscast originally titled The News at 10. In 1996, the program was rebranded as Fox News at 10; and later that decade,[when?] it expanded to one hour and added Saturday and Sunday editions. The station launched additional newscasts on its schedule as its market position strengthened: the first news expansion outside its established 10:00 slot came in 1999,[specify] when WDRB premiered the four-hour-long Fox in the Morning along with a half-hour midday newscast at 11:30 a.m. This was later followed by the debut of an hour-long 4:00 p.m. newscast in 2001.
In June 2002, WDRB became one of the few U.S. television stations to run a regular editorial segment, when it debuted "Point of View", a twice weekly segment that is usually hosted by WDRB/WMYO president and general manager Bill Lamb; the segment introduced a weekly feature with viewer responses to the discussed topic via phone message in 2007. Point of View has evolved into one of the community's most prominent opinion forums, featuring frequent guest editorials by a wide array of community members. In 2006, WDRB – in partnership with Norton Healthcare – became the first and only station in Louisville to offer real-time closed captioning on all of its newscasts, making 100% of the station's news content available to over 147,000 deaf or hard of hearing viewers in the market. Prior to this, only pre-written studio-originated content was closed-captioned, while live field reports and breaking news stories were not transcribed.
On April 17, 2010, WDRB became the second television station in Louisville market (after WAVE) to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition; it was the first (and presently, the only) television station in the market to provide news video from the field in true high definition, as WDRB upgraded its ENG vehicles, satellite truck, studio and field cameras and other equipment in order to broadcast news footage from the field in high definition, in addition to segments broadcast from the main studio. By comparison, WAVE only broadcasts studio segments in HD, while field reports are presented in widescreen standard definition, while WHAS and WLKY still broadcast in SD, stretched to fill 16:9 widescreen sets.
On January 17, 2011, WDRB launched a half-hour early evening newscast at 6:30 p.m. each weeknight (it is the only station in the United States that currently airs newscasts during the 4:00 and 6:30 p.m. timeslots), and on September 22, 2014 a new 6:00 newscast was launched. WDRB began producing a half-hour weeknight 7:00 p.m. newscast on WBKI on September 17, 2012; this was the result of a local marketing agreement that was forged between Block and WBKI owner LM Communications, LLC (as such, WDRB is one of only a handful of Fox stations that produce a newscast for another station in the same market, among which include KCPQ in Seattle (which produces a 9:00 p.m. newscast for sister station KZJO) and KTVU in San Francisco (which produces a 7:00 p.m. newscast for sister station KICU-TV)). On January 26, 2013, the station debuted a three-hour weekend morning newscast, airing Saturdays and Sundays from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m.
In June 2013, WDRB gained notice in the television industry when it debuted a promo criticizing the broad, constant and generalized use of the term "breaking news" by other news stations (both within the Louisville market and around the United States), stating that "breaking news" has been overused as a "marketing ploy" by other stations, who tend to apply the term to stories that are low in urgency and/or relevance. To coincide with the promo, WDRB posted on its website a "contract" outline of its journalism practices with its viewers and advertisers, with the former list promising to judiciously use "breaking news" (applying the term to stories that are "both 'breaking' and "news'"), as well as a general promise to deliver news in a truthful, balanced and informative manner, and without overt hype and sensationalism.
- Bullard, Gabe (May 20, 2011). "WDRB Attempts to Renew Contract With Fox, Establish Own Identity". WFPL News. Retrieved May 21, 2011.
- Farrell, Mike (31 May 2012). "Louisville Stations Could Go Dark on TWC; WDRB, WMYO Face Midnight Deadline". Multichannel News. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- WDRB celebrates 11,000 square foot expansion with ribbon cutting ceremony, WDRB, May 5, 2014.
- WDRB celebrates expansion, new newscast announced, Louisville Business First, May 5, 2014.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WDRB
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- Cable rates may go up, Frankfort State-Journal. Retrieved December 21, 2011.
- Overstreet, Melinda (December 11, 2014). "South Central Rural Telephone Cooperative Corp. program costs are going up". Glasgow Daily Times. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
- WBKI Louisville To Launch 7 P.M. News, TVNewsCheck, August 14, 2012.
- WDRB to Add Weekend Morning Newscasts, TVNewsCheck, October 30, 2012.
- "Louisville Station Stops Using 'Breaking News,'" from TVSpy, 6/4/2013
- WDRB official website
- Fright Night program info
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WDRB
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WDRB-TV