Ithaca, New York
|City of license||Elmira|
|Branding||WENY ABC (general)
WENY News (newscasts)
Twin Tiers CW 2
|Slogan||This Is Home
TV Now (on DT3)
|Channels||Digital: 36 (UHF)
Virtual: 36 (PSIP)
36.3 The CW
|Owner||Lilly Broadcasting, LLC|
|First air date||November 19, 1969|
|Call letters' meaning||We're Elmira, New York|
|Sister station(s)||WSEE-TV, WICU-TV|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
36 (UHF, 1969-2009)
55 (UHF, 2000-2009)
|Transmitter power||75 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WENY-TV is the ABC-affiliated television station for the Central and Western Twin Tiers of Southern Upstate New York and Northern Pennsylvania. Licensed to Elmira, New York, it broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 36 from a transmitter on Higman Hill in Corning. The station can also be seen on Time Warner Cable channel 4 and in high definition on digital channel 1200. Owned by Lilly Broadcasting, WENY has studios on Old Ithaca Road in Horseheads (along NY 13). It formerly could also be seen over-the-air through an analog repeater W06AR on VHF channel 6. This signal was licensed to Hornell and had a transmitter in South Hornell, but its license has since been cancelled by the FCC.
The station signed-on November 19, 1969 after Howard Green, owner of WENY radio (1230 AM and 92.7 FM) and WCMC-AM-TV in Wildwood, New Jersey, was awarded analog UHF channel 36 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Another area broadcaster, Frank Saia, had surrendered the construction permit to build what would have been WEHH-TV on the same channel.
Green purchased the equipment of WNYP-TV, a defunct station in Jamestown, and hired Larry Taylor (that station’s Assistant Chief Engineer) to move and install the equipment into a space on the ground floor of the Mark Twain Hotel in Downtown Elmira (former restaurant). The station’s analog transmitter was side-mounted to the WSYE tower on Hawley Hill. An addition was constructed to the building that that housed NBC affiliate WSYE-TV (now WETM-TV). The station's DTV transmitter is relocated in Corning.
WENY began operations out of a mixed color/black-and-white facility. Its broadcasts of ABC network programming were in actuality retransmissions of either WABC-TV in New York City or WNYS-TV (now WSYR-TV) in Syracuse. The former was received via microwave while the latter was received via deep fringe hotel rooftop antenna. The station aired a small amount of locally produced programming including an Elmira edition of Claster Television's long-running children's program Romper Room and a late-Saturday night horror movie hosted by disc jockey Paul Leigh as the ghoulish "Undertaker".
During the disastrous flooding caused by Hurricane Agnes in 1972, WENY was abandoned due to rising waters. Engineers were able to remove a limited amount of equipment to the Hawley Hill site where the station managed a limited broadcasting schedule of news and emergency announcements until the studios could be reoccupied. After this, Green obtained a building on Old Ithaca Road in Horseheads that had been previously used by the Army Corps of Engineers. In 1973, Taylor, along with engineer Gary Simon, moved the station from the hotel to the garage of the property where it remains to this day. In 2000, longtime owner Howard Green sold WENY to current owner Lilly Broadcasting (owned by Brian Lilly, son of SJL Broadcasting's George Lilly) thus separating the television station from its radio sisters which were sold to White Broadcasting.
Lilly Broadcasting was granted the local CW affiliation in Spring 2006. The network's programming, from The CW Plus, began to air on cable-only "WBE" (which Lilly owns as well) when the network launched on September 18. That station had been affiliated with the network's predecessor, The WB via The WB 100+. On October 20, 2008, CBS signed an affiliation agreement with WENY to air the network on a new second digital subchannnel with a proposed launch date of January 1, 2009. This would mark the first time that CBS has ever had an affiliate based in Elmira. The area had been served by longtime default affiliate WBNG-TV in Binghamton while Ithaca was served by WTVH from Syracuse. Canisteo and Hornell were covered by Buffalo's WIVB-TV.
According to the FCC, WENY had a request to flash-cut from analog to digital broadcasting after the old transition date of February 17, 2009. On that date, WENY-DT2 launched on Time Warner systems in Elmira, Corning, Hornell, and Ithaca. At the end of May, WENY performed a flash-cut and began broadcasting exclusively in digital. The new CBS station began its transmission over-the-air at this point. "WBE" eventually began to be offered on a new third digital subchannel of WENY and now uses the WENY-DT3 call sign in an official manner.
According to the FCC, it had an application to air a digital signal on UHF channel 55. However, the station opted to perform a flash-cut instead. Qualcomm holds licenses for the channel 55 spectrum. Approval of WENY's request to flash-cut allowed that company's wholly owned subsidiary, MediaFLO USA, to expand its "mediacast" service coverage in New York State without loss of broadcast service to the public. WENY-DT2's coverage area includes Steuben and Chemung Counties in New York which borders the Erie market and sister station CBS affiliate WSEE-TV. It is unknown if there is any coordination of the two CBS stations that come within one county of each other in coverage and serve an area reaching between Cleveland, Ohio and Binghamton (not inclusive).
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|36.1||720p||16:9||WENY-AB||Main WENY-TV programming / ABC|
|36.2||480i||WENY-CB||WENY-DT2 / CBS|
|36.3||WENY-CW||Twin Tiers CW 2|
WENY-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 36, on February 17, 2009, the original date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 55, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition, to its analog-era UHF channel 36.
At first, the station's only local programming were newscasts seen weeknights at 6 and 11. The original anchor team featured News Director Bill Miller, long-time WENY disc jockey Steve Christy with weather, and sports from Dick Ireland. Christy, the last of the three to retire, remained with the station until early-2009 at which point he retired due to health problems. Also known as "Mr. WENY" in reference to his long tenure at the station, he died in July 2010.  In 1975, WENY became the first television outlet in the market to switch from sixteen mm black-and-white reversal news footage to color electronic news gathering using the Sony U-Matic system. In 1977, it became the first in Elmira to use an electronic character generator during newscasts.
Rival WETM has traditionally been a ratings stronghold in the Twin Tiers area. This is because the news department at WENY is quite small compared with the NBC outlet and most other big three affiliates. In addition, WENY does not provide any newscasts on weekends despite operating three major programming services (ABC, CBS, and The CW) so WETM is currently the only outlet that airs broadcasts for Elmira and Corning seven days a week. Other traditional news timeslots currently lacking a program on WENY's channels include a full two-hour weekday morning shown, and a newscast weeknights at 5.
There is however, the market's only show weeknights at 5:30 seen exclusively on the CBS subchannel (WETM does not produce a newscast then). Weeknights at 6 and 11, the ABC and CBS subchannels simulcast local news although there can sometimes be a delay or preemption on one service due to network obligations. WENY upgraded its newscast to full high definition (studio, and field reports), making WENY the first to do so in the Elmira-Corning market on April 23, 2012. The feed on the CBS subchannel is only transmitted in 16:9 standard definition widescreen. A full HD feed of the CBS station can only be seen on Time Warner Cable. WENY shares resources with sister stations WSEE and WICU in Erie in order to cover the Western Twin Tiers region.
- TV Week: CBS to add WENY-DT as affiliate, October 2008
- WENY-TV Takes Over Local CBS Affiliate Thursday, Scott Cook, WENY-TV, February 18, 2009
- WENY-TV to add HD channels in new year: Station will provide both ABC and CBS programs soon • Roger Neumann • Star-Gazette • December 31, 2008
- Time Warner to swap CBS affiliate channel • Tim Ashmore • Ithaca Journal • December 2, 2008
- FCC permission for WENY-TV digital flash-cut on UHF 36
- RabbitEars TV Query for WENY
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- "Elmira, N.Y. Station Breaks In on World Cup For Severe Weather". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- Official website
- WENY-DT3 "Twin Tiers CW 2"
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WENY-TV
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WENY-TV