|Branding||Fox 13 (general)
Fox 13 News (newscasts)
|Channels||Digital: 13 (VHF)
Virtual: 13 (PSIP)
|Owner||Fox Television Stations
(Fox Television Stations Inc.)
|First air date||September 27, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||We
(in reference to religious roots of WHBQ radio)
(after Harding University, original owner of WHBQ radio)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
13 (VHF, 1953–2009)
53 (UHF, 1995–2009)
|Former affiliations||CBS (1953–1956)
ABC (1953–1995; secondary until 1956)
|Transmitter power||95 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WHBQ-TV, virtual channel and VHF digital channel 13, is an Fox owned-and-operated television station located in Memphis, Tennessee, United States. The station is owned by the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of 21st Century Fox. WHBQ maintains studios are located near the intersection of Highland Street and Midland Avenue (near the University of Memphis), and its transmitter is located off of I-40 and Raleigh LaGrange Road in eastern Memphis.
- 1 History
- 2 Digital television
- 3 Local programming
- 4 News operation
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Under RKO General
The station first signed on the air on September 27, 1953 and was owned by Harding College, alongside WHBQ radio (560 AM and 105.9 FM, now WGKX). WHBQ-TV was originally a primary CBS and ABC affiliate, sharing ABC programming with WMCT (channel 5, now WMC-TV). Channel 13 lost the CBS affiliation when WREC-TV (channel 3, now WREG-TV) signed on in January 1956, assuming the affiliation through CBS Radio's longtime affiliation with WREC radio; WHBQ-TV then became an exclusive ABC affiliate. General Teleradio, the broadcasting arm of the General Tire and Rubber Company, purchased the WHBQ stations in 1954. In 1955, General Tire purchased RKO Radio Pictures in order to give its television stations a programming source. RKO was merged into General Teleradio, and in 1957 General Tire's broadcasting and film divisions were renamed RKO General.
Despite being one of ABC's stronger affiliates in the 1960s and 1970s (and as pointed out in a sales video that was made in 1964, was billed as the third most-watched ABC affiliate in the United States), WHBQ-TV often did not air some ABC programs in pattern, particularly during the daytime hours. Many of these programs were preempted outright or delayed until the overnight hours. In some cases, the preemptions occurred because station management was skeptical of airing subject matter deemed even mildly controversial (presumably to keep from offending viewers in Memphis' more conservative suburbs and the surrounding rural areas). For example, it was one of several ABC affiliates that did not clear Hot l Baltimore, which featured one of the first openly homosexual couples featured on American television. In September 1977, WHBQ-TV was one of eight ABC affiliates that refused to carry the controversial sitcom Soap, replacing it with repeats of My Three Sons. When Soap proved to be a runaway hit for the network, channel 13 acquiesced and allowed the series to be rerun in the late night hours during the summer. The following fall, the station carried Soap in its regular primetime slot.
In many other cases, however, channel 13 opted to pre-empt network shows in favor of local programs in hopes of earning more local advertising revenue. For instance, in 1972, WHBQ-TV (whose AM sister was a Top 40 powerhouse at the time) stunned Mid-South viewers by dropping American Bandstand for a 90-minute live professional wrestling program that was previously a fixture on late Saturday afternoons when it first premiered in 1958, until it moved to the Saturday morning 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. slot. That program moved to WMC-TV in 1977, however channel 13 continued to pre-empt Bandstand until 1984, three years before ABC canceled the long-running series. The pre-emption kept Memphians from seeing homegrown talent perform on the show, such as The Sylvers, Al Green, Isaac Hayes, Anita Ward, The Staples Singers and Rick Dees, who was hired by WHBQ radio as its new morning host during his "Disco Duck" days in late 1976. At the time Dees appeared on Bandstand, "Disco Duck" was never played on any of the radio stations in Memphis, including WHBQ-AM, because Dees was still employed at rival WMPS at the time.
Channel 13 made up for the preemption by airing Bandstand's syndicated rival, Soul Train, on Saturday nights until independent station WPTY-TV (channel 24, now WATN-TV) purchased the local rights to that program in 1983. It was one of the largest ABC affiliates to decline to air Good Morning America when it debuted in 1975, and would not air on the station until 1977. Other popular shows that WHBQ-TV held out until later (when they became major out-of-the-box hits on ABC) included Dark Shadows (which featured actor Don Briscoe, who would later reside and died in Memphis), The Bionic Woman and S.W.A.T.. In 1980, the station was criticized for carrying paid religious programming instead of ABC's coverage of the United States' Olympic men's hockey team's gold medal victory over Finland in the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Locally, the station had a rivalry with WREC/WREG-TV over bragging rights for the largest movie library in the market. Through its ownership by RKO General, channel 13 had rights to the entire RKO Pictures film catalog. The station's reliance on classic and public-domain films in the 1960s and 1970s was evidenced in its daily noon to 2 p.m. airing of the "Million Dollar Movie" (and later, the 9 to 11 a.m. airing of Dialing for Dollars), which the station ran instead of popular daytime soap operas All My Children and Ryan's Hope, or in some cases, reruns of ABC prime-time sitcoms that aired in the mornings. In September 1978, channel 13 finally began clearing the full ABC daytime lineup. However, for many years after that, its noon newscast resulted in All My Children being aired in a morning timeslot on a one-day delay.
RKO General was under nearly continuous investigation from the 1960s onward due to a long history of lying to advertisers and regulators. For example, it was nearly forced out of broadcasting in 1980 after misleading the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about corporate misconduct at parent General Tire. Under longtime general manager Alex Bonner, WHBQ-AM-FM-TV was never accused of any wrongdoing. The regulatory pressure on RKO General continued unabated until 1987, when an FCC administrative law judge ruled the company unfit to be a broadcast licensee due to its rampant dishonesty. After the FCC advised RKO that appealing the decision was not worth the effort, RKO began unwinding its broadcast operations. The WHBQ stations were the next-to-last to be sold, shortly after Bonner retired in 1990. The new owner, Adams Communications, sold off WHBQ-AM (WHBQ-FM had been sold off several years earlier).
Transition to Fox
Adams was in severe financial straits by 1994, and sold the station to Communications Corporation of America, a sale that was finalized on August 17 of that year. Only a short time later, ComCorp sold WHBQ-TV to the News Corporation, then-owner of the Fox network (which spun off its entertainment holdings to 21st Century Fox in July 2013); the sale closed on July 5, 1995. Fox had signed a deal with New World Communications the year prior to switch the network affiliations of most of its "Big Three"-affiliated stations to the network. News Corporation's purchase of channel 13 built on this, and was in part positioning to have a station in a market that was, at the time, in contention for landing an NFL team (Fox had just gained the broadcast rights to the league's National Football Conference division).
When the station's affiliation agreement with ABC ended on December 1, 1995, Fox programming moved to WHBQ-TV (becoming the third Memphis station to affiliate with the network – WMKW-TV (channel 30, now WLMT) had been the area's original Fox affiliate from 1986 until it moved to WPTY in 1990), outgoing Fox station WPTY became the market's ABC affiliate. Upon the network switch, channel 13 replaced ABC's soap opera lineup with children's programs from Fox Kids (later 4Kids TV), unlike most of the other stations that switched to Fox between 1994 and 1996. WHBQ is the only television station in the Memphis market that has never changed its call letters or channel allocation, and the only one to have been an owned-and-operated station of any major network. It is also the smallest Fox O&O by market size (if WOGX in Gainesville, Florida, market #163, is not counted due to its status as a semi-satellite of WOFL in Orlando).
On June 13, 2007, News Corporation placed WHBQ-TV and eight other stations up for sale. Local TV, a broadcast holding company controlled by private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners, purchased the other eight stations on December 22. WHBQ-TV was not included in the sale as Local TV already owned CBS affiliate WREG-TV, as FCC rules prohibit duopolies between two of the four highest-rated stations in a single market. On January 16, 2009, Fox Television Stations withdrew WHBQ-TV from the market as the only interested buyers (other than Local TV) that were willing to pay anywhere close to the asking price were Newport Television (then-owner of WPTY and WLMT, which have since been divested to the Nexstar Broadcasting Group) and Raycom Media (owner of WMC-TV). In December 2008, Fox discontinued children's programming as a result of its removal of the 4Kids TV block, replacing it with the infomercial block Weekend Marketplace.
On June 6, 2012, WHBQ-TV became the last Fox-owned station outside of its MyNetworkTV sister stations to switch from the EndPlay CMS platform (spun off from Fox Interactive Media) to a new Worldnow-hosted platform now used by all of the other Fox-owned stations.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|13.1||720p||16:9||WHBQ-DT||Main WHBQ-TV programming / Fox|
WHBQ-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 13, 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 53, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition, to its former analog-era UHF channel 13.
On September 29, 1962, WHBQ-TV premiered Fantastic Features, a collection of classic horror films from the RKO Pictures library. The series was hosted by a Transylvanian-styled vampire named Sivad, played by Watson Davis. The show's opening sequence, which included film footage of Sivad riding through a misty forest in a horse-drawn hearse (filmed at Overton Park), proved so unsettling to some children that the series was moved from its original 6:00 p.m. timeslot on Saturday evenings to 10:30 p.m. At the height of its popularity, Fantastic Features aired on both Friday and Saturday nights. The program ended its run on February 5, 1972, after 623 episodes (although the final two years reran older films as the station was receiving more raunchier horror films whose content Davis did not feel comfortable playing and wanted the show to remain family-friendly), though Sivad has remained a well-remembered local personality. There were several attempts to resurrect the character, though a retired Watson Davis refused all offers, the sole exception being promos for the syndicated run of Dark Shadows, acquired by WHBQ in April 1982. Davis died on May 23, 2005 and was buried in Monroe County, Arkansas.
In the 1960s and 1970s, WHBQ produced several local programs featuring local personalities. Disc jockey George Klein hosted Talent Party, an afternoon rock-and-roll series aimed at Memphis' teenage audience. Talent Party was very successful, giving many garage bands their first television appearances; ratings were so high that it regularly beat the nationally top-rated CBS soap opera The Edge of Night on WREC/WREG.
Two other WHBQ programming staples were Happy Hal's Funhouse and Cartoon Time, hosted by Hal Miller. While he hosted both shows twice daily and on Saturday mornings (doing so from 1957 to 1974), it also provided Miller with the opportunity to sell toy products from his local toy store during his telecasts. Another children's program that aired on WHBQ from 1955 to 1957, Mars Patrol, featured a young Wink Martindale (prior to becoming a popular game show host) as the titular character.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, news anchor Marge Thrasher hosted a local talk show titled Straight Talk (a title used on other RKO General stations), that aired at 8:00 a.m. on weekdays. WHBQ was also the Memphis broadcaster of the hybrid local/syndicated program PM Magazine featuring Byron Day and Lynn Sitler.
WHBQ-TV presently broadcasts 46 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (eight hours on weekdays, four hours on Saturdays and two hours on Sundays); in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the highest local newscast output of any television station in both the Memphis market and the state of Tennessee. As is standard with Fox stations that carry early evening weekend newscasts, WHBQ's Saturday and Sunday 5 p.m. newscasts are subject to preemption due to network sports coverage that is scheduled to overlap into the timeslot. WHBQ is one of four Fox O&Os that airs a 5 p.m. newscast, but does not have one in the 6 p.m. timeslot – along with Austin's KTBC, Houston's KRIV and Minneapolis's KMSP-TV (the network's Boston O&O WFXT was included in this distinction until September 2009, when the reverse became true after the station "moved" its 5 p.m. newscast to 6 p.m., WFXT restored a 5 p.m. newscast in September 2013).
WHBQ's newscasts, for many years, had been called Eyewitness News and stayed true to that format's "Happy Talk" element, along with using the "Cool Hand Luke" music package that was used by ABC's owned-and-operated stations. WHBQ had a number of highly-visibile anchors and reporters in the 1970s and 1980s, including Ed Craig, Tom Bearden, Marge Thrasher, Fran Fawcett, Jim Jaggers and Charlie B. Watson. After Fox acquired the station in 1995, the station expanded its newscasts with the addition of two hours to its weekday morning newscast, the removal of the 6 p.m. newscast in favor of expanding the 5 p.m. news to one hour, and the 10 p.m. newscast move to 9 p.m. which expanded the late newscast to one hour. The newscasts were also briefly retitled Fox 13 Eyewitness News, before being truncated to Fox 13 News in 1997. Despite this change (and even rivals WPTY-TV and WLMT branding their newscasts under the Eyewitness News title for several years starting in 2002), WHBQ has remained Memphis' "Happy Talk" station.
On June 23, 2009, WHBQ-TV became the second television station in Memphis (behind WMC-TV) to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. On September 7, 2009, the station's weekday morning newscast Good Morning Memphis was expanded to five hours, running from 5-10 a.m.; an additional half-hour was added to the program on April 26, 2010, expanding it to 4:30-10 a.m. WHBQ debuted a new 10 p.m. newscast on August 16, 2010, marking the first time since WHBQ became a Fox affiliate on December 1, 1995 that the station has run a late newscast in direct competition with WREG, WMC-TV and WPTY (now WATN-TV). On August 3, 2013, WHBQ launched a two-hour Saturday edition of Good Morning Memphis, airing from 6 to 8 a.m.
- Your Esso Reporter (1953–1956)
- The Mid-South News Report (1956–1962)
- The Big News on 13 (1962–1966)
- Channel 13 Early/Late/Final Report (1966–1970)
- Eyewitness News (1970–1982 and 1989–1995)
- 13 Eyewitness News (1982–1989)
- Fox 13 Eyewitness News (1995–1997)
- Fox 13 News (1997–present)
- Good Morning Memphis (weekday morning newscast; 1997–present)
- "The Best is Seen on Channel 13" (1950s–1960s)
- "The Full Color Station" (1960s)
- "The Spirit of the Mid–South" (1989–1997)
- "Where Local News Comes First" (2005–2007; also formerly used as a slogan for KPRC-TV in Houston)
- "The Most Powerful Name In Local News" (2007–2011)
- Valerie Calhoun - weekday mornings on Good Morning Memphis (6-10 a.m.)
- Greg Coy - weeknights at 5 p.m.; also reporter; also reporter
- Ernie Freeman - weekday mornings on Good Morning Memphis (6-10 a.m.)
- Darrell Greene - weeknights at 9 and 10 p.m.
- Trey Paul - weekday mornings on Good Morning Memphis (4:30-6 a.m.); also reporter
- Mearl Purvis - weeknights at 5 and 9 p.m.
- Kristin Tallent - Saturday mornings on Good Morning Memphis (6-8 a.m.); also weekday reporter
- Brooke Thomas - weekday mornings on Good Morning Memphis (4:30-6 a.m.); also reporter
- Darcy Thomas - weekends at 5 and 9 p.m.; also weekday reporter
- The station's weekday 11 a.m. newscast is anchored through a rotation of its anchors from Good Morning Memphis.
- Fox 13 Weather
- Joey Sulipeck (NWA Seal of Approval) - chief meteorologist; weekday mornings on Good Morning Memphis (4:30-10 a.m.)
- Brian Basham (AMS Seal of Approval) - meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 9 and 10 p.m.
- Ed Echols (NWA Seal of Approval; weekday mornings on Good Morning Memphis (4:30-10 a.m.)
- Monte Massengill - meteorologist; Saturdays at 5 and 9 p.m.
- Wendy Nations - meteorologist; Saturday mornings on Good Morning Memphis (6-8 a.m.) and Sundays at 5 and 9 p.m.
- Sports team
- Matt Stark - sports director; weeknights at 5, 9 and 10 p.m.
- TBD - sports anchor; weekends at 5 and 9 p.m.
- Sarah Bleau - general assignment reporter
- Tom Dees - Mississippi reporter
- Earle Farrell - general assignment reporter
- Matt Gerien - general assignment reporter
- Lauren Lee - general assignment reporter
- Scott Madaus - weekday morning reporter
- Les Smith - general assignment reporter
- Heather York - weekday morning and weeknight 5 p.m. traffic reporter
Notable former on-air staff
- "Six stations being sold for nearly $15 million." Broadcasting - Telecasting, Mar. 8, 1954, pp. 27-28.  
- Meisler, Andy (August 19, 1994). "The Media Business; Fox to Buy Memphis ABC Outlet". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
- News Corporation
- RabbitEars TV Query for WHBQ
- Movies!: Where to Watch
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- "Silvad and Fantasic Features" from Memphis History
- "Our Man from Mars" from In The Media
- WHBQ Weekend Newscast 1979
- WHBQ Memphis Montage
- WHBQ-TV News Intro 2006
- "David Lee's LinkedIn profile". Retrieved 12 March 2013.
- MyFoxMemphis.com - Official website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WHBQ-TV
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WHBQ-TV