|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2012)|
|Branding||7 or 7NBC (general)
7 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||You Know... It's 7|
|Channels||Digital: 42 (UHF)
Virtual: 7 (PSIP)
7.2 This TV
|First air date||June 21, 1948|
|Call letters' meaning||sequentially assigned to former sister station WHDH (AM)|
|Former callsigns||WNAC-TV (1948–1982)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
7 (VHF, 1948–2009)
7 (VHF, 2009)
|Former affiliations||CBS (1948–1961, 1972–1995)
ABC (secondary 1948–1957, full-time 1961–1972)
DuMont (secondary, 1948–1956)
|Transmitter power||1000 kw|
|Public license information:||Profile
WHDH, channel 7, is an NBC-affiliated television station in Boston, Massachusetts. Owned by Sunbeam Television, WHDH is a sister station to CW affiliate WLVI (channel 56). The two stations share studios located at Bulfinch Place (near Government Center) in downtown Boston, and WHDH's transmitter is located in Newton, Massachusetts. WHDH is the largest NBC station by market size that is not owned by the network.
- 1 History
- 2 Digital television
- 3 Programming
- 4 News operation
- 5 Out-of-market coverage
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Channel 7 first went on the air on June 21, 1948 as CBS affiliate WNAC-TV, it was the second television station in Boston (debuting twelve days after WBZ-TV). The station was originall owned by General Tire along with WNAC radio (then at 1260 AM, now occupied by WMKI; later moved to 680 AM, now WRKO), which served as the flagship of the New England regional radio network Yankee Network. General Tire had purchased the Yankee Network in 1943. WNAC first broadcast from studios at 21 Brookline Avenue (which had also been home to WNAC radio and the Yankee Network) before moving to its current facilities at 7 Bullfinch Place near Government Center in 1968.
In 1950, General Tire bought the West Coast regional Don Lee Broadcasting System. Two years later, it bought the Bamberger Broadcasting Service (WOR-AM-FM-TV in New York City) and merged its broadcasting interests into a new division, General Teleradio. General Tire bought RKO Radio Pictures in 1955 after General Tire found RKO's film library would be a perfect programming source for WNAC and its other television stations. The studio was merged into General Teleradio to become RKO Teleradio; after the film studio was dissolved, the business was renamed RKO General in 1959.
By 1955, ABC began moving some of its programming to secondary clearances on WNAC, which continued until (the original) WHDH-TV signed on channel 5 in 1957. WNAC-TV also had a secondary affiliation with the Paramount Television Network; in fact it was one of that company's strongest affiliates, carrying Paramount programs such as Time For Beany, Dixie Showboat, Hollywood Reel, and Armchair Detective. From 1948 to 1950, WNAC-TV shared the rights to Boston Braves game telecasts with WBZ-TV; and shared rights to Boston Red Sox telecasts with WBZ-TV from 1948 to 1954. In the fall of 1948, WNAC-TV became the first station to televise games of the Boston Bruins, carrying the third period (and sometimes the second and third periods) of home games.
WNAC-TV switched affiliations with WHDH-TV in 1961 and joined ABC. It stayed with ABC until 1972, when channel 5 lost its license. The owners of the station that replaced it, WCVB-TV, planned to air more local programming than any other station in the country, heavily preempting CBS programming in the process. CBS was not pleased at the prospect of massive preemptions on what would have been its second-largest affiliate and its largest affiliate on the East Coast. The CBS affiliation immediately moved back to channel 7, leaving channel 5 to affiliate with ABC. However, a year later, WNAC-TV adopted a version of the circle 7 logo, similar to that used by ABC's owned-and-operated stations; in 1977, ABC complained that the station was infringing on its trademark, and changed its logo to a Times-Serif-Italic "7". In late 1981, a stylish, strip-layered "7" was introduced, which ended up being the last logo redesign under RKO General ownership.
Two legendary Boston television personalities had shows on WNAC-TV: Louise Morgan, who hosted a talk show and was known as "New England's First Lady of Radio and Television", and Ed McDonnell, who as the costumed (as an astronaut) character "Major Mudd", hosted a popular children's show in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Fight for survival and transition
By 1965, RKO General faced numerous investigations into its business and financial practices. Though the Federal Communications Commission renewed channel 7's license in 1969, RKO General lost the license in 1981 after General Tire admitted to a litany of corporate misconduct – which among other things, included the admission that General Tire had committed financial fraud over illegal political contributions and bribes – as part of a settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. However, in the FCC hearings, RKO General had withheld evidence of General Tire's misconduct, and had also failed to disclose evidence of accounting errors on its own part. In light of RKO's dishonesty, the FCC stripped RKO of the Boston license and the licenses for KHJ-TV in Los Angeles and WOR-TV. The FCC had previously conditioned renewal of the latter two stations' licenses on WNAC-TV's renewal. An appeals court partially reversed the ruling, finding that RKO's dishonesty alone merited having the WNAC license removed. However, it held that the FCC had overreached in tying the other two license renewals to WNAC's renewal, and ordered new hearings.
RKO appealed this decision, but in April 1982 the FCC denied its appeal and ordered RKO to surrender the station's license. On May 21, 1982 at midnight, RKO signed off WNAC-TV for the final time. New England Television (NETV), a merger of two of the original rivals to the station's license controlled by Boston grocery magnate David Mugar, took over channel 7 on May 22, 1982 under a new license, signing the station back on as WNEV-TV; it also dropped the "7" logo in favor of a new SE7EN logo. In September 1987, as a part of a station makeover spearheaded by a new promotional campaign that began running that summer, a new logo was introduced that consisted of a numeral "7" composed of seven white dots and encased in a blue circle. The dots had a dual meaning, in which they principally represented people forming a "team" at Channel 7, hence the promotional campaign's slogan, "We're All on the Same Team". The dots also represented lottery balls, as the logo's introduction coincided with WNEV's acquisition of Lottery Live.
New England Television Corp.'s mission from the start was to allocate programming hours to innovative, in-house productions, in much the same way that Boston Broadcasters, Inc. did when they launched WCVB on channel 5 ten years earlier. Notable productions that premiered early on were Look (1982–1984), which began as a two-hour (4–6 p.m.) late afternoon talk and lifestyle show that lead into WNEV's 6 p.m. news. Despite a powerful effort at an entertaining and informative program, and praise from critics, Look was a ratings failure; for its second year, the show was cut back to an hour and renamed New England Afternoon before being dropped. WNEV continued to produce talk programs, first with Morning/Live (1984–1987), a half-hour weekday morning talk show hosted by Susan Sikora, and later with Talk of the Town (1988), a similarly structured show hosted by Matt Lauer. NETV also made it an immediate purpose to further diversify the station's workforce, both on-air and behind the scenes. Within WNEV's first couple of years, there was an increase of news reporters and anchors of color joining the station (notably including anchor Lester Strong and reporter Amalia Barreda). The commitment to diversity extended itself to a series of new public affairs shows that each targeted a specific ethnic group: Urban Update (with an African-American focus), Revista Hispana, Asian Focus and Jewish Perspective. Other public affairs and newsmagazines launched by WNEV included a Sunday morning religious affairs program, Higher Ground; the weekend talk and advice show Boston Common; the Saturday night newsmagazine Our Times; and Studio 7, which focused on the arts.
In 1987, another of WNEV's ambitious efforts premiered, the hour-long live children's variety show Ready to Go. Featuring Broadway actress/singer Liz Callaway and Scott Reese, who not only hosted but also sang and acted, the program featured an equal mix of entertainment and educational content, along with musical acts and celebrity interviews. The series began as a 6–7 a.m. programming alternative against WBZ and WCVB's morning newscasts, before moving to 7 a.m. in September 1989. On March 24, 1990, after only six months at its new timeslot, the station cut the series back to once-a-week Saturday broadcasts only, before cancelling the show outright in 1991.
Throughout the 1980s, WNEV-TV frequently partnered with WHDH radio (850 AM; frequency now occupied by WEEI) for public events such as Project Bread and the Walk For Hunger, as well as for other initiatives. NETV would eventually purchase WHDH on August 7, 1989. In January 1990, Mugar announced that on March 12 of that year, WNEV would change its call letters to WHDH-TV in order to correspond with its sister radio operation. This revived the call letters used on channel 5, now occupied by WCVB-TV, from 1957 to 1972. It was Mugar's plan to create, once again, a second major television/radio duopoly, primarily in news, to compete with the long-standing combo of WBZ radio and television. Boston Mayor Ray Flynn declared March 12, 1990 as "WHDH Day" in Boston, celebrating the joining of the radio and television stations. On that day, personalities from WHDH-TV spoke as guests on WHDH radio.
The dual operation, which began with much fanfare and leverage, proved to be too costly for Mugar and company. NETV gradually slid into a deficit, prompting cutbacks on in-house programming as well as in the television news department; the most notable effect being the elimination of WHDH-TV's 5:00 p.m. newscast for two years beginning in 1991. With third place news ratings, minimal help from CBS (which had been in a ratings slump since the end of the 1987–88 television season) and declining profits, Mugar was eventually prompted to sell the WHDH stations. The radio station was sold to Atlantic Ventures in 1992.
Sale to Sunbeam
On April 22, 1993, David Mugar entered into an agreement to sell WHDH to Miami-based Sunbeam Television, a company led by Worcester native Edmund Ansin. The purchase was completed in late July. Shortly afterward, Ansin brought in news director Joel Cheatwood from his Miami station WSVN. Cheatwood had become infamous in Miami for his changes to WSVN's news operation, which focused on visually intensive, fast-paced newscasts with heavy emphasis on tabloid journalism, particularly covering crime. Cheatwood planned to perform similar changes at WHDH. WHDH's new format would ultimately be toned down in comparison to its new sister station – but still adopted traits from WSVN, including a faster-paced format, increased use of graphics and visuals, and more on-the-scene reporting. While critics were concerned that WHDH would lose even more viewers if they were to adopt WSVN's format entirely, WHDH quickly rebounded to become the number one newscast in Boston for a period.
Switch to NBC affiliation
In 1994, WBZ's owner, Group W entered into a groupwide affiliation deal with CBS, which resulted in three Group W stations that were affiliated with networks other than CBS – NBC affiliates WBZ-TV, and KYW-TV in Philadelphia, and ABC affiliate WJZ-TV in Baltimore – switching to the network. Fox considered an affiliation deal with WHDH, but ultimately chose to acquire its existing affiliate, WFXT; WHDH became Boston's NBC affiliate on January 2, 1995, replacing WBZ (which had been with the network for 47 years). Since joining NBC, channel 7 has cleared the entire NBC programming schedule. WHDH became the primary station for the New England Patriots at this time, as the Patriots played in the American Football Conference of the NFL, which had a deal with NBC for the network to air AFC games (thus Boston was not as important as a market for Fox in regards to getting an VHF affiliate). When the AFC package moved to CBS in 1998, this role was reclaimed by WBZ-TV. Between 1996 and 1997, WHDH produced a mid-morning weekday newsmagazine for the NBC network called Real Life.
On September 14, 2006, Tribune Broadcasting sold CW affiliate WLVI-TV to Sunbeam Television for $117.3 million. The sale was approved by the FCC in late November of that year, creating Boston's second television duopoly (the other one being WBZ-TV and WSBK-TV). WLVI moved its operations from its Dorchester studios to WHDH's facilities in downtown Boston.
On April 2, 2009, WHDH announced that it would not air The Jay Leno Show, when the primetime talk show debuted on NBC in September 2009, electing to replace it with a simulcast of the 10 p.m. newscast that WHDH produces for WLVI in order to better compete with Fox-owned WFXT. The network quickly dismissed any move of Leno to any timeslot other than 10 p.m., stating that WHDH's plan was a "flagrant" violation of the station's contract with the network and that it would consider moving the NBC affiliation to another Boston area station, either by creating an owned-and-operated station through an "existing broadcast license" in the market owned by NBC or by seeking inquiries from other stations in the market to acquire the affiliation. WHDH began removing all references to the proposed 10 p.m. newscast from its website the next day, and on April 13 the station announced that it had decided to comply and air The Jay Leno Show instead of the newscast. The fears would become well-realized, as viewership for WHDH's 11 p.m. newscast plunged to third place (a 20% drop from the previous year) during the November 2009 sweeps period. Other 'first-to-third' drops among NBC affiliates' newscasts in the 11 p.m. slot forced the network on January 10, 2010 to pull Leno from 10 p.m. starting after the 2010 Winter Olympics and move him back to The Tonight Show in a shake-up of its late night schedule. Although the radio station had dropped the WHDH callsign in 1994, channel 7 retained the -TV suffix until July 8, 2010.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP short name||Programming|
|7.1||1080i||16:9||WHDH-HD||Main WHDH programming / NBC|
|7.2||480i||4:3||This TV||This TV|
WHDH also has plans for a Mobile DTV feed of subchannel 7.1. Digital subchannel 7.2 originally carried NBC Weather Plus starting in May 2006, until NBC discontinued the network in November 2008. On February 2, 2009, 7.2 began carrying programming from This TV. Via digital cable, channel 7.2 is offered on Comcast channel 297 and Verizon FiOS channel 460.
As part of the analog television shutdown and digital conversion, WHDH shut down its analog transmitter on June 12, 2009, and moved its digital signal from its pre-transition UHF digital channel 42 to VHF channel 7, the frequency previously used for its analog broadcast. Because of a large number of complaints regarding the inability of viewers receiving over-the-air programming on channel 7, WHDH requested and received temporary authority from the FCC on June 16, 2009 to simulcast its programming on channel 42 (UHF) in addition to channel 7 (VHF). Although stations in other major markets have similar problems, WHDH is the only station in the Boston area market which changed its digital channel due to the June 2009 transition, requiring a channel map rescan to receive the station. WHDH was also one of three stations, along with WMUR-TV and WWDP, in the area to broadcast in VHF post-transition, requiring either a traditional rabbit ears antenna within Boston proper, or in outer areas at minimum an outdoor antenna.
On September 15, 2009, the FCC issued a Report & Order, approving WHDH's move from channel 7 to channel 42. After the station filed its minor change application for a construction permit, stating the channel move, on November 9, 2009, WHDH terminated operations on VHF channel 7 and now permanently operates solely on channel 42 (mapping to virtual channel 7 via PSIP). The equipment for the channel 7 digital transmitter was shipped to Miami for use by sister station WSVN, which continues to broadcast on VHF 7 with few complaints due to South Florida's less-varied terrain. On June 1, 2010, WHDH filed an application to operate at the power level of 1 million watts. The application was approved on December 14.
Over the years, channel 7 as WNAC had preempted little network programming. As WNEV, the station preempted programming in moderation, in favor of more locally produced shows. When it was an ABC affiliate under the WNAC call letters, the station pre-empted Dark Shadows for the show's first two years on the air before clearing it for the first time on January 13, 1969; Terry Crawford (who played Beth Chavez) is a native of Boston. The preempted programs often aired on WSMW (now WUNI). From 1989 to 1990, the station delayed the first hour of CBS This Morning in favor of the children's show Ready To Go. In February 1994, CBS This Morning was dropped and picked up by WABU (now WBPX-TV). WHDH then began airing an expanded local morning newscast.
WNEV/WHDH had exclusive rights to Lottery Live, broadcasting the Massachusetts State Lottery games six nights a week from September 1987 to March 6, 1994. Motivated to cultivate an identity to the station that would indirectly help its last-place news ratings, WNEV acquired the lottery from WBZ-TV, which had announced late in 1986 that it would no longer show the games. The arrival of the lottery games was promoted heavily, and went hand-in-hand with the station's on-air image change that fall; the new dotted-7 logo that was adopted during that time had a dual meaning, in that the dots were to represent lottery balls.
A contest was held by WNEV in August 1987, just under a month before the games moved to the station, to scout for their own lottery host (Tom Bergeron, who hosted Lottery Live on WBZ, did not continue in the role because he remained at that station in other capacities). The auditions were held in front of an audience of 200 at Boston's Westin Hotel at Copley Place, in which the finalists were narrowed down to 16. The winner was Lynn-Andrea Waugh, familiarly known as "Andi", a 29-year-old redhead model who had no prior on-air experience. Despite being well received by viewers due to her effervescent personality and striking good looks, Ms. Waugh never completely overcame her noticeable nervousness after taking to the air. Waugh abandoned her hosting spot upon the expiration of her contract in August 1988. She was replaced with Dawn Hayes, who had been the runner up in the lottery host competition. Hayes, who was equally as appealing but with a polished, confident on-air presence, began her long run as host during this era.
During Lottery Live's entire run on channel 7, both of the evening drawings were played during the last two commercial breaks of Jeopardy!. The daily Numbers Game drawing aired at 7:52 (following the conclusion of "Double Jeopardy!"), while the specialty game of the evening (e.g., Mass Ca$h) aired at 7:58. Weekend hosts for this era included Linda Ward, Linda Frantangela (both prior to 1993) and Jill Stark (1993–94), who all substituted on weekdays as well when Hayes was absent. WNEV/WHDH also aired primetime game show specials produced by the Massachusetts State Lottery, usually a few times a year, that were broadcast either from the station's studios at Bullfinch Place or at other public venues across Boston.
The lottery commission saw tremendous growth during this period, increasing its sales to record highs, promoting further advertising and expanding its game roster (Mass Ca$h, which launched in 1991, was added to the already successful lineup of The Numbers Game and specialty games Megabuck$ and Mass Millions). Channel 7's nightly broadcasts of Lottery Live and the periodic sweepstakes specials were integral in fielding this success for the lottery; this, combined with Lottery Live pulling in high ratings as a part of the Wheel of Fortune/Jeopardy! hour, which ranked first place in 7–8 p.m. prime access, caused the station to renew the lottery contract for another three years in 1990. After the sale to Sunbeam in 1993, WHDH's contract with the lottery was not renewed, despite continued success on the station. Lottery rights were subsequently picked up by WCVB, who began airing the nightly drawings on March 7, 1994. The Lottery Live format moved to its third consecutive station, with Dawn Hayes being retained as host by WCVB.
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WHDH presently broadcasts 42 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with seven hours on weekdays, and four hours each on Saturdays and Sundays); as such, WHDH is one of the few Big Three network affiliates to offer more than 35 hours of local news content each week. In addition, the station produces a weekly half-hour sports highlight program on Sunday evenings called Honda Sports Xtra. The station operates a Bell LongRanger 206L news helicopter entitled "Sky 7". The station's weather radar is presented on-air as "Storm Scan Doppler" with a signal coming from the radar at the National Weather Service local forecast office in Taunton.
The station, in partnership with MetroNetworks, launched the TrafficTracker truck during the Democratic National Convention held in Boston in 2004. With traffic reporter Marshall Hook behind the wheel of one of the station's live vehicles, WHDH became the only station in the market to produce live traffic reports from the road. It continues to launch the TrafficTracker during snowstorms, including the December 13, 2007 storm that resulted in paralyzing commutes that, in some cases, exceeded seven hours.
WHDH shares its resources with Providence, Rhode Island NBC affiliate WJAR for news coverage of southeastern Massachusetts. WWLP, the NBC affiliate for Springfield, shares its resources with WHDH for news coverage of western areas of the state.
News department history
WNAC-TV's first newscasts were sponsored by Shawmut Bank and were named Shawmut Bank Newsteller. The title had a double meaning; that of an anchor who told the news, and that of the program being compared to a bank teller making a withdrawal of news and information from a "news bank", at the public's request (this title was also used on a newscast that Shawmut sponsored on WBZ-TV during this time). This format lasted from WNAC's launch on June 21, 1948 until the early 1950s, when the branding changed to reflect RKO's Yankee Network and its personnel, which also handled news on RKO's radio side. WNAC-TV's relationship with WNAC radio was also touted more starting at this time. From then on through the mid-1960s, the newscasts were known as Yankee Network News.
By 1965, most of WNAC's in-house productions, including news and public affairs programs, began to be broadcast in color. Several years later, the newscasts' titles were changed to New England Today (for morning and noon newscasts) and New England Tonight (for the 6 and 11 p.m. broadcasts). Reporter John Henning briefly served as the station's lead anchor before leaving for (the original channel 5) WHDH-TV because, as he complained, the station was more interested in money movies than in news. In 1970, the station was the first to promote its newscasts with a jingle called "Move Closer to Your World". Two years later, WNAC's news director moved to Philadelphia's WPVI-TV and took the theme music with him, where it became iconically associated with that station. Also during this era, a series of anchor teams led the newscasts, including Jim Hale and Howard Nielson and later Hale and Ken Thomas. The station revamped its anchor desk entirely in 1970, naming Lee Nelson and Chuck Scarborough as the anchor team. After serving in the role from 1970 to 1974, Scarborough moved to WNBC in New York City, where he remains today.
The New England Today/Tonight format lasted until mid-1972, just months after the switch from ABC to CBS. RKO General then revised the station's on-air image once again to now include the moniker "Boston 7". The station's newscasts were titled Boston 7 Newsroom from 1972 to 1974, when it was shortened to Newsroom 7.
Despite its links with the Yankee Network's well-respected news department (which came to an end when RKO General closed the network in 1967), WNAC-TV spent most of its first 20 years on the air as a distant third in the Boston ratings. However, the station had begun to be fairly competitive in the early 1970s. For a brief period in 1974, WNAC's 6 p.m. newscast jumped from third place to first. Ted O'Brien, who had replaced Scarborough as the station's primary anchor, remained as lead anchor until being replaced by Jay Scott, a young reporter who was hired with a publicity campaign claiming that the news director, on a nationwide talent hunt, had found Scott in a hotel room in Denver, where he had watched television looking for talent. A few years later, John Henning returned to the station from WCVB-TV as Scott's replacement. Henning, who was joined by station standbys Eddie Andelman and Dr. Fred Ward. The RKO licensing difficulties over the next few years was accompanied by a drop in the ratings. In 1978, the station hired its first female lead anchor, when Mary Richardson was hired to co-anchor the 11 p.m. broadcast. In 1980, Brad Holbrook was added as Henning's new co-anchor. Henning left the station in June 1981 after his four-year contract was up.
In the year leading up to RKO's sale of channel 7's assets to David Mugar after losing its licensing appeal, the station hired Susan Brady, to co-anchor with Brad Holbrook. The changes did not cease during WNAC's remaining months. After RKO's loss of the WNAC license in 1980 was upheld by the Federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Brady left for a position in Los Angeles. She was quickly replaced by young weekend anchor Susan Burke, who worked with Holbrook both during the transition from RKO to New England Television and for the first months of the new ownership.
When New England Television began operating the station under a new license, a massive attempt to bring channel 7, now WNEV-TV, out of the ratings basement was planned. David Mugar and company soon announced the infamous "dream team" of newscasters, headed by Tom Ellis and Robin Young. Ellis had previously maintained WBZ's dominance in the news market, and then helped WCVB reach #1 in the ratings during his tenure there from 1978 to 1982. Young, on the other hand, had no hard news experience but was well-known to Boston viewers as former co-host of Evening Magazine. The new partnership, as well as the completely restructured news department as a whole, received heavy promotion in the months leading to the official launch of the finalized WNEV news product (accompanied by a launch image campaign, "There's A New Day Dawning"). The newsroom facility, built feverishly over the summer of 1982, was cited by The Boston Globe as being the most technologically advanced out of all three network stations in the market. On Ellis and Young's debut night, September 13, 1982, WNEV beat WCVB and WBZ in the evening news ratings. The curiosity of Boston viewers only lasted a week in large numbers; the following week, channel 7 returned to ranking as a distant third.
WNEV's news department underwent more shakeups, both in talent and identity due to ongoing sagging ratings. WNEV's inaugural station manager, Winthrop "Win" Baker, and his news director Bill Applegate were both fired in May 1983. Replacing Baker was former WBZ-TV programming head Sy Yanoff, whom Mugar had the utmost confidence in given his track record at channel 4 (both Ellis and Young had worked for Yanoff at separate times, years earlier, at WBZ; this was a major factor in him taking the job). Yanoff quickly reunited himself with his former WBZ news director Jeff Rosser, who signed a five-year contract with WNEV. Over the summer, the two fired quite a few of the 1982 "dream team" hires, in an effort to strengthen and better utilize the talents that worked. The largest issue they faced was the public perception that Robin Young and Tom Ellis were a mismatched anchor team. Young, whose informal presence began to contrast severely with the seriousness of Ellis, was offered new avenues at WNEV by Yanoff so that the station could boast a more balanced, serious lead anchor team. Although she had stated in the spring of 1983 that she was at the anchor desk for the long haul, Young made a move with Yanoff and Mugar that July which granted her airtime on WNEV for primetime specials produced through her private production company, Young Visions. Young decided that leaving the news department would allow her more time to focus on these specials, as well as the availability to be an all-purpose station personality.
During that summer, as Young geared up to vacate her anchor position, Yanoff and Rosser named four possible successors, including KNXT reporter Terry Murphy (later of Hard Copy fame) and WNEV's own reporter Diane Willis, who had been among the station's new hires the previous year. Willis was selected for the position in early September, and began anchoring with Tom Ellis that same month. Young, meanwhile, went on to host her primetime specials and events until 1987.
In the spring of 1984, NETV moved its on-air news look away from the changes made only two years prior, taking away the anchoring desk from the newsroom and utilizing a backdrop allowing chroma keys and CGI graphics to be placed. WNEV also began a network of regional news bureaus known as The New England News Exchange, in which WNEV consulted with other broadcasters and print media to create a high-powered electronic news gathering organization. Despite a continued massive influx of capital and marketing (including a highly-financed promotional campaign employing the refrain "Feel Good About That"), and more positive reviews of the station's news following the appointment of Willis as lead anchor, WNEV still failed to take the competition by storm.
In the spring of 1986, Yanoff and Rosser announced that they would try a second lead anchor team for the weeknight 11 p.m. newscasts in the fall. They planned to keep Ellis and Willis on at 6 p.m., while giving the 11 p.m. slot to weekend anchor/reporter Kate Sullivan and Dave Wright, an incoming newsman hired away from ATV in the Canadian Maritimes. However, when Rosser had a meeting with Willis for what was supposed to be her contract renewal, he was told by her that instead, she would be leaving to become a professor of journalism at Northeastern University. Willis and Rosser publicly announced her resignation in July, and Willis assured the staff that her decision to leave WNEV was isolated from her soon-to-be decreased air time. Ellis, on the other hand, was unhappy about his reduction, feeling that he was no longer being considered the station's principal anchor. Yanoff and Rosser attempted to come to agreeable terms with Ellis, with two proposed plans – to either pair him with Kate Sullivan or Dave Wright, or to find him another replacement female anchor. It was purported that WNEV was even in discussions with by-then-former NBC anchor Linda Ellerbee for her to become Ellis' co-anchor. The anchor replacement and Wright-Ellis pairing ideas were ultimately nixed (by the 1980s, the idea of two men anchoring together was passe); in the end, Sullivan and Wright took over both the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts in September. Ellis was demoted to reporter, a move that ultimately led to his exit from the station altogether in early December 1986.
In September 1987, numerous changes occurred when R.D. Sahl, who had been WNEV's noon and weekend anchor, joined Kate Sullivan as her new partner on weeknights (Sahl had filled in for Wright on numerous occasions during 1986 and 1987, and heavily in the summer of 1987 when Wright was recovering from a heart attack). At the same time, WNEV became the first Boston station to launch a 5 p.m. newscast, which was anchored by Dave Wright and Diana Williams. The Live at Five hour of the news was a cross between the informality of WBZ's competing Live on 4 and WNEV's regular newscasts, without the lifestyle and specialty features seen on Live on 4. However, there was a unique twist. Wright, who had created the Live at Five format at ATV (where he had hosted it from 1982 to 1986), brought the concept to WNEV, which had him and Williams walking around a special newsroom set sans an anchor desk as they presented stories. Featured reporters were seated at assignment desks on the set, as they contributed to the fray and chatted with Wright and Williams. The format soared in the ratings, a true accomplishment long labored by NETV. Ultimately, the news program's producers started feuding, and Wright, who felt caught in the middle, resigned from WNEV in May 1988. Just prior to Wright's departure, Jeff Rosser had left the station at the close of his contract, and arriving in his place was former WCVB news director Jim Thistle. By September 1988, the Live at Five format was dropped (as it remained the intellectual property of ATV), and the 5–6 p.m. block was now structured as a more conventional newscast, anchored by Williams and Lester Strong. After Williams departed for WABC-TV in 1990 (where she remains to this day), Strong anchored with new arrival Edye Tarbox in the 5 p.m. hour.
Even with the personnel changes, channel 7 would spend the rest of its years under Mugar in the ratings basement. It also constantly changed its identity – from NEWSE7EN (1982–1984) to The New England News (1984–1988) to News 7 New England (1988–1990) to News 7 (1990–1993). However, R.D. Sahl became regarded as the strongest figure the station had going for it, at first with Kate Sullivan and then Margie Reedy, who replaced the departed Sullivan in April 1990.
Besides the locally prominent journalists who attempted to leverage WNEV's news, a few future national talents had brief stints at the station in the 1980s. Bill O'Reilly, long before his national exposure on Inside Edition and Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, co-anchored NEWSE7EN Weekend in 1982–83. Soon after, O'Reilly also became the host of the station's weekday afternoon talk-lifestyle program, New England Afternoon (which replaced the ill-fated two-hour magazine show Look, canceled after its first season). His successor on the weekend newscast was Paula Zahn, now a newswoman of many television networks, who co-anchored with Lester Strong from 1983 to 1985. Rehema Ellis, who joined the station in 1985 as a general assignment reporter, eventually left to become an NBC News national correspondent in 1994. From May to November 1988, future Today host Matt Lauer hosted WNEV's mid-morning talk show Talk of the Town. Two more WNEV/WHDH alumni would then hit the big time: reporter Miles O'Brien, a 1987 arrival to the station, left to join CNN in 1989. Edye Tarbox, now E.D. Hill, who was an anchor/reporter at WHDH from 1990 to 1992, later worked at Fox News Channel from 1999 to 2008.
Tom Ellis, who had been dethroned of the male lead anchor position at the station in 1986, came full circle when Inside Edition Extra, a companion series to the syndicated program Inside Edition, was picked up by WHDH for its fall 1992 daytime schedule. Ellis had been named the host of Extra, and in effect was once again seen on channel 7 exactly ten years after he had begun his run there as lead anchor. Since Extra aired after its parent series as part of an hour-long IE block at 4 p.m., Ellis also appeared following his former WNEV colleague, Bill O'Reilly. The scheduling only lasted one season, as Inside Edition Extra was discontinued at the end of the 1992–93 season (this program has no relation to the current Extra, a Time Warner-produced entertainment magazine that premiered in the fall of 1994 and has aired on WHDH since 1999).
There were abrupt changes when Sunbeam bought the station in 1993. New station owner Ed Ansin brought Joel Cheatwood, the creator of WSVN's fast-paced news format, to Boston. Cheatwood introduced a considerably watered-down version of the WSVN format. However, it was still shocking by Boston standards. Prior to the debut of the new format and 7 News identity that November, Ansin and Cheatwood began changing anchor lineups; in mid-October 1993, Margie Reedy was moved from the main evening newscasts to the noon and 5:30 newscasts. Rehema Ellis was promoted to female lead anchor (at 6 and 11 p.m.) with R.D. Sahl. However, many of the crew's doubts about the new, impending tabloid style were realized once the format switch was off and running. Most of the station's prominent newscasters wanted nothing to do with Cheatwood (he had a reputation as a pioneer in tabloid television) and promptly resigned.
Rehema Ellis was one of the first to leave WHDH in response to Ansin's changes. Only two months into her promotion to lead anchor, Ellis declared herself a free agent, quickly accepting an offer at NBC News as a national correspondent. She signed off from WHDH shortly after Christmas and began at NBC on January 1, 1994. R.D. Sahl was then sole anchor of the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts, with fill-in anchors from other station positions joining him periodically. The station reinstated a morning newscast in January 1994, which NETV had cut a few years earlier due to the financial constraints. Sunbeam hired two new anchors, Kim Khazei and Gerry Grant, to appear in the morning. Originally from 5 to 7 a.m., the newscast expanded by an extra two hours, to 9 a.m., when WHDH dropped the low-rated CBS This Morning in late February.
During this time, Sahl became quite vocal of his displeasure with the new tabloid format, and it was clear that he was looking for a way out of his contract as well. Cheatwood soon hired a new anchor in Kim Carrigan, a transplant from Des Moines, who first appeared as female lead anchor alongside Sahl in April 1994. Sunbeam was confident that Carrigan, the 31-year-old newcomer, and the 46-year-old Sahl, by now a trusted Boston news veteran, would be the lasting lead anchor team for them; but, in late July 1994, Sahl met with his legal counsel and came to an agreement over the termination of his WHDH contract. Sahl made his final appearance on 7 News in early August. Carrigan, who was quickly gaining a following, then continued on alone for several weeks at a time for the next four months. This made her the first female newscaster in Boston to anchor alone in the key 5, 6 and 11 p.m. time periods. Occasionally, Carrigan would be joined by Gerry Grant; however, promotions for these newscasts during this time featured Carrigan as sole anchor. Margie Reedy, meanwhile, remained on the noon and 5:30 newscasts until her departure that December. Both Sahl and Reedy would join New England Cable News (NECN) soon afterward, where (save for Sahl's short-lived stint at KCAL-TV in Los Angeles) they would remain for several years afterward.
When WHDH switched to NBC in January 1995, the morning newscast was scaled back to the traditional 5–7 a.m. timeslot in order to accommodate Today; a few months later, it was renamed from 7 News Morning Edition to the current Today in New England. Later in January, as a result of a package deal WHDH had signed the previous fall, the station saw the arrival of husband-and-wife anchors John Marler and Cathy Marshall. Marler, a longtime anchor at WAGA-TV, joined Kim Carrigan at 5, 6 and 11 p.m. Marshall, who had been a CNN anchor, was originally unclear as to what her role with 7 News would be, but ultimately became Margie Reedy's replacement at noon and 5:30 p.m., beside Lester Strong. These two anchoring teams remained in place for the next three years. Former WBZ-TV anchor Randy Price, who had joined WHDH in 1996, first as a freelance reporter and then as a weekday morning anchor, replaced Marler at 5, 6 and 11 p.m. in August 1998.
Channel 7, which for several years had already began a tradition of scheduling news in (previously) untraditional time periods, broke further ground again with the addition of a half-hour 4 p.m. newscast in June 1996, which gave Strong and Marshall additional anchor duties. The newscast was launched when WHDH sought an alternative to its previous efforts to program the 4:00 time slot (after briefly airing the hour-long Ricki Lake at 4 p.m. during the 1993–94 season, WHDH had returned the slot to half-hour entries such as A Current Affair and later, in January 1996, the WSVN-produced Deco Drive, the latter two of which had underperformed for the station). The 4 p.m. newscast was originally separated from the existing early evening news block by Hard Copy, and later by Extra after Hard Copy ended its run in September 1999; after Extra moved to 7:30 p.m. in September 2001, WHDH launched a 4:30 p.m. newscast (the second in Boston, after a WFXT newscast that launched three months earlier).
The fast-paced Sunbeam news format rejuvenated WHDH's ratings, especially after switching to NBC. For most of the last decade, WHDH has waged a spirited battle for first behind long-dominant WCVB. In 2002, WHDH was noted as having the best newscast in the U.S. in a study published by the Columbia Journalism Review. In previous studies, the station was deemed as having one of the worst newscasts. On December 19, 2006, WHDH took over production of WLVI's nightly 10 p.m. newscast (after Sunbeam's purchase of the station resulted in the shutdown of channel 56's in-house news department). On February 29, 2008, it was reported that the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike caused a significant loss in viewers during the late news. WHDH-TV finished at 11 p.m., with an average of 166,100 total viewers, down from 199,900 viewers in 2007.
On July 29, 2008, WHDH became the second station in Boston (after WCVB-TV) to being broadcasting its newscasts in high definition. On that day, revised graphics, music, and newsplex also made their debut. During the transition, 7 News was done in front of a green screen showing the former newsplex while the renovations were being done. On August 22, 2011, WHDH launched an hour-long 9 a.m. newscast, which replaced Live With Regis and Kelly after it moved from WHDH to WCVB-TV. Originally slated to premiere on September 12, 2011, the launch date of the newscast was moved up three weeks to August 22 by the following summer. Live, which had aired on the station since it premiered nationally in 1988, moved to WCVB on August 22, airing directly opposite the WHDH newscast.
- Shawmut Bank Newsteller (1948–1953)
- Yankee News Service (1953–1959)
- Television 7 News/TV-7 News (1959–1964)
- The Boston 7 Report (1964–1970)
- New England Today/New England Tonight (1970–1972)
- Boston's News 7 (1972–1973)
- Boston 7 Newsroom (1973−1974)
- Newsroom 7 (1974–1982)
- NEWSE7EN (1982–1984)
- The New England News (1984–1988)
- News 7 New England (1988–1990)
- News 7 (1990–1993)
- 7 News (1993–present)
- "There's A New Day Dawning" (1982–1984)
- "Feel Good About That" (1985–1987)
- "We're All On the Same Team" (New England News slogan, 1987–1988)
- "The One To Watch" (1991–1993)
- "The News Station" (1993–2009; news slogan)
- "Your Newscast" (2009–2010; news slogan)
- "You Know... It's 7" (2011–present; general slogan)
Current on-air staff
Tim Caputo (weekend mornings from 6:00–7:00 and 9:00–11:00 Saturdays + 7:30–8:00 and 9:00–10:30 a.m. Sundays; also reporter) Nancy Chen (weekend mornings from 6:00–7:00 and 9:00–11:00 Saturdays + 7:30–8:00 and 9:00–10:30 a.m. Sundays; also reporter) Christa Delcamp (weekday mornings on Today in New England from 5:00–7:00 and 9:00–10:00 a.m. and weekdays at noon) Nick Emmons (weekdays at 4:00 and 4:30 and weeknights at 5:30 p.m.; also reporter) Sarah French (weekends at 6:00, 10:00 (WLVI) and 11:00 p.m.; also general assignment and "The Dish" entertainment reporter); Amanda Grace (weekdays at 4:00 and 4:30 and weeknights at 5:30 p.m.; also reporter) Kim Khazei (weeknights at 5:00, 6:00, 10:00 (WLVI) and 11:00 p.m.) Ryan Schulteis (weekends at 6:00, 10:00 (WLVI) and 11:00 p.m.; also reporter) Kayna Whitworth (weekday mornings on Today in New England from 5:00–7:00 and 9:00–10:00 a.m. and weekdays at noon) Adam Williams (weeknights at 5:00, 6:00, 10:00 (WLVI) and 11:00 p.m.)
7 Weather team: Pete Bouchard weekdays at 4:00 and 4:30 and weeknights at 5:00, 5:30, 6:00, 10:00 (WLVI) and 11:00 p.m.) Chris Lambert weekend mornings, also fill-in meteorologist) Jeremy Reiner is currently doing the weather duties on weekday mornings (station has yet to fill the slot for Today in New England or the noon newscast).
Sports Team: Joe Amorosino (Sundays–Thursdays at 6:00, 10:00 (WLVI) and 11:00 p.m.; also host of Honda Sports Xtra), sports anchor Alex Corddry reporter,also fill in sports anchor Rhett Lewis (Fridays and Saturdays at 6:00, 10:00 (WLVI) and 11:00 p.m., also reporter)
Reporters: Byron Barnett (also host of Urban Update, seen Sundays at 11:30 a.m.) Steve Cooper Jennifer Eagan Alexandra Field Brandon Gunnoe Jonathan Hall Adam Harding Dan Hausle Anthony Miller Nicole Oliverio Susan Tran Victoria Warren Janet Wu
Specialty reporters: Andy Hiller (political reporter, "The Hiller Instinct") Hank Phillippi Ryan (investigative reporter, "Hank Investigates")
Traffic reporters: Marshall Hook (seen during winter storm coverage, live from news van on road) Rich Kirkland (weekday mornings from 5:00–7:00 and 9:00–10:00 a.m.)Jim Ryan (fill in) Jim Ryan- fill in reporter John Saucier (weekdays at 4:00 and 4:30 and weeknights at 5:00 and 5:30 p.m.)
Notable former on-air staff
- Anne Allred - morning anchor (2005−2012; now at KSDK in St. Louis)
- Terry Adler - reporter (1997−2005; now at Real Estate Agent at Pinnacle Residential Properties)
- Eddie Andelman – sports critic at large (1974–1979)
- Caterina Bandini – anchor (1995–2006)
- Dave Briggs – sports reporter (2004–2008; now at Fox News Channel)
- David Brudnoy – commentator (1973–1983; deceased)
- Liz Callaway – co-host of RTG: Ready To Go
- Liz Claman – weekend anchor/reporter (1994–2000; now at Fox Business Network)
- John Dennis – longtime sports anchor (1977–1997, now at WEEI-AM)
- Julie Donaldson – sports reporter (2008; resigned)
- Dylan Dreyer – morning meteorologist (2007–2012; now on NBC's Weekend Today)
- Jack Edwards – sports reporter/anchor (1988–1991; now at NESN)
- Sara Edwards – arts & entertainment reporter (1991–2003; formerly at CN8)
- Tom Ellis – anchor (1982–1986)
- Bob Gamere – sports anchor and host of Candlepins for Cash (1975–1982)
- Bob Gallagher – sports anchor
- Jeff Glor - reporter/weekend anchor (Now at CBS)
- Todd Gross – chief meteorologist (1984–2005)
- Stephen Guptill – elderly affairs reporter, The Elder American host (1975–1978; later served as Massachusetts Secretary of Elder Affairs)
- John Henning – anchor (1964–1968, 1977–1981; deceased)
- Josh Judge – part-time meteorologist (2001–2003; moved to WMUR-TV)
- Janet Langhart – special features reporter ("Janet Langhart's Special People" on NEWSE7EN, 1982–1983)
- Matt Lauer – Talk of the Town host (1988; now the co-host of Today on NBC)
- Gene Lavanchy – sports anchor (1993–2003, now at WFXT)
- Harvey Leonard – longtime chief meteorologist (1977–2002, now at WCVB)
- Cathy Marshall – anchor (1995–1998)
- Mish Michaels – meteorologist (1992–1999; later at WBZ-TV)
- Wendi Nix – weekend sports anchor (2002–2006; now at ESPN, occasional guest on Sports Extra)
- Miles O'Brien – reporter (1987–1989; now at CNN)
- Bill O'Reilly – weekend anchor (1982–1983), host of New England Afternoon (1983–1984); now at Fox News Channel
- Ryan Owens – reporter (2001–2006; now with ABC News, former co-host of World News Now, currently a network correspondent)
- Randy Price – anchor (1996–2009; now at WCVB-TV)
- Frances Rivera – anchor/reporter and "The Dish" reporter (2001–2011; moved to WPIX in New York City)
- Chuck Scarborough – anchor (1972–1974; now at WNBC in New York City)
- Lester Strong - anchor, health reporter and host of Urban Update (1984-2000)
- Mike Taibbi – investigative reporter (1977–1983; now at NBC News)
- Edye Tarbox – anchor/reporter (1990–1992; worked at Fox News Channel from 1999–2008)
- Diana Williams – anchor (1987–1990; now at WABC-TV in New York)
- Dave Wright – anchor (1986–1988; later at CTV Atlantic in Atlantic Canada, deceased)
- Robin Young – anchor (1982–1983), host of specials and public affairs (1983–1987); now at WBUR-FM
- Paula Zahn – anchor/reporter (1983–1985) (with CBS 1990's & CNN 2000's)
WHDH is one of six local Boston television stations seen in Canada on satellite provider Bell TV. It is also carried via the Anik F1 satellite to several Canadian cable providers, particularly in Atlantic Canada. Other cable systems also carry WHDH, such as Citizens Cable Television in the Thousand Islands region of New York State and Bermuda CableVision.
- "TV High Spots". Lowell Sun (Lowell, MA). July 29, 1951. p. 54.
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- "Daily Guide: Radio & Television". Fitchburg Sentiel (Fitchburg, MA). September 21, 1949. p. 19.
- "It's all over for Boston's WNAC-TV". Broadcasting (Washington, D.C.). April 26, 1982. pp. 27–28. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
- "The heirs presumtive for Boston ch. 7". Broadcasting (Washington, D.C.). April 26, 1982. pp. 28–29. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
- "Overnight in Boston: WNAC-TV turns into WNEV". Broadcasting (Washington, D.C.). May 24, 1982. p. 41. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
- Johnson, Dean (September 3, 1992). "Atlantic, Pyramid build new giant". Boston Herald. p. 51. Retrieved September 22, 2011. "In addition, Atlantic said it was buying WHDH-AM." (subscription content preview)
- Gonzalez, John. "Breaking News". Boston Magazine. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
- Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Web.archive.org (October 27, 1996).
- Tribune to Sell WLVI-TV, Boston – re> CHICAGO, Sept. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/. Prnewswire.com.
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- Leno's Hometown Station, WHDH, Pushes Back : In Depth : TVWeek – Television Industry news, TV ratings, analysis, celebrity event photos. TVWeek.
- Track, Inside. (April 3, 2009) NBC threatens to strip WHDH’s affiliation for bumping Jay Leno – BostonHerald.com. News.bostonherald.com.
- Diaz, Johnny (April 2, 2009). "Channel 7 says no to Leno". The Boston Globe. Retrieved April 3, 2009.
- WHDH Says It Won’t Run ‘Leno’ – 2009-04-03 00:47:20 | Broadcasting & Cable. Broadcastingcable.com.
- Schneider, Michael (April 3, 2009). "Is WHDH reconsidering Jay Leno?". Variety. Retrieved 2009-04-06.
- Heslam, Jessica (April 13, 2009). "Channel 7 to broadcast Jay Leno show this fall". Boston Herald. Retrieved April 13, 2009.
- Jay Leno lead-in a joke – BostonHerald.com. News.bostonherald.com (January 9, 2010).
- "Call Sign History". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
- RabbitEars.Info. RabbitEars.Info.
- Mobile DTV Station Guide | www.omvcsignalmap.com. Mdtvsignalmap.com.
- Krukowski, Andrew (January 26, 2009). "THIS TV Cleared in 60% of U.S.". TelevisionWeek. Retrieved January 26, 2009.
- List of Digital Full-Power Stations
- FCC DTV status report for WHDH. Licensing.fcc.gov (June 12, 2009).
- TO ALL OUR VIEWERS WHO ARE HAVING SIGNAL PROBLEMS: – 7NEWS Boston News WHDH-TV 7NEWS WHDH.COM. .whdh.com.
- Channel 7 has a rocky transition. Boston.com (June 16, 2009).
- Tentative Digital Television (DTV) Channel assignment. Hmtech.info.
- CDBS Print. Licensing.fcc.gov.
- Application View ... Redirecting. Licensing.fcc.gov.
- Ch. 7's Rehema Ellis to join NBC. Secure.pqarchiver.com (December 22, 1993).
- R.D. Sahl will leave Channel 7 news anchor post. Secure.pqarchiver.com (July 26, 1994).
- Columbia Journalism Review[dead link]
- Diaz, Johnny (February 29, 2008). "Strike took viewers from late local news". The Boston Globe.
- Diaz, Johnny (November 11, 2010). "'Ellen' to replace 'Oprah' on Channel 5". The Boston Globe.
- "WHDH To Add 9 am Newscast". TVNewsCheck. August 15, 2011.
- WHDH 11PM News Open 10/29/93
- WHDH 7 News at 11 2009 Open
- "Gene Lavanchy". Retrieved 26 September 2013.
- Brenneman, Kristina (August 1, 1999). "Ads with more pizzazz might help Marler/Marshall". Portland Business Journal (Portland, Oregon). Retrieved May 5, 2012.
- Gallant, Joseph. WNAC-TV/WNEV-TV/WHDH-TV: The Colorful History of Boston's Channel 7 (February 1998). TheProvidenceChannel.com (now a parked domain).
- LaBrecque, Ron. Can Glitz be Good? – Shaking up news in Boston (July/August 1996). Columbia Journalism Review.
- The Boston TV Dial WHDH-TV (March 27, 2005).
- Official website
- WHDH-DT2 website
- WLVI website
- @7News on Twitter
- WHDH Channel 7 Boston on Google+
- WHDH Channel 7 Boston on Facebook
- WHDH Boston's channel on YouTube
- WHDH Channel 7 Boston at iTunes Preview
- WHDH Channel 7 Boston at the BlackBerry World