|Orange Park/Jacksonville, Florida
|City of license||Orange Park, Florida|
|Branding||WJXX ABC 25 (general)
First Coast News (newscasts)
|Slogan||First For You (newscasts)
ABC 25, Start Here (general)
|Channels||Digital: 10 (VHF)
Virtual: 25 (PSIP)
25.2 First Coast News Weather Plus
(Gannett River States Publishing Corporation)
|First air date||February 9, 1997|
|Call letters' meaning||JaX (informal abbreviation for Jacksonville)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
25 (UHF, 1997–2009)
|Transmitter power||29.5 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WJXX, virtual channel 25 (VHF digital channel 10), is an ABC-affiliated television station serving Jacksonville, Florida, United States that is licensed to Orange Park. The station is owned by the Gannett Company, as part of a duopoly with NBC affiliate WTLV (channel 12). The two stations share studio facilities located on East Adams Street (near EverBank Field) in downtown Jacksonville; WJXX maintains transmitter facilities located on Eve Drive in the city's Kilarney Shores section. Syndicated programs broadcast by WJXX include Live! with Kelly and Michael, Community, Divorce Court, The Wendy Williams Show, Glee and Extra. WJXX also broadcasts Sony Pictures Television's Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune when those shows are pre-empted on WTLV.
The station first signed on the air on February 9, 1997; Originally slated to launch as an independent station, the station was founded by WPR, L.P., which entered into a local marketing agreement with the Allbritton Communications Company prior to the station's sign-on. Allbritton had signed another LMA in 1996 with Brunswick, Georgia-based WBSG-TV (channel 21); it also signed a long-term groupwide affiliation deal with ABC, and announced that WBSG would replace WJKS (channel 17, now WCWJ) as Jacksonville's ABC affiliate. Allbritton subsequently planned to sign WJXX on April 1 to serve as the ABC affiliate for the Florida side of the market, with WBSG serving as a semi-satellite for the Georgia side. However, after WJKS began phasing out ABC programming as it transitioned into becoming the market's WB affiliate, later changing its callsign to WJWB, ABC asked Allbritton to sign on WJXX two months early. Unfortunately, construction of the station's new full-power transmitter was still pending approval from the Federal Communications Commission at the time, forcing the station to broadcast at low power for several months. This rendered the station more or less unviewable, even in parts of Jacksonville proper. Allbritton bought WJXX outright in September 1997.
Allbritton heavily invested in WJXX, including building a state-of-the-art studio facility on A.C. Skinner Parkway in south Jacksonville. It was the first television station in the country designed from the ground up for digital television, a medium which was then fairly new. However, WJXX failed to gain significant ratings traction in the market; in addition to lingering confusion from the early announcement of WBSG being the ABC affiliate for Jacksonville and the subsequent early launch, the stations' combined signal was somewhat inferior to VHF competitors, CBS affiliate WJXT (channel 4; now an independent station) and NBC affiliate WTLV (channel 12). Not helping matters was the fact that WJXX was initially placed on channel 7 by local cable provider MediaOne (which later sold its Jacksonville system to Comcast), which suffered from co-channel interference from PBS member station WJCT, which transmitted its broadcast signal on VHF channel 7. Additionally, until the station's studios opened in December, WJXX sent its signal to MediaOne directly from its transmitter, resulting in a lower-quality signal.
Duopoly with WTLV
After the FCC legalized television station duopolies on November 15, 1999, Allbritton announced the following day (November 16) that it would sell WJXX to the Gannett Company, owner of WTLV. Normally, duopolies between two "big four" affiliates or even "big three" affiliates would not be permissible because they usually constituted the four highest-rated stations in a market. FCC regulations do not allow common ownership of any two of the four highest-rated television stations in a market based on monthly total-day viewership. However, WJXX was ranked at #5 in the market ratings, often trailing WJWB (which had gone from one of ABC's weakest affiliates to becoming one of The WB's strongest) and Fox affiliate WAWS (channel 30, now WFOX-TV), in addition to WJXT and WTLV. Once the sale was finalized on March 17, 2000, Gannett's purchase of WJXX became the first instance where a single owner maintained a duopoly involving two stations that were both affiliated with a "big three" television network (all of Jacksonville's "big four" network affiliates ended up under the control of two media companies by 2002, when WTEV-TV (channel 47, now WJAX-TV) – which is operated alongside Cox Media Group's WFOX – replaced WJXT as the market's CBS affiliate).
Gannett integrated WJXX's operations into WTLV's facilities near downtown Jacksonville's Stadium District and combined both stations' news personnel, resulting in the creation of a joint news operation presently known as First Coast News. However, most of the news staff was composed of veterans of WTLV (the deal did not include WBSG, which subsequently affiliated with Pax TV and was soon acquired by that network's owner Paxson Communications, and changed its call letters to WPXC-TV). The studios of the newly created duopoly were also renovated and a new graphics and music package ("Global Village" by Stephen Arnold Music) was introduced for the newscasts.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||PSIP Short Name||Video||Aspect||Programming|
|25.1||WJXX-DT||720p||16:9||Main WJXX programming / ABC|
|25.2||WJXX 2||480i||4:3||First Coast News Weather Plus|
On June 12, 2009, WJXX terminated its analog signal, on UHF channel 25, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition VHF channel 10. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display WJXX's virtual channel as 25. Due to the shutdown of WJXX's analog transmitter in Clay County, viewers in areas such as Gainesville lost reception of WJXX, while the station began providing at least Grade B coverage in Flagler County and on Georgia's Colonial Coast.
WJXX presently broadcasts 22½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with four hours on weekdays, one hour on Saturdays and 1½ hours on Sundays); in addition, sister station WTLV produces the sports highlight program First Coast News Sports Final, which airs Sunday nights at 11:30 p.m. on both stations, and the political discussion program First Coast News on Point, which airs Sunday mornings at 7:30 a.m. WJXX does not simulcast the 4:30 a.m. half-hour of the weekday edition and the Saturday morning edition of Good Morning Jacksonville and the weekday noon and weekend 6:00 p.m. newscasts, which air exclusively on WTLV; however, WJXX exclusively airs a half-hour weeknight 7:00 p.m. newscast, a half-hour Sunday edition of Good Morning Jacksonville and a half-hour 6:30 p.m. newscast on weekend evenings. In addition to their main studios, WTLV and WJXX operate a "Southern Bureau," which covers stories within St. Johns, Clay and Putnam Counties. WJXX and WTLV operate their own weather radar, which is located next to WJXX and WTLV's Kilarney Shores transmitter, and also utilizes radar data from the National Weather Service Forecast Office near Jacksonville International Airport.
WJXX's news department launched with the debut of a weeknight-only 7:00 p.m. newscast titled ABC 25 Tonight, in September 1997. After the station moved into its original A.C. Skinner Parkway studios following the building's completion, WJXX dramatically increased its local news programming on December 15, 1997, adding newscasts at 5:30 a.m., noon, 5:00, 6:00, 6:30 and 11:00 p.m. on Monday through Fridays (totaling 4½ hours each weekday), along with weekend newscasts at 6, 6:30 and 11 p.m. (before the full-scale launch of ABC 25 News, WJXX showed M*A*S*H reruns at 6 and 11 p.m., while then-satellite WBSG broke off to show its own Georgia-targeted newscasts that had predated the ABC affiliation). Allbritton poured significant resources into the news department, resulting in a very high-quality product for a newly launched station. Indeed, most media observers considered WJXX' newscasts to be of far better quality than WJKS' newscasts during the latter years of channel 17's tenure with ABC. However, WJXX' ratings took a severe hit from the aforementioned technical problems and never recovered. It didn't help matters that channel 25 was going head to head with WJXT and WTLV, two of their networks' strongest performers. As mentioned above, the station's separate news department was shut down on March 17, 2000, the day when Gannett's acquisition of the station was finalized..
After WTLV and WJXX merged their news departments, the gap in viewership between both stations and market leader WJXT slowly closed to create tough competition in the Jacksonville market, tightening even further after WJXT dropped its CBS affiliation in July 2002 due to a compensation and programming dispute with the network.
The early part of 2006 marked a significant transition period for First Coast News. Primary co-anchor Alan Gionet, who had anchored the 5:00, 6:00 and 11:00 p.m. anchor for eight years, announced in October 2005 that he would be leaving the station the following year; Gionet was later hired by CBS owned-and-operated station KCNC-TV in Denver (where he had previously served as an anchor and reporter) in November 2005, and left WTLV/WJXX in March 2006. The stations' general manager, Ken Tonning, said he received hundreds of applications for the position and had also considered hiring from within its on-air staff. Seven potential applicants were brought in and filmed with 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. anchor Jeannie Blaylock and 11:00 p.m. anchor Donna Hicken (later known as Donna Deegan after her marriage to chief meteorologist Tim Deegan in October 2007), with focus groups being brought in to critique each one. On March 28, 2006, the station announced the hiring of Shannon Ogden, anchor of New England Cable News's Good Morning Live, as Gionet's replacement. During the period between Gionet's departure and Ogden's arrival, First Coast News reporter Kyle Meenan anchored with Blaylock and Hicken beginning on April 10, 2006. In the May 2007 Nielsen ratings, WTLV and WJXX had a powerful lead, with their newscasts winning in every timeslot except at 5:00 p.m. (losing that half-hour to WJXT due to its powerful lead-in from The Oprah Winfrey Show). The 11:00 p.m. newscast had higher viewership than any other station in the market. However in the November 2007 Nielsen ratings, WTLV/WJXX's First Coast News newscasts lost the lead to WJXT in the 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. slots.
On September 10, 2007, WJXX dropped the 5:00 and 5:30 p.m. weeknight First Coast News simulcasts, replacing them with The Ellen DeGeneres Show (the simulcast was later restored on WJXX in 2010). Joy Purdy (who joined the station from Miami CBS owned-and-operated station WFOR-TV) joined the station as anchor of the 7:00 p.m. newscast. In mid-2008, WTLV/WJXX launched "First Coast News Weather Call," a subscription service which provides recorded messages informing viewers via telephone of National Weather Service weather alerts occurring in their area, based on county. On October 23, 2008, First Coast News began utilizing Gannett's standardized graphics and music package for its newscasts (the graphics were created by the Denver-based Gannett Graphics Group, which is based near the studios of sister station KUSA, and the music was composed by Rampage Music New York).
In January 2009, First Coast News fired weekend meteorologist Dave Vanore, and rehired Michelle Jacobs to serve as meteorologist and traffic reporter for the weekday morning newscasts. The station also reassigned meteorologists Steve Smith (from the weekday morning newscast to the WJXX 7:00 p.m. newscast) and Mark Collins (who replaced Vanore on the weekend newscasts) to new positions. Subsequently in July 2009, the stations reassigned its anchor staff: Joy Purdy was moved from the WJXX 7:00 p.m. newscast to co-anchor Good Morning Jacksonville, replacing Patty Crosby, who became co-anchor of the 7:00 p.m. broadcast; 7:00 p.m. anchor Deanna Fene was also moved to the weekend evening newscasts to replace the departing Victor Blackwell.
On February 1, 2010, WTLV/WJXX became the third and last television news operation in the Jacksonville market to begin broadcasting their local newscasts in high definition, after WTEV/WAWS, which upgraded their newscasts to HD the day before. A modified version of the Gannett standardized graphics was introduced with the upgrade, along with the introduction of a new set designed by FX Group.
Notable current on-air staff
- Jeannie Blaylock - weeknights at 5:30 and 6:00 p.m.
- Shannon Ogden - weeknights at 5:00, 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.
- Tim Deegan (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - chief meteorologist; weeknights at 5:00, 5:30pm
Notable former on-air staff
- Donna Deegan - anchor (2000–2012; formerly known as Donna Hicken until October 2007)
- Alan Gionet - anchor (2000–2006; now at KCNC-TV in Denver)
- Donna Savarese - anchor (now at KMOV in St. Louis, Missouri)
- Lee Webb - anchor/reporter (now with the Christian Broadcasting Network as news anchor for The 700 Club)
- Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook 1999 (PDF). 1999. p. B-51. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
- "Response to Public Notice" (PDF). Electronic Comment Filing System. Federal Communications Commission. June 27, 1997. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
- Patton, Charlie (August 21, 1997). "Jags fans in lather over TV". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
- Patton, Charlie (December 13, 1999). "Changing the channel". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
- Patton, Charlie (May 3, 1997). "Allbritton gives strong signal that ABC's here to stay". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
- Dickson, Terry (March 22, 2000). "Not easy as ABC for Georgia TV viewers". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
- "News Music Search Archive". SouthernMedia. Retrieved October 29, 2007.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WJXX
- List of Digital Full-Power Stations
- CDBS Print
- "Nielsen ratings show WTLV gain". The Jacksonville Business Journal. June 19, 1998. Retrieved October 5, 2007.
- "Verdict's still out on WJXT's move". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved October 5, 2007.
- McManus, Sean (June 9, 2003). "TV news in transition". The Jacksonville Business Journal. Retrieved October 5, 2007.
- "Gionet's October Departure". Florida News Center. Retrieved June 15, 2008.
- "Gionet's October Departure". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved June 15, 2008.
- "Ogden's April Arrival". Florida News Center. Retrieved June 15, 2008.
- "Ogden's April Arrival". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved June 15, 2008.
- "Gannett Graphics to Revolve Around AXIS". TVNEWSDAY. Retrieved October 24, 2008.
- FirstCoastNews.com - Official website
- WJXX Outtakes and Bloopers
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WJXX
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WJXX-TV