|This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2011)|
|Columbia, South Carolina
|Branding||News 19 WLTX|
|Slogan||On Your Side|
|Channels||Digital: 17 (UHF)
Virtual: 19 (PSIP)
19.2 Weather radar
19.3 WeatherNation TV
(Pacific and Southern Company, Inc.)
|First air date||September 1, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||Lewis Television
(former owner, used same callsign format for other stations, such as WLTZ)
|Former callsigns||WNOK-TV (1953–1977)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
67 (UHF, 1953–1961)
19 (UHF, 1961–2009)
|Transmitter power||1,000 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WLTX, virtual channel 19 (UHF digital channel 17), is a CBS-affiliated television station located in Columbia, South Carolina, United States. WLTX maintains studio facilities located on Garners Ferry Road (U.S. 76 and 378) in southeastern Columbia, and its transmitter is located on Rush Road (southeast of I-20) in rural southwestern Kershaw County. On cable, the station is available on Time Warner Cable channel 9 and in high definition on digital channel 1209.
The station first signed on the air on September 1, 1953 as WNOK-TV, originally broadcasting on UHF channel 67. It is the second oldest continuously operating television station in South Carolina, having signed on two months before WIS-TV (channel 10). The station has always been a CBS affiliate, but carried a secondary affiliation with the DuMont Television Network until 1955, one year before that network ceased operations. The station originally maintained studio facilities located in the Jefferson Hotel in downtown Columbia, where it was based alongside sister radio property WNOK (1230 AM, now WOIC, and 104.7 FM). On June 30, 1961, the station switched channel positions, moving to UHF channel 19. In June 1967, WNOK-AM-FM-TV moved to a new studio facility on Garners Ferry Road, located 5 miles (8.0 km) east of downtown Columbia and 1 mile (1.6 km) from I-77 and the campus of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. In 1977, the station was sold to Lewis Broadcasting and changed its call letters to WLTX.
Historically, channel 19 has been a very distant second place in the ratings to long-dominant WIS, especially in news programming. Part of the problem was the station was hampered by a weak signal. The Columbia market is a fairly large market geographically, and at first, UHF stations were not provide a strong enough signal to cover large areas. Although channel 19 decently covered Columbia itself as well as Lexington and Sumter Counties, it was practically unviewable in the outlying areas of the market. Until cable television arrived in the Columbia market in the 1970s, viewers in the outlying portions of the market had to rely on grade B signals from WRDW-TV in Augusta or WBTV in Charlotte. However, in 1985, WLTX activated a new tall transmission tower in Lugoff that nearly doubled the station's signal and expanded its over-the-air coverage to 24 counties.
After CBS lost broadcast rights to the NFL's National Football Conference television package to Fox in 1994, the network as well as WLTX lost major revenue sources as advertising rates suffered because of the decline in ratings. In January 1995, WLTX became a charter affiliate of the United Paramount Network (UPN); it carried the network's programming on a secondary basis during weekend afternoon timeslots when CBS had only limited sports programming (namely PGA golf, tennis, NASCAR auto racing, and an expanded college basketball schedule). The station dropped UPN programming after Sumter-licensed WQHB (channel 63, now a primary CW and secondary MyNetworkTV affiliate) signed on in September 1997.
In 1998, Lewis Broadcasting sold WLTX to the Gannett Company. Gannett invested heavily in WLTX, making the station competitive against the traditionally dominant WIS, building a new set for its newscasts and hiring new station management and news staff. Soon after taking control, Gannett hired longtime WIS meteorologist Jim Gandy to serve as the station's chief meterologist; however since Gandy was initially prohibited from appearing on the station's newscasts until a one-year non-compete clause in his WIS contract expired, Gannett used him as a consultant at WLTX and to serve as a substitute meteorologist at the company's other stations, including WXIA-TV in Atlanta and WUSA-TV in Washington, D.C. In 2002, WLTX became the flagship broadcaster of the South Carolina Education Lottery.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|19.1||1080i||16:9||WLTX-HD||Main WLTX programming / CBS HD|
|19.2||480i||4:3||WLTX-RD||True View Live Radar|
|19.3||WX-NOW||News 19 WeatherNation TV|
WLTX carries a 24-hour feed of their weather radar on 19.2 and carries a 24/7 weather channel, which used to be called News 19 Weather NOW, under its affiliation with The Local AccuWeather Channel from 2005 until 2013, when it changed affiliations to WeatherNation TV and was renamed to News 19 WeatherNation. It has been able to take advantage of the multi-casting and High Definition broadcasting technology to air various special events, including the Super Bowl and the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. The station's broadcasts its own 24-hour local weather channel on digital channel 19.3 and on Time Warner Cable channel 111 and 112.
In May 2002, WLTX was the first commercial station in Columbia to broadcast in digital. WLTX discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 19, 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 17, using PSIP to display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 19.
WLTX carries the entire CBS network schedule; it is one of several CBS affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone to air Let's Make a Deal at 10:00 a.m. instead of the network's recommended 3:00 p.m. timeslot. It also airs the CBS Dream Team block two hours earlier (although the third hour of the block is aired by the station on Sunday mornings) and CBS This Morning two hours later on Saturday mornings than most CBS stations in the time zone. Syndicated programs broadcast by WLTX include Inside Edition, The Doctors, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, CSI: Miami and The Dr. Oz Show.
WLTX presently broadcasts 30½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 5½ hours on weekdays, two hours on Saturdays and one hour on Sundays). During the 1980s and early 1990s, WLTX aired reruns of classic sitcoms instead of airing a local newscast in the 11:00 p.m. timeslot. At the time, station management felt that it could not hope to compete with WIS, even with a taller transmitter tower to boost its signal (ABC affiliate WOLO-TV would follow suit a few years later). WLTX debuted a five-minute 11:00 p.m. newscast in 1993, which expanded to a full 35-minute program in 1995.
During the early 1990s, WLTX launched a weekly program titled News 19: Player of the Week, which recognized the accomplishments of high school student athletes in the classroom and in their sport. Future NBA star Ray Allen won the award several times while playing at Hillcrest High School (now Hillcrest Middle School) in Dalzell. After being acquired by Gannett, the station also debuted feature segments for its newscast such as "On Your Side", "Restaurant Report Card" and "Big Money Monday."
In 2001, WLTX premiered a half-hour 7:00 p.m. newscast, competing against WIS's newscast in that timeslot. WLTX's popular morning anchor team of J.R. Berry and Darci Strickland were promoted to anchoring the evening newscasts that year. During the May 2007 ratings period, WLTX's midday newscast continued to place at #1 in the noon timeslot (traditionally having the same lead-in since 1979), while it also won first on weekday mornings during the 5:00 a.m. half-hour. On August 20, 2007, WLTX debuted an hour-long 5:00 p.m. newscast titled News 19: Friends @ Five; the program won a Southeast Regional Emmy Award on June 23, 2008, for its innovative approach to connecting with viewers. The station's 11:00 p.m. newscast also won an Emmy Award for "Best Newscast" for the second year in a row. On June 26, 2010, the station's 6:00 p.m. newscast took home an Emmy Award for "Best Newscast."
On January 24, 2011, WLTX became the third television station in the Columbia market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. In July 2013, WLTX became the second station in Columbia to expand its weekday morning newscast into the 4:30 a.m. timeslot; later on October 5, 2013, WLTX premiered an hour-long Saturday morning newscast at 11:00 a.m., becoming the second station in Columbia to air a morning news program on weekends (after WIS).
Notable former on-air staff
- RabbitEars TV Query for WLTX
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- WLTX.com - WLTX official website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WLTX
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WLTX-TV