|Branding||Channel 6 (general)
Channel 6 News, 6 News (news)
|Slogan||Live. Local. Breaking News.|
|Channels||Digital: 22 (UHF)
Virtual: 6 (PSIP)
6.2 The Weather Authority Channel
6.4 Local news
|Affiliations||NBC (1949-1956, 1986-present)|
|Owner||Gray Television, Inc.
(Gray Television Licensee, LLC)
|First air date||August 29, 1949|
|Call letters' meaning||Woodmen Of The World (original owner of WOW radio) + Television|
|Sister station(s)||KOLN, KSNB-TV|
|Former callsigns||WOW-TV (1949-1975)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
6 (VHF, 1949-2009)
ABC (1949-1953, 1954-1957)
IND (September 2006-2008?)
Universal Sports (2008?-October 1, 2011)
|Transmitter power||1000 kW|
WOWT, digital channel 22, virtual channel 6 via PSIP and Cox Communications cable channel 8, is the NBC affiliate television station in Omaha, Nebraska. WOWT also serves the state capital, Lincoln, 52 miles (84 km) away, with broadcast and cable coverage. As Lincoln is located in a different market area, satellite viewers in Lincoln receive NBC from KHAS-TV in Hastings, though WOWT has long been regarded as the primary local NBC affiliate in Lincoln.
The station's studios are located near 35th and Farnam streets, near downtown Omaha. Its transmitter tower is located on a "tower farm" near North 72nd and Crown Point.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|6.1||1080i||16:9||WOWT-HD||Main WOWT programming / NBC|
|6.2||480i||4:3||WOWT-SD||The Weather Authority Channel|
Mobile DTV channels
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|6.3||unknown||unknown||WOWT-DT||Mobile DTV simulcast of 6.1|
|6.4||unknown||unknown||62O/UniS||Local news repeats|
WOWT converted to digital broadcasting on February 17, 2009, the original date of the U.S. nationwide digital TV transition. WOWT and NET station KYNE were the only two stations in the Omaha market to stay with the original deadline. WOWT transmits its digital signal on channel 22, using PSIP to display its virtual channel as 6.
For its digital transition WOWT aired a 60-second farewell video bookending the analog era from beginning to end. It began with the words "Welcome to the Future", followed with archived film footage of WOW-TV's transmitter being turned on 1949 as it was covered by then-sister station WOW radio (now KXSP), outdoor scenes set to the patriotic song America the Beautiful, and concluding with the station logo and digital call sign WOWT-DT Omaha set to the NBC chimes. Afterward the analog signal aired a scrolling nightlight message and ultimately ceased transmission.
Voiceover artist Charlie Van Dyke provided narration: "Sixty years ago, WOWT turned on its analog signal to be the first television station in Omaha. Now, join us for the digital age as we shut off our analog signal and transition to digital television. We look forward to the new journey ahead. This is WOWT, Channel 6."
In October 2005, WOWT-DT launched UPN Omaha on digital sub-channel 6.2. The station became an independent station named 62O when The WB and UPN networks merged in September 2006. KXVO, formerly the local WB affiliate, now carries The CW, while KPTM, the local Fox affiliate, shows MyNetworkTV on a digital subchannel of its own. After that, it was changed to the Universal Sports format as seen on many other NBC subchannels; in advance of that network discontinuing digital subchannel carriage, WOWT dropped that affiliation on October 1, 2011, in favor of the "The Weather Authority Channel", their version of The Local AccuWeather Channel. KETV dropped their version of it the month before in order to air Me-TV.
Channel 6 signed on the air on August 29, 1949 as WOW-TV, the first television station in Nebraska and one of the oldest in the Upper Midwest. It also claims to be the first television station in four other Midwestern states (Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota and South Dakota).
The station was operated by Radio Station WOW, Inc. alongside WOW radio (AM 590, now KXSP, and 92.3 FM, now KEZO) The owners operated under a United States Supreme Court ruling which had forced the Woodmen of the World, who had founded WOW in 1923, to divest itself of the radio stations because they threatened the Woodmen's tax-exempt status.
The station was originally an NBC affiliate, but carried a secondary affiliation with ABC until 1953, when KOLN-TV signed on from Lincoln as an ABC affiliate. However, in 1954, Lincoln was broken off from the Omaha market, and WOW-TV resumed sharing ABC programming with KMTV until 1957, when KETV signed on as an ABC affiliate.
In 1956, after the radio stations dropped their long-time affiliation with NBC in favor of CBS, WOW-TV switched affiliations with KMTV and became Omaha's CBS television affiliate. When Meredith sold channel 6 to Chronicle Publishing Company of San Francisco in 1975, it changed its call letters to WOWT, due to FCC restrictions regarding call letter use by different owners at the time. Channel 6 later rejoined NBC under a special agreement with KMTV in 1986. In 1999, Chronicle sold its media holdings and WOWT was sold to Benedek Broadcasting via LIN TV in a three-way deal for WWLP in Springfield, Massachusetts; three years later, Benedek Broadcasting was bought out by current owner Gray Television.
WOWT was the first station to broadcast locally in color, starting in the mid-1950s; it was the first station to provide live reports during its daily newscasts; it was the first of the three local stations to broadcasts three live daily newscasts, at 5, 6, and 10pm; and in 1993, WOWT was the first of all local stations to offer a web site.
WOWT's most famous former employee is former The Tonight Show host Johnny Carson, who worked at WOW-TV in the early 1950s as his first television job. He hosted a show called The Squirrel's Nest where he told jokes. Another prominent former employee is former ABC Good Morning America reporter Steve Bell, who worked for Channel 6 in the early and mid-1960s. He was the only local reporter to go to Dallas in November 1963 to cover the aftermath of the John F. Kennedy assassination. Bell left channel 6 in 1967 to join ABC News, where he stayed until 1986. During the analog era, WOWT-TV was relayed on a UHF repater, K58AE, which has since been shut down and deleted from the FCC database.
In 1991, WOWT changed the name of its news division from "Action News 6" to its current moniker of "Channel 6 News". In 1995 Channel 6 began live simulcasts and taped replays of its daily newscasts on Omaha Cox Cable channel 1. The venture was known as "NEWS on ONE" until it became "News 4 You", Cox Cable channel 4, in 2009. Also in 1995, WOWT's sports division launched a weekly 30-minute sports news program titled "Channel 6 Sunday Sports Extra". It was the only program of its kind in Omaha, and was hosted since its inception by Sports Producer Ross Jernstrom.
- "Part of Your Life" (1970s)
- "Action News: Leading the Way" (1980s)
- "Come Home to WOWT" (1986–1988; localized version of NBC ad campaign)
- "Where The News Comes First." (1990–1992)
- "News The Way You Live Your Life." (1992–1996)
- "Channel 6 For the Heartland" (1996–present)
- "Live. Local. Breaking News." (1998–present)
- "On TV. Online. On the go." (2012–present)
- Serese Cole - weekday mornings on Daybreak (4:30-7:00 a.m.)
- Brittany Gunter - weekend mornings on Weekend Daybreak (8:00-9:00 a.m.); also reporter
- John Knicely - Sundays at 5:00, Mondays-Thursdays at 5:00 and 6:00 and Sundays-Thursdays at 10:00 p.m.
- Malorie Maddox - Sundays at 5:00, Mondays-Thursdays at 5:00 and 6:00 and Sundays-Thursdays at 10:00 p.m.
- Brian Mastre - weekdays at 4:00 p.m.; also reporter
- Jacki Ochoa - Fridays at 5:00 and 6:00, Saturdays at 5:00 and Fridays-Saturdays at 10:00 p.m.; also reporter
- Jim Siedlecki - weekday mornings on Daybreak (4:30-7:00) and weekdays at 11:30 a.m.
Channel 6 Weather Authority
- Mike LaPoint - chief meteorologist; weeknights at 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00 p.m.
- Cheryl Lemke - meteorologist; weekdays at 4:00; also fill-in
- Rusty Lord - meteorologist; weekday mornings on Daybreak (4:30-7:00) and weekdays at 11:30 a.m.
- Jill Gilardi - meteorologist; weekends at 5:00 and 10:00 p.m.
- Greg Armbrecht - meteorologist; weekend mornings Daybreak (8:00-9:00 a.m.)
- Ross Jernstorm - sports director; weeknights at 6:00 and 10:00 p.m.
- Greg Ortiz - sports anchor; weekends at 5:00 and 10:00 p.m.
- Dave Webber - sports anchor
- John Chapman - general assignment reporter
- Alex Hassel - general assignment reporter/backpack journalist
- Mike McKnight - general assignment reporter
- Chase Moffitt - general assignment reporter
- Erin Murray - general assignment reporter
- Jeff Sabin - general assignment reporter/backpack journalist
- Gary Smollen - general assignment reporter
- Roger Hamer - general assignment reporter
Former on-air staff
- Steve Bell - anchor/reporter (1960s; later became a reporter/correspondent for ABC News, then later, anchor for KYW-TV; retired in 1992)
- Johnny Carson - meteorologist/television host; (1950s; became legendary long-time host of The Tonight Show on NBC; deceased)
- John McCaa - anchor/reporter; (1977–1983; now weekday co-anchor for WFAA in Dallas)
- Dale Munson - chief meteorologist/voiceovers (1960s-1991; deceased)
- Colleen Williams - weekend anchor (1978–1981; now weekday co-anchor for KNBC in Los Angeles)
- http://www.omaha.com/index.php?u_page=1219&u_sid=10557376 Digital delay muddles broadcasters' plans, BRYAN REDEMSKE, Omaha WORLD-HERALD, February 6, 2009
- FCC document: "APPENDIX B: ALL FULL-POWER TELEVISION STATIONS BY DMA, INDICATING THOSE TERMINATING ANALOG SERVICE BEFORE ON OR FEBRUARY 17, 2009."
- "Goodbye", WOWT analog farewell video; archived on WOWT's YouTube page at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2dmigeQI0U, retrieved 19 October 2009.
- Commercial Television Stations of the U. S., 1949
- WOWT News Open 5 PM March, 2008
- WOWT afternoon lineup promo, 1987
- WOWT Official site
- 62O website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WOWT
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WOWT-TV
- WOWT's analog farewell video at YouTube