WOWT 6 News (newscasts)
The WOWT 6 Weather Authority (weather)
|Slogan||Live. Local. Breaking News.|
|Channels||Digital: 22 (UHF)
Virtual: 6 (PSIP)
6.2 The Weather Authority Channel
6.4 Local news
(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)
Independent (September 2006–2008?)
Universal Sports (2008?–October 1, 2011)
|Transmitter power||1000 kW|
|Height||398 m (1,306 ft)|
WOWT, virtual channel 6 (UHF digital channel 22), is an NBC-affiliated television station located in Omaha, Nebraska, United States. The station is owned by Gray Television. WOWT's studios are located near 35th and Farnam streets, near downtown Omaha; and its transmitter is located on a "tower farm" near North 72nd Street and Crown Point Avenue in north-central Omaha. The station is also available on cable through Cox Communications channel 8.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|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||M-WOWT||Mobile DTV simulcast of 6.1|
|6.4||M-6NEWS||Local news repeats|
WOWT shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 6, on February 17, 2009, the original date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was pushed back to June 12). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 22, using PSIP to display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 6. WOWT and PBS member station KYNE (part of the NET state network) were the only two stations in the Omaha market to shut down their analog signals on the original deadline.
Upon the switch to digital, 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 song America the Beautiful, and concluded with the station logo and digital call sign WOWT-DT Omaha set to the NBC chimes.
As part of the SAFER Act, WOWT kept its analog signal on the air temporarily to inform viewers of the digital television transition through a scrolling message. 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 launched a second digital subchannel operating as a UPN affiliate, and branded as "UPN Omaha". The subchannel became an independent station branded as "62O", when The WB and UPN shut down in September 2006 (former WB affiliate KXVO (channel 15) now carries WB and UPN successor The CW, while Fox affiliate KPTM (channel 42) carries MyNetworkTV on its second digital subchannel). After that, 6.2 affiliated with Universal Sports; in advance of that network switching exclusively to a cable and satellite channel, WOWT dropped Universal Sports on October 1, 2011, replacing it with a local weather service known as "The Weather Authority Channel", an affiliate of The Local AccuWeather Channel. KETV (channel 7) dropped The Local AccuWeather Channel one month before when it switched its second subchannel to Me-TV.
The station signed on the air on August 29, 1949 as WOW-TV; it was the first television station in Nebraska and is one of the oldest in the Upper Midwest. It also claims to have gone on the air earlier than any station in four other Midwestern states--Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota and South Dakota. The station was owned by Radio Station WOW, Inc., alongside WOW radio (590 AM, 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 a primary NBC affiliate and secondary ABC affiliate; it lost ABC programming in 1953, when KOLN signed on from Lincoln as an ABC affiliate. However, in 1954, Lincoln was separated from the Omaha market, and WOW-TV resumed sharing ABC programming with KMTV (channel 3) until 1957, when KETV signed on as an ABC affiliate. Meredith Corporation bought WOW-AM-FM-TV in 1951. The station claims it was bought by former Secretary of the Navy Francis P. Matthews in 1954, but this is false as Matthews had died two years earlier. In 1956, after the radio stations dropped their longtime affiliation with the NBC Red Network in favor of the CBS Radio Network, WOW-TV switched affiliations with KMTV and became Omaha's CBS television affiliate.
WOWT's most famous former employee is former The Tonight Show host Johnny Carson, who worked at WOW-TV in the early 1950s in his first television job as host of a program called The Squirrel's Nest, in which he told jokes. Another prominent former employee is former ABC Good Morning America reporter Steve Bell, who worked for Channel 6 during 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 remained until 1986.
When Meredith sold channel 6 to the San Francisco-based Chronicle Publishing Company in 1975, it changed its call letters to WOWT, due to FCC restrictions regarding the usage of the same call letters by different owners at the time. Normally, channel 6 would have had to adopt a callsign starting with "K" when it changed its call letters, since the WOW call letters had been assigned before the current K/W dividing line was moved to the Mississippi River. However, Chronicle wanted to continue trading on the WOW calls, and got a waiver from the FCC to retain a "W" in its calls. To this day, WOWT is one of the westernmost stations with a callsign starting with "W." Channel 6 rejoined NBC under a special agreement with KMTV in 1986.
Not surprisingly, channel 6 owns a lot of firsts in the market. It was the first Omaha station to broadcast local programming 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 10 p.m.; and in 1993, WOWT was the first local television station to offer a website. During the analog era, WOWT-TV was relayed in Clarinda, Iowa on a UHF repater, K58AE, which has since been shut down and deleted from the FCC database.
In 1999, Chronicle sold its media holdings (including its newspapers and four television stations) to separate buyers; WOWT was sold to Benedek Broadcasting via LIN TV Corporation in a three-way deal for WWLP in Springfield, Massachusetts; three years later, Benedek Broadcasting was bought out by current owner Gray Television.
Until 2014, WOWT also served the state capital, Lincoln, located 52 miles (84 km) from Omaha, with broadcast and cable coverage. As Lincoln is located in a different market area, satellite viewers in Lincoln had received NBC programming from KHAS-TV in Hastings. But with the acquisition of KSNB-TV in Superior by WOWT owner Gray Communications, that station took over the primary local NBC affiliation and WOWT's place on the Lincoln Time Warner Cable system. WOWT continues to be carried in standard definition on digital channel 83 in Lincoln and surrounding Time Warner Cable systems.
WOWT presently broadcasts 29 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with five hours on weekdays and two hours each on Saturdays and Sundays); in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the highest local newscast output among the Omaha market's broadcast television stations.
In 1991, WOWT rebranded its newscasts from Action News 6 to Channel 6 News. In 1995, WOWT launched a cable news channel called "NEWS on ONE", which featured live simulcasts and taped rebroadcasts of the station's newscasts on Cox Communications channel 1; the channel was eventually rebranded as "News 4 You", concurrent with its move to Cox channel 4 in 2009. Also in 1995, WOWT's sports department launched a weekly half-hour sports news program titled Channel 6 Sunday Sports Extra, which aired after the station's 10 p.m. newscast on Sunday evening. It was the only program of its kind in Omaha, and was hosted from its inception by sports producer (now sports director) Ross Jernstrom. In October 2013 the news products were re-branded WOWT 6 News.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WOWT
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- Digital delay muddles broadcasters' plans, Brian 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.
- "UPDATED List of Participants in the Analog Nightlight Program" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. June 12, 2009. Retrieved June 4, 2012.
- Commercial Television Stations of the U. S., 1949
- Official website
- 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