||This article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2012)|
|Branding||Pittsburgh's CW (general)
KDKA on The CW (newscasts)
|Slogan||TV to talk about.|
|Channels||Digital: 11 (VHF)
Virtual: 19 (PSIP)
CBS (alternate affiliate)
(Pittsburgh Television Station WPCW, Inc.)
|First air date||October 15, 1953 (in Johnstown, moved to Jeannette in 1997)|
|Call letters' meaning||We're Pittsburgh's CW|
|Sister station(s)||KDKA, KDKA-FM, KDKA-TV, WBZZ, WDSY-FM|
|Former callsigns||WARD-TV (1953–1972)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
56 (UHF, 1953–1970)
19 (UHF, 1970-2009)
49 (UHF, 1998-2009)
|Former affiliations||CBS (1953–1982)
ABC (secondary, 1953-1970)
Independent (1982–1991, 1994-1995)
The WB (1995–1998)
|Transmitter power||30 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WPCW is an owned-and-operated television station of The CW for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that is licensed to Jeannette. WPCW is owned by the CBS Corporation subsidiary CBS Television Stations and shares its studio facilities with sister station KDKA-TV at Gateway Center in downtown Pittsburgh, and its transmitter is located in the Perry North section of Pittsburgh.
By way of extended cable coverage, WPCW also serves as the default CW affiliate for the Johnstown-Altoona-State College television market, since that area currently lacks a CW affiliate of its own. WPCW was a Johnstown station for most of its history.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|19.1||1080i||16:9||WPCW 19||Main WPCW programming / The CW|
WPCW is rebroadcast on WBPA-LP in Pittsburgh (owned by Venture Technologies Group, LLC) from the days when it did not have a strong signal throughout the city. WPCW has a construction permit to air a fill-in digital translator in Johnstown.
|Callsign||Channel||City of license||Transmitter location||Note|
|WPCW||27||Johnstown||Laurel Hill State Park along the Somerset and Westmoreland County line||Licensed|
|WBPA-LP||30||Pittsburgh||same as main signal||has construction permit to operate digital signal on VHF channel 6 as WBPA-LD from new transmitter in Clinton|
WPCW signed-on October 15, 1953 as WARD-TV on analog UHF channel 56 with studios on Franklin Street in Downtown Johnstown. It was co-owned with WARD radio (AM 1490, now WNTJ, and FM 96.5, now WFGI-FM at 95.5). The station was the area's CBS affiliate with a secondary ABC affiliation. During the late-1950s, it was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network. Around 1970, Jonel Construction Company bought WARD-AM-FM-TV and changed their calls to WJNL-AM-FM-TV. The TV station also moved to the stronger UHF channel 19 and dropped ABC programming. It also left the Franklin Street studio for a new facility located on Benshoff hill, not too far from the transmitter atop Cover Hill in suburban Johnstown. The radio stations moved to the Benshoff Hill location in 1977 after the Franklin Street studios were destroyed in a massive flood.
Even with the move to the stronger channel 19, the station was plagued by a weak signal. Most of Western Pennsylvania is a very rugged dissected plateau, and at the time, UHF stations usually did not get good reception in rugged terrain. In fact, Johnstown viewers got better signals from WFBG-TV in Altoona and KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh. After WFBG-TV was sold in 1973, that channel changed its callsign to WTAJ-TV in part to acknowledge its Johnstown viewership (its call letters stand for "W"e're "T"elevision in "A"ltoona and "J"ohnstown). As a result, the station never thrived, and was more or less a non-factor in a market dominated by WJAC-TV. It only stayed afloat because of the tremendous success of its FM sister, an adult contemporary powerhouse.
In 1982, the Johnstown and Altoona/State College markets were collapsed into a single DMA. CBS gave its affiliation in the newly enlarged market to Altoona's WTAJ, which as mentioned above, already had a large viewership in Johnstown. In contrast, WJNL-TV could not be seen at all in much of the eastern part of the market; while Altoona was just inside channel 19's grade B contour, State College was just outside of it. As a result, WJNL-TV became an independent station. It was sold to Leon Crosby, a former owner of the original KEMO-TV (now KOFY-TV) in San Francisco, a year later and renamed WFAT-TV. Forced to buy an additional nineteen hours of programming a day, its ratings plummeted even further. It did not help matters that the major Pittsburgh independents were available on cable. The station was dealt a fatal blow in 1986 when WWCP-TV signed-on and took most of WFAT's stronger shows. The station changed calls to WPTJ in 1988 and moved its studios to Allen Bill Drive in the Johnstown Industrial Park, but saw no change in its fortunes. Frequent transmitter problems often left the station off-the-air for extended periods of time. Declaring bankruptcy, WPTJ finally went off the air for good in 1991.
Meanwhile over in Pittsburgh, WBPA-LP on analog UHF channel 29 signed-on in 1994 as a low-powered station owned by Venture Technologies Group, LLC. It ran some ABC and NBC shows that WTAE-TV and WPXI pre-empted, along with infomercials, religious, and shop-at-home programming. It added WB programming on January 11, 1995 and a few syndicated shows in the fall of that year. At some point in time, that station moved to UHF channel 30. Also in 1995, Venture Technologies bought the dormant WPTJ license in Johnstown. That station returned to the air in early-1997 with the call-sign WTWB-TV, a full-powered satellite of WBPA. Venture, however, still had trouble getting viewership in Pittsburgh in part because cable systems in the area were not willing to pick it up. To solve this problem, Venture asked and received permission to move WTWB's license to Jeannette (about thirty miles southeast of Pittsburgh) and place it in that market. This qualified it for "must-carry" status on Pittsburgh cable systems. In the wake of the move, WTWB began to acquire more off-network sitcoms and first-run syndicated shows alongside cartoons from Kids' WB and prime time programming from The WB. When WPTT acquired this affiliation and changed its call letters to WCWB in 1998 (it is now WPMY, the MyNetworkTV affiliate), the UPN affiliation in the market became available. As such, channel 19 took the affiliation and changed call letters to WNPA-TV.
Viacom bought the station in 1998. It became sister station to KDKA-TV after the company merged with CBS in 2000. Viacom consolidated WNPA's operations into KDKA-AM-TV's studios at One Gateway Center by 2001. The station began to identify on air as "UPN Pittsburgh" in late-2003 as different cable systems carry it on different channels. On January 24, 2006, TimeWarner and CBS Corporation announced that The WB and UPN networks would merge into a single network called "The CW". To coincide with this change, the station changed its call sign to WPCW and rebranded itself as "Pittsburgh's CW" in August. The network launched on September 18.
WPCW's analog transmitter was on Laurel Mountain west of Jennerstown which is 35 miles southeast of Jeannette. This provided city-grade coverage to Johnstown and "rimshot" coverage to Pittsburgh. As a result, it was barely viewable over-the-air in many low-lying areas in the northern and western parts of the city and could not be seen at all in the city's western suburbs. When it applied to move its license to Jeannette, Venture sought and received a waiver from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule requiring a station's transmitter to be no farther than 15 miles from the city of license. It successfully contended that there was no way it could build an analog tower within the 15-mile limit without interfering with WOIO in Cleveland.
However on June 12, 2009 coinciding with the national transition to digital television, WPCW turned-off its transmitter near Jennerstown and began broadcasting digitally from its new transmitter near Downtown Pittsburgh. It moved to VHF channel 11 (WPXI's former analog home) mapping to channel 19 via PSIP. As with all CBS-owned stations, it carries only one 1080i high definition channel without subchannel services. Interference with WOIO which existed in the analog age is no longer an issue as that station is on digital channel 10. CBS also feeds a direct fiber signal to both Comcast and Verizon FiOS and has done so for years. The relocation of its transmitter now provides Pittsburgh with city-grade coverage in addition to greater coverage west of the city but has left many viewers east of Westmoreland County (who were able to pick up WPCW's analog signal) without a viewable digital signal. In July 2009, the station applied with the FCC for a repeater digital signal on channel 27 in Johnstown. WPCW is one of three former CBS affiliates that have since become CW stations owned by CBS along with WTVX in West Palm Beach and KSTW in Seattle. However, WTVX has since been divested to Cerberus Capital Management's Four Points Media Group (the Four Points Media stations are now owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns Pittsburgh stations WPGH-TV and WPMY). This station usually televises about six Pittsburgh Penguins games a year to allow Fox Sports Pittsburgh (the team's usual broadcasting partner) to fulfill its national commitments to Fox Sports Net's Pac-10 and Atlantic Coast Conference college football coverage packages. In 2010, the CW broadcast the entire home schedule of the California University of Pennsylvania Vulcan Football season under the "Vulcan Sports Network" moniker.
As CBS has done with most of its other CBS/The CW duopolies in other markets, WPCW's web address has been folded within the KDKA website with only basic station and programming information along with entertainment news and promotional video from The CW. WPCW and KDKA serve as the area's official Pittsburgh Steelers stations and air several team-related shows. This includes Steelers Saturday Night on Saturday nights from 9 to 10 and Steelers TV on Saturday nights from 11 to 11:30 (hosted by Tunch Ilkin and Steelers Digest editor Bob Labriola). Depending on CBS' weekly doubleheader schedule, the Verizon Wireless Xtra Point may air on WPCW right after a Steelers game. That program is anchored by Bob Pompeani, Ed Bouchette, and Edmund Nelson. The Subway Nightly Sports Call airs every night from 10:35 to 11 after the KDKA-produced prime time newscast. Weeknights are anchored by Bob Pompeani while weekends feature Jory Rand. Depending on the doubleheader schedule, there is a special edition that is shown during the season after the Verizon Wireless Xtra Point.
As WJNL-TV in Johnstown, it did produce a local newscast from 1971 to 1974 on weekdays and a few public affairs programs to try to compete against WJAC. However, its facilities were below the standards expected for a network affiliate. In August 2001 as WNPA, the station began to carry a prime time newscast every night at 10 produced by KDKA. This competes with Fox Network affiliate WPGH-TV that has a nightly newscast at 10 produced by WPXI.
In 2005, the station launched a two-hour extension of KDKA's weekday morning show beginning at 7. This was later shortened to one hour amid poor ratings. On June 16, 2009, KDKA launched its newscasts in high definition starting with its weekday noon broadcast with a new set and weather center. That station was the last major Pittsburgh channel to begin airing newscasts in HD and the WPCW shows were included in the upgrade.
KDKA Morning News on The CW
(weekday mornings 7:00-8:00 a.m.)
- Jennifer Antkowiak
- Rick Dayton
- Dennis Bowman
- Ross Guidotti
- Heather Abraham
- Bob Allen
- Brenda Waters
The KDKA-TV 10 O'Clock News on The CW (10:00-10:35 p.m.)
- Jeff Verszyla
- Stephanie Watson
- Paul Martino
- David Highfield
- Harold Hayes
- Mary Robb Jackson
- Jon Delano
- Trina Orlando
- Paul Martino
- Jon Burnett
WPCW features additional personnel from KDKA. See that article for a complete listing.
- RadioStationWorld - Pennsylvania - Television Broadcasting Stations
- "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films". Boxoffice: 13. November 10, 1956[dead link]
- Owen, Rob (June 5, 2009). "Analog shut-off will affect few TVs here". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- CWPittsburgh.com - Official Website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WPCW
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WPCW-TV
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WBPA-LP
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WBPA-LP