||This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2013)|
|Branding||My PHL17 (general)
Action News (during WPVI-produced newscast)
|Channels||Digital: 17 (VHF)
Virtual: 17 (PSIP)
17.2 Antenna TV
17.3 This TV
17.4 Tango Traffic
|First air date||June 17, 1960 (original incarnation)
September 17, 1965 (current incarnation)
|Call letters' meaning||PHiLadelphia
(PHL is also IATA airport code for Philadelphia International Airport and Amtrak code for 30th Street Station)
|Former callsigns||WPCA-TV (1960-1962)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
17 (UHF, 1960-2009)
54 (VHF, 1996-2009)
|Former affiliations||Independent (1960-1962, 1965-1995)
The WB (1995-2006)
|Transmitter power||645 kW|
WPHL-TV is the MyNetworkTV-affiliated television station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 17 from a transmitter in the city's Roxborough neighborhood. Owned by the Tribune Company, WPHL-TV maintains studios in the Wynnefield section of West Philadelphia. The station is the largest MyNetworkTV affiliate by market size that is not owned by its parent company News Corporation.
On June 17, 1960, Percy Crawford signed on WPCA-TV, a religious station. The call letters stood for "People's Church of the Air." The station was Philadelphia's first commercial UHF channel, but at a time when UHF tuners were not required on most TV sets, WPCA only lasted two years and went off the air in 1962.
However, a group of local investors bought the dormant channel 17 license and returned it to the air on September 17, 1965 as independent station WPHL-TV. It was the third UHF independent to sign-on in Philadelphia that year, two and a half weeks behind WKBS-TV (channel 48) and four months later than WIBF-TV (channel 29, later WTAF and now WTXF-TV). During its early years, WPHL went through a string of owners, most notably as an owned-and-operated station of the short-lived United Network.
In the summer of 1975 WPHL-TV moved from its studios in the suburb of Wyndmoor to its current studio in Wynnefield. The building had once been an A&P supermarket. The station offered a schedule of off-network drama shows, sitcoms, old movies, sports and religious shows. It also ran NBC programs that KYW-TV, and ABC programs that WPVI-TV had pre-empted till the fall of 1976, and again from the fall of 1977 to the summer of 1983. The Providence Journal Company bought channel 17 in 1979. At that point, WPHL sought a different programming strategy toward adults, gradually dropping children's programming and cartoons. They focused more on movies, off-network drama shows, recent off-network sitcoms, and sports. The station also had several hours of religious programming per day.
Throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, WPHL was known on-air as "The Great Entertainer," with voiceovers from Sid Doherty. The station positioned itself as an alternative to both WTAF and WKBS, as it programmed more towards adults with movies and other syndicated programs, while its competitors were heavy on sitcoms and children's cartoons. WPHL was also a station heavy on local sports, as it aired contests featuring Major League Baseball's Philadelphia Phillies until 1982, the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers from 1982 to the 1990s and the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers in the 1990s.
From October 1981 to August 1987, the WPHL studios hosted a Monday-through-Friday afternoon dance show, Dancin' On Air, hosted by Eddie Bruce, as well as a spin-off on the USA Network called Dance Party USA, whose host, Dave Raymond, was better known as the man in the Phillie Phanatic costume. Those shows marked the on-air debut of a young girl from nearby Voorhees, New Jersey named Kelly Ripa.
In the summer of 1982, WKBS went on the market after its owner, Field Communications, decided to exit broadcasting. The Providence Journal Company was among those who were bidding for channel 48's license. Had it won, then Providence Journal would have merged WPHL's and WKBS's schedules under the WKBS license and channel allocation, while selling the channel 17 license to either a religious or educational broadcaster. However, the Journal Company's bid was still far below Field's asking price. With no takers willing to give Field what it wanted for the station, WKBS-TV ceased operations ("went dark" in television terminology) a year later on August 29, 1983, and WPHL picked up various syndicated programs, cartoons, movies and production equipment from WKBS.
In 1987, the Providence Journal Company sold WPHL-TV to a consortium headed by Dudley S. Taft Jr., the former president of the Cincinnati-based Taft Television and Radio Company, the longtime owners of rival WTAF-TV. Dudley Taft had left his family's namesake company following a corporate restructuring which resulted in the firm changing its name to Great American Broadcasting. He also brought along key personnel from WTAF (which Taft had sold to TVX Broadcast Group in early 1987), including general manager Randy Smith. The new ownership scrapped the "Great Entertainer" slogan and related logo for a new identity as "PHL 17", in an apparent attempt to counter WGBS-TV's (channel 57, now WPSG) "Philly 57" branding. In 1991, the Taft group sold channel 17 to the Tribune Company.
On November 2, 1993, the Warner Bros. Television division of Time Warner and Tribune Company announced the formation of The WB Television Network. Due to the company's ownership interest in the network (initially 12.5%, before expanding to 22%), Tribune chose to affiliate the majority of its independent stations with the upstart network, resulting in WPHL-TV becoming a network affiliate for the first time in its history upon The WB's January 11, 1995 debut and making the station a de facto owned-and-operated station of the network due to Tribune's minority ownership interest. In September of that year, the station changed its on-air identity to "WB 17".
Switch to MyNetworkTV
On January 24, 2006, CBS Corporation (which split from Viacom in December 2005) and Time Warner's Warner Bros. Entertainment (the division that operated The WB) announced that they would dissolve UPN and The WB and merge them to create The CW. On the same day the new network was announced, it signed a ten-year affiliation agreement with 16 of Tribune's 18 WB-affiliated stations. However in the case of Philadelphia, The CW's affiliation went to the city's UPN affiliate, CBS-owned WPSG. It would not have been an upset had WPHL been chosen as the area's CW affiliate, as the network's officials were on record as preferring The WB and UPN's "strongest" stations for their new network, and Philadelphia was one of the few markets where the affiliates of both networks performed relatively well in the ratings.
WPHL was slated to revert to its previous independent status, but on May 15, 2006, Tribune announced that it would affiliate channel 17 (and two other WB affiliates that were not included in The CW affiliation deal) with MyNetworkTV, making WPHL the largest station in terms of market size affiliated with the network that is not owned by parent company News Corporation. It is also the only major station in Philadelphia that is not owned by its respective network. In July, WPHL rebranded itself as "MyPHL17", which partially revived the station's former "PHL 17" moniker. WPHL began airing MyNetworkTV programming on the day that the new service was launched, September 5, 2006. As a result, it did not air the final two weeks of The WB's programming lineup.
On October 4, 2010, the station removed the "My" portion of the branding as many affiliates of the network began dropping network references due to MyNetworkTV becoming more of a primetime programming service than a true television network. WPHL retains the multi-shaded 'blue TV' component of the network's logo. Additionally another version of the logo is used where the "P" in "phl" is replaced with the hat insignia "P" from the logo for the Phillies.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|17.1||1080p||16:9||WPHL-DT||Main WPHL-TV programming / MyNetworkTV|
|17.4||TANGO||Tango Traffic (traffic reports & cameras)|
In Pennsylvania, WPHL is carried on Comcast cable systems in Harrisburg, York and Lancaster; however it is not available in a digital format. It is also carried in Milford, Pike County which is part of the New York City television market. There is no satellite coverage outside of the Philadelphia market. In Maryland, WPHL is carried in Cecil County. In New York during the CATV period of the 1970s and 1980s, New York City and portions of Long Island carried WPHL as a superstation.
In New Jersey, WPHL is carried in parts of Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Somerset and Warren counties. On Cablevision in Ocean, Monmouth Counties it is available on analog. On Comcast in Ocean and Southern Middlesex Counties, WPHL is available in standard definition on digital cable 255. Comcast had carried the station on analog channel 17 until February 2008, when it was moved by to digital only to "preserve bandwidth". Comcast added WPHL's HD signal to its lineups in Ocean and Southern Middlesex counties as well as the borough of Roosevelt in Monmouth County and Comcast's Lambertville area system in Hunterdon County on August 22, 2012 on Channel 907. WPHL's 17.2 Antenna TV and 17.3 This TV (both were already carried as WPIX sub channels) as well as 17.4 Tango Traffic were added to the Central New Jersey Southern Middlesex system on November 27, 2012 (found with a rescan of a digital tuner) but have not been mapped into the Comcast digital boxes or DTAs.
Throughout the station's first three decades of service, WPHL had a tremendous professional sports presence—at various points holding the broadcast rights to the Phillies (1971–82 and 1993–98, and returning from 2009-11 with the games produced by Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia), the Flyers (1991–98) and the 76ers (1982–95), as well as covering local college basketball and football, with games featuring teams from the Philadelphia Big 5 (La Salle University, University of Pennsylvania, Saint Joseph's University, Villanova University and Temple University). After the station took on The WB programming, it released many of its sports contracts in order to concentrate on its network obligations. Currently, the station does air syndicated college football and basketball games from the syndication arm of ESPN involving the Mid-American Conference (football) and Big East Conference (basketball) until 2009, when WPVI took over. WPHL also aired Big Ten Conference games until the creation of the Big Ten Network on cable in 2007. It has also aired preseason games of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles and usually wins the rights to air 1-2 regular season Eagles games on Monday or Thursday night. This possible even though WPHL is not part of a network which airs NFL games due to an NFL rule requiring games airing on cable to be available on an over-the-air station in each team's home market regardless of affiliation.
In 1994, WPHL entered into an unusual agreement with The Philadelphia Inquirer to broadcast an Inquirer-branded news program. Inquirer News Tonight was a hybrid newscast that integrated normal television news conventions with contributions from the newspaper's personnel. This format did not last and it was abandoned in favor of a more traditional newscast. The broadcast was rebranded as WB 17 News at 10 in late-1996. On December 10, 2005, all in-house news operations were canceled and the entire news and production staff was let go.
On the same December 10, 2005 date WPHL started broadcasting a 10 p.m. half hour news program produced by the news department of NBC-owned WCAU (channel 10). This newscast was called WB 17 News at 10, Powered by NBC 10. On July 25, 2006, the program was renamed My PHL 17 News, Powered by NBC 10 to correspond with WPHL's upcoming switch to MyNetworkTV. When WCAU debuted their new high definition studios were opened on December 10, 2008, they began producing the My PHL 17 News in high definition as well. The newscast was renamed once again on October 4, 2010 as phl17 News at 10, Powered by NBC 10.
On October 31, 2011, WPHL debuted EyeOpener, a morning news concept by Tribune Broadcasting that originally debuted in May 2011 on sister station KIAH in Houston, featuring a mix of news, lifestyle, entertainment and opinion segments. Local news, weather, and traffic segments are featured along with local reports presented by five multimedia journalists; however, much of EyeOpener (which was previously produced at Tribune Company's Chicago headquarters) is pre-produced at the studios of sister station KDAF in Dallas-Fort Worth and is also distributed on Tribune-owned stations in three other markets that provide their own localized content.
The WCAU-produced 10 p.m. newscast ended on September 14, 2012, and the newscast's production was turned over the following day to WPVI (under the title Action News at 10 on PHL17) through a news share agreement with the ABC owned-and-operated station. The weekday editions of the newscast will utilize the same anchor team seen on WPVI's 4 p.m. newscast, while the weekend newscasts will use the same staff as that station's weekend evening newscasts. It is the third ABC owned-and-operated station to be involved in a news share agreement, the others being KGO-TV/San Francisco (which produces independent station KOFY-TV's 9 p.m. newscast) and WTVD/Raleigh (which produces CW affiliate WLFL's 10 p.m. newscast).
- Inquirer News Tonight (1994–1996)
- WB 17 News (1996–2005)
- WB 17 News, Powered by NBC 10 (2005–2006)
- My PHL 17 News, Powered by NBC 10 (2006–2010)
- PHL 17 News, Powered by NBC 10 (2010–2012)
- Action News at 10 on PHL17 (September 15, 2012–present)
+ Indicates WPHL-TV personnel
- Shirleen Allicot - weeknights at 10:00 p.m.
- Rob Jennings - weekends at 10:00 p.m.
- + Marlie Hall - weekday morning news updates during EyeOpener
- + Zachery Lashway - weekday morning news updates during EyeOpener
- Brian Taff - weeknights at 10:00 p.m.
- Adam Joseph (AMS Seal of Approval) - meteorologist; weeknights at 10:00 p.m.
- Melissa Magee (AMS Seal of Approval) - meteorologist; weekends at 10:00 p.m.
- Sports team
- Ducis Rodgers - sports anchor; weeknights at 10:00 p.m.
- Jeff Skversky - sports anchor; weekends at 10:00 p.m.; also sports reporter
- Dann Cuellar - general assignment reporter
- Ali Gorman - "HealthCheck" reporter
- Nydia Han - consumer reporter
- David Henry - general assignment reporter
- + Ashley Johnson - EyeOpener reporter
- Jennifer Joyce - general assignment reporter
- Annie McCormick - general assignment reporter
- Kenneth Moton - general assignment reporter
- Nora Muchanic - New Jersey bureau correspondent
- Vernon Odom - general assignment reporter
- Erin O'Hearn - features reporter
- Chad Pradelli - general assignment reporter
- John Rawlins - general assignment reporter
- Katherine Scott - general assignment reporter
- Lisa Thomas-Laury - feature reporter
- "FCC Ownership Report Search Results - Facility ID 73879". FCC.gov. Federal Communications Commission.
- "FCC Assignment of License / Transfer of Control Group Search Results - Facility ID 73879". FCC.gov. Federal Communications Commission.
- "FCC 316 - APPLICATION FOR CONSENT TO ASSIGN BROADCAST STATION CONSTRUCTION PERMIT OR LICENSE OR TO TRANSFER CONTROL OF ENTITY HOLDING BROADCAST STATION CONSTRUCTION PERMIT OR LICENSE - BALCDT-20120615ABS". FCC.gov. Federal Communications Commission. Accepted 18 June 2012; Granted 28 June 2012; Consummation 12 December 2012.
- Warner Bros., Tribune Broadcasting & Jamie Kellner to Launch WB Network in 1994, TheFreeLibrary.com. Retrieved 12-10-2010.
- Tribune Broadcasting Joins with Warner Bros. to Launch Fifth Television Network, TheFreeLibrary.com. Retrieved 12-10-2010.
- The Gossip, Eye Opener at PHL17, The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 3, 2011.
- WPHL-17 "Eye Opener"
- WPVI Takes Over 10pm Newscast On WPHL, TVSpy, August 27, 2012.
- Meet the Team
- Meet the Action News at 10 Team
- [Meet the Team]
- Official website
- Philly.ThisTV.com - Official This TV Philadelphia Website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WPHL-TV
- FCC TV Station Profiles & Public Inspection Files for WPHL
- Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
- Vintage PHL17