WPTZ

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WPTZ
WPTZ.svg

Wnne wptz news.png
Plattsburgh, New York -
Burlington, Vermont
Branding NewsChannel 5
Slogan Covering the Champlain Valley and Beyond
TV Now (on DT2)
Channels Digital: 14 (UHF)
Virtual: 5 (PSIP)
Subchannels 5.1 NBC
5.2 The CW (primary)
Me-TV (secondary)
Network NBC
Owner Hearst Television
(Hearst Stations, Inc.)
First air date December 8, 1954; 59 years ago (1954-12-08)
Call letters' meaning PlatTZburgh (sic)
Sister station(s) WNNE
Former callsigns WIRI (1954-1956)
Former channel number(s) 5 (VHF analog, 1954-2009)
Former affiliations DuMont (secondary, 1954-1955)
ABC (secondary, 1954-1968)
NBC Weather Plus (on DT2, 2006-2009)
This TV (on DT2, 2009-2013)
Transmitter power 650 kW
Height 845 m
Facility ID 57476
Transmitter coordinates 44°31′32″N 72°48′56″W / 44.52556°N 72.81556°W / 44.52556; -72.81556
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
CDBS
Website wptz.com

WPTZ, channel 5, is an NBC-affiliated television station located in Plattsburgh, New York, USA. WPTZ is owned by the broadcasting subsidiary of the Hearst Corporation, and has its studios in Plattsburgh and transmitter located on Mount Mansfield in Vermont.

All of WPTZ's programming can also be seen over semi-satellite station WNNE (channel 31), which is licensed to Hartford, Vermont and serves the Upper Connecticut River Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire.

History[edit]

The station signed-on December 8, 1954 as WIRI, licensed to the hamlet of North Pole, New York. WIRI was owned by the Great Northern Broadcasting Company along with WIRY radio (1340 AM), with its studios in Plattsburgh and transmitter on Terry Mountain in Peru, New York. The station has been a primary NBC affiliate since its inception; it carried secondary affiliations with ABC until 1968 when WVNY (channel 22) signed-on, and with DuMont until that network ceased operations in 1956.

Rollins Telecasting purchased WIRI in 1956. The new owners changed the station's call letters to the present WPTZ (for PlatTZburgh); the WPTZ calls had recently been dropped by the channel 3 facility in Philadelphia following its controversial trade by Westinghouse Broadcasting to NBC earlier in that year. Rollins merged with Heritage Broadcasting in 1987 to form Heritage Media. In 1991, Heritage Media purchased WNNE, which had been a separate station with its own news department. With Heritage's purchase, WNNE was made into a semi-satellite of WPTZ, significantly improving WPTZ's coverage in the southeastern part of the market. During the analog era, the station was the only one in the area that did not operate any translators. Heritage moved WNNE's master control to WPTZ in Plattsburgh in 2000.

The company sold all of its broadcasting properties to the Sinclair Broadcast Group in 1997 prior to its merger with News Corporation. The sale protected new Fox affiliate WFFF-TV which was initially operated by WPTZ under a local marketing agreement (LMA) and shared the analog transmitter on Terry Mountain. Otherwise WPTZ/WNNE, along with then-sister stations in Pensacola, Florida and Charleston, West Virginia would have been forced to switch to Fox. Sinclair, in turn, sold WPTZ/WNNE along with the WFFF LMA to Sunrise Television in 1998. Sunrise then decided to swap WPTZ/WNNE, along with Smith Broadcasting-owned KSBW in Salinas, California to what was then known as Hearst-Argyle Television in return for WNAC-TV in Providence, Rhode Island and WDTN in Dayton, Ohio. The swap became official on July 2, 1998. WFFF began operating as an independently-owned and controlled station around the same time Hearst took over WPTZ/WNNE when the LMA with WPTZ was terminated.

On June 23, 1999, WPTZ petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to change its community of license (COL) from North Pole to Plattsburgh. The station cited the area's declining population as the reason for the change. The 2000 United States Census did not even count North Pole as a separate community, instead folding it into Lake Placid. The community-of-license change was approved by the FCC on January 5, 2011.[1]

WPTZ was one of two television stations in the United States with a "North Pole" community of license. The remaining station is KJNP-TV, a religious station licensed to North Pole, Alaska in the Fairbanks area. WPTZ was a subject of a blooper when Oprah Winfrey taped a promo for her show for WPTZ and started laughing after she spoke the station's community of license. David Letterman in another promo during his NBC tenure, riffed on the station's request for him to pronounce the "Z" in WPTZ as "zed" instead of "zee" for the station's Canadian audience.[citation needed]

On February 17, 2009, the station shut down its analog signal and began to broadcast exclusively in digital. It was one of the first stations owned by Hearst to cease analog broadcasting (KITV in Honolulu, Hawaii was the other). On July 9, 2012, WPTZ's parent company Hearst Television was involved in a dispute with Time Warner Cable, leading to WPTZ being pulled from Time Warner Cable and temporarily replaced with Nexstar Broadcasting Group station WBRE-TV of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania;[2][3] Time Warner opted for such a distant signal like WBRE, as they do not have the rights to carry any NBC affiliate closest to them.[4] The substitution of WBRE in place of WPTZ lasted until July 19, 2012, when the deal was reached between Hearst and Time Warner.[5]

Digital television[edit]

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming
5.1 16:9 1080i WPTZ-HD Main WPTZ programming / NBC
5.2 4:3 480i CW-METV The CW / Me-TV

WPTZ-DT2[edit]

In September 2006, WPTZ established a daily web video forecast as part of a major revamping of its website. The feature, known as the "Weather Plus Update", introduced a logo showing WPTZ/WNNE offering NBC Weather Plus together as "5&31 Weather Plus". Starting in October, its studios in Plattsburgh underwent extensive renovations. During that time, its broadcasts were from a temporary set while the construction took place. While the studios as a whole were being upgraded, the weather department underwent the most change. In advance of the launch of NBC Weather Plus, the weather center was expanded to make room for new combined WPTZ/WNNE weather graphics and logos. The remodeling was completed by late-November.

WPTZ launched Weather Plus on a new second digital subchannel on November 15 after debuting a new digital signal from Mount Mansfield a day earlier. The service was never offered on WNNE's digital signal even though this had been airing since July 20, 2005. On digital cable, WPTZ-DT2 was carried on Comcast digital channel 169 (serving the Upper Valley), Telecom digital channel 305, and Time Warner digital channel 854. It was never offered on Charter systems in New York State.

In December 2008, NBC shut down the national Weather Plus service. WPTZ continued to air a locally-derived version of Weather Plus until August 31, 2009 when it was replaced with This TV. This marked the network's first foray into the Plattsburgh and Burlington area along with St. Lawrence County in New York and eastern portions of the adjacent Watertown market where WPTZ has long served as the default NBC affiliate on cable. WPTZ-DT2 remained on the three digital cable systems (with a change on Comcast systems to channel 302) while being added to Charter digital channel 296. It was still not carried on a subchannel of WNNE. On January 2, 2013, This TV was replaced on 5.2 with its sister network Me-TV (both networks are owned by Weigel Broadcasting).[6]

On March 4, 2013, WPTZ's second digital subchannel assumed the CW affiliation for the Plattsburgh/Burlington market from WFFF-DT2.[7] It airs The CW's weeknight primetime lineup (8 to 10 p.m.) as well as the Saturday morning children's block Vortexx (7 a.m. to Noon) in-pattern. However, The Bill Cunningham Show, which airs weekdays at 3 p.m. on many CW affiliates, is delayed to 12:30 a.m. Me-TV programming continues to air on WPTZ-DT2 during all time periods outside of these network slots. Since the main WPTZ channel also serves as one of the default NBC affiliates for Massena, New York (along with WSTM-TV in Syracuse), that area now has access to two CW affiliates when Watertown's WWTI-DT2 is included. Despite adding The CW, there have been no plans made public about WPTZ's semi-satellite WNNE adding the network in order to increase the broadcasting radius. Currently, access in the Upper Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire is solely through the digital tier of Comcast systems.

Canadian viewership[edit]

Like the other network stations that serve Plattsburgh and Burlington, WPTZ has a large audience in Southern Quebec, Canada. This includes Montreal, a city that is ten times more populous than all of WPTZ's entire American viewing area combined. For many years, station promos and IDs have read "Plattsburgh/Burlington/Montreal" to acknowledge its large cable viewership in Canada.

WPTZ is widely carried on cable in the province of Québec as far north as Saguenay and as far east as Gaspé. In addition, Southern Quebec viewers can also pick up WPTZ's over the air signal with a well-placed antenna. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's simsub rules mandate cable systems to cover up WPTZ's signal with that of CFCF, CKMI, or CJNT within their broadcasting areas when one of those stations is airing the same program at the same time as WPTZ.

News operation[edit]

Former Weekday morning news open.

For most of its history, WPTZ's newscasts have been a distant second in the ratings behind long-dominant CBS affiliate WCAX-TV. Traditionally, it focuses on the North Country and New York State while the other channel tends to cover more from Vermont. In order to cover that state, WPTZ operates secondary facilities known as the Vermont Bureau on Roosevelt Highway (U.S. 2/U.S. 7) in Colchester. At one point, there had been more general assignment reporters based at the main studios in Plattsburgh. However in more recent times,[when?] additional reporters based at the Vermont Bureau have been hired.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, WNNE operated its own news department and aired local newscasts. This was progressively cut back after being bought by Heritage, eventually resulting in the elimination of a full news operation in 2007. Today, the only visual difference between the stations are different channel bugs during newscasts. Occasionally when WNNE has technical problems, WPTZ's logo will peek through. The two currently use the NewsChannel branding.

During newscasts on WPTZ, WNNE is referred to as the Upper Valley Bureau and features a full-time reporter based in its White River Junction studios. Contributions to the broadcasts on this channel includes a live headline from the Upper Valley weeknights at 5:30 as well as video footage for other time slots. In addition to the Upper Valley and Vermont Bureaus, WPTZ airs national news from Hearst Television's Washington, D.C. bureau. It employs several reporters who give live reports to the various Hearst affiliates.

Although WPTZ and WNNE do not own or operate weather radars of their own, they use live NOAA National Weather Service radar data from several regional sites. It is presented on-screen in a forecasting system known as "Storm Tracker 5000" (powered by the Supper Doppler Network). Unlike most NBC affiliates, WPTZ does not air a midday newscast during the week. It had aired a show at noon until 2005 but was dropped in favor of 5:30 Now that airs on weeknights. With the departure of Thom Hallock (whose contract was not renewed by station) on November 23, 2007, WPTZ was left with an all-woman weeknight anchor team. That changed with the arrival of Gus Rosendale. He left WPTZ in 2005 to report at sister station WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh and made his debut back at this station in mid-December. Rosendale left the station again in December 2010 to join KSTP-TV in Minneapolis – Saint Paul, with George Mallet taking his place shortly thereafter. In February 2012 Rosendale joined WNBC-TV in New York City.

In August 2009, the station introduced a new format and title to its weeknight newscast at 11. The re-formatted show called NewsChannel 5 Nightcast features more fast-paced and edgier news. Despite its logo which includes "HD", the newscasts were aired in pillar-boxed 4:3 standard definition and it was the only station in the market to not have upgraded local news to high definition. WPTZ was one of six remaining stations owned by Hearst that has yet to make the upgrade to 16:9 enhanced definition widescreen or full HD, until on April 26, 2011, when WPTZ started airing newscasts in widescreen. However, unlike the newscasts on WCAX and WFFF/WVNY, the WPTZ newscasts are not in true HD—just SD widescreen. In August 2013, WPTZ started airing the area's very first weekend morning news. NewsChannel 5 Today airs on Saturdays from 5:00-7:00 and on Sundays from 6:00-8:00 a.m. This beats WCAX which had previously announced that they would add weekend morning news.

Newscast titles[edit]

  • Eyewitness News (1960s-1979)
  • Nightly News on 5 (1979-1985)
  • News 5 (1985-1995)
  • WPTZ NewsChannel 5 (1995–present)
  • Nightcast (weeknight 11 p.m. news, 2009–present)

Station slogans[edit]

  • "Coverage You Can Count On" (1998-2003)
  • "Where the News Comes First" (2003-2013)
  • "Covering the Champlain Valley and Beyond" (2013-present)

News team[8][edit]

Anchors

  • Ken Drake - sports anchor; weeknights at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.
  • Stephanie Gorin - weeknights at 5:00, 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.
  • Cat Janisko - weekend mornings (5:00-7:00 Saturdays and 6:00-8:00 a.m. Sundays)
  • Courtney Kabot - weekday mornings (5:00-7:00 a.m.)
  • George Mallet - weeknights at 5:00, 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.
  • David Schneider - weekends at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.; also weekday reporter
  • Bridget Shanahan - weeknights at 5:30 p.m.; also weekday reporter

Weather

  • Gib Brown (AMS Seal of Approval) - meteorologist; weekends at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.
  • Hayley LaPoint (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - meteorologist; weekday mornings (5:00-7:00 a.m.)
  • Tom Messner (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - chief meteorologist; weeknights at 5:00, 5:30, 6:00 and 11:00 p.m., also "Hometown Hero Award" segment producer (heard on WOKO-FM 98.9, WKOL-FM 105.1, WJOY-AM 1230, WSLP-FM 93.3, and CKON-FM 97.3)
  • Brian Warren - meteorologist; fill-in
  • John Hickey - meteorologist; weekend mornings (5:00-7:00 Saturdays and 6:00-8:00 a.m. Sundays)

Reporters

  • Ashley Allen - Upper Valley (WNNE) reporter
  • Alison Carey - New York reporter
  • David Charns - Vermont reporter
  • Lewis First - also "First With Kids" segment producer
  • Stewart Ledbetter - Vermont senior reporter
  • Vanessa Misciagna - Vermont reporter
  • Jack Thurston - Vermont reporter (NECN)
  • Lauren Victory - Vermont reporter
  • Stephen Watson - sports reporter; sports anchor weekends at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.

Hearst Television Washington Bureau

  • Kate Amara - weekday morning Washington D.C. bureau reporter (5:00-7:00 a.m.)
  • Nikole Killion - Washington D.C. bureau reporter
  • Sally Kidd - Washington D.C. bureau reporter

Notable former on-air-staff[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]