|Branding||ABC 13 (general)
ABC 13 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||The Heart of Virginia (general)
Coverage You Can Count On (news)
|Channels||Digital: 13 (VHF)
Virtual: 13 (PSIP)
|Translators||W05AA-D 5 Roanoke|
|Affiliations||ABC (secondary until 1954)
WeatherNation TV (DT3)
|Owner||Allbritton Communications Company
(sale to Sinclair Broadcast Group pending)
|Founded||February 8, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||NeWSET 13|
|Former callsigns||WLVA-TV (1953-1977)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
13 (VHF, 1953-2009)
34 (UHF, 2004-2009)
|Transmitter power||28.7 kW|
WSET-TV is the ABC television network affiliate for the Roanoke/Lynchburg, Virginia market. The station is licensed to Lynchburg, and transmits its digital signal on VHF channel 13. WSET is owned by the Allbritton Communications Company. Its transmitter is located near Thaxton, Virginia. WSET also began airing Retro Television Network on a digital subchannel starting April 2008.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|13.1||720p||16:9||WSET-HD||Main WSET-TV programming / ABC|
|13.2||480i||4:3||WSET-SD||Retro Television Network|
WSET-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 13, in 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. Since the station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 34 to its former analog VHF channel 13 in October 2009. The station's over-the-air coverage in much of the western part of the market, especially the New River Valley, is somewhat marginal due in part to the mountainous terrain. W05AA was converted to digital operation in late 2009, which helped to fill in coverage holes in Roanoke.
WSET-TV signed on the air for the very first time on February 8, 1953 as WLVA-TV (W-Lynchburg-VirginiA) from a transmitter on Tobacco Row Mountain. The station was owned by Lynchburg Broadcasting, which also owned WLVA radio. It was the first station in Virginia to operate at full power, and also served Charlottesville as well. It was originally a CBS affiliate, but also carried programs from ABC, NBC, and DuMont as well. By the end of 1954, Roanoke and Lynchburg had been collapsed into a single market. Accordingly, channel 13 moved its transmitter and tower to Evington, Virginia in 1954 in an attempt to better serve Roanoke and the western part of the market. Since Roanoke was already served by NBC affiliate WSLS-TV, WLVA-TV opted to become a primary ABC affiliate—Virginia's first. The two stations then split CBS until WDBJ-TV signed on from Roanoke in 1955. Channel 13 is the oldest ABC affiliate south of Washington, DC.
In the early 1960s, the station set up translator W05AA to help cover Roanoke, since its main signal did poorly in many parts of the city. WSET was not alone in installing low-VHF Roanoke translators; the early 1960s also saw W02AE put on the air to translate WSLS and W04AG put on the air to translate WDBJ.
In 1965, Lynchburg Broadcasting sold the WLVA stations to the Washington Star Company, which also owned the Washington Star newspaper and WMAL-FM-TV. Joe L. Allbritton bought the Star in 1976. Allbritton sold off the company's non-television assets, including WLVA radio, in 1977, and in 1978 WLVA-TV changed its call letters to the current WSET-TV to coincide with its new branding, "NeWSET-13."
For most of its first 30 years on the air, channel 13 provided spotty coverage to the western part of the market because it is sandwiched between WLOS-TV in Asheville, North Carolina and WOWK-TV in Huntington, West Virginia. The station made numerous requests to move its transmitter closer to Roanoke. However, they were all turned down by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) each time due to concerns about interference, principally with WOWK. This was despite the fact that the Roanoke/Lynchburg and Huntington/Charleston markets do not border each other. However, the FCC believed that the two markets were close enough that the two channel 13 transmitters had to be as far apart as possible to avoid interference. Its signal was so weak in Roanoke that ABC actually granted an affiliation to a second station in the market, WRFT-TV (channel 27), for much of the 1960s and 1970s.
In 1970, channel 13 sought to move its transmitter to Poor Mountain near Roanoke, where the other major stations in the market operated their transmitters, but was turned down by the FCC even though Poor Mountain is over 220 miles from WOWK's transmitter. In 1980, WSET won FCC approval to relocate its transmitter to Thaxton Mountain near Bedford, halfway between Roanoke and Lynchburg. WSET activated its new transmitter in 1982, providing a clear signal to most of Roanoke for the first time. However, the FCC required WSET to significantly conform its signal to protect WOWK. As a result, some areas of the western part of the market, including parts of Roanoke itself, only got a grade B signal.
WSET's newscasts primarily focus on the eastern part of the Roanoke/Lynchburg market. Beginning in October 2005, it was one of only two ABC affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone to air ABC's World News Tonight at 7 p.m.; WSB-TV in Atlanta is the other. However, WSET has returned the national program to the 6:30 p.m. time slot, shifting its local newscast to 7:00 p.m.
Once and Again controversy
On March 11, 2002, WSET pre-empted an episode of Once and Again which contained a scene in which two female characters kiss one another, and ran a prime-time infomercial instead. WSET was the only ABC affiliate to pre-empt the episode. The decision, which station management refused to explain, provoked condemnation from GLAAD and praise from Lynchburg resident Jerry Falwell.
|This section requires expansion with: information on the history of WSET's news department. (September 2011)|
On September 12, 2011, WSET began broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition, the station is the third in the Roanoke-Lynchburg market to make the transition to HD.
- Shelley Basinger - weekday mornings on Good Morning Virginia (5-7 a.m.) and weekdays at noon
- Danner Evans - weeknights at 5 and 5:30 p.m.
- Pattie Martin - weekday mornings on Good Morning Virginia (5-7 a.m.)
- Dhomonique Ricks - weekends at 6 and 11 p.m.; also reporter
- Len Stevens - weeknights at 5:30, 6, 7 and 11 p.m.
- Noreen Turyn - weeknights at 6 p.m.
ABC 13 Weather
- Sean Sublette (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - chief meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 5:30, 6, 7 and 11 p.m.
- Matt Ferguson (AMS Seal of Approval; member, NWA) - meteorologist; weekday mornings on Good Morning Virginia (5-7 a.m.) and noon
- Lyndsay Tapases - (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) meteorologist; weekends at 6 and 11 p.m.
- Dennis Carter - sports director; weeknights at 6 and 11 p.m.
- Justin Feldkamp - sports anchor; weekends at 6 and 11 p.m.
- Tola Adamson - Danville bureau reporter
- Whitney Delbridge - Danville bureau reporter
- Carleigh Griffeth - general assignment reporter
- James Gherardi - general assignment reporter
- Angela Hatcher - general assignment reporter
- Heather Rosenbaum - Danville bureau reporter
- Claudia Rupcich - weekend reporter (6 and 11 p.m.); also host of "The Weekly Buzz"
- Rachel Schaerr - general assignment reporter
- Parker Slaybaugh - general assignment reporter
- David Tate - Roanoke bureau reporter
- WLVA-TV News (1953-1964)
- The Jack Martin Report (1964-1971)
- Channel 13 News (1971-1977)
- NeWSET 13 (1977-1987)
- NewsCenter 13 (1987-1990)
- News 13 (1990-1997)
- News 13-ABC (1997-2001)
- ABC 13 News (2001–present)
- The Heart of Virginia (1987–present)
- Friends You Can Count on (early-mid 1990s)
- Coverage You Can Count On (2004–present)
- Lynchburg-based WSET goes on air with digital signal
- Equity Media Holdings Corporation - RTN Announces Expansion to Roanoke
- RabbitEars TV Query for WSET
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- "Radio and TV Programs". The Bee (Danville, VA). 1954-08-26. pp. B–11.
- "ABC Affiliate Pulls 'Once and Again' Episode", zap2it.com, 2002-03-12. Retrieved on 2007-03-07.
- "Lynchburg ABC Affiliate Refuses to Air Once and Again", glaad.org, 2002-03-13. Retrieved on 2007-03-07.
- Jerry Falwell, "A hero in our midst", worldnetdaily.com, 2002-03-16. Retrieved on 2007-03-07.
- Talent Bios
- WSET website
- RabbitEars.Info: Roanoke-Lynchburg Stations
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WSET
- Query TV Fool's coverage map for WSET
- Query the FCC's TV station database for W05AA
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WSET-TV