|Wilmington, North Carolina|
|Branding||Fox Wilmington (general)
Fox Wilmington News (newscasts)
|Channels||Digital: 30 (UHF)
Virtual: 26 (PSIP)
26.2 This TV
|Owner||American Spirit Media, LLC
(operated through SSA
by Raycom Media)
|First air date||September 24, 1984|
|Call letters' meaning||SuperFoX (former branding)|
|Former callsigns||WJKA (1984-1994)|
|Former channel number(s)||26 (UHF analog, 1984-2008)
19 W19CA Lumberton (analog translator)
|Former affiliations||CBS (1984-1994)|
|Transmitter power||190 kW|
WSFX-TV is the Fox-affiliated television station for North Carolina's Cape Fear region that is licensed to Wilmington. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 30 (or virtual channel 26.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter in Town Creek Township. The station can also be seen on Time Warner Cable, Charter, and ATMC channel 9. There is a high definition feed offered on Charter digital channel 709 as well as Time Warner Cable and ATMC digital channel 920. Owned by American Spirit Media, WSFX is operated through a shared services agreement (SSA) by Raycom Media. This makes it sister to NBC affiliate WECT and the two outlets share studios on Shipyard Boulevard in Wilmington. Syndicated programming on the outlet includes 30 Rock, Two and a Half Men, TMZ on TV, and Family Feud among others.
The station signed-on September 24, 1984 as CBS affiliate WJKA. It aired an analog signal on UHF channel 26 leasing space on ABC affiliate WWAY's tower in Brunswick County. The station was originally owned by Wilmington Telecasters, a company owned by Robinson and Katherine Everett of Durham. Prior to WJKA's start-up, Wilmington was one of the few markets in the country without its own CBS affiliate, and one of the few in the Eastern Time Zone without full network service. Future sister station WECT had a secondary CBS affiliation until cable arrived in the area in the 1970s, while Florence, South Carolina's WBTW covered most of the market with a Grade B signal. From the 1970s until WJKA's sign-on, local cable systems piped in either WTVD from Durham, WNCT-TV from Greenville, or WBTW.
Channel 26's tenure as a CBS affiliate was far from successful. The station operated on a shoestring budget and did not produce much local content, mostly serving as a "pass-through" for automated CBS programming. The fact that WNCT and WBTW provided at least Grade B coverage to parts of the market did not help matters either. Further complicating matters, Raleigh's WRAL-TV, which had been available on cable in Wilmington for decades, switched to CBS a year after WJKA's sign-on. This move forced the fledgling station to compete against three of the strongest CBS affiliates in the Southeastern United States. Under those circumstances, WJKA barely registered as a blip in the local Nielsen ratings against WECT and WWAY.
In 1994, WJKA, along with sister station KECY-TV in El Centro, California/Yuma, Arizona, switched their affiliations to Fox; while this occurred shortly after CBS lost broadcasting rights of the NFL to Fox, the change followed several disputes between Robinson O. Everett and CBS (including one over a planned upgrade of KECY's translator in Palm Springs to a full-power station). That September, channel 26 changed its call letters to the current WSFX-TV. Before the switch, Wilmington was the only portion of North Carolina, and one of the few in the Eastern Time Zone, without an over-the-air Fox affiliate of its own. The area's cable systems piped in WLFL in Raleigh. As a result of WSFX's affiliation switch, Wilmington reverted to not having an over-the-air CBS affiliate until March 2000 when low-powered UPN station WILM-LP switched its primary affiliation to CBS. During that time, cable systems supplemented the area with either WRAL-TV, WNCT, or WBTW.
On paper, the loss of CBS should have put channel 26 in serious jeopardy, since it now faced having to buy an additional 10 hours of programming per day. Fox had just begun airing a full week's worth of programming just a season earlier, but then as now does not produce daytime programming. However, the move to Fox rejuvenated the station. Within a few years, it was one of the strongest small-market Fox affiliates in the country.
Until 1996, WSFX also doubled as the Fox affiliate for the Florence/Myrtle Beach, South Carolina market, which did not have its own affiliate. In fact, the call letters stand for SuperFoX, referring to its on-air name at the time and relatively wide coverage area. Since the station's over-the-air signal does not reach Florence, the Pee Dee area had to rely on cable for Fox programming until WGSE-TV (now WFXB) in Myrtle Beach took the affiliation.
In 2003, Everett sold the station to Southeastern Media Holdings. Raycom Media then took over WSFX' operations through a shared service agreement with WECT. As part of the agreement, WSFX's operations were integrated into WECT's facility.
In the late-1990s, Time Warner Cable in Lumberton began to drop Wilmington stations. This station was dropped from cable in Laurinburg in the early to mid-1990s when it was still a CBS affiliate. WFXB is currently the only Fox affiliate offered on cable in that area.
On June 27, 2011, WSFX re-branded as "Fox Wilmington" and introduced a new logo. Besides sharing the same call letters, this television station and WSFX-FM 89.1 in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania have no other relation to each other.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|26.1||720p||16:9||WSFX-DT||Main WSFX programming / Fox|
|26.2||480i||4:3||THIS TV||This TV|
On May 8, 2008, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced five stations in Wilmington (including WSFX) had agreed to voluntarily cease analog broadcasting on September 8. The Wilmington market was billed as the first in the nation to convert to all-digital transmission due to its role as the FCC's digital transition test market. Hawaii shut down analog broadcasting in January 2009 followed by more but not all full-power television broadcasters on February 17. 2009
It formerly operated an analog translator, W19CA channel 19, that was licensed to Lumberton and had a transmitter in Lumber Bridge. The northern and western areas of Robeson County (St. Pauls, Parkton, and Red Springs) also do not carry WSFX even though its former analog translator was located in Lumber Bridge. This repeater had a directional signal covering Robeson County fairly well. The translator could be seen as far north as Raeford in Hoke County and Hope Mills in Cumberland County in the Raleigh/Durham area.
As WJKA-TV, the station had virtually no news department for most of its tenure as a CBS affiliate. In the mid-1980s, it did air a weekday noon show called Midday offering local news headlines and entertainment reports. In the early-1990s just before switching to Fox, the station operated a short-lived news operation branded as WJKA Action News 26. It attempted to create another source for local broadcasts other than WWAY and WECT. However, the latter maintained a strong lead in the market's ratings and viewership counts by consistently holding the top spot in Nielsen marks.
On September 22, 2003, WSFX debuted a nightly half-hour prime time newscast produced by WECT through a news share arrangement. Currently known as Fox Wilmington News at 10, the show airs from the NBC affiliate's primary set but with modified duratrans indicating the Fox-branded show. There is also a separate custom Raycom Media graphics scheme and music package from WECT. Although WSFX features the majority of the NBC outlet's on-air personnel, this station maintains a separate additional news anchor on weeknights that can fill-in on WECT when necessary, On January 15, 2014, the 10:00 p.m. weeknight newscast expands to one hour.
On September 13, 2006, the NBC affiliate added an hour-long extension of its weekday morning show to WSFX. Known as Carolina in the Morning on Fox Wilmington, the broadcast can be seen from 7 until 8 offering a local choice to the national morning shows seen on the market's big three network-affiliated stations. On August 31, 2008, WECT became Wilmington's first television station to upgrade local newscasts to high definition level and broadcasts on WSFX were included.
After ABC affiliate WWAY dropped weekend newscasts on August 1, 2009, this station and WECT became the only option for local news. Although the ABC station eventually restored a late night newscast to Sundays on October 3, 2010, WSFX and WECT remain the only stations in the market to offer shows throughout the weekend. Currently Newscast times on Fox Wilmington are the weekday editions of Carolina In The Morning from 7-8 a.m. and FOX Wilmington News at 10:00. Beginning January 15, 2014, the 10 p.m. weeknight newscast expands to one hour. The 6:30 p.m. newscast has been cancelled to make way for the hour long newscast at 10 p.m.
- WSFX-TV "Fox Wilmington" (can be entered into web-enabled wireless device for mobile access)
- WSFX-DT2 This TV
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WSFX-TV