|Branding||WTAE 4 (general)
Channel 4 (general; secondary)
Pittsburgh's Action News 4 (newscasts)
|Channels||Digital: 51 (UHF)
Virtual: 4 (PSIP)
4.2 This TV
|Translators||22 (UHF) (4.3) Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood|
(WTAE Hearst Television, Inc.)
|First air date||September 14, 1958|
|Call letters' meaning||Television sister to the former WCAE, now WDDZ|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
4 (VHF, 1958–2009)
|Transmitter power||1000 kW|
|Height||273 m (896 ft)|
|Public license information:||Profile
WTAE-TV, channel 4, is an ABC-affiliated television station located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. The station is owned by the Hearst Television division of the Hearst Corporation and has been owned by Hearst since the station's inception. The station's studios are located on Ardmore Boulevard in the suburb of Wilkinsburg (though with a Pittsburgh mailing address), and its transmitter is located in Buena Vista, Pennsylvania.
- 1 History
- 2 Digital television
- 3 Programming
- 4 News operation
- 5 References
- 6 External links
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (March 2014)|
WTAE-TV began broadcasting on September 14, 1958; the station has been Pittsburgh's ABC affiliate since its sign-on. From the beginning, the Hearst Corporation has been involved in the station's ownership. How the station came to be was the result of a long and complicated drama surrounding the awarding of the station's construction permit and ultimate broadcast license.
Although it was the sixth-largest market in the country for most of the early television era, Pittsburgh had only one major commercial television station for close to a decade – DuMont-owned WDTV (channel 2, now KDKA-TV), which signed on in 1949 and carried programs from all four television networks (DuMont, ABC. NBC and CBS). Further development of stations in Pittsburgh was halted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s freeze on license awards, which ran from 1948 until 1952. Even after the freeze was lifted by the FCC's Sixth Report and Order, the FCC held off on allocating new VHF stations to Pittsburgh in order to give the smaller cities in the Upper Ohio Valley a chance to get on the air. The cities in the Upper Ohio Valley are close enough together that they must share the VHF band.
Several months after the freeze was lifted two UHF stations in Pittsburgh, WENS-TV (channel 16, now WINP-TV) and WKJF-TV (channel 53, now WPGH-TV), went on the air. For reasons that were both technical and financial, both stations were short-lived. Meanwhile, revisions to the VHF allocation table had given the Pittsburgh area three additional channels – 4, 11, and 13, the latter reserved for non-commercial educational purposes. The channel 4 frequency on which WTAE began operations during the analog television era was originally allocated to suburban McKeesport, in Allegheny County; other official documents have listed the community of license as Irwin, in Westmoreland County.
Hearings on the channel 4 permit opened in 1955, and it was originally granted by the FCC to the owners of KQV radio in 1956. Hearst, which entered Pittsburgh broadcasting when it purchased WCAE radio (1250 AM, later WTAE [AM] and now WDDZ) in 1931, and the other three applicants that lost later petitioned the FCC to re-open the permit hearings following the death of KQV co-owner Irwin D. Wolf. The subsequent reconsideration awarded channel 4 to Hearst. The agency's commissioners were divided on how to break the stalemate to the satisfaction of both winning parties, and suggested a merger between Hearst and the KQV group, who sold their radio station to ABC in order to appease FCC cross-ownership restrictions. Together, both firms became equal partners in Television City, Inc., under which ownership WTAE went on the air. Hearst would purchase the remaining 50 percent of the station in 1962. As such, WTAE is the only Pittsburgh television station affiliated with a major network to have not changed ownership.
Shortly before the station signed on, the FCC moved the channel 4 assignment to Pittsburgh proper following several years of petitioning by then-Pittsburgh mayor (and future Governor of Pennsylvania) David L. Lawrence. However, the FCC had recently changed its rules so that channel 4 could have based its main studio in Pittsburgh, even if it had been licensed in McKeesport or Irwin. The station's original ownership group's connections with powerful U.S. Senator from Florida, George Smathers led to televised U.S. House hearings with both Lawrence and Smathers testifying in 1958. Both were eventually exonerated with Governor Lawrence claiming that in fact it was the city's solicitors office (whose director he appointed) which may have been guilty of any improper influence, with Smathers and Lawrence merely fulfilling their duty to their respective constituents. WTAE was thus short-spaced to other channel 4 stations in Columbus, Ohio; Oak Hill, West Virginia; Buffalo, New York; and Washington, D.C.; the transmitter was located southeast of the city as a result of the move.
In the early years, Channel 4 was best known in the market for its locally originated entertainment programming, most notably the after-school children's shows Ricki & Copper, Paul Shannon's Adventure Time, and Hank Stohl's Rodney 'n' Knish (Knish was a mop-shaped puppet with a darning egg for a nose). Another popular early program was the late night movie show Shock Theatre, which was hosted by former Pittsburgh radio disc jockey Bob Drews, who portrayed Sir Rodger (often misspelled as Sir Roger). Shock Theatre featured monster movies such as The Invisible Man and Frankenstein in-between live-action comedic skits. By the 1970s, WTAE was running a mix of cartoons and sitcoms from 6:30 to 9 a.m., a local talk show, some ABC shows, more cartoons and off network sitcoms in the afternoon, news and some first run shows in the evening, and ABC prime time programming.
On April 24, 1980, WTAE-TV personality Nick Perry, who hosted Bowling for Dollars and also called the lottery drawings for the Pennsylvania Lottery, fixed the Lottery's daily numbers drawing so that the it would come up as "6-6-6". Perry served jail time, and the drawings were moved to WHP-TV in Harrisburg a year later. This resulted in lotteries now being audited and monitored with "witnesses" from the government and/or accounting firms, and also inspired the movie Lucky Numbers. KDKA-TV aired the Lottery drawings in the Pittsburgh market after this incident until 2009, when they moved back to WTAE-TV.
In 1986, WTAE partnered with the Salvation Army and started Project Bundle Up, an operation to make sure that children and seniors receive warm clothing. WTAE has run the Project Bundle Up Auction which is an auction where local businesses donate products to be auctioned off, and the Project Bundle Up Telethon a traditional telethon where viewers call in to donate money, businesses donate money and all of the proceeds from the auction and telethon benefit the Salvation Army. In 2007, WTAE moved the auction to the Internet.
Although it was the only ABC affiliate in the region when it signed on at the time, WTAE also pre-empted and/or delayed a handful of ABC programs, most notably some of its daytime lineup from the 1960s to the late 1990s. WTAE did not begin running Good Morning America until December of 1978, and only aired an hour of the program until 1980. One Life to Live did not run on WTAE from its 1968 debut up until 1978, when the serial expanded to an hour-long format. From 1969 to 1971, and again from 1974 to 1979, ABC shows that were not broadcast on channel 4 ended up airing instead on WPGH-TV. After 1980, some of these shows ran on WPTT (channel 22, now WPMY). WTAE also preempted the Sunday morning ABC children's programming block the entire time ABC offered it, as well as a couple of hours of ABC's Saturday morning cartoons until 1979. WTAE ran syndicated cartoons in place of the network-supplied children's programs, while the pre-empted Saturday morning network programs (including American Bandstand) aired on WPGH during that time.
By the 1980s, WTAE was running many of the top rated off-network syndicated sitcoms from 4 to 6 p.m. By 1990, WTAE was beginning to focus more on news, and in 1992 dropped the entire ABC Saturday morning cartoon lineup for a 4½ hour newscast (which WPXI was also doing, beginning in 1990). WTAE also expanded its midday newscast to an hour and dropped the Home Show during 1991. Loving was dropped from the daytime lineup in January 1995 and moved to the overnight after until its Fall 1995 cancellation. Later in the decade, WTAE also did not carry Mike and Maty or The City. WTAE began carrying Port Charles in January 1998, but dropped the show entirely in September 2000, three years shy of its cancellation by ABC, and replaced it with Judge Hatchett, which itself was replaced by Access Hollywood in 2004. Beginning in 1996, WTAE began running two hours of the ABC Saturday cartoon lineup on Sunday mornings, a half-hour on Saturday mornings, and a half-hour at 12:30 p.m. In 1998, the station cut back its Saturday morning newscast to three hours at 7 to 10 a.m. and began running three hours of the ABC children's lineup from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Today, though it still offers a news-intensive schedule, WTAE clears nearly the entire ABC lineup.
At various times, WTAE has also served as the default ABC affiliate for the neighboring Johnstown-Altoona, Wheeling-Steubenville, and Clarksburg-Weston television markets (all of which could receive WTAE as a grade B signal). With WTAE having long been one of ABC's strongest affiliates, both parties reportedly resisted efforts by other television stations in those cities to obtain a full-time ABC affiliation. Since then, one station was eventually granted affiliation in Altoona (WATM-TV), while WBOY-TV in Clarksburg and WTRF-TV in Wheeling began carrying ABC programs through digital subchannel affiliations in August 2008 on Your ABC and ABC Ohio Valley, respectively. WTAE remains available on cable in all three markets. In addition to those areas, WTAE can also be seen on several out-of-market cable systems throughout northwestern and central Pennsylvania, and several locations in eastern and northeast Ohio.
WTAE was one of many ABC stations that pre-empted the special showing of Saving Private Ryan in late 2004 due to concerns that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would impose a fine on them if they had aired the World War II-set movie due to the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy earlier that year. The station, along with other Hearst-owned ABC affiliated stations, aired the 1992 film Far and Away instead. Youngstown, Ohio ABC affiliate WYTV still aired Saving Private Ryan, giving viewers in the northern and western portions of WTAE's viewing area the option of watching the film. It was later determined that the movie's broadcast was not a violation of FCC regulations.
In June 2011, a WTAE staff photographer was charged with a sexual crime when an alleged victim stated that the photographer had inappropriate physical contact with her. The photographer arrived in a WTAE news vehicle with station equipment and claimed he was doing an interview, although WTAE management claims that he was not on duty at the time – even though he was using station resources.
This station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|4.1||720p||16:9||WTAE-HD||Main WTAE-TV programming / ABC|
Until January 2014, WTAE was one of a handful of ABC-affiliated stations and one of four Hearst-owned ABC affiliates (the other three are WCVB-TV in Boston, KMBC-TV in Kansas City and KETV in Omaha) that broadcast their HDTV signals in 1080i rather than the 720p format of most other ABC stations. WTAE announced that will convert to the 720p format in January 2014.
WTAE-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 4, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 51. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 4.
WTAE operates a 9250-watt digital broadcast translator on channel 22 to cover portions of the northern Pittsburgh area which were unable to receive channel 4's digital signal. WTAE had to wait for WPMY, which had been operating in analog nightlight mode after terminating regular programming on analog UHF channel 22 on the original February 17 deadline, to leave the channel entirely on March 19 before operating it.
- Channel 4 Action Sports Sunday (sports wrap-up show Sundays at 11:30 p.m.-midnight)
- Steelers Primetime - extended Steelers coverage during NFL season
- Project Bundle-Up Telethon, seasonal partnership with Salvation Army
- Chronicle, hosted by Sally Wiggin 
WTAE-TV clears the entire ABC lineup. Aside from this and news programming, WTAE's other offerings include Live! with Kelly and Michael, Steve Harvey, The Dr. Oz Show, Entertainment Tonight, Inside Edition, among others. Channel 4 has carried Live! with Kelly and Michael (and its predecessors) since its national debut in 1988 and Entertainment Tonight since 1989. For an ABC affiliate that is owned by a company that does not own a network, WTAE-TV has the local rights to CBS Television Distribution's programs (ET and Inside Edition), instead of CBS-owned KDKA-TV, which is rare in several television markets where a network O&O would air shows produced by its sister company, since WTAE-TV's parent company had made long-term contract deals for these programs before CBS took over syndication rights.
WTAE-TV presently broadcasts 37½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 5½ hours on weekdays and five hours each on Saturdays and Sundays); in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the highest local newscast output among the Pittsburgh market's television stations. WTAE-TV has the highest-rated morning (4:30, 5 and 6 a.m.) and late evening newscasts (at 11 p.m.) in the market. It is the dominant news department in Pittsburgh focusing on local news.
Like its NBC rival, WPXI, Channel 4 was not a major player in terms of news coverage in its early years, as the Pittsburgh market was dominated by KDKA-TV and anchor Bill Burns. That changed, however, in 1969, when longtime KDKA radio-and-TV newscaster Paul Long joined WTAE, along with his KDKA meteorologist-sidekick Joe DeNardo. From then on the market was competitive, and Long would continue to be Channel 4's lead news presence well into the 1980s before easing into a more "senior" role. WTAE was also known for the "legendary" news crew of Paul Long and Don Cannon from the late 1960s into the 1990s.
Sports has also been a major division at WTAE. In 1972, WTAE sportscaster Myron Cope, thanks to a phone call from a local female fan, introduced the phrase "The Immaculate Reception" to describe Franco Harris' miraculous, running shoestring catch that gave the Pittsburgh Steelers a 13-7 playoff victory over the Oakland Raiders (Cope chuckled at the woman's call, and responded, "I'm not sure I can say that!" Cope figured out an innocuous way to introduce the phrase on air, prefacing the remark by saying, "It comes from a good Christian lady." WTAE and its channel 4 logo was immortalized in the 1979 basketball comedy film The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, whose fictional sportscaster Murray Sports (played by Harry Shearer) was also patterned after Cope. The last sports director was Andrew Stockey, who left the position in 2006 to become a news anchor. However, in 2011, he returned to head the sports department. Along with Mr. Stockey, the sports department consists of Guy Junker, Justin Rose (Producer), and Bill Hillgrove (Steeler Insider) as of 2013.
In June 1992, the station expanded its news production, adding a Saturday morning newscast from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (matching WPXI's Saturday morning newscast of the then-same length, which began in 1990) and a three-hour Sunday morning newscast. The station also extended its weekday early evening newscast to begin at 5 p.m., and began to air a weekday morning newscast from 5 to 7 a.m. In 1997, the station expanded its Sunday morning newscast by an hour and began to air its Saturday morning newscast from 6 to 10 a.m.
In 2002, Jean Connelly became the first woman from Western Pennsylvania to be inducted into the Pennsylvania Broadcasters Hall of Fame. In doing so, she joined ranks with Paul Long, David Crantz, and Fred Young. Connelly is famous for producing and hosting her own talk show, The Jean Connelly Show. WTAE unveiled a new set designed by FX Group during the 5 p.m. newscast on September 4, 2007. That year, WTAE debuted a YouTube channel, which features stories featured on channel 4's newscasts. On September 15, 2008, WTAE became the second station in the market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. Field reports continued to be broadcast in 4:3 standard-definition until September 2011, when field reports began to be broadcast in 16:9 SD.
At the end of 2011, WTAE on-air talent took to both Twitter and Facebook to voice their opinions about unfair treatment by management. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that WTAE's on-air staff claimed it was being denied severance benefits for employees fired without cause, a minimum salary scale, overtime pay for work hours totaling more than eight hours a day, retirement benefits equalling those of other employees at the station, and consideration for unscheduled call-outs, split shifts and work on the sixth consecutive day and thereafter. Former general manager Michael Hayes stated that bargaining had been taking place in good faith. An online petition was launched in support of the anchors, reporters, meteorologists, and sportscasters.
In June 2013, WTAE announced that longtime anchor Sally Wiggin would host WTAE Chronicle, a series of hour-long news specials dedicated to in-depth reporting on relevant topics to Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. Wiggin shifted from her role as anchor of WTAE's noon newscast in order to focus on WTAE Chronicle and additional station projects. Chronicle debuted on WTAE in March 2013, with a report from Vatican City on the election of Pope Francis. The second edition focused on the importance of "The Point" - the iconic area of downtown Pittsburgh where the three rivers meet. The third edition of Chronicle aired on December 3, 2013 ("Concussions & Our Kids") which focused on brain injuries in youth sports; and the fourth installment aired in March 25th called "Living Like Lou" a special on Pittsburgh's with ALS. The original broadcast was accompanied simultaneously with a one hour telethon to raise funds for ALS assistance; it resulted in over $130,000.00 raised. A firth edition debuted on September 15 right after Dancing With the Stars premiere called, "Chronicle: The New Pittsburgh". It focused on the rebirth and growth of Pittsburgh in the past twenty years. All five were ratings hits in the Pittsburgh television market. All editions are available online at: http://www.wtae.com/chronicle
WTAE is the consistent leader in the ratings when it comes to newscasts for the region. As of the February 2013 ratings period, according to Nielsen, WTAE's newscasts claimed the #1 spot at 11 p.m. with more viewers in the highly coveted 25-54 demographic. The 11 p.m. newscast also earned the biggest audience in the adults, women, and men 18-49 demographics.
For the May 2013 Nielsen ratings period, WTAE again claimed the #1 spot at 11 p.m. with wins in the highly coveted 25-54 demographic. This marked the fourth consecutive month in which WTAE earned the #1 spot among the Pittsburgh market's late evening newscasts. WTAE's weekday morning newscast continues to be the top-rated local morning newscast. WTAE swept the weekday 4:30 a.m., 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. time periods with leads in the adults and women 25-54 demographics. For 16 consecutive months to that point, WTAE had the #1 newscast in the 6:00 a.m. hour among adults 25-54. Over the same time period, WTAE's weekend morning newscasts also ranked #1 with Adults 25-54.
Awards and honors
In March 2008, the station won a "Freedom of Information Award" and an IRE Medal from the Investigative Reporters and Editors for "pushing open the front door" of the state-run student loan agency. In April 2008, that same effort resulted in a Peabody Award for the station, in recognition of "station's relentless legal campaign to obtain public records of a state-run student loan program" which "netted evidence of financial misconduct and pushed the state to rewrite an antiquated right-to-know law."
In April 2012, WTAE was awarded the Edward R Murrow Award for "Video Continuing Coverage" of the "Penn State Sex Abuse Scandal". 
In February 2013, the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters awarded WTAE the following Awards for Excellence in Broadcasting: Outstanding Television Feature Story/Report/Series, Outstanding Television Breaking News Report, and Outstanding Investigative Report.
In April 2013, WTAE was awarded the Edward R Murrow Award for "Reporting: Hard News" for the "Downtown Pittsburgh Office Building Hostage". 
In September 2013, WTAE-TV received 21 nominations for the 2013 Regional Emmy Awards, the second most nominations among all the television stations in the state. WTAE-TV took home numerous awards in six categories including special coverage of the Vatican elections with Mike Clark.
In March 2014, it was announced that WTAE-TV will be awarded three awards by the Pennsylvania Broadcasters Association: "Outstanding Television Documentary Program" for "Chronicle", "Outstanding Television Public Affairs Program/Series" for "Chronicle", and "Outstanding Television Website" for WTAE.com.
In April 2014, it was announced that WTAE-TV was awarded two Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards by the Radio Television Digital News Association: "Overall Excellence" and "Best Website". WTAE-TV competed against TV stations all across Pennsylvania, News Jersey, and New York; including two of the largest TV markets in the US: New York City and Philadelphia. 
In August 2014, it was announced that WTAE-TV was nominated for 25 Emmy Awards by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the Mid-Atlantic Region. On September 20th at the Emmy Awards Gala, it was confirmed that WTAE-TV won more Emmy awards than any other Western PA television station which included the following awards: Health News (Don't Ask, Don't Research), Health/Environment/Science Program (Chronicle: Living Like Lou), Human Interest (Love Front Porch), Sportscast (Sept 23, 2013 edition), news Anchor (Wendy Bell), Feature Reporter (Wendy Bell), and for Specialty Reporter (Wendy Bell). 
New Sky 4
As of October 2013, WTAE-TV launched its new helicopter, carrying over the name "Sky 4". This new aircraft is the most technologically advanced news gathering helicopter in the region; capable of flying higher, faster, and longer than any other news helicopter in the market.
Former on-air staff
- Andy Pearson -anchor, general assignment and investigative reporter (1995-1998)
- Scott Baker - anchor (1993–2006)
- Myron Cope - sports commentary (1970–1995; died in 2008)
- Faith Daniels - anchor/reporter (1983–1985)
- Joe DeNardo - chief meteorologist (1969–2004, retired)
- Debra Fox - reporter/anchor (1976–1986)
- Joe Negri - co-host/musician (1965–1985)
- Nina Pineda - reporter (1996–2000, now at WABC-TV in New York City)
- Ken Rice - anchor/reporter (1988–1994, now 5 and 11 p.m. anchor at KDKA-TV)
- Stan Savran - sports anchor (1980–1991)
- Mike Schneider - reporter/anchor (1977–1982, now at Bloomberg Television)
- Paul Shannon - host of Adventure Time (1959–1975)
- Ricki Wertz - children's television show host (1958–1982)
- "AB-PT Confirms Buy Of KQV for $700,000." Broadcasting - Telecasting, September 2, 1957, pg. 74.
- "VHFs go to Pittsburgh, Seattle." Broadcasting - Telecasting, July 29, 1957, pg. 60.
- "Hearst's $10.6 million buy." Broadcasting, July 9, 1962, pg. 5.
- "Changing hands: Announced." Broadcasting, July 16, 1962, pg. 36.
- "Changing hands: Approved." Broadcasting, August 6, 1962, pp. 50-51. 
- "For the record: Allocations-TV channel changes." Broadcasting, February 24, 1958, pg. 187: "...(FCC) amended TV table of assignments and shifted ch. 4 from Irwin to Pittsburgh, Pa. ... At same time, modified CP of Television City Inc., to specify operation of WTAE (ch. 4) in Pittsburgh instead of McKeesport..."
- "TV Note: WTAE, other ABC affiliates reject 'Private Ryan' telecast - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Printer friendly". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- Scaring Private Ryan: 20 ABC Affiliates Nix Movie, November 12, 2004.
- "WTAE Cameraman Accused of Sexual Assault - TVSpy". Mediabistro.com. 2011-06-17. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WTAE
- Owen, Rob (2009-07-30). "WTAE drops weather channel, adds movie channel". Community Voices. Post-Gazette.com. Retrieved 2014-03-18.
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- FCC Application ID#1290721, WTAE HEARST-ARGYLE TELEVISION, Channel 22 PITTSBURGH PA DTV REPLACEMENT TRANSLATOR
- NorthEast Radio Watch, Scott Fybush, March 2, 2009
- "Sally Wiggin Named Host of WTAE Chronicle".
- , @Fairness4WTAE Twitter Account
- "Fairness 4 WTAE". Facebook. 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
- Sciullo, Maria (2012-01-04). "WTAE, on-air staff tussle over contract - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette". Post-gazette.com. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
- "AFTRA In Action". Afl.salsalabs.com. Retrieved 2013-04-22.
- "WTAE Extends #1 Ratings Streak at 11pm". WTAE. 2013-05-23. Retrieved 2014-03-18.
- WTAE's PHEAA coverage honored, a March 2008 article from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
- 67th Annual Peabody Awards, May 2008.
- 2013 PAB Awards Announced.
- WTAE.com - Official WTAE-TV Website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WTAE-TV
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WTAE-TV