Newport News, Virginia
|Slogan||Taking Action, Getting Results|
|Channels||Digital: 40 (UHF)
Virtual: 3 (PSIP)
|Affiliations||CBS (secondary until 1953)|
(operated through SSA by
(Local TV Virginia Licensee, LLC)
|First air date||April 2, 1950|
|Call letters' meaning||Dual meaning:
* Tidewater Knight Ridder (former owners)
* tribute nod to WTAR (rhyming scheme)
|Former callsigns||WTAR-TV (1950–1981)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
4 (VHF, 1950-1952)
3 (VHF, 1952-2009)
|Transmitter power||950 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WTKR is the CBS affiliate television station serving the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, officially known as the Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News DMA. The station is licensed to Norfolk and broadcasts on channel 40 (virtual channel 3). Its transmitter is located in Suffolk, Virginia. The station is owned by Dreamcatcher Broadcasting, LLC, as part of a duopoly with CW affiliate WGNT (channel 27); Tribune Broadcasting (a subsidiary of the Tribune Media Company) operates WTKR and WGNT under a shared services agreement.
The main office and studio is located in Norfolk, and has additional studios in Virginia Beach on Atlantic Avenue at the Oceanfront and inside the office of the Daily Press in Newport News. The station formerly operated news bureaus in the Town Center area of Virginia Beach and in the City Center at Oyster Point section of Newport News. The station's transmission tower is located in northwest part of Suffolk, Virginia, transmitting with 950 kilowatts of power at a height of 1,250 feet (380 m) on a tower owned by ATC and co-located with WHRO, WTVZ and WPXV. It is the tallest antenna in southeastern Virginia.
The station began operation on channel 4 on April 2, 1950 as WTAR-TV, Virginia's second television station. It carried programming from all four networks of the time – NBC, CBS, ABC, and DuMont – but was a primary NBC affiliate. It was owned by Norfolk Newspapers, publisher of The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star, along with WTAR radio (AM 790, now on AM 850), Virginia's first radio station. It moved to channel 3 in 1952. When WVEC-TV signed on a year later as an NBC affiliate, WTAR-TV became a primary CBS affiliate, retaining its secondary ABC and DuMont affiliations (DuMont folded two years later).
WTAR became solely affiliated with CBS in 1957, when WAVY-TV signed on as the ABC affiliate (WAVY and WVEC would swap affiliations in 1959 making the latter station the ABC affiliate). In 1967, Norfolk Newspapers was reorganized as Landmark Communications, WTAR-AM-FM-TV became the flagship stations.
The station was one of several in the country to produce a local version of PM Magazine from the late 1970s to mid-1980s.
The Federal Communications Commission began tightening its ownership restrictions in the 1970s, eventually barring common ownership of newspapers and broadcasting outlets. Landmark was able to get grandfathered protection for its flagship Hampton Roads cluster. However, in 1981, it opted to sell channel 3 to Knight-Ridder, who changed the station's calls to WTKR. The new calls not only reflected the new ownership, but also sounded similar to the old ones. Knight-Ridder sold WTKR and sister station WPRI-TV in Providence, Rhode Island to Narragansett Television in 1989. Narragansett sold WTKR to The New York Times Company in 1995. On May 7, 2007; the Times sold its entire broadcasting division, including WTKR, to Local TV.
In June 2010, Local TV announced that it would be acquiring The CW affiliate WGNT from CBS Corporation's Television stations group. WTKR managed the station through a time brokerage agreement from that point until Local TV closed on the purchase on August 4. This purchase created the market's second co-owned duopoly operation, after the LIN TV-owned combination of WAVY and Fox affiliate WVBT.
On July 1, 2013, Local TV announced that its 19 stations would be acquired by the Tribune Company, the owner of the Daily Press in Newport News, for $2.75 billion; Since this would conflict with FCC regulations that prohibit newspaper-television crossownership within a single market (although Tribune has maintained crossownership waivers for its newspaper-television station combinations in four other media markets), Tribune will spin off WTKR and WGNT to Dreamcatcher Broadcasting, an unrelated company owned by former Tribune Company executive Ed Wilson. Tribune will provide services to the stations through a shared services agreement, and will hold an option to buy back WTKR and WGNT outright in the future. The sale was completed on December 27. Tribune later announced on July 10, 2013 that it would spin off its newspapers (including the Daily Press) into a separate company, the Tribune Publishing Company, in 2014, pending shareholder and regulatory approval.
Eastern Shore translator
There is one low-powered translator of WTKR on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, W18EG-D in Onancock. It is owned by the Accomack County government rather than Local TV. WTKR-TV and Local TV do not own any translators located in the Greater Hampton Roads area.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|3.1||1080i||16:9||WTKR-DT||Main WTKR programming / CBS|
WTKR began digital broadcasts on channel 40 on March 11, 2002 at 4:15pm. The station discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 3, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 40, using PSIP to display WTKR's virtual channel as 3 on digital television receivers.
Not surprisingly for a station with roots in a newspaper, channel 3 dominated the news ratings in Hampton Roads for many years. However, its ratings slipped after a botched relaunch in 1994. The station has recovered somewhat, and is now part of a spirited three-way race for first with WVEC and WAVY.
Over the years, the station expanded its news operation to include about 30 hours of local news production per week. During the 2009 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, independent station WSKY-TV aired two weeknight 11 o'clock newscasts from WTKR during its coverage of the basketball tournament. The station did broadcast late newscasts at Midnight when the coverage concluded.
WTKR started the area's first 4 p.m. newscast on September 8, 2009. This is the station's second attempt at a newscast during the 4 p.m. hour, as WTKR had aired a short-lived 4:30 p.m. newscast in 1995.
WTKR began producing and airing its local newscasts in high definition on January 26, 2009 with the 5:00PM broadcast. WTKR is the third station in the Hampton Roads market, after WAVY-TV and WVBT, to begin airing high definition newscasts (as opposed to the upconverted widescreen standard definition format of WVEC's newscasts).
As of August 25, 2011, a two-hour extension of WTKR's weekday morning newscast airs from 7 to 9 am on sister station WGNT. On July 7, 2014, a half-hour 7 p.m. newscast made its debut on WGNT featuring former morning anchor Laila Muhammad, Les Smith and chief meteorologist Patrick Rockey. It is the first and only newscast at that time slot in the Hampton Roads area. 
Notable current on-air staff
- Barbara Ciara - weekdays at 4 and weeknights at 5 and 5:30 p.m.
- Blaine Stewart - weekday mornings (5-7 on WTKR and 7-9 a.m. on WGNT) and weekdays at noon
Notable former on-air staff
- Ed Hughes, often called the Walter Cronkite of Hampton Roads, from 1967 (as WTAR) to his death from cancer in 2004.
- Bob McAllister, worked as host on WTAR during the 1950s; later host of Wonderama on WNEW, died in 1998.
- Paula Miller, reporter from 1984 until 1999; later a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.
- Bob Rathbun, sports anchor from 1990 until 1991. Previously at WTAR Radio for 12 years. Now play-by-play announcer for Atlanta Hawks.
- Lyn Vaughn, evening anchor from 1999 until 2001. Previously with Headline News from 1984 until 1997.
- William Whitehurst, reporter for WTAR from 1950 until 1968, served in United States House of Representatives from 1969–87; later an occasional analyst for WTKR and serves on Old Dominion University faculty
- NY Times CO. Sell TV Group to Equity Firm for $530M; Second equity group to buy a media business in two weeks., NewsInc. (via HighBeam Research), January 8, 2007.
- Channick, Robert (July 1, 2013). "Acquisition to make Tribune Co. largest U.S. TV station operator". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 1, 2013.
- Pawloski, Sarah J. (July 2, 2013). "Daily Press owner Tribune Co. to buy 19 TV stations, including WTKR". Daily Press. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
- "Transferee Exhibit 15 Agreements and Summary of Transaction". FCC document. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- Company Completes Final Steps of Transaction Announced in July, Tribune Company, 27 December, 2013
- "Tribune Co. to Split in Two". New York Times. Retrieved July 10, 2013.
- "W18EG-D". Federal Communications Commission.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WTKR
- List of Digital Full-Power Stations
- WTKR website
- WTKR Facebook Page
- WTKR MySpace Page
- WTKR Twitter Page
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WTKR
- Query TV Fool's coverage map for WTKR
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WTKR-TV