|Wheeling, West Virginia/
Fox Ohio Valley (on DT2)
ABC Ohio Valley (on DT3)
|Channels||Digital: 7 (VHF)
Virtual: 7 (PSIP)
7.2: Fox (primary)
|Owner||West Virginia Media Holdings|
|First air date||October 24, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||Two Radio Frequencies
(referring to AM and FM stations with same calls)
|Former channel number(s)||7 (VHF analog, 1953-2009)
32 (UHF digital, ?-2009)
|Former affiliations||NBC (1953-1980)
ABC (secondary, 1953-1980s)
|Transmitter power||25.4 kW|
WTRF-TV, channel 7, is a television station located in Wheeling, West Virginia, USA. Owned by West Virginia Media Holdings, WTRF is the primary CBS affiliate for the Wheeling-Steubenville, Ohio television market. The station also carries programming from Fox, MyNetworkTV, and ABC over its digital subchannels (Fox and MyNetworkTV on 7.2, ABC on 7.3). WTRF's studios are located in downtown Wheeling, and its transmitter is based in Bridgeport, Ohio.
WTRF-TV is one of four West Virginia-licensed television stations owned by West Virginia Media Holdings; the other outlets are fellow CBS affiliates WOWK-TV in Huntington and WVNS-TV in Lewisburg; and NBC-affiliated WBOY-TV in Clarksburg.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|7.1||1080i||16:9||WTRF-D1||Main WTRF-TV programming / CBS|
|7.2||720p||WTRF-D2||Fox Ohio Valley|
|7.3||WTRF-D3||ABC Ohio Valley|
WTRF signed-on for the first time on October 24, 1953. Its call letters came from two radio stations that the original owners had put on-the-air in 1947, now WOMP and WBGI-FM. Those were sold off in the 1970s to help finance the television station. WTRF was originally an NBC affiliate but also carried some programming from ABC, splitting that network's programming with then-CBS affiliate WSTV-TV (now WTOV-TV). In 1979, WTRF became the area's first station to use videotape rather than film. While with NBC, WTRF-TV led the tiny Wheeling/Steubenville market in the local ratings despite being well within reach of the much larger Pittsburgh market. As of 2013, the Wheeling/Steubenville market remains separate from Pittsburgh despite the very close proximity between the two markets as well as significantly overlapping signals between the two markets.
On January 7, 1980, channel 7 swapped network affiliations with WTOV and became a CBS affiliate. NBC had struggled in the ratings for a number of years at the time and WTRF wanted a stronger affiliation. It also dropped the remaining ABC programs from its schedule. This was not as serious a problem as it appeared, since Pittsburgh's WTAE-TV was widely available in the area over-the-air and on cable. The switch to CBS would also mean the station would go from competing with one of NBC's weakest major-market affiliates in WIIC-TV for network viewers to competing with one of CBS's strongest affiliates in Group W powerhouse KDKA-TV for viewers, as it was (and remains today) widely viewable in the area both over-the-air and available on cable. This, combined with NBC re-surging in the 1980s while CBS faltered at the same time, saw WTRF-TV become a very distant second to WTOV-TV in the local ratings, a position it remains today, with some viewers even watching now-CBS O&O KDKA-TV for CBS programming over WTRF-TV.
From the early-1980s through the mid-1990s, it went through three different owners. Adams Communications bought the station from Wesray Corporation in the mid-1980s but ran into financial trouble and sold most of its stations, including WTRF, to a company headed by former Adams Vice President Paul Brisette in 1991. Brisette himself was nearly brought down by financial issues and merged his group with Benedek Broadcasting in 1996. West Virginia Media Holdings bought the station in 2002.
Along with sister station WBOY-TV in Clarksburg, WTRF launched a new digital subchannel with ABC programming on August 1, 2008 bringing programming from that network back to the station. Previously, both the Wheeling/Steubenville and Clarksburg/Weston/Fairmont markets were served by WTAE as the de facto affiliate. WTRF broadcasts were switched to digital-only at 12:30 p.m. in February 2009. The station returned its digital broadcasts to its analog channel number. Before becoming famous on network television as Faith Daniels, Faith Augustine started her television reporting career at this station where she worked with her future husband, producer Dean Daniels, who also reported on the station.
Out-of-market coverage and satellite availability
Despite its coverage issues mentioned above, it has coverage outside the market on cable. In the northeastern part of West Virginia, it is carried in Buckhannon in Upshur County, Beverley and Elkins in Randolph County and Flemington in Taylor County.
As of June 3, 2010, WTRF and its two digital subchannels are available on Dish Network. WTRF, including its Fox and ABC subchannels, and WTOV are available on DirecTV as of November 23, 2010. Before then, Wheeling/Steubenville had been one of the few markets that did not get local stations on satellite. Residents living in the West Virginia side of the market, as well as Jefferson, Harrison and Tuscarawas counties in Ohio, got Pittsburgh stations on those systems.
While Belmont and Monroe counties in Ohio qualified to get the New York City and Los Angeles stations, West Virginia Media Holdings refused to sign a waiver allowing viewers in those two counties to receive WCBS-TV and KCBS-TV from their respective markets. This rankled viewers in those areas because they are among the few areas where cable still doesn't have much penetration, meaning satellite service is all but essential for acceptable television in this area. Belmont and Monroe counties are located in a very rugged dissected plateau. Over-the-air signals are practically unviewable in this area, and cable service is inconsistent outside the larger cities.
WTRF-DT2 is home to the area only nightly 10 o'clock broadcast known as Fox Ohio Valley News (although the station was not the first to offer a 10 p.m. newscast in the market; the first ran was the now-defunct WVTX-CD). The second hour of the main channel's weekday morning show is repeated at 7 on that subchannel. WTRF-DT3 simulcasts the weekday editions of 7 News at 6 a.m., noon, 6 and 11 p.m., with separate on-screen branding to denote "ABC Ohio Valley". West Virginia Media produces a half-hour evening newscast that airs at 5:30pm. The newscast, titled West Virginia Tonight Live, is broadcast live from the Charleston studios in high definition on all 4 stations and is anchored by April Kaull.
In addition, there is a public affairs program called Decision Makers. Hosted by company president and CEO Bray Cary, it airs on Saturday mornings at 9 and Sunday mornings at 8 on all West Virginia Media Holdings stations. In another arrangement between all of the company channels, weekend weather forecasts originate from WOWK's new facilities on Quarrier Street in downtown Charleston.
On December 29, 2011 beginning with the noon newscast, WTRF launched the first true high definition newscast in the Wheeling/Steubenville market (competing station WTOV upgraded its newscasts to 16:9 enhanced definition widescreen in April 2009). This is also the first station owned by West Virginia Media Holdings to upgrade its local newscasts to high definition. With the upgrade came new graphics and a new music package (Aerial by Stephen Arnold); the news set remained the same, although with some minor changes.The weather graphics were still shown in the 4:3 picture format until February 2012.
- The World Today (late 1960s-1972)
- TV-7 NewsFront (1972-1976)
- The News (1976-?)
- WTRF News (1991-1995)
- TV-7 News (1990s)
- Ohio Valley News (1990s)
- NewsChannel 7 (1995-?)
- 7 News (2002-present)
- WTRF-TV Channel 7 Colors it Live (1960s-1972)
- TV-7 NewsFront: The News Headquarters for the Ohio Valley (1972-1976)
- Keep Your Eye on The News (1976-1978)
- The News People (1978-1980)
- NewsChannel 7: Where the News is Continuing to Grow (1995-2002)
- Your Town. Your State. Your Future. (2002-2007)
- Live and Local From Your Hometown (2007-2011)
- Local Coverage (2011-2013)
- Working for you (2013-present)
- Laurie Conway - weekday mornings and weekdays at noon (2010–present)
- Rachael Dierkes - weekday mornings; also reporter (2011-present)
- Nate Fluharty - weeknights at 6, 10 and 11 p.m.; also digital journalist (2010–present)
- Kelsey Kennedy - weekend anchor; also reporter (2012–present)
- Jamie Ward - weeknights at 5 & 6; also reporter (2011–present)
StormTracker 7 Weather
- Dr. Dave Walker - chief meteorologist; weeknights at 5, 6, 10 and 11 p.m. (2005–present)
- Brian Davis (AMS Certified Broadcast meteorologist and NWA Seals of Approval) - meteorologist; weekday mornings and weekdays at noon (2012-present)
- Scott Nolte - sports director; weeknights at 6, 10 and 11 p.m. (1993–present)
- Mike Anthony - sports anchor; weekend evenings, also weekday sports reporter (1995–present)
- Jake Kauffman - general assignment reporter (2013-present)
- Katrina Malstrom - general assignment reporter (2013-present)
- D.K. Wright - Belmont County reporter (1980–present)
- Sara Yingling - Steubenville Newsroom Reporter (2012-present)
- WTRF-TV website
- WTRF-TV mobile
- WTRF-DT2 "Fox Ohio Valley"
- WTRF-DT3 "ABC Ohio Valley"
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WTRF-TV