|Branding||CBS 6 (general)
CBS 6 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Working For You. (newscasts)
The Weather Authority (weather)
|Channels||Digital: 25 (UHF)
Virtual: 6 (VHF)
6.2 Antenna TV
6.3 CBS6 Xtra
(WTVR License, LLC)
|First air date||April 22, 1948|
|Call letters' meaning||TeleVision Richmond|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
6 (VHF, 1948-2009)
|Former affiliations||NBC (1948-1955)
CBS (1948-1956; secondary until 1955)
ABC (1948-1960; secondary until 1956)
DuMont (secondary, 1948-1955)
|Transmitter power||410 kW (digital)|
|Height||347 m (digital)|
|Public license information:||Profile
WTVR-TV, virtual channel 6, is a CBS-affiliated television station located in Richmond, Virginia. The station is owned by Tribune Broadcasting, a subsidiary of Tribune Media Company. It broadcasts on physical digital channel 25, using the virtual channel assignment of 6.1 via PSIP (to associate it with its 60-year former position on analog channel 6), and its studios and tower are located on West Broad Street in the West End of the city of Richmond. The tower is also the transmitter for former sister station WTVR-FM and NPR member WCVE-FM.
WTVR arose from unlikely roots. Auto parts dealer Wilbur Havens started WMBG (which stood for "Magnetos, Batteries, and Generators"), a 10-watt station on AM 1380, in 1926 in his auto-parts shop on West Broad Street in downtown Richmond. By 1939, Havens' original $500 investment had turned into a studio on West Broad (a former bus garage), where WTVR-TV operates today. Havens brought FM service to Richmond in 1947 when he signed on WCOD (98.1 FM). No one expected him to go after one of the four channels originally allocated to Richmond for television, so it came as a complete surprise when Havens filed an application for channel 6. It had been thought to be a foregone conclusion that the license would go to either Larus and Brother Tobacco Company, owner of WRVA, or Richmond Newspapers, owner of WRNL, since they were reckoned as Virginia's leading broadcasters. However, for reasons that remain unknown, neither station submitted a bid. With no other applications to consider, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval was a mere formality, and WTVR took to the air on April 22, 1948, as the first television station south of Washington, D.C. It became an NBC affiliate June 1, 1948. For many years, it used a colorized version of its original ID slide to start its newscasts.
In 1953, WTVR activated its tall tower, located adjacent to its West Broad studios. The 843-foot (257 m) (1,049-foot (320 m) above sea level) tower is considered part of the Richmond skyline, and can be seen for several miles around Richmond. WTVR used a graphical version of the tower in its news opens for several years in the 1980s and early 1990s.
As it was one of the last stations to get a construction permit before an FCC-imposed freeze on new permits, WTVR was the only station in town until 1955. This meant that, in addition to its primary NBC affiliation, channel 6 had secondary affiliations with CBS, ABC and DuMont. In 1955, WXEX-TV (channel 8, now WRIC-TV) signed on from neighboring Petersburg and took the NBC affiliation. WTVR then had a brief stint as a primary CBS affiliate; this ended in 1956, when WRVA-TV (channel 12, now WWBT) signed on and took the CBS affiliation due to WRVA radio's long history as a CBS radio affiliate. WTVR then carried on as an ABC affiliate until 1960, when CBS cut a new deal with Havens due to channel 12's low ratings. WTVR has been with CBS ever since. During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.
Havens sold WTVR, WMBG, and WCOD to Roy H. Park Communications in 1966, earning a handsome return on his investment of 40 years earlier. After taking ownership of the properties, the radio stations adopted the TV station's "WTVR" call letters. When Park died in 1993, the company's assets were sold to a Lexington, Kentucky group of investors that sold the radio properties separately to various owners, with WTVR-AM-FM going to Clear Channel in 1995. WTVR-FM is still owned by what is now iHeartMedia, while the AM station, bought by Salem Communications in 2001 and programmed as Christian talk, was later sold by Salem and is now Spanish religious station WBTK.
Channel 6 began suffering in the ratings in 1994 when CBS lost the rights to broadcast National Football League games to Fox (CBS returned to NFL broadcasting in 1998). However, it recovered by the turn of the century and since then has been a solid runner-up, sometimes waging a spirited battle for second place with WRIC in news ratings.
Park merged with Media General in May 1997. However, Media General could not keep WTVR-TV alongside its flagship newspaper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, because FCC rules of the time did not allow cross-ownership of newspapers and television stations in the same market. As a result, Media General swapped WTVR to Raycom Media in exchange for WJTV in Jackson, Mississippi, its semi-satellite WHLT in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and WSAV-TV in Savannah, Georgia two months later.
Local features and community programs have included "For Kids' Sake", "Paws for Pets", and Battle of the Brains and a 24-hour weather news channel called "CBS 6 Xtra" broadcast on broadband, digital cable, and digital sub-channel 6.2 in the area. The station carried Raycom's 24/7 music television format "The Tube" on WTVR-DT3 until its shutdown on October 1, 2007. In March 2011, WTVR-DT3 became the new home of CBS 6 Xtra, while 6.2 carries Antenna TV (see below).
On November 12, 2007, Raycom Media announced its intention to purchase the television broadcasting and production properties of Lincoln Financial Media, including rival WWBT. Since FCC rules do not allow one person to own two of the four largest stations in a single market, Raycom decided to keep WWBT and sell WTVR to another owner. On June 24, 2008, Sinclair Broadcast Group announced its intent to purchase WTVR and sell local Fox affiliate WRLH-TV (channel 35). However, the Justice Department, under provisions of a consent decree with Raycom Media, denied Raycom permission to sell WTVR-TV to Sinclair in August 2008.
On January 6, 2009, Raycom and Local TV LLC announced that they would be swapping stations in Richmond and Birmingham. In this deal, Raycom transferred WTVR plus $83 million to Local TV in exchange for that company's WBRC in Birmingham (a former Fox O&O, and currently a Fox affiliate). The transfer closed on March 31, 2009. As a result of the trade, Local TV owned Virginia's two largest CBS network affiliates; it already owned WTKR-TV, the CBS affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia, the market just to the east of Richmond. Local TV added Hampton Roads CW affiliate WGNT in 2010 after buying it from CBS.
For three months after the swap deal was completed, WTVR's Web site remained in the old Raycom-era format. This changed in late June 2009, a few days after WBRC relaunched its Web site, when WTVR migrated its Web site to the Tribune Interactive platform used by the Web sites of other Local TV-owned stations. As of 2012, Local TV migrated its Web sites to WordPress.com VIP. On July 1, 2013, Local TV announced that its stations would be acquired by the Tribune Company. The sale was completed on December 27.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|6.1||1080i||16:9||WTVR-HD||Main WTVR programming / CBS|
|6.3||CBS6XTR||CBS 6 Xtra|
WTVR-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 6, in the late morning of June 12, 2009, after more than 60 years, 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 25. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers continues to display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 6.1. Prior to the transition, the audio component of WTVR's analog channel 6 signal at 87.75 MHz had been heavily promoted as available to listeners tuning to 87.7 on a standard FM radio receiver. WTVR lost this benefit of the analog channel 6 allocation when analog transmission ended.
Out-of-market cable and satellite coverage
Outside of the Richmond market, WTVR is carried in northern Virginia in Front Royal and Luray. In central Virginia, it is carried on service providers in Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, Madison and Staunton. In southside Virginia in Mecklenburg County, WTVR is carried near the North Carolina state line in Bracey along Lake Gaston. It is also carried in Chase City and South Hill.
WTVR was the overall ratings leader in Richmond until the late 1980s, when WWBT surpassed it, mainly in local news ratings and due to strength from WWBT's affiliation with NBC and its top rated primetime lineup. During the late 1980s, early 1990s and into the 2000s, the channel won numerous awards, including the RTNDA News Operation of the Year for two consecutive years.
On August 10, 2010, starting with the Noon newscast, WTVR became the second commercial station (behind WWBT) to broadcast local news in high definition. The upgrade makes CBS 6 the only television station in Central Virginia to provide high definition video in the field, in addition to its HD studio cameras and HD weathercasts. The change also came new graphics, music (an updated version of The CBS Enforcer Music Collection by Gari Media Group) and a new news set. On January 23, 2013, WTVR used on-air graphics that were also used on sister station KDVR, a Fox affiliate in Denver, Colorado until April 20, 2015 when they debuted new graphics and music (Moving Forward by 615 Music) that are also used by sister station WTTV (also a CBS affiliate) in Indianapolis.
Notable former on-air staff
- Mark Ovenden - Sportscaster, now at KDLT in Sioux Falls
- Mike Wankum - Chief meteorologist in the early 1990s, now at WCVB in Boston
- Bob Woodruff - reporter (1992-1994), former co-anchor ABC World News, now reporter for ABC News
- FCC DTV status report for WTVR
- "WTVR (TV) to Start April 22, Channel 6" (PDF). Broadcasting. April 19, 1948. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
- "Gov. Tuck Speaks At WTVR Inaugural" (PDF). Broadcasting. April 26, 1948. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
- "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films", Boxoffice, November 10, 1956: 13[dead link]
- Raycom Grabs Lincoln Financial Stations - 11/12/2007 2:44:00 PM - Broadcasting & Cable
- Sinclair Broadcast Group
- Sinclair news release
- Local TV Closes on WTVR
- Channick, Robert (July 1, 2013). "Acquisition to make Tribune Co. largest U.S. TV station operator". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 1, 2013.
- Company Completes Final Steps of Transaction Announced in July, Tribune Company, 27 December, 2013
- RabbitEars TV Query for WTVR
- Antenna TV Affiliates
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- WTVR.com - Official Website
- History of WWBT Television in Richmond
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WTVR-TV
- Query TV Fool's coverage map for WTVR-DT
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WTVR-TV
- Entry of WTVR-TV Tower in FCC-database with height 257 metres