WVIA-TV

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WVIA-TV
WVIATV.PNG
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
United States
Slogan The Leader in Local Programming
Channels Digital: 41 (UHF)
Virtual: 44 (PSIP)
Subchannels 44.1 PBS
44.2 Local
44.3 Create
Translators see table below
Affiliations PBS (1970-present)
APT
Owner Northeast Pennsylvania Educational Television Association
First air date September 26, 1966 (1966-09-26)
Call letters' meaning The World Via Television
Sister station(s) WVIA-FM
Former channel number(s) Analog:
44 (UHF, 1966-2009)
Former affiliations NET (1966-1970)
Transmitter power 171 kW
Height 510 m
Facility ID 47929
Transmitter coordinates 41°10′55.5″N 75°52′15.2″W / 41.182083°N 75.870889°W / 41.182083; -75.870889
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
CDBS
Website www.wvia.org

WVIA-TV is the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member Public television station broadcasting on channel 41 to most of northeastern and central Pennsylvania. It is licensed to Scranton, with studios in Jenkins Township (which shares a post office with Pittston) and transmitter at the northeast Pennsylvania tower farm on Penobscot Knob.

History[edit]

In 1963, several men first met at Coughlin High School in Wilkes-Barre to discuss bringing an Educational television station to northeastern Pennsylvania. Twelve of the men formed the Northeast Pennsylvania Educational Television Association, chaired by Wilkes-Barre superintendent of schools Walter Wood. They received a license for channel 44 a year later.

The station's first employee, general manager George Strimel, Jr., was hired in 1965 and given two years to get the station on the air. He was able to do so within nine months, and WVIA-TV signed on for the first time on September 26, 1966. The fledgling station received a considerable assist from the area's commercial stations. WNEP-TV donated the old transmitter and tower facility from WARM-TV (one of the two stations that merged to form WNEP 10 years earlier), while WBRE-TV and WDAU-TV (now WYOU) made their studios available for local productions. All production work was done from the transmitter site.

The station grew rapidly, and within a year moved its offices from First Presbyterian Church in Wilkes-Barre to office space donated by King's College, and later to a school in Scranton. In 1969, WVIA moved to a specially-built studio at Marywood College in Scranton. In 1971, WVIA moved to its current studio in Jenkins Township.

The station didn't take long to become a part of the community; it won the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's award for community involvement for two straight years in the 1970s. It was the only public television station in Pennsylvania to stay on the air during a 1970 budget crisis. When Hurricane Agnes struck the area in 1972, WVIA preempted its programming to air weather reports around the clock, and lent its equipment to WBRE so it could stay on the air.

In 1978, WVIA activated its current tower on Penobscot Knob. It increased the station's coverage by 20%, enabling it to reach 20 counties and giving it a coverage area comparable with most of the area's commercial stations. The station also operates the largest translator network in Pennsylvania.

For many years, through cable coverage WVIA was available on cable systems beyond the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre TV market (including Cablevision in Fairfield County, Connecticut and Nassau County, New York). In part, this was due to its unorthodox programming — in the 1980s, it carried on Saturday and Sunday mornings sitcom reruns such as Leave it to Beaver, and The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Honeymooners on weekday afternoons, and on Saturday nights ran science-fiction series such as Star Trek which ran on WVIA from 1984 to 1994, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, plus Lost in Space on Saturday mornings. Later, the station aired The Waltons at 4:30 and 5 p.m. and All in the Family at 6 p.m. from 1989 to 1991. From 1991 until 2009, WVIA aired Little House on the Prairie from 5 p.m. - 6 p.m.

WVIA has always aired a good bit of children's programming during the day, and is one of the few stations that airs Sesame Street three times a day; 8 a.m., 1 p.m., and as of September 2010, 4 p.m. This is the first time that the show has aired at the 4 p.m. hour since 1989, when it was moved to 3:30-4:30.

Signal disruptions[edit]

On December 16, 2007, the top section of WVIA's tower collapsed due to severe ice, wind, and snow.[1] The felled top section of the tower supported the antennas for the analog TV signal on channel 44 and the digital TV signal on channel 41. WVIA-FM's antenna survived since it was located on the portion of the tower which did not collapse. After the incident, WVIA quickly put the analog TV signal back on the air through the use of a shorter back-up tower and antenna also located on Penobscot Knob. However, due to the shorter height, the service area has been limited.

Earlier that same day, the neighboring tower supporting the antennas for analog WNEP-TV (channel 16) and WCLH-FM 90.7 MHz collapsed completely due to the ice and winds.[2] The tower collapse also destroyed the transmitter building but no one was hurt in either incidents.[2]

WVIA suffered another disruption to its signal on February 12, 2010, when the building housing the transmitters for WVIA-TV and WVIA-FM was destroyed by fire. Though the tower was not affected, the loss of the transmitters forced the stations off-the-air. The station quickly worked to restore programming to cable systems.[3] The station was returned to the air as of February 15, 2010 courtesy of the help of WNEP-TV (Channel 16), using the ABC affiliate's transitional digital channel 49 transmitter and tower (the station moved to digital channel 50 post-transition in December 2009 to reduce interference with Philadelphia/Atlantic City Telemundo affiliate WWSI, but had not disassembled the former channel 49 facilities) to transmit all of their services.[4] As with WVIA's digital channel 41, all channels will remap via PSIP to Channel 44. In August 2011, thieves stole 400 feet of copper transmission line from WVIA's tower while WVIA was still temporarily using WNEP's old tower, delaying a return to channel 41 and their own tower.[5] WVIA resumed use of their channel 41 transmitter and tower in March 2012.

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[6]
44.1 1080i 16:9 WVIA-DT Main WVIA-TV programming / PBS
44.2 480i 4:3 "via 2"
44.3 Create

WVIA-TV produces shows such as "Call the Doctor", "Homegrown Concerts" as well as shows that focus on Pennsylvania and Northeast Pennsylvania.

VIA2 airs encore presentations of pledge programming.

Create offers creative programming such as cooking, gardening, home fix-it and travel shows.

Overnight all 3 channels air encore presentations of pledge programming.

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WVIA-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 44, on February 17, 2009, the original date in which full-power television stations in the United States were to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later pushed back to June 12, 2009). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 41.[7] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 44.

Translators[edit]

WVIA serves one of the largest coverage areas east of the Mississippi River. This area is very mountainous meaning that some areas cannot get a clear signal from channel 41.

Call letters Channel City of license
W20CP-D 20 Mansfield
W25AQ-D 25 Towanda
WVIA-TV 44 Waymart
W47DH-D 47 Clarks Summit
WVIA-TV 51 Williamsport

References[edit]

External links[edit]