Fox 21/27 (on DT2)
|Slogan||TV to Talk About
Your First News (on DT2)
|Channels||Digital: 20 (UHF) &
WFXR-DT 17.2 (UHF)
Virtual: 21 (PSIP)
|Subchannels||21.1 The CW
|Owner||Grant Broadcasting System II
(sale to Nexstar Broadcasting Group pending)
(GB Lynchburg Licensing, LLC)
|Founded||March 23, 1986|
|Call letters' meaning||We're The CW|
|Former callsigns||WJPR (1986-2006)|
|Former affiliations||Independent (March-October 1986)
Fox (on main channel; October 1986-2009)
|Transmitter power||916 kW
695 kW (WFXR-DT2)
594 kW (WFXR-DT2)
WWCW is The CW-affiliated television station for Southwestern Virginia licensed to Lynchburg. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 20 (or virtual channel 21.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter on Thaxton Mountain in unincorporated Bedford County. The station can also be seen on Comcast and Cox channel 5 (hence the on-air branding). There is a high definition feed offered on Comcast digital channel 214 and Cox digital channel 1005. Owned by Grant Broadcasting System II, WWCW is sister to the area's Fox affiliate WFXR and the two outlets share studios on Colonial Avenue Southwest (along I-581/U.S. 220) in Roanoke's Franklin-Colonial section.
This station also operates an advertising sales office on Airport Road along Lynchburg's southwestern border with Campbell County. Syndicated programming on WWCW includes 30 Rock, Seinfeld, Family Guy, and American Dad! among others. It can be seen over-the-air through a standard definition simulcast on WFXR's second digital subchannel. This airs on UHF channel 17.2 (or virtual channel 27.2 via PSIP) from a transmitter on Poor Mountain in unincorporated Southwestern Roanoke County.
In 1984, channel 21 in the Lynchburg area was slated to sign on with a general entertainment format. But due to financial and engineering problems, original owner Carney Communications was unable to sign the station on. Jefferson-Pilot Communications (now Lincoln Financial Media) stepped in and bought the station in September 1985. After resolving the difficulties, in February 1986, WJPR (for Jefferson Pilot Radio) was launched as the area's first general independent station. airing cartoons, off-network programs, movies, and some religious programs. In October 1986, WJPR became a charter Fox affiliate.
Soon after WJPR's launch, WVFT (now WFXR), which had just signed on with religious programming, also began to air general entertainment programming. However, the Roanoke-Lynchburg market was too small at the time to support what were essentially two independent stations (Fox wouldn't air a full week's worth of programming until 1993), and both channels 21 and 27 suffered from the tight competition. By 1990, WVFT's financial problems were more pronounced; the station suffered from lower ratings and was unable to pay for stronger syndicated programming. Jefferson-Pilot offered to merge WVFT's stronger programming onto WJPR's schedule and begin simulcasting WVFT on WJPR.
WVFT readily accepted, and the simulcast began later that year. The two stations provide a strong combined signal with 60 percent overlap. This gave Fox a strong signal throughout the market. Although channel 21 decently covers Roanoke, its analog signal left much to be desired in the New River Valley (despite its 4.1 million-watt ERP). Some areas of the New River Valley, along with other rural portions of the market, were among the few parts of the country where cable television still wasn't readily available.
On September 15, 1993; UHF television pioneer Milton Grant bought both WVFT and WJPR. The simulcast continued, though WVFT began serving as the main station. In October 1993, WVFT was renamed WFXR-TV. It was also announced that the two stations would eventually split from each other, with one reverting to independent status. However, this plan never manifested itself during the remainder of the analog era.
In January 1995, WFXR/WJPR acquired a secondary affiliation with the newly launched United Paramount Network, running UPN shows on weekends and some late nights. In the spring of 1997, the market's UPN affiliation moved to WDRG-TV (now WEFC-TV), and WFXR/WJPR picked up a secondary alliance with the WB Television Network. This paved the way for WFXR and WJPR to start the area's cable-only WB affiliate, known by the fictional calls "WBVA-TV". It was offered on Cox cable channel 5 and as a result was known on-air as "WB 5".
Plans were still underway to separate the two stations, and in 2001, the "WB 5" intellectual unit and the WBVA-TV calls were set to move to WJPR, leaving Fox on WFXR. The two stations would still share some syndicated programs. However, the separation plan was canceled due to concerns about reception problems in the 40 percent of the market only served by one station over the air. Many of these areas still didn't have access to cable, and neither DirecTV nor Dish Network had much penetration in the market at the time.
When WJPR's digital signal signed on in April 2002, "WBVA" was the sole programming aired on it (Fox was added and WBVA made a subchannel in early 2003). The WB affiliate was also offered on DirecTV and Dish Network. When WFXR's digital signal began airing programming in December 2003, it aired both Fox and WBVA in the same arrangement as WJPR.
On January 24, 2006, the UPN and WB networks announced that they merge into the CW Television Network. On March 28, 2006, it was announced that WBVA would become the area's CW affiliate. To reflect this, the fictional WBVA calls were changed to "WCW5-TV" in June 2006. The CW network began broadcasting on September 18, 2006; the cable-only station changed its branding to "CW 5" simultaneously.
On June 30, 2006, the call letters of WJPR were changed to WWCW. The new call letters matched the new affiliation agreement with the CW network, which appears on both stations' digital subcarriers. This immediately led to speculation that channel 21 would split off and become the area's CW affiliate. Had this happened, both stations could have aired on each other's digital subcarriers to make up for the shortfall in coverage. This is common practice for many duopolies where one station's signal is weak. However, Fox programming continued to air on both WFXR and WWCW, with both analog and digital signals, until the June 2009 analog shutdown. At that point, the two stations were effectively (though not entirely) separated, with WWCW's primary digital channel now airing CW programming in HD, with Fox programming airing in SD on WWCW's second subchannel. Conversely, WFXR carries Fox programming in HD on its primary signal, with CW programming airing in SD on WFXR's second subchannel.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|21.1||1080i||16:9||WWCW-HD||Main WWCW programming / The CW|
|21.2||480i||4:3||FOX||Simulcast of WFXR|
WWCW discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 21, 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 20, using PSIP to display WWCW's virtual channel as 21 on digital television receivers.
- Malone, Michael (November 6, 2013). "Nexstar to Acquire Seven Grant Stations For $87.5 Million". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WWCW
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- Official website
- WFXR website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WWCW
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WWCW-TV