|Slogan||Working For You|
|Channels||Digital: 11 (VHF)
Virtual: 22 (PSIP)
|Translators||28 WFXQ-CD (UHF)|
|Owner||LIN Media, LLC
(sale to Media General pending)
(WWLP Broadcasting, LLC)
|First air date||March 17, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||William L. Putnam
(the station's founder and longtime owner)
|Sister station(s)||32 WRLP-TV Greenfield (1957-1978)
14 WWOR-TV/WJZB-TV Worcester (1958-1969)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
61 (UHF, 1953-1955)
22 (UHF, 1955-2009)
|Transmitter power||10 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WWLP is the NBC-affiliated television station for the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts that is licensed to Springfield. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 11 from a transmitter on Provin Mountain in the Feeding Hills section of Agawam.
Owned by LIN Media, WWLP has studios at Broadcast Center in the Sandy Hill section of Chicopee next to the I-391/MA 116 interchange. Syndicated programming on the station includes: Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, Judge Judy, and Friends. WWLP operates a full-time Class A digital repeater, WFXQ-CD channel 28, that has a transmitter at the top of the old Mount Tom Ski Area in Holyoke.
WWLP began broadcasting on March 17, 1953 one month before rival WGGB-TV (then known as WHYN-TV). The station aired an analog signal on UHF channel 61 and was an NBC affiliate from the start. At its sign-on, the channel had the distinction of being one of the first UHF television stations in the United States after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened the UHF band as well as Massachusetts' oldest station outside of Boston. It was founded by William L. Putnam and his company, Springfield Television. WWLP's original studios were at the transmitter site on Provin Mountain in Feeding Hills.
It switched frequencies to UHF channel 22 on July 2, 1955. The previous analog allotment would remain unused until the second WTIC-TV signed-on from Hartford, Connecticut in 1984. From its beginnings, the Springfield/Holyoke market was designated as a "UHF island" because it was too close to Boston, Hartford/New Haven, and the Capital District of New York State for VHF analog service. As a result of technical limitations UHF stations faced in the 1950s, WWLP's signal was not viewable in much of the northern portion of the market (which at the time included Brattleboro, Vermont and Keene, New Hampshire). The station would sign-on two full-time satellites to solve that problem and extend its broadcasting radius (see below). From 1975 until 1979, the station aired nationally syndicated National Hockey League games from The NHL Network.
After three decades, Putnam retired from broadcasting in 1984 by selling his company and its three stations (WWLP, KSTU-TV, and WKEF) to Adams Communications. Adams ran into financial trouble and began breaking up the Springfield Television group in 1987 with the sale of KSTU to MWT Ltd. Adams sold WKEF to KT Communications in 1989 before selling WWLP to Paul Brisette (a former Adams Vice President) in January 1994. However, Brisette himself ran into trouble and sold all of his stations to Benedek Broadcasting at the end of 1995. Current owner LIN TV acquired WWLP in early-2000  by swapping KAKE-TV in Wichita, Kansas and WOWT-TV in Omaha, Nebraska to Benedek. This was a result of Chronicle Broadcasting, which owned the latter two, being liquidated. The sale could be seen as the ultimate undoing for Benedek which in 2002 declared bankruptcy and sold most of their stations (including WOWT and KAKE) to Gray Television.
In early 2000, the station's studios and offices moved to their current home in the Sandy Hill area of Chicopee. However, its transmitter remained in Feeding Hills. Shortly after the change, then-pending owner LIN TV constructed an addition at WWLP's new facilities which would serve as a master control hub for company-owned stations in the Northeast. At this location, room for future expansion was made in the event LIN TV expanded their Northeast properties. That eventually became the case with sister stations WTNH, WCTX, WPRI-TV (LIN TV flagship), and WNAC-TV having master control and some internal operations currently located at the Chicopee studios.
WWLP was well known for producing As Schools Match Wits, one of American television's earliest and longest-running high school quiz programs. The program first aired in October 1961. In September 2006, the show was canceled because of the costs associated with new FCC regulations requiring all over-the-air television programming in the United States to be closed-captioned for the deaf and hard of hearing. The show returned to the air in January 2007 but on the area's PBS affiliate WGBY-TV and based at Westfield State College.
On May 18, 2007, LIN TV announced that it was exploring strategic alternatives including the sale of the company.
After LIN TV signed a deal to add TheCoolTV to its stations, WWLP became an affiliate of the new network on its second digital subchannel. At one point, WWLP-DT2 had previously served as a live non-audio feed of its weather radar. The network was dropped on July 15, 2013, leaving the subchannel in dead air. Due to the Springfield/Holyoke and Hartford/New Haven markets being close together, many stations in Connecticut can be viewed in the Southern Pioneer Valley. Since WWLP's transmitter on Provin Mountain is not far from the state line, this can be picked up in northern areas of the state. WVIT, which serves as Connecticut's NBC affiliate except for Fairfield County, is currently the only Hartford/New Haven big three station offered on Comcast's basic tier. Charter customers have access to WVIT, but only with a digital set top box.
In 1957, WRLP-TV in Greenfield signed-on as the first full-time satellite of WWLP. This served the northern portion of the Pioneer Valley market where WWLP's signal was marginal at best due to the area's rugged and mountainous terrain. From a transmitter on Gunn Mountain in Winchester, New Hampshire (one of the highest points in the region), this could also be seen in Springfield as well creating a strong combined signal with over fifty percent overlap. In 1958, Putnam purchased a defunct station in Worcester, WWOR-TV (no relation to the current New York City station with the same calls), and returned it to the air as a second full-time satellite of WWLP. Although it was relaying a Springfield-based station, WWOR was part of the Boston market. The channel was only broadcasting six hours a day in order to protect the interests of then-NBC affiliate WBZ-TV. WWOR later changed its calls to WJZB-TV and became an Independent while continuing to simulcast some programming from WWLP.
WRLP and WJZB eventually went off the air due to financial difficulties, with WJZB going dark in 1969 followed by WRLP in 1978. Almost immediately after WRLP left the air, its transmitter was shipped to Salt Lake City, Utah in order to launch KSTU, an independent sister station on UHF channel 20. That channel eventually became a Fox affiliate on analog VHF channel 13 operating under a different owner.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|22.1||1080i||16:9||WWLP-DT||Main WWLP programming / NBC|
WWLP discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 22, 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 (but was ordered by the FCC to continue transmitting emergency bulletins, local news broadcasts, and information on digital transition on its analog channel for an additional sixty days as part of the "nightlighting" service). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition VHF channel 11, using PSIP to display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 22.
Ever since its sign-on, WWLP has consistently had the most watched newscasts in the Pioneer Valley. This has been achieved (most of the time) by beating rival ABC affiliate WGGB in the local Nielsen ratings since both stations went on-the-air. There have been some brief periods when WGGB was on top and there have also been extended times where the stations were basically neck-and-neck with WWLP having a slight edge. However, WWLP consistently outpaced WGGB after the Sinclair Broadcast Group acquired that channel in 1998 with a sizable margin in this channel's favor for most shows.
While operating as full-time satellites of WWLP, WRLP and WWOR/WJZB simulcasted local news from this station. However, when WRLP converted to a separate Independent channel in 1974, its own newscasts were established tailored toward the Northern Pioneer Valley as well as Brattleboro and Keene.
After WGGB recently became locally owned (bought by John J. Gormally who publishes the Business West magazine), there was a chance the ratings could change. However, as of the July 2008 sweeps period, WWLP continues its longtime dominance with WGGB stabilizing to a strong second. Although low-powered CBS afifliate WSHM-LP established its own news department in October 2005, it initially did not compete on the same level as WWLP and WGGB. However, its ratings grew substantially across the board during the May 2009 sweeps period to within decimal points of WGGB in several key demographics.
In addition to their main studios, WWLP operates a Hampshire County Bureau on Main Street/MA 9/MA 10 in downtown Northampton as part of Thornes Market (location established in November 2010), and a Franklin County Bureau in Greenfield. NBC affiliate WHDH-TV in Boston shares its resources with WWLP for news coverage of Eastern Massachusetts. In turn, WWLP does the same for events from western areas of the state. Although it operates its own weather radar at the transmitter site on Provin Mountain, it is not seen on-air or online. During weather segments, the station does feature live NOAA National Weather Service radar data from several regional sites presented on-screen in a system known as "ESP: Live Doppler" (with "ESP" meaning Exclusive Storm Prediction). The station uses the "Tower V.4" news music package from 615 Music. Throughout the existence of NBC Weather Plus, WWLP never offered the service. All news anchors also serve as reporters.
On Saturday, January 8, 2012, WWLP became the second station in the Springfield/Holyoke market to broadcast local news in high definition. Rival station WGGB was the first to broadcast in HD in September 2011.
Notable former on-air staff
- Todd Gross (now at KTVX in Salt Lake City)
- Bill Rasmussen (founder of ESPN)
- Donna Savarese (later at KMOV in St. Louis)
- Howard Thompson (now at WPIX in New York City)
- Anaridis Rodriguez (now at The Weather Channel)
- "Media General buys LIN Media, owner of WWLP Channel 22 in Springfield". The Republican. Associated Press. March 21, 2014. Retrieved March 22, 2014.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WWLP
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- CDBS Print