North Port, Florida
|City of license||Sarasota, Florida|
|Branding||ABC 7 (general)
ABC 7 News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Your Suncoast News, We're Here For You|
|Channels||Digital: 24 (UHF)
Virtual: 40 (PSIP)
(WWSB License, LLC)
|First air date||October 23, 1971|
|Call letters' meaning||Sarasota & Bradenton|
|Former callsigns||WXLT-TV (1971–1986)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
40 (UHF, 1971–2009)
Digital: 52 (UHF, –2009)
|Former affiliations||CBS and NBC (secondary throughout the 1970s)|
|Transmitter power||90 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WWSB, virtual channel 40 (UHF digital channel 24), is a ABC-affiliated television station located in Sarasota, Florida, United States. The station is owned by Calkins Media. WWSB maintains studio facilities located on 10th Street in the Rosemary District of Sarasota; it also operates a news bureau in Venice, and its transmitter is located on Rutland Road (County Road 675) in the unincorporated Manatee County community of Rye, about 5 miles (8.0 km) east-southeast of Parrish.
- 1 Broadcast coverage
- 2 History
- 3 Digital television
- 4 Programming
- 5 News operation
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Due to this station's transmitter location and the changeover from analog to digital transmission, its coverage area expands as far north as northern Hillsborough and Polk Counties, south to Punta Gorda, and east to Avon Park and Sebring giving some over-the-air viewers a choice of two or three ABC affiliates depending on the location.
As a result, WWSB is technically a secondary ABC affiliate particularly for the eastern side of Tampa Bay, the city of Tampa itself is on the rim of WWSB's digital signal where receivable through indoor antennas. On cable, the station is the sole ABC affiliate on Comcast's Southern Sarasota County systems and it competes with Fort Myers-based WZVN-TV (also known on-air as "ABC 7") in DeSoto and Charlotte Counties and Orlando's WFTV in Hardee County. The station has faced an uphill battle gaining carriage on cable and satellite providers in some cases. While DirecTV started carrying WWSB in 2009, Dish Network did not carry the station until March 2012 but only in standard definition (it was not available in HD on Dish until late 2012). Verizon FiOS added the station to its Hillsborough and Pasco County systems in October 2006 (and eventually to its entire West Central Florida service area, as the system expanded), greatly increasing WWSB's coverage area and its overlap with WFTS-TV (channel 28); In December 2013, non-duplication rules enforced by ABC and cable companies threatened to remove WWSB from all Verizon FiOS systems due to the presence of WFTS-TV. WFTS worked with WWSB to retain local and syndicated programming on the provider, while blocking only the duplicated network programming, allowing WWSB to remain on FiOS.
The station first signed on the air on October 23, 1971 as WXLT-TV (XL Television with "XL" representing the Roman numeral for "40"); it was the first network-affiliated station in the West Central Florida that was not based in Tampa nor St. Petersburg. It signed on to provide ABC programming in an area of the state that was insufficiently covered by the signal of WLCY-TV (channel 10, now WTSP) because of that station's lower-powered transmitter location well north of the Tampa Bay area's other television stations at the time. Until WLCY upgraded its facilities in the late 1970s, both that station and WXLT competed for viewers in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. It was not uncommon to see WXLT's billboards in Tampa, St. Petersburg or Largo. In the 1970s, WXLT also cleared some CBS and NBC programming passed on by WTVT and WFLA; in 1972, for example, when The Joker's Wild debuted on CBS, it was pre-empted on WTVT but carried by WXLT.
The station changed its call letters to WWSB in 1986. On cable, WFTS (now the area's primary ABC affiliate after a market realignment triggered by Fox's purchase of WTVT, channel 13) was not carried south of the Sarasota area while WWSB was not largely available on cable north of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge until Verizon FiOS added WWSB to all of its area lineups. The latter was due to contractual conditions drawn up in the early 1990s by WTSP and later WFTS.
On September 27, 1994, WWSB received an affiliation termination notice from ABC, likely related to the network's forced change to WFTS; had the station not petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) (and won, which it did) to keep its affiliation, the then-23-year-long ABC affiliation would have ended on April 2, 1995.
On November 5, 2001, the station moved its operations to a new studio facility in downtown Sarasota. In March 2004, the station dropped all references to its over-the-air position on UHF channel 40 and rebranded as "ABC 7" in reference to its cable channel position on Bright House Networks and Comcast in the station's service area. However, channel 7 is not WWSB's universal cable channel position: Comcast's Wauchula system carries it on channel 2 and its Port Charlotte system offers WWSB on channel 10, since its home market's ABC station WZVN-TV is carried on channel 7.
The station and its sports director, Don Brennan, have been featured on a "webisode", along with an actual episode, of the ABC/TBS show Cougar Town, which is set in a fictional community in Sarasota County.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|40.1||720p||16:9||WWSB-HD||Main WWSB programming / ABC|
WWSB shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 40, on February 1, 2009, about two weeks before the original February 17 national deadline for full-power television stations in the United States to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which Congress moved days later to June 12). The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 24.  Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 40. Even though the national transition date was changed by Congress to June 12, WWSB announced that its analog signal would not be reactivated.
Syndicated programming featured on WWSB includes: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Better, We the People With Gloria Allred, America's Court with Judge Ross and Comedy.tv. In previous years, WWSB carried generally the same syndicated programs as the other Tampa Bay stations, despite the overlap in signals, such as The Rosie O'Donnell Show (which was also broadcast by WTVT during its entire run), Extra (also seen on WFLA-TV, channel 8) and M*A*S*H (seen over the years on many stations, most recently on WTVT). Until the fall of 2012, WWSB carried Sony Pictures Television's Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune on weekday evenings, simultaneously with WFTS; on September 17, 2012, WTSP acquired local rights to Jeopardy! and Wheel for the entire Tampa Bay market, forcing CBS Television Distribution to remove the shows from WWSB, which replaced both shows with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire at 7 and 7:30 p.m.
Black Almanac is a locally-produced public affairs program that airs on Sunday mornings at 7:30 a.m. It is hosted by Ed James, a longtime anchor and personality of the station who has been with channel 40 since just after its sign-on as WXLT. The program focuses on the issues that African Americans face in the community, and has aired since 1972, making it the longest running locally-produced public affairs program in the Southeastern United States.
The Suncoast View
The Suncoast View is a locally-produced talk show based on the ABC talk show The View. It is hosted by Stephanie Roberts (who also serves as the show's moderator), Linda Carson, Bobeth Yates, and Regina Hopper. It premiered September 8, 2014 at 4:00 p.m.
WWSB presently broadcasts 27 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with five hours on weekdays, and one hour each on Saturdays and Sundays). The station's news department focuses its coverage on Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties. The station also includes DeSoto and Hardee counties in its viewing area. In addition to its main studios, WWSB operates a South Bureau (covering Southern Sarasota and Charlotte Counties) and Manatee Bureau (for Manatee County).
During the station's early days, WXLT's news coverage focused on local news and events, but to improve ratings, later expanded to "blood and guts" journalism focusing mainly on crime stories. The station became notorious in 1974 when news anchor and talk show host Christine Chubbuck committed suicide by shooting herself in the head on-the-air making reference to the station's "blood and guts" policies in her final monologue. Her suicide occurred the day after a story she filed was cut for a story on a shootout at an area restaurant. The suicide would later provide part of the inspiration for the 1976 film, Network.
A second mobile newsroom was added in 1996 giving the station the ability to cover live news from multiple locations during newscasts. In October 2002, the station expanded its weekday morning newscast to one hour starting at 6 a.m. WWSB's rebranding as "ABC 7" involved a redress of the station's news set, a new logo to a unique version and color scheme of the well-known circle 7 logo, a new slogan, and a major local promotion and advertising campaign.
Notable current on-air staff
- Regina Hopper - political contributor and host of The Suncoast View
Notable former on-air staff
- Christine Chubbuck - anchor (1971–1974; shot self live on air)
- Brad Giffen - 5:30 p.m. anchor/reporter (2003–2008; currently at CFTO-DT and CTV News Channel)
- Kevin Negandhi - weekday sports anchor (1999–2002, 2004–2006; currently at ESPN)
- Craig Sager - reporter (1970s)
- "Station cut from ABC roster" - Adweek Western Edition, 17 October 1994
- Don Brennan on Cougar Town
- RabbitEars TV Query for WWSB
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- FCC document: "APPENDIX B: ALL FULL-POWER TELEVISION STATIONS BY DMA, INDICATING THOSE TERMINATING ANALOG SERVICE BEFORE ON OR FEBRUARY 17, 2009."
- WWSB: "ABC 7 engineers explain this weekend's Analog/Digital TV switch", 1/30/2009.
- WWSB: "Switch to Digital TV delayed until June", 2/5/2009.
- Quinn, Sally (4 August 1974). "Christine Chubbuck: 29, Good-Looking, Educated. A Television Personality. Dead. Live and in Color (PDF)" (PDF). Washington Post.
- Empire: "Television will eat itself in Sidney Lumet's searing satire", October 1, 2008; via allbusiness.com. Source mistakenly mentioned Chubbock as an anchor for a Cleveland television station.