Port Charlotte, Florida
|City of license||Naples|
|Branding||ABC 7 (general)
ABC 7 News
|Slogan||The News That
Works For You
|Channels||Digital: 41 (UHF)
Virtual: 26 (PSIP)
|Owner||Montclair Communications, Inc.
(operated through LMA by Waterman Broadcasting Corporation)
|First air date||August 21, 1974|
|Call letters' meaning||ZeVeN (sounds
|Sister station(s)||WBBH-TV, WVIR-TV|
|Former callsigns||WEVU (1974-1995)|
|Former channel number(s)||26 (UHF analog, 1974-2009)|
|Transmitter power||1,000 kW|
WZVN-TV is the ABC-affiliated television station for Southwestern Florida licensed to Naples. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 41 (or virtual channel 26.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter along SR 31 in unincorporated southeastern Charlotte County. The station can also be seen on Comcast and CenturyLink channel 7. There is a high definition feed provided on Comcast digital channel 431 and CenturyLink digital channel 1007. Owned by Montclaire Communications, WZVN is operated through a local marketing agreement (LMA) by the Waterman Broadcasting Corporation. This makes it a sister station to NBC affiliate WBBH-TV and the two outlets share studios on Central Avenue in Fort Myers.
Syndicated programming on this station includes Entertainment Tonight, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Family Feud, and Extra among others. Along with CW affiliate WXCW, it is one of two Fort Myers-based stations licensed to Naples. Similar with other major television stations in the market, WZVN identifies itself on-air using its cable designation (ABC 7) rather than its over-the-air channel position. The unusual practice stems in part from the area's exceptionally high cable penetration rate that is one of the highest in the United States.
It began broadcasting on August 21, 1974 with the call letters WEVU (a phonetic translation of "WE VieU[W]") and was the third television station in Fort Myers. Originally owned by Caloosa Television, it immediately took over the ABC affiliation which beforehand was relegated to off-hour secondary clearances through WBBH and CBS outlet WINK-TV. However, viewers with a good antenna could also watch the full ABC schedule from Miami's WPLG, West Palm Beach's WPEC, or WLCY-TV (now WTSP) in St. Petersburg. It aired an analog signal on UHF channel 26 from a transmitter northeast of Bonita Springs near the Collier and Lee County line. This location put a stronger signal into Naples and Southern Collier County as compared with the market's other broadcast outlets.
In 1976, the Home News Company purchased the station. In 1992, it was sold to FCVS Communications (the owner of WKCH-TV now WTNZ in Knoxville, Tennessee and WACH in Columbia, South Carolina) who turned around and sold all three of its stations to Ellis Communications in 1993. In 1994, WEVU entered into a local marketing agreement with WBBH and moved into that station's facility. At the time, both outlets began identifying by their cable channel slots and this station started using a variant of the common circle 7 logo. This outlet's version has the ABC logo attached to the bottom left corner boxed in by a black rectangle. Unlike the more common varieties, as used by network flagship WABC-TV in New York City, the "seven" numeral is curved differently. The station's call letters became WZVN-TV (a phonetic translation of "Z[S]eVeN") on October 16, 1995. The previous calls later resided on a local now-defunct Class A station.
Ellis Communications was folded into Raycom Media in 1996 although due to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ownership limits in effect at the time, WZVN's license was spun-off to current owner Montclair Communications which continued the LMA with WBBH. It should be noted that station's owner Waterman Broadcasting holds an investment interest in Montclair Communications even though the two companies file separate financial reports. WZVN began offering a high definition digital signal on October 31, 2002 becoming the first station in the market to do so.
On February 17, 2009, the station shut down its analog signal and became digital-exclusive. As of August 2009, its website is now completely operated by WBBH as a hybrid of that station's web address with a different color scheme. On June 6, 2011, WZVN began airing programming from Me-TV (a digital multicast network that airs classic television sitcoms and dramas from the 1950s through the 1980s) on a second digital subchannel. This allotment was previously used to broadcast a standard definition simulcast of its main signal.
|26.1||720p||16:9||Main WZVN-TV programming / ABC|
WZVN-TV's broadcasts have been digital-only since February 17th, 2009.
In 1994, WZVN and WBBH established a partnership where news reporters would appear on both stations. Resources such as video footage and stories was also shared. During this period, each station maintained separate unique sets at the Central Avenue facilities and featured a distinct on-air style. There were primary personalities (such as news anchors) that would only appear on one outlet. The combined forces of the two stations was billed as the Eyewitness News Network. It should be known that if WZVN chose not become a junior partner in the local marketing agreement with WBBH, the station would have been required to shut down its news department. Traditionally, WBBH tended to cover more from Charlotte County while WZVN had a slight Collier County focus since it is licensed to Naples and had the former analog transmitter located further south than the area's other television outlets.
Today, WZVN continues the practice of maintaining its own primary on-air team on weekdays that only appear on this station. Otherwise, all other personnel including most reporters is shared among each other. It has a separate set and studio at the Central Avenue facility allowing it to have a different on-air identity and graphics scheme from WBBH. Compared with that outlet, this station's newscasts usually tend to air in a more flashier fast-paced format with promotions referring to more coverage in thirty minutes. WBBH will provide more investigative and consumer stories through its "NBC 2 Investigators" unit. On weekends, there are separate news and sports anchors but common meteorologists are seen on both WZVN and WBBH. This is possible because the two stations maintain individual sets and do not always air local newscasts at the same time. Between the two, WZVN and WBBH air twelve hours of news on weekdays and four and a half on weekends.
Since it was the first station to sign-on in Southwest Florida and be the only outlet located on the VHF dial, WINK-TV has long been the most watched television station according to Nielsen ratings. One of the best known former personality and veteran of Southwestern Florida broadcasting is Harry Horn. He lost his battle with ALS in August 2005. During major hurricanes, most recently Charley and Wilma, WZVN and WBBH combined their entire news department and put on 24-hour continuous coverage. Commercial breaks are dropped for several hours preceding and following landfall. There is a simulcast on both stations and a common live video stream on both of their websites. During previous years, WBBH's news set was used during hurricanes along with both outlet's weather sets. As of the 2007 season, WZVN's high definition news set is now used in the event of a hurricane as its internal location at the Central Avenue facility provides the best protection against damaging winds.
On August 14, 2006 through a news share agreement, the station added a nightly prime time newscast to cable-exclusive "WNFM" which eventually become the market's MyNetworkTV affiliate on September 5. Known as ABC 7 Gulfshore News at 10 on My TV 8, the broadcast was a first attempt to take on longtime dominant Fox affiliate WFTX-TV in the ratings. However, the program only ran for nine months as a result of Comcast's frequent technical difficulties (as the cable company operates "WNFM"). This hindered the show's ratings, and as a result, WZVN canceled the production on May 25, 2007. The move was also in response to the popularity of a third option for nightly news at 10 on WXCW which launched March 26, 2007 and quickly garnered enough viewership to emerge as a strong second place in the popular time slot.
On July 12, 2007, WZVN became the first television outlet in the market to upgrade its newscasts to 16x9 enhanced definition widescreen. Although not truly high definition, broadcasts matched the aspect ratio of HD television screens. On October 20, however, rival WINK-TV became the first station in Southwestern Florida to add full high definition local news production. WZVN would perform a further advancement to full-HD broadcasts on July 19, 2008. On October 26 of that year, several changes occurred to local news offerings on WZVN and WBBH in order to better compete with WINK-TV. WZVN dropped the first hour of its weekday morning show (as of 2012 this has since been restored) and mid-morning newscast at 10. WBBH debuted a new hour-long midday broadcast at 11 while keeping its hour-long noon newscast. Meanwhile, WZVN added an hour-long weekday morning show at 9 bookending Good Morning America and this production is currently the market's only local newscast seen in the time slot.
On September 8, 2009, this station starting broadcasting a prime time newscast on weeknights known as The 7 O'Clock News to go up against WINK-TV's show airing at the same time. On January 16, 2012, WZVN began airing a sixty minute newscast on weeknights from 5 until 6 despite directly competing with WBBH. In addition to the main studios, WZVN and WBBH operate a Collier County Bureau on Tamiami Trail North (U.S. 41/SR 45) in Naples. The two stations operate a Baron weather radar at the main facilities that is known on WZVN as "StormWarn 7 Live Doppler". The radar has a range of 300 miles and can survey approaching storms in three dimensions.
- WEVU Newswatch (early 1980s–1987)
- WEVU NewsCenter (1987–1995)
- ABC 7 News (1995–2006 and 2007–present) 
- ABC 7 Gulfshore News (2006–2007) 
- "Hello WEVU" (1987-1989)
- "7 On Your Side" (1994–1996)
- "News For Your Life" (1997–1998)
- "ABC 7 Works For You" (2004–2006)
- "The News Team That Works For You" (2006–2007)
- "The News That Works For You" (2007–present, news)
- "Start Here" (2007–2010, general)
- "Get More. Know More. Start Here." (2010–2012, general)
- "ABC7 Here" (2013-Present, general)
- ABC 7 Morning News - 5:00-7:00 a.m.
- ABC 7 Morning News - 9:00-10:00 a.m.
- ABC 7 News at 5:00 - 5:00-5:30 p.m.
- ABC 7 News at 5:30 - 5:30-6:00 p.m.
- ABC 7 News at 6:00 - 6:00-6:30 p.m.
- The 7:00 O'Clock News on ABC 7 - 7:00-7:30 p.m.
- ABC 7 News at 11:00 - 11:00-11:35 p.m.
- ABC 7 Morning News - 6:00-8:00 a.m.
- ABC 7 News at 6:30 - 6:30-7:00 p.m.
- ABC 7 News at 11:00 - 11:00-11:35 p.m.
+ denotes personnel seen exclusively on WZVN
- + Amy Sedlacek - weekday mornings (5:00-7:00 and 9:00-10:00 a.m.)
- + Chance Seales - weekday mornings (5:00-7:00 and 9:00-10:00 a.m.)
- + Jeff Butera - weeknights at 5:00, 5:30, 6:00, 7:00 and 11:00 p.m.
- + Courtney Robinson - weeknights at 5:00, 5:30, 6:00, 7:00 and 11:00 p.m.
- Stacey Deffenbaugh - weekend mornings (6:00-8:00 a.m.); also reporter three days a week
- Joe Roetz- weekends at 6:30 and 11:00 p.m.
StormWarn 7 Meteorologists
- + John Patrick (CBM and NWA Seal of Approval) - Chief seen weeknights at 5:00, 5:30, 6:00, 7:00 and 11:00 p.m.
- + Allyson Rae - (CBM Seal of Approval) weekday mornings (5:00-7:00 and 9:00-10:00 a.m.)
- Kira Minor - weekend mornings (6:00-8:00 a.m.)
- David Heckard (AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Seal of Approval) - weekends at 6:30 and 11:00 p.m.
- Jim Reif (AMS Seal of Approval) - Waterman Broadcasting Corporation Director of Meteorology and hurricane expert seen as fill-in
- + Brad Shellgren - weeknights at 6:00, 7:00 and 11:00 p.m.
- Mark Laricos - weekends at 6:30 and 11:00 p.m.; also sports reporter
- Rishi Barran - sports reporter
- Elizabeth Billingsley - consumer investigative
- Kim Brown
- Stacey Deffenbaugh - justice correspondent
- Laura DiSpirito
- + Paul Gessler - weeknights at 5:00, 5:30, 6:00, 7:00 and 11:00 p.m.
- Stephanie Kolp
- Sara Miles
- Joelle Parks
- Andy Pierrotti - investigative
- Chad Oliver - political correspondent
- Joe Roetz
- Meaghan Smith - Lee County crime
Notable former on-air staff
- Sharon Gregory -evening anchor (now main anchor with sister station WVIR-TV in Charlottsville, VA)
- Harry Horn - evening anchor (deceased)
- Curtis Jay - weekend anchor (last at KSHB-TV in Kansas City)
- Len Jennings - evening anchor (now with KMBC-TV in Kansas City)
- Heather Sullivan - weekend anchor (now morning and noon anchor with WWBT-TV in Richmond, Virginia)