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Action News is a local television newscast format in the United States. First conceived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it is characterized by a tight format with strict time limits on set packages, a focus on surrounding suburbs, and a focus on young talent. It was a competitor to the "Eyewitness News" format.
The "Action News" format was conceived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at WFIL-TV (now WPVI-TV) by news director Mel Kampmann in 1970 as a response to the "Eyewitness News" format that was used on rival station KYW-TV. At this time, WFIL-TV was said to be "#4 in a three-station market."
The main difference between Action News and Eyewitness News was that the former was far more tightly formatted. Time limits were placed on packages – for instance, a reporter package could be no longer than 90 seconds. This difference enabled the station to cover more stories than its competitors. Another key difference was the focus on the surrounding Philadelphia suburban areas – a response to the movement of residents from the city to the suburbs. Finally, WPVI placed more emphasis on young talent – while WCAU-TV and KYW-TV used older, well-known news anchors such as Vince Leonard, Tom Snyder, and John Facenda, WPVI had a young Larry Kane as its top anchor. Later, the station would add the very popular Jim O'Brien as its main weathercaster.
The format was immediately successful, and after going back and forth with KYW for first place, WPVI took the lead in 1977 which it has held ever since. Capital Cities Communications, WPVI's owner at the time, took the format to most of its other stations.
One of the major development stations for WPVI's Action News was its Capital Cities sister station, WKBW-TV in Buffalo, New York. Under the leadership of news director Irv Weinstein, who had developed his own similar format under the name Eyewitness News (and before that, Pulse Beat News and Rock and Roll Radio News), WKBW developed much of the talent that WPVI would later hire to boost them to #1 in the market; anchor Jim Gardner (replacing Larry Kane when he moved to WABC in New York), weatherman Dave Roberts, and voice-over artist Jeff Kaye are the three highest-profile WPVI personalities to have come from WKBW.
WPIX in New York City, an independent station at the time, picked up the Action News concept (and music) successfully for its 10 p.m. newscast. The newscast won numerous awards, but the station never approached the ratings of longtime leader WNEW-TV (now WNYW).
In 2002 and 2003 (respectively), WFTS-TV in Tampa, Florida and KSHB-TV in Kansas City, Missouri (both owned by the E. W. Scripps Company) became the first stations in the country to identify themselves with the Action News as a full-time station branding (for both local newscasts and entertainment programming) with no station number.
Today, Action News innovations have been incorporated into newscasts across the country.
Outside the United States, the Action News title was used by the following television stations:
- Germany's RTL II (then known as RTL2) in the 1990s
- CKCO-TV in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, in the 1980s and 1990s
- NWS-9 in Adelaide, Australia, in the 1980s
- Netherlands' SBS 6 since its inception in 1995 until 2006
- Colombia's Caracol TV (then as a production company for Inravisión) as Noticias de Acción in the 1980s
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WFIL adopted the Action News format in 1970. Originally the program was introduced with a brass band theme written by Temple University student Tom Sellers. The entire theme was offered through the Philadelphia Inquirer, as a single sided 45 RPM record for about 25¢. Two years later, the station (under its new call sign WPVI) replaced "The Action News Theme" with Al Ham's "Move Closer to Your World".
WPVI continues to use this theme after four decades, even as others have stopped using it, although it has been remastered several times (which have included the removal of a bongo line) in order for the theme to sound less dated. In 1996, the station replaced the original Al Ham theme with a fuller, orchestral version performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Viewer outcry caused the station to drop the new version within five days. "Move Closer to Your World" is probably the only news theme to be offered as a ringtone, which is offered by WPVI free of charge.
Action News offered the first evening newscasts to be solo anchored by a woman: Diana Robinson, who was the first African-American female news anchor in American television. She was followed by Jacqui Mullen.
WPVI opens its broadcasts with a rapid montage featuring scenes of Philadelphia-area activities. The scenes are rotated to reflect the current season. For example, spring footage of the Phillies, NASCAR, CART and DIRT starts on March 21, while footage of the Philadelphia Eagles, Philadelphia Flyers, and 76ers starts on September 23, and footage of the Mummers Parade with other winter scenes is shown from December 21 to March 21.
Although "Move Closer to Your World" is strongly associated with the Action News format, many stations that have used the "Action News" name actually chose to use other pieces of music for their newscasts. Conversely, stations that use "Move Closer to Your World" do not necessarily use the "Action News" name or format. WNEP-TV in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania used the original version of the theme for many years before switching to a modern variation which only partially resembles the original.
Stations that use or have used the Action News format or name
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|DMA#||DMA Name||Station||Affiliation||Currently Uses||Other Notes|
|1.||New York City||WPIX||The CW||No||Used as an Independent station from 1974 to 1984; station currently brands its newscast as "PIX 11 News"|
|2.||Los Angeles||KCBS-TV||CBS||No||Used from 1989–1997, has identified as "CBS 2 News" from 1997–present, and "CBS 2 NewsCentral" from September–January 2010|
|3.||Chicago||WBBM-TV||CBS||No||Used briefly in the early 1970s, newscasts are now branded as "CBS 2 News"|
|4.||Philadelphia||WPVI-TV||ABC||Yes||Originator of the "Action News" format on April 6, 1970|
|WPHL-TV||MyNetworkTV||Yes||WPVI-produced broadcasts on WPHL are branded as "Action News @10 on PHL17"|
|5.||San Jose/S.F./Oakland, California||KICU-TV||Independent||No||Newscast defunct, station formerly referred to itself as "Action 36". Currently broadcasts newscast from sister station, KTVU.|
|KTVU-TV||Fox||No||Used from 1971 to the early 1980s. Newscasts are now branded as "KTVU Fox 2 News".|
|6.||Dallas/Fort Worth||KXAS-TV||NBC||No||Used from 1979–1984, its years of using Move Closer to Your World; has identified as "NBC 5 News" since 1999|
|9.||Atlanta||WSB-TV||ABC (formerly NBC)||Yes||Identified as Action News from 1972–1988, has identified as "Channel 2 Action News" since 1988. The station's newscasts still remain very fast paced, keeping some aspects of the Action News format today.|
|11.||Detroit||WXYZ-TV||ABC||Yes||Used since 1972; currently identifies as "Channel 7 Action News"|
|12.||Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida||WFTS-TV||ABC (formerly Fox)||Yes||Has identified as "ABC Action News" since 2002|
|WTSP||CBS, formerly ABC||No||Identified as "Action NewsCenter" in 1977, then as "Action 10 News" from 1978 to 1979, and finally as "Action News" from 1979 to 1989. Currently identifies as "10 News"|
|13.||Phoenix, Arizona||KPNX||NBC||No||Used during the 1980s; has identified as "12 News" since 1992, and "12 News in HD" since November 2006.|
|15.||Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota||WCCO-TV||CBS||No||Used during the early 1970s; now identifies as "WCCO 4 News"|
|16.||Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Florida||WFOR-TV (formerly WCIX-TV)||CBS||No||Used from 1989–1995; has identified as "South Florida's CBS 4 News" since 1999|
|17.||Cleveland, Ohio||WOIO||CBS||No||Has identified as "19 Action News" from 2002-2015. Now identifies as "Cleveland 19 News" since September 2015, produces "Cleveland 19 News at 10 on CLE 43" for WUAB|
|WKYC-TV||NBC||No||Identified as "Action 3 News" from 1974–1984; has identified as "Channel 3 News" since 1984; unrelated to WOIO|
|18.||Denver, Colorado||KWGN-TV||The CW||No||Used from 1977–1983; has identified as "Channel 2 News" since June 2010|
|19.||Orlando||WRDQ||Independent||No||Newscast produced by WFTV was rebranded to Eyewitness News.|
|20.||Sacramento/Stockton/Modesto, California||KOVR||CBS (formerly ABC)||No||Used as an ABC affiliate in the 1970s; has identified as "CBS 13 News" since 2005|
|KMAX-TV||The CW (formerly UPN, WB and independent)||No||Used in the 1990s; formerly unrelated to KOVR|
|21.||St. Louis||KTVI||Fox, formerly ABC||No||Used during the early and mid-1970s; has identified as "Fox 2 News" since 1995|
|22.||Pittsburgh||WTAE-TV||ABC||Yes||Used in 1970s–1989; Brought back again in 1995 as "Channel 4 Action News". One of the few that used the name to put emphasis on investigative reporting, with the slogan being "Taking Action For You."|
|24.||Baltimore||WBAL-TV||NBC (formerly CBS)||No||Identified as "Action News" from 1973–1985, has identified as "11 News" since 1995 and also identified as "WBAL-TV 11 News".|
|26.||Charlotte||WAXN-TV||Independent||No||Produced by WSOC-TV; newscasts are now branded as "Eyewitness News"|
|WCNC-TV (formerly WPCQ-TV)||NBC||No||Identified as "Carolina's NewsChannel 36" from 2008-2012, has identified as "NBC Charlotte News" since 2012; unrelated to WAXN/WSOC|
|27.||San Diego||KFMB-TV||CBS||No||Used briefly in the 1970s; title was followed by the current year à la Match Game (i.e., "Action News '75"); has identified as News 8 since 1996|
|28.||Hartford/New Haven, Connecticut||WTNH||ABC||No||Used from 1971–1996; has identified as "News 8" since 2010; former sister station of WPVI|
|29.||Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina||WRAL-TV||NBC, formerly CBS & ABC||No||Used during the 1970s and 1980s; Sister station of Fox affiliate WRAZ. Has identified as "WRAL News" since 2003.|
|31.||Kansas City||KSHB-TV||NBC, formerly FOX||Yes||Identified as "NBC Action News" from 2003-2012; has identified as "41 Action News" since early 2012, after the station rebranded.|
|WDAF-TV||Fox, formerly NBC||No||Used from 1974–1990; has identified as "Fox 4 News" since 1997; unrelated to KSHB|
|31.||Salt Lake City, Utah||KTVX||ABC||No||Identified as "Action News 4" from 1975-1979; has identified as "ABC 4 Utah" since 2013|
|32.||Columbus, Ohio||WSYX (formerly WTVN-TV)||ABC||No||Used as WTVN; has identified as "ABC 6 News" since 2006|
|33.||Cincinnati||WLWT||NBC||No||Used from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s; has identified as "News 5" since 2004|
|34.||Milwaukee||WISN-TV||ABC, formerly CBS||No||Used from 1976 (when it was still a CBS affiliate) to 1985; has identified as "12 News" since 2003, though the station's consumer news/investigation segments continue to be called "Action 12".|
|36.||Greenville||WYFF Formerly WFBC-TV||NBC||No||Used from 1975–1981; has identified as "WYFF News 4" since 1996|
|38.||West Palm Beach, Florida||WPTV-TV||NBC||No||Used in the 1980s and early 1990s; has identified as "NewsChannel 5" since 1993|
|40.||Birmingham, Alabama||WVTM-TV||NBC||No||Used in the 1970s; identified as "NBC 13 News" until 2010; currently identified as "WVTM 13 News"|
|WIAT||CBS||No||Used in the 1980s and 1990s; currently identifies as WIAT News 42, unrelated to WVTM|
|41.||Harrisburg/York/Lancaster, Pennsylvania||WLYH-TV||The CW (formerly CBS)||No||Used as a CBS affiliate; currently identifies as "CBS 21 News at Ten on The CW 15"|
|43.||Las Vegas||KTNV||ABC||Yes||Has identified as "Channel 13 Action News" since 2003|
|44.||Memphis, Tennessee||WMC-TV||NBC||Yes||Has identified as "Action News 5" since 1983|
|45.||Albuquerque/Santa Fe, New Mexico||KOAT-TV||ABC||Yes||Has identified itself as "Action 7 News" since 1978|
|48.||Louisville, Kentucky||WHAS-TV||ABC, formerly CBS||No||Used from the mid-1970s to when it switched from CBS to ABC; has identified as "WHAS 11 News" since 1991|
|50.||Jacksonville, Florida||WTLV||NBC||No||Used during the mid- and late 1970s; currently identifies as "First Coast News", unrelated to WTEV and WAWS|
|WJAX-TV, formerly WTEV-TV||CBS||Yes||Rebranded to title in April 2009, with sister station WAWS.|
|WFOX-TV, formerly WAWS||Fox||Yes||Rebranded to title in April 2009, with sister station WTEV.|
|51.||Providence, Rhode Island/New Bedford, Massachusetts||WLNE-TV||ABC, formerly CBS||No||Used during its CBS days; has identified as "ABC 6 News" since 1995|
|52.||Austin, Texas||KVUE||ABC||No||Used from 1978–1997; has identified as "KVUE News" since 2001|
|53.||Scranton/Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania||WYOU||CBS||No||Used circa 1999-2001; station ended its newscasts on April 3, 2009; newscasts have been branded as "Eyewitness News" after sister station WBRE began producing its newscasts in 2012|
|WNEP||ABC||No||Has never been known as "Action News," but has used "Move Closer to Your World" theme for several years|
|55.||Fresno/Visalia/Merced, California||KFSN-TV||ABC (formerly CBS)||Yes||Has identified as "ABC 30 Action News" since 1994, but uses the "Eyewitness News" format of KABC and KGO; title began on September 14, 1970|
|56.||Albany, New York||WTEN||ABC, formerly CBS||No||Used during its first few years as an ABC affiliate; has identified as "News 10" since 1995|
|57.||Little Rock, Arkansas||KTHV||CBS||No||Newscast name used before its purchase by Gannett; Currently identifies as "Today's THV"|
|59.||Mobile, Alabama/Pensacola, Florida||WALA-TV||Fox (formerly NBC)||No||Used from 1990 to 1997; currently identifies as "Fox 10 News"|
|60.||Knoxville, Tennessee||WBIR-TV||NBC||No||Used "Action 10 News" from 1970–1974 and 1978–April 2004; has identified as "10 News" since April 2004|
|63.||Lexington, Kentucky||WLEX-TV||NBC||No||Used in the 1970s, 1980s, and the mid-late 1990s; has identified as "LEX 18 News" since 2000|
|WTVQ-TV||ABC||No||Identified as "Action News 36" from 2004–2009, identified as "ABC 36 News" since 2009.|
|65.||Huntington/Charleston, West Virginia||WOWK-TV||CBS (formerly ABC)||No||Used from its ABC days and with CBS up to 1993; currently identifies as "13 News"|
|68.||Roanoke, Virginia/Lynchburg, Virginia||WSLS-TV||NBC||No||Used during the 1980s. Has identified as "WSLS 10 On Your Side" since 2006|
|69.||Green Bay, Wisconsin||WBAY-TV||ABC (formerly CBS)||Yes||Has identified as "Action 2 News" since 1987|
|70.||Honolulu, Hawaii||KHON-TV||Fox (formerly NBC)||No||Used "Action 2 News" from 1979 to 1982; has identified as "KHON2 News" since 2003|
|71.||Toledo, Ohio||WTVG||ABC||Yes||Identified as "13 Action News" until 2006, identified as "13 ABC Action News" since 2006; former sister station of WPVI; also known to use the "Eyewitness News" format|
|75.||Omaha, Nebraska||KMTV||CBS||No||Newscasts were branded as "Action 3 News" from 2006-2017 when it was rebranded '3 News Now'.|
|WOWT-TV||NBC||No||Known as "Channel 6 Action News" from 1986 to 1991, then changed to "Channel 6 News". Known as "WOWT 6 News" since 2012.|
|76.||Springfield, Missouri||KYTV||NBC||No||Used from 1974 to 1993, as "KY3 Action News"; has identified as "KY3 News" since 1997|
|77.||Lewiston, Idaho||KLEW-TV||CBS||Yes||Has identified as KLEW Action News since 2008. The station is part of the Spokane, Washington market, but does not serve as the Spokane metro area's CBS affiliate; it is served by KREM-TV.|
|79.||Syracuse, New York||WSTM-TV||NBC||No||Identifies as "NBC 3 News"|
|81.||Shreveport, Louisiana||KTBS-TV||ABC||No||Used during the 1980s; Currently identifies as "KTBS 3 News"|
|84.||Huntsville, Alabama||WHNT-TV||CBS||No||Used from 1975 to 1985, currently identifies as "WHNT News 19"|
|85.||Madison, Wisconsin||WISC-TV||CBS||No||Used in the 1970s; has identified as "News 3" since 2001|
|86.||Chattanooga, Tennessee||WTVC||ABC||No||Used throughout the 1970s 1980s and early 1990s; has identified as "NewsChannel 9" since 1995|
|87.||Jackson, Mississippi||WAPT-TV||ABC||No||Used during the 1970s; has identified as "16 WAPT News" since 1999|
|89.||Cedar Rapids, Iowa||KGAN||CBS||No||Used as WMT-TV; has identified as "CBS 2 News" since 2004|
|91.||Rio Grande Valley, Texas||KGBT||CBS||Yes||Previously identified as "Team 4 News"|
|96.||Rock Island, Illinois/Davenport, Iowa (Quad Cities)||WHBF-TV||CBS||No||Used during the 1980s; currently identifies as "Local 4 News"|
|97.||Savannah, Georgia||WJCL||ABC||No||Used from 1990s–1997; currently identifies as "WJCL News"|
|98.||Altoona/Johnstown, Pennsylvania||WTAJ-TV||CBS||No||Used during the 1980s; currently identifies as "WTAJ News"|
|99.||El Paso, Texas||KDBC-TV||CBS||No||Used in the 1990s; has identified as "KDBC 4 News" since 2004|
|100.||Charleston, South Carolina||WCBD-TV||NBC formerly ABC||No||Used as an ABC affiliate; has identified as "News 2" since 1997|
|103.||Youngstown, Ohio||WFMJ-TV||NBC||No||Used from 1970s-2001; has identified as "21 News" since 2001|
|105.||Florence/Myrtle Beach, South Carolina||WPDE-TV||ABC||No||Used from 1986–1993; has identified as "WPDE NewsChannel 15" since 1993|
|108.||Tallahassee, Florida||WTXL-TV||ABC||No||Used in the 1990s; has identified as "ABC 27 News" since 2006|
|112.||Lansing, Michigan||WILX-TV||NBC||No||Used during the 1970s and 1980s. Currently identifies as "News 10"|
|114.||Augusta, Georgia||WRDW-TV||CBS||No||Used from the late 1960s to the late 1970s; has identified as "News 12" since 1998|
|WAGT||NBC||No||Used from the 1990s-2003; currently identifies as "NBC Augusta"|
|115.||Sioux Falls, South Dakota||KSFY-TV||ABC||No||Identified as "KSFY Action News" from September 2008 to 2011; currently identifies as "KSFY News"|
|116.||Peoria, Illinois||WMBD-TV||CBS||No||Used from the early to late 1970s; has identified as "WMBD 31 News" since 2007|
|117.||Montgomery/Selma, Alabama||WAKA||CBS||No||Used in the 1980s, currently identifies as "CBS 8 News"|
|120.||Santa Barbara, California||KEYT-TV||ABC||No||Identified as "Action News" from 1977-1984; has identified as "NewsChannel 3" since 2013|
|122.||San Luis Obispo, California||KSBY||NBC||No||Originally Identified itself as "Action 6 News" (1970s-early 1980s), "6 Action News" (late 1980s-2007) and "KSBY 6 Action News" (2007–2010) and was a sister station of KSBW, which also uses the "Action News" format. Currently identifies as "KSBY 6 News" as of 2010.|
|124.||Lafayette, Louisiana||KATC||ABC||No||Used in the 1980s and 1990s; currently identifies as "TV-3 News"|
|125.||Salinas/Monterey, California||KSBW||NBC||Yes||Identified as "Action News 8" since 1987|
|126.||Yakima/Pasco-Richland-Kennewick, WA||KIMA-TV / KEPR-TV||CBS||Yes||Formerly NewsWatch. Has identified as Action News since 2007.|
|127.||La Crosse/Eau Claire, Wisconsin||WKBT||CBS||No||Identified as "Action 8 News" from 1976 to 1987; currently identifies as "News 8"|
|128.||Columbus, Georgia||WTVM||ABC||No||Identified as Action 9 News from the late 1960s to 1992; then identified as THE News Leader; has identified as "WTVM News Leader 9" since 1996|
|129.||Corpus Christi, Texas||KZTV||CBS||Yes||Has identified as "Action 10 News" since 2004|
|130.||Redding/Red Bluff/Chico, California||KHSL-TV||CBS||Yes||Merged with KNVN to form NCN in 2001 to be later renamed as "Action News"|
|KNVN||NBC||Yes||Merged with KHSL after having lowest ratings out of all three of the area's news stations and to not waste money on a failing station|
|131.||Amarillo, Texas||KAMR-TV||NBC||No||Used in the 1980s; has identified as "NBC 4 News" since 2002|
|133.||Rockford, Illinois||WIFR||CBS||No||Used from the 1980s. Has identified as "23 News" since 2003|
|139.||Duluth, Minnesota||WDIO-TV||ABC||No||Used in the 1980s; has identified as "Eyewitness News" since 1988|
|142.||Erie, Pennsylvania||WJET-TV||ABC||Yes||Identified as "Action News 24" since 1995|
|146.||Lawton, Oklahoma/Wichita Falls, Texas||KSWO-TV||ABC||No||Identified as "Action 7 News" 1979-1996, has identified as "7 News" since 1998|
|151.||Terre Haute, Indiana||WTHI-TV||CBS||No||Started as "Action 10 News" in 1985 and later became "Action 10 News WTHI." Became "News 10" in 2006.|
|157.||Binghamton, New York||WBNG-TV||CBS||Yes||The newscast has been called "Action News" since the station's inception in the 1950s.|
|163.||Idaho Falls/Pocatello, Idaho||KIDK (formerly KID-TV)||CBS||No||Used during the mid-1970s|
|164.||Abilene/Sweetwater, Texas||KTXS-TV||ABC||No||Used during the early 1980s; currently identifies as "KTXS News 12"|
|166.||Clarksburg, West Virginia||WDTV||CBS||No||Used in the early 1970s as "Action News Central"|
|177.||Rapid City, South Dakota||KOTA-TV||Fox (formerly NBC)||No||Used from 1976 to 1995; currently identifies as "Black Hills Fox News"|
|179.||Alexandria, Louisiana||KLAX-TV||ABC||No||Used until its news department were shut down; newscast now produced by Independent News Network|
|181.||Harrisonburg, Virginia||WHSV-TV||ABC||No||Used from 1977–1984; currently identifies as "WHSV News 3"|
|189.||Eureka||KVIQ-TV||CBS||No||Title of now defunct operation|
|208.||Alpena, Michigan||WBKB-TV||CBS||No||Used from 1980-2004: currently identifies as "Channel 11 News"|
|209.||Buffalo, New York||WKBW-TV||ABC||No||Never used the "Action News" title but used its news format, station calls itself "Channel 7 Eyewitness News"|
|210.||Kitchener, Ontario||CKCO-DT||CTV||No||Used in the 1980s and 1990s|
Action News in popular culture
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- In an early episode of The Simpsons, a local station is shown using the Action News branding plus a similar intro – but portrays the show as having more action and explosions instead of being faster paced.
- In Ray Stevens' 1974 hit "The Streak", he plays an "Action News reporter" on the scene of three different streaking events, every time interviewing the same person (also played by Stevens) who keeps warning his wife, "Ethel", not to look – "but it's too late." At the end of the piece, the streaker is joined by "Ethel", much to the husband's horror.
- In the South Park episode "Quest for Ratings", the kids change the name of their school news program from "Super School News" to "Sexy Action School News" and add other outrageous elements in an attempt to get higher ratings from their rival program.
- The 2004 comedy film Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy parodies 1970s culture, particularly Action News.
- The comic strip This Modern World, by "Tom Tomorrow," regularly depicts reporters from "Action McNews."
- DJ Sega from the Philadelphia-based record label Mad Decent created a dance remix of the Action News intro song.
- "Philadelphia". TV News Themes. 2001. Archived from the original on 2001-04-17.
- "The Action News Theme". SouthernMedia News Music Search Archive. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2009-10-13.