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Logo of WRC-TV.png
Washington, D.C.
United States
Branding NBC 4 (general)
News 4 (newscasts)
Slogan Washington's news leader
Working 4 you
Channels Digital: 48 (UHF)
Virtual: 4 (PSIP)
Owner NBCUniversal
(NBC Telemundo License LLC)
First air date June 27, 1947; 69 years ago (1947-06-27)
Call letters' meaning Radio Corporation of America
(NBC's former parent)
Sister station(s) Comcast Network
Comcast SportsNet Washington
Former callsigns WNBW (1947–1954)
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog:
  • 4 (VHF, 1947–2009)
Transmitter power 813 kW
Height 242 m (794 ft)
Facility ID 47904
Transmitter coordinates 38°56′24″N 77°4′54″W / 38.94000°N 77.08167°W / 38.94000; -77.08167Coordinates: 38°56′24″N 77°4′54″W / 38.94000°N 77.08167°W / 38.94000; -77.08167
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
Website www.nbcwashington.com

WRC-TV, channel 4, is an NBC owned-and-operated television station located in the American capital city of Washington, District of Columbia. The station is owned by the NBC Owned Television Stations subsidiary of NBCUniversal. WRC-TV's studios and transmitter are co-located in the Tenleytown neighborhood of Washington.[2]

WRC-TV houses and originates NBC News' Washington bureau, out of which the network's long-running political events program, Meet the Press, is based.


WRC-TV's studio/transmitter facility, which also houses NBC's Washington operations, have been in use since 1958. (Photo is from c. 1962.)

The station traces its roots to experimental television station W3XNB, which was put on the air by the Radio Corporation of America, the then-parent company of NBC, in 1939. On June 27, 1947, the station received a commercial station license and signed on the air as WNBW (standing for "NBC Washington"). Channel 4 is the second-oldest licensed television station in Washington, after WTTG (channel 5), which signed on six months earlier in January 1947. WNBW was also the second of the five original NBC-owned television stations to sign-on, behind New York City and ahead of Chicago, Cleveland and Los Angeles. The station was operated alongside WRC radio (980 AM, frequency now occupied by WTEM; and 93.9 FM, now WKYS).

On October 18, 1954, the television station's callsign changed to the present WRC-TV to match its radio sisters.[3] The new calls reflected NBC's ownership at the time by RCA. It has retained its "-TV" suffix to this day, more than two decades after the radio stations were sold off.

In 1955 while in college and serving as a puppeteer on a WRC-TV program, Jim Henson was asked to create a puppet show for the station. The series he created, Sam and Friends, was the first series to feature the Muppets, and launched the Jim Henson Company.[4]

The second presidential debate between candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon was broadcast from the station's studios on October 7, 1960. David Brinkley's Washington segment of the Huntley-Brinkley Report originated at WRC-TV between 1956 and 1970, as did Washington reports or commentaries by Brinkley or John Chancellor on NBC Nightly News in the 1970s.

The earliest color videotape in existence is a recording of the dedication of NBC/WRC's Washington studios on May 22, 1958. As Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke at the event, introduced by NBC President Robert W. Sarnoff, it was also the first time a president had been videotaped in color.[5][6]

On February 19, 2016, fellow NBC affiliate WHAG-TV in nearby Hagerstown announced they will disaffiliated with the network in order to have market exclusivity for WRC-TV, the last NBC network program aired on WHAG-TV was Aquarius at 10:00 p.m. eastern time on June 30, 2016, leading into the station's 11:00 p.m. late newscast. All NBC network programming remained on WRC-TV the following day with Today.

At the time of its sign-on, channel 4 was one of two wholly network-owned stations in Washington, the other being DuMont's WTTG. DuMont was shut down in 1956, and for the next 30 years WRC-TV was Washington's only network owned-and-operated station. That distinction ended when WTTG was sold to the News Corporation and became a charter station for the Fox network in 1986; it has since been accompanied by WDCA (channel 20) as UPN was owned by the station's owner Viacom until 2001 when Viacom traded the station to Fox (it is currently affiliated with the MyNetworkTV programming service). Today, WRC is one of three network-owned stations in the nation's capital, alongside the Fox Television Stations-owned duopoly of WTTG and WDCA.

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[1]
4.1 1080i 16:9 WRC-HD Main WRC-TV programming / NBC
4.2 480i WRC-SD Cozi TV

On January 1, 2012, digital subchannel 4.3 was discontinued as the network it was affiliated with, Universal Sports, began to be distributed to cable and satellite providers.

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WRC-TV shut down its analog signal, on VHF channel 4, 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 continued to broadcasts on its pre-transition UHF channel 48.[7] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former VHF analog channel 4.

The station participated in the "Analog Nightlight" program, with its analog signal carrying information on the digital transition until analog signal broadcasts were permanently discontinued on June 26, 2009.

Beginning in 1996, WRC-TV's studios were the home of WHD-TV, an experimental high definition television station owned by a consortium of industry groups and stations which carried the nation's first program in the format transmitted by a television station, an episode of Meet the Press,[8] and aired on UHF channel 34 to provide the FCC and the National Association of Broadcasters a channel to conduct many experiments in the new format.[9][10] WHD-TV was discontinued around 2002.

Mobile DTV[edit]

WRC-TV also has a Mobile DTV feed of subchannel 4.1, labelled "WRC NBC Mobile", broadcasting at 1.83 Mbit/s. This is the lowest bitrate of any D.C.-area television station mobile feed.[11][12] In July 2009, the Washington, D.C. market's television stations became a test market for Mobile DTV, with WRC-TV as one of the participating stations.[13] Like all of the D.C.-area Mobile DTV broadcasters, WRC-TV commenced full-time ATSC-M/H broadcasting on February 27, 2011.


The late Mac McGarry was the original host of It's Academic until June 2011. (Photo is from c. 2009.)

Syndicated programs broadcast by WRC-TV include Access Hollywood (produced by sister station KNBC), The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and Steve Harvey, among others. WRC-TV is one of the four NBC owned-and-operated stations (along with sister stations KNSD in San Diego, WMAQ-TV in Chicago and WBTS-LD in Boston) that does not carry the newsmagazine show Extra. Because of its ownership by the network, WRC-TV generally carries the entire NBC network schedule, though NBC Nightly News is broadcast a half-hour later (at 7 p.m.) than most NBC stations in the Eastern United States, due to an hour-long 6 p.m. newscast.

WRC-TV's building is home to Meet the Press, the longest-running program in U.S. broadcast television history, which debuted on November 6, 1947 and It's Academic, which premiered in 1961 and is the longest-running game show in television history according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Sam and Friends, Jim Henson's late-night precursor to Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, got its start on WRC-TV on May 9, 1955. WRC-TV was served as the production facilities for the program The McLaughlin Group from its premiere in 1982 until May 2008, when the production facilities moved to Tegna, Inc.-owned CBS affiliate and WRC-TV's rival WUSA and it remained until the show's ending in 2016. WRC-TV has been the over-the-air home of Washington Redskins pre-season games since 2009, though before the NBC/Comcast merger, games only were carried in standard definition on WRC, with actual rightsholder CSN Mid-Atlantic airing the high definition broadcast.

News operation[edit]

WRC-TV presently broadcasts 40 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 6½ hours on weekdays, 3½ hours on Saturdays and four hours on Sundays). By 2001, WRC's newscasts had all been rated number one in the market, with some of the success attributed to the long-running 6pm anchor team of Jim Vance and Doreen Gentzler. In the May 2010 sweeps, it placed first at 5:00 a.m., 6:00 a.m., 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. in total viewers, and first at 6:00 a.m., 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. in the 25–54 demo. It still leads most time slots today, although WTTG's morning news and WJLA's 11:00 pm news have given it much competition in the 25-54 demo.

In 1974, WRC-TV adopted the NewsCenter branding, following the three other NBC owned stations at the time in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago in adopting the NewsCenter branding.

In 1980, the station adopted MFSB's song "My Mood" as the closing theme music for the 6:00 p.m. newscast every Friday, which remains in use by the station today. Michael Randall commissioned the news theme for WRC-TV entitled "NewsCenter Theme", which was used by the station until 1986; also, Charlie Rose was hired by WRC-TV after his short stint at KXAS-TV in Dallas and hosted the Charlie Rose Show from its premiere in 1980 until he left the station in 1984 for CBS News. The station also hired George Michael as their sports anchor, eventually launching the nationally syndicated program The George Michael Sports Machine, which originated from the studios of WRC-TV from its debut in 1984 until 2007 (The George Michael Sports Machine was distributed by the station's sister company NBCUniversal Television Distribution).

In 1982, after 8 years of using the NewsCenter branding, the news branding was changed to Channel 4 News. The station add a 5:00 p.m. newscast in the mid 1980s, the first station to have a 5 pm newscast in the Washington D.C. area. In 1989, the news branding was changed again to its current name of News 4. Coenciding with the name change, the station used a new promotional campaign We Work Well Together, produced by Music Oasis, which was also adopted as news theme until 1992. In 1991, WRC-TV added a morning newscast under the title of News 4 Today, becoming the first morning newscast in Washington, DC. On January 14, 1991, the station also produced a 7:30 p.m. newscast for then-independent affiliate independent station WFTY (now CW affiliated station WDCW) entitled 7:30 News Headlines. The newscast suffered low ratings during its run and ended nine months later on October 25, 1991.

In 1993, the station adopted the news music theme entitled Working 4 You, which also serves as a current station slogan for News 4. 615 Music remixed the theme in 1997, this time under the title of Working For You. The theme was also used by other NBC affiliated stations (including WHO-TV in Des Moines, KPLC-TV in Lake Charles, WPSD in Paducah and WEAU-TV in Eau Claire). In 2002, WRC-TV adopted The Tower news theme commissioned by 615 Music from Chicago sister station WMAQ-TV with the notes of the Working For You theme as a musical trademark added only in the news opens. The "Working For You" theme continued to be used as a closing theme for all of its newscasts. Both "Working For You" and "The Tower V.1 with Working For You" were both in use by the station until 2008, when they switched to Gari Media Group's "The NBC Collection" now with added notes of the "Working For You" theme.

On January 14, 2009, WRC-TV and WTTG entered into a Local News Service (called LNS) agreement in which the two stations pool video and share news helicopter footage. The agreement is similar to ones already made between Fox and NBC owned-and-operated stations in Chicago (WMAQ-TV and WFLD) and Philadelphia (WCAU and WTXF).[14] WUSA later joined that agreement. In 2012, News Director Camille Edwards announced the station would no longer participate in LNS, but the stations would continue to share the helicopter.

On April 8, 2010, the station began test broadcast of its news programming in high-definition during local news updates seen during Today; regular newscasts continued to be broadcast in standard definition. WRC-TV started broadcasting its newscasts from a temporary set on February 8, 2010 while "upgrades" were being made on its main set and the station made final adjustments for its switch to high definition. On April 22, 2010, WRC became the fourth (and final) English-language television station in the Washington, D.C. market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. It is the only station in the Washington market that shoots most of its remote field video in 16:9 widescreen; other stations still shoot live field video in 4:3 and then either pillarbox or stretch this content to widescreen—though WRC's field video is shot in standard definition.

On September 15, 2014, the station's newscasts shifted to a full 16:9 widescreen presentation, therefore becoming the third English-language television station in the Washington, D.C. market to do so, following Tegna-owned CBS affiliate WUSA (January 2013) and Fox O&O WTTG (August 2013). In conjunction with this, the newscast title was changed to a variation of the station's NBC 4 logo and also, its longtime newscast theme music was heavily updated. Also, the station's "Look F" graphics package from NBC ArtWorks, which was introduced 2 years earlier (May 2012), was reformatted for the 16:9 presentation.

On June 29, 2016, the station officially began using the "Look N" graphics package that was first adopted by sister station WNBC (which began using the package on June 11), becoming the sixth NBC-owned station to use this package, following WVIT (June 13), WTVJ (also on June 13), KXAS-TV (June 20) and WMAQ-TV (testing on June 21; full usage beginning June 28).

Notable current on-air staff[edit]

Notable former on-air staff[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Digital TV Market Listing for WRC". RabbitEars.Info. Retrieved January 26, 2017. 
  2. ^ "Digital Signal Sources". The Washington Post. 2008-05-20. 
  3. ^ "RCA replaces NBC in O&O calls." Broadcasting - Telecasting, October 4, 1954, pg. 78. [1][permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Sickels, Robert C. (Aug 8, 2013). 100 Entertainers Who Changed America: An Encyclopedia of Pop Culture Luminaries [2 volumes]: An Encyclopedia of Pop Culture Luminaries. ABC-CLIO. pp. 253–258. ISBN 1598848313. Retrieved September 23, 2014. 
  5. ^ "RCA-NBC Firsts in Color Television". Archived from the original on February 6, 2006. 
  6. ^ "Eisenhower WRC-TV 1958 (oldest known colour videotaping)". YouTube. 
  7. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-08-29. Retrieved 2012-03-24. 
  8. ^ http://www.allbusiness.com/electronics/consumer-household-electronics-high/7693519-1.html
  9. ^ Brinkley, Joel (March 3, 1997). "Warts and Wrinkles Can't Hide From High-Definition TV". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ "DTV Broadcast History". 
  11. ^ "RabbitEars.Info". 
  12. ^ "Mobile DTV Station Guide - www.omvcsignalmap.com". 
  13. ^ Dickson, Glen (2009-07-13). "Special Report: Mobile DTV Heats Up". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  14. ^ "Fox And NBC To Share In DC". Retrieved 2009-01-14. 
  15. ^ "Atkinson throws in towel". The Washingtion Times. 
  16. ^ "Shannon Bream to Cover Supreme Court for Fox News". 
  17. ^ "Former News4 Sportscaster Nick Charles Dies of Cancer at 64". NBC4 Washington. 
  18. ^ "Couric's days at WRC recalled - Washington Times". The Washingtion Times. 
  19. ^ "Lindsay Czarniak, sports anchor, to leave NBC4 for ESPN". Washington Post. 
  20. ^ Jim Hartz
  21. ^ "Dan Hellie joins NFL Network". Washington Post. 
  22. ^ "Leonard Shapiro: Loss of Michael Is a Truly Deep Cut". The Washington Post. December 29, 2008. 
  23. ^ "Bob Ryan retiring after 33 years of TV weather forecasting". WJLA. 
  24. ^ "Willard Scott, weather reporter and centenarian birthday greeter". TODAY. 

External links[edit]