|Columbia, South Carolina|
|Channels||Digital: 22 (UHF)|
|Branding||WACH Fox 57 (general)|
WACH Fox News (newscasts; spoken as "Watch Fox")
57.2: TBD (O&O)
57.2: Charge! (O&O)
57.4: Comet (O&O)
|Owner||Sinclair Broadcast Group |
(WACH Licensee, LLC)
|cable: Bally Sports South, Bally Sports Southeast|
|Founded||September 8, 1980|
First air date
|September 1, 1981|
Former call signs
Former channel number(s)
57 (UHF, 1981–2009)
48 (UHF, until 2019)
Stadium (until 2021)
Call sign meaning
minus the "t"
|HAAT||464 m (1,522 ft)|
Public license information
WACH, virtual channel 57 (UHF digital channel 22), is a Fox-affiliated television station licensed to Columbia, South Carolina, United States. The station is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group. WACH's studios are located on Pickens Street in downtown Columbia, and its transmitter is located on Rush Road (southeast of I-20) in rural southwestern Kershaw County. On cable, the station is available on Charter Spectrum channel 6 in both standard and high definition.
After several false starts dating back to 1980, the station first signed on the air on September 1, 1981 as WCCT-TV. It was founded by Carolina Christian Broadcasting, which also owned WGGS-TV (channel 16) in Greenville. It was the first independent station in Columbia, and the first completely new commercial station in the Midlands since WIS-TV signed on in 1953. ABC affiliate WOLO-TV operates under a license dating from earlier in 1953; it went off the air in 1956 and returned in 1961.
The station's original studios were located on Sunset Boulevard (US 378) in West Columbia. Initially, it ran religious programming for most of the broadcast day, such as The 700 Club and The PTL Club, and televangelist programs from Richard Roberts and Jimmy Swaggart. It also carried WGGS' locally produced Christian program, Niteline. WCCT eventually began producing its own local version of the show. The rest of the day was taken up by secular syndicated programming, including cartoons, classic sitcoms, westerns, and hunting and sports programs. However, its programming policy was very conservative so as not to offend the sensibilities of its mostly fundamentalist and Pentecostal viewership. Notably, it refused to run any programming that contained profanity, violence or sexual content.
As a Fox affiliate
On June 11, 1988, the station was sold to FCVS Communications. On the day FCVS closed on its purchase of channel 57, it changed the call letters to WACH (the WCCT-TV calls are presently used by a CW-affiliated station in Waterbury, Connecticut, serving the Hartford–New Haven market) and relaunched it as the market's Fox affiliate, branding as "WACH-TV 57" (pronounced as "Watch TV 57"). For the first two years of Fox's existence, Columbia residents were only able to see the network's programming via its Washington, D.C. owned-and-operated station WTTG, which had been available on area cable systems for many years. That station continued to be available on Columbia's two major cable providers, Wometco and TCI, for several years afterward.
FCVS significantly upgraded the station's programming, adding somewhat racier programming to the schedule. At first, WACH kept Christian-oriented religious programming on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to noon and from midnight to 2:00 a.m. per an agreement with Carolina Christian Broadcasting. It also agreed to continue producing and airing Niteline for an hour a day for five years. The program was dropped from the schedule by 1993, along with most of the religious programs. WACH eventually changed its branding to "WACH Fox 57" in the 1990s.
FCVS eventually bought two other stations, WKCH-TV (now WTNZ) in Knoxville, Tennessee and WEVU-TV (now WZVN-TV) in Naples, Florida. FCVS sold its entire television division to Ellis Communications in 1993. Ellis merged with AFLAC to form Raycom Media in 1996. Raycom merged with The Liberty Corporation, owner of NBC affiliate WIS (channel 10), in 2005.
Raycom could not keep both stations because the Federal Communications Commission's duopoly at the time rules forbid the common ownership of two of the four highest-rated television stations in a single market. Additionally, Columbia has only eight full-power stations, too few to permit a duopoly in any case. The FCC requires a market to have eight unique station owners once a duopoly is formed. Ultimately, Raycom opted to keep long-dominant WIS and put WACH on the market. On March 27, 2006, Raycom announced it would sell WACH and 11 other stations to Barrington Broadcasting. The transaction was completed on August 11, 2006.
WACH's broadcasts became digital-only, effective June 12, 2009. It began broadcasting only on digital channel 22, even though viewers who receive the over-the-air signal see it on their tuner as channel 57 (PSIP).
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP short name||Programming |
|57.1||720p||16:9||FOX||Main WACH programming / Fox|
WACH presently broadcasts 28½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 5½ hours on weekdays and a half-hour each on Saturdays and Sundays); WACH is one of the largest Fox affiliates in the country whose primetime newscast does not air for one hour seven days a week (the Saturday and Sunday editions currently run for 30 minutes).
In 1996, NBC affiliate WIS entered into a news share agreement to produce a primetime newscast at 10 p.m. for WACH, the first such primetime newscast in the Columbia market and one of the first in South Carolina. For many years, it was one of the highest-rated primetime newscasts in the nation. Under Barrington Broadcasting ownership, the station terminated its news agreement with WIS and established its own in-house news department at its facilities on Pickens Street; WACH assumed production responsibilities for the primetime newscast on March 4, 2007. One month later on April 23, 2007, WACH debuted a three-hour weekday morning newscast from 6 to 9 a.m. titled WACH Fox News Good Day (which was renamed Good Day Columbia in April 2010). In March 2007, longtime 10:00 p.m. co-anchor and managing editor Mike Woolfolk was inducted into the Hall of Fame by Region III of the National Association of Black Journalists.
On September 28, 2009, WACH became the first television station in the Columbia market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in 16:9 widescreen standard definition, alongside the introduction of a new graphics package. Video from within the main studio, field cameras and other station camera feeds are upconverted to a 16:9 widescreen format in the control room. On November 9, 2009, the station debuted a half-hour early evening newscast at 7:30 p.m. weeknights called the WACH Fox Report, which maintained an entertainment-focused format.
In April 2010, WACH introduced a new set and overhauled the graphics for its newscasts; former anchor Arielle Riposta also returned to the station as weeknight co-anchor of the 10 p.m. newscast. Woolfolk left WACH in February 2010, with Darryl Hood replacing him as co-anchor of the 10 p.m. newscast. In the summer of 2010, Good Day Columbia expanded to four hours with the addition of one hour to the broadcast from 5 to 6 a.m. The WACH Fox Report was concurrently moved to 6:30 p.m. and became a more traditional newscast helmed by 10 p.m. anchors Darryl Hood and Katie Williams. On July 7, 2011, the station became the fourth and last television station in the Columbia market (and the first Barrington-owned station) to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition; a new graphics package was phased in over within days of the upgrade. On September 19, 2011, WACH canceled its 6:30 p.m. newscast, replacing it with syndicated programming. Sinclair's graphics were fully implemented throughout all of WACH's newscasts in October 2015, providing a unified brand and music to the station since the broadcasting group's acquisition.
On March 5, 2018, WACH debuted a half-hour 5 p.m. newscast titled Fastcast @ 5, anchored by former WYFF weekend morning anchor Myra Ruiz. This newscast competes with the longer-established hour-long newscasts on WIS and WLTX.
- Miller, Mark K. (August 23, 2019). "Sinclair Closes $10.6B Disney RSN Purchase". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheckMedia. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
- Malone, Michael (February 28, 2013). "Sinclair's Chesapeake TV Acquires Barrington Stations". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
- SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP CLOSES ON ACQUISITION OF BARRINGTON STATIONS Archived December 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
- Malone, Michael (May 29, 2014). "Sinclair Closes on $370 Million Barrington Deal". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved November 25, 2013.