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WAHU FOX27.png
BrandingCBS 19 (general)
FOX Virginia (27.1)
First air date
August 15, 2004 (17 years ago) (2004-08-15)
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog:
  • 19 (UHF, 2004–2009)
  • Digital:
  • 19 (UHF, 2009–2019)
Call sign meaning
Cavalier, mascot of the University of Virginia
Technical information
Licensing authority
Facility ID363
ERP205 kW
HAAT329 m (1,079 ft)
Transmitter coordinates37°59′4.2″N 78°28′51.1″W / 37.984500°N 78.480861°W / 37.984500; -78.480861
Public license information

WCAV (channel 19) is a television station in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, affiliated with CBS and Fox. It is owned by Lockwood Broadcast Group alongside low-power ABC affiliate WVAW-LD (channel 16). Both stations share studios on Rio East Court in Charlottesville, while WCAV's transmitter is located on Carters Mountain south of the city.


The history of WCAV begins in October 1986, when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated five applications for hearing, all proposing the construction of a new television station on channel 64, then allocated to Charlottesville.[1] The proceeding to give the city its second full-service TV station, however, was dominated by a unique technical concern. The boundary of the United States National Radio Quiet Zone, established to protect the Green Bank Observatory (formerly National Radio Astronomy Observatory, NRAO) in Green Bank, West Virginia, cuts through Charlottesville. The two leading applicants had a major difference: Lindsay Television proposed a transmitter site outside of the Quiet Zone, while Achernar's site was within the Quiet Zone. An FCC administrative law judge (ALJ) in 1988 handed down an initial decision in favor of Lindsay, whose proposal was superior even without the NRQZ issue. However, Achernar appealed, and the FCC Review Board remanded the case to the judge to consider whether Lindsay's facility would also interfere. While the FCC's Mass Media Bureau recommended a clause requiring the channel 64 station to go off in overnight hours after receiving notice from the NRAO, the ALJ found the restriction inadequate and rejected both applications. The new decision was appealed back to the Review Board, which awarded the permit to Lindsay, but the commission reversed the board and ruled the public interest was best served by granting neither application.[2]

Achernar and Lindsay appealed the FCC's ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In 1995, in Achernar Broadcasting Co. v. F.C.C., a three-judge panel found the FCC ruling "arbitrary and capricious", remanding both applications to the commission for reconsideration. They were still pending when a series of major changes took place in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which brought an end to the use of the comparative hearing process for new applications, and the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 was passed. Two provisions in the latter put Achernar and Lindsay on the clock: one that authorized the FCC to encourage settlement proceedings in grandfathered comparative cases or force the parties into auction, and another that started the reallocation of channels 60 to 69 to non-television users. Both would affect the final product. Achernar and Lindsay merged their bids into Charlottesville Broadcasting Corporation, and after negotiations with the NRAO, an acceptable proposal was crafted and then modified to specify the use of channel 19. In 2000, the FCC accepted the settlement and granted a construction permit to Charlottesville Broadcasting.[3]

In 2004, Gray Television acquired the construction permit from Charlottesville Broadcasting for $1 million, having already secured a commitment from CBS for a 10-year affiliation.[4] Gray had already been using channel 64 for W64AO, a low-power translator of WHSV-TV in Harrisonburg; it would move to channel 16 and became WVAW-LP, a separate ABC affiliate for Charlottesville.

WCAV began broadcasting on August 15, 2004, becoming the market's second full-power station, after NBC affiliate WVIR-TV (channel 29), and first CBS affiliate. In early 2005, the two stations were joined by new Class A Fox affiliate WAHU-CA (later digital WAHU-CD) on UHF channel 27.

Before WCAV's sign-on, Charlottesville had been one of the few markets in the Eastern Time Zone without a CBS affiliate. The area had previously received CBS programming on cable from Richmond's WTVR-TV and Washington, D.C.'s WUSA. When it launched, WCAV immediately replaced WUSA on local cable systems.

During 2007, the station first swapped analog cable channel allocations with WTVR. After that, the Richmond station moved to the digital tier. Shortly after WCAV's sign-on, owner Gray Television signed on ABC affiliate WVAW-LP on UHF channel 16. That station was formerly a low-powered repeater (on UHF channel 64) of Harrisonburg's WHSV and it replaced that station on Charlottesville-area cable systems.

Since 2006, the three have been the official flagships of University of Virginia sports.

On June 17, 2013, the WAHU Fox 27 simulcast on WCAV 19.3 was upgraded to high definition.

On October 1, 2018, Ion Television was added on 19.4.[5]

Gray announced the sale of WCAV and WVAW-LD to Lockwood Broadcast Group on March 4, 2019. The sale is concurrent with Gray's purchase of rival WVIR-TV from Waterman Broadcasting. Although WAHU-CD's Fox and MeTV affiliations were included in the sale, the physical station was not and would be retained by Gray as a sister station to WVIR-TV.[6][7][8] Fox moved full-time to WCAV on April 1, when Gray took WAHU-CD silent to move its facilities out of the shared Newsplex building.[9] The transaction was completed on October 1.[10]

In November 2021, Fox 27 started simulcasting on digital over-the-air channel 31.1 as WAHU-LD Crozet, which was acquired from Lowcountry 34 Media.


Syndicated programming[edit]

Syndicated programming on WCAV includes Entertainment Tonight and Judge Judy among others.

News operation[edit]

WCAV presently broadcasts 47 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with nine hours each weekday and one hour each on Saturdays and Sundays).

WCAV and its sister stations employ the largest television news team dedicated exclusively to the Charlottesville market. While WVIR dedicates some staff to adjacent areas, WCAV focuses its coverage solely on the counties that comprise the Charlottesville viewing area. In June 2006, WCAV received the runner-up award for "Outstanding News Operation" by the Virginia Association of Broadcasters. WWBT in Richmond was the winner in that category. In 2007, the station received the "Outstanding Sports Coverage" award for a commercial television station from the Virginia Association of Broadcasters.

That same year, its website was the runner up to WVEC in Norfolk for an outstanding website award. Beth Duffy, formerly of WVIR, returned to the airwaves on WCAV on April 16, 2007. She left the station on November 25, 2009. On September 21, 2007 WCAV launched The Local AccuWeather Channel on a new second digital subchannel and live streaming video on its website and mobile phone app. Known on-air as "CBS19 Weather Now", it was added to Comcast digital channel 209 in December. In the fall of 2015, the channel was given a new look and the "CBS19 Weather Now" branding was changed to "NEWSPLEX NOW." The updated channel featured a daily simulcast of all Newsplex newscasts, previously recorded broadcasts and weather information provided by AccuWeather.

As the primary station in the "Charlottesville Newsplex" operation, WCAV airs the most newscasts, with the first hour of Good Morning Charlottesville and a noon newscast exclusive to the station. WVAW simulcasts the second hour of Good Morning Charlottesville on weekday mornings (6:00-7:00 a.m.), CBS19 News weeknights at 5:00, 5:30 and 6:00 and 19News Nightcast weeknights at 11:00 p.m. WAHU airs an hour-long extension of Good Morning Charlottesville weekday mornings at 7:00 a.m. and nightly prime time newscasts at 10:00 p.m. that competes with CW affiliate WVIR-DT3.

Technical information[edit]


The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect Short name Programming[11]
19.1 1080i 16:9 CBS19 Main WCAV programming / CBS
19.4 480i IONTV Ion Television
27.1 720p FOXVA WCAV-DT3 / Fox

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WCAV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 19, on February 16, 2009, the day to the prior to the original date in which full-power television stations in the United States were set to transition from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate (which was later rescheduled for June 12, 2009). The station "flash-cut" its digital signal into operation on UHF channel 19, as it had been given a construction permit too late to receive a companion digital channel.[12]


  1. ^ "History (MM Docket 86-440)" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved February 10, 2022.
  2. ^ "Achernar Broadcasting Co. v. F.C.C. (62 F.3d 1441 (D.C. Cir. 1995))". United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit. August 18, 1995. Retrieved February 10, 2022 – via Casetext.
  3. ^ "Order 00-149" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. April 19, 2000.
  4. ^ Eggerton, John (March 19, 2004). "Gray TV Building Charlottesville Station". Broadcasting & Cable.
  5. ^ https://www.instagram.com/p/BoZjBCSFa9g/
  6. ^ Aycock, Jason (March 4, 2019). "Gray Television changing stations in Virginia". Seeking Alpha. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  7. ^ "Gray Television to acquire NBC 29 from Waterman Broadcasting". The Daily Progress. March 4, 2019.
  8. ^ "Application for Consent to Assignment of Broadcast Station Construction Permit or License". CDBS Public Access. Federal Communications Commission. March 4, 2019. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  9. ^ "Suspension of Operations and Silent Authority of a Digital Class A Station Application".
  10. ^ "Consummation Notice", CDBS Public Access, Federal Communications Commission, 2 October 2019, Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  11. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WCAV
  12. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved March 24, 2012.

External links[edit]