WFMZ-TV

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WFMZ-TV
WFMZ-TV logo.png
Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania
United States
City Allentown, Pennsylvania
Branding 69 WFMZ-TV, WFMZ-TV, WFMZ-TV 69.1 (general)
69 News (newscasts)
Noticias 69 Edición en Español (Spanish-language newscasts)
Slogan Your Life, Your World, Your News
Channels Digital: 9 (VHF)
(shared with WLVT-TV, WBPH-TV and WPPT[1])
Virtual: 69 (PSIP)
Translators 45 (UHF) Philadelphia
Affiliations
Owner Maranatha Broadcasting Company, Inc.
First air date November 25, 1976 (41 years ago) (1976-11-25)
Call letters' meaning Family Minded Zone
Sister station(s) WDPN-TV
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog:
  • 69 (UHF, 1976–2009)
  • Digital:
  • 46 (UHF, until 2018)
Transmitter power 80.6 kW
Height 332.5 m (1,091 ft)
Facility ID 39884
Transmitter coordinates 40°33′52″N 75°26′24″W / 40.56444°N 75.44000°W / 40.56444; -75.44000Coordinates: 40°33′52″N 75°26′24″W / 40.56444°N 75.44000°W / 40.56444; -75.44000
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
CDBS
Website www.wfmz.com

WFMZ-TV, virtual channel 69 (VHF digital channel 9), is an independent television station licensed to Allentown, Pennsylvania, United States. The station is owned by the locally based Maranatha Broadcasting Company, as part of a duopoly with Wilmington, Delaware-licensed MeTV affiliate WDPN-TV (channel 2). WFMZ's studios and transmitter are located on South Mountain in Allentown.

Broadcast area[edit]

WFMZ mainly serves the Lehigh Valley region (including Warren County, New Jersey in the New York City market) and Berks County. Because the Lehigh Valley is part of the Philadelphia television market, it also has significant cable coverage in much of the Philadelphia area (including Trenton, New Jersey). The station's over-the-air signal reaches some counties in northwestern New Jersey that are part of the New York City market, and is carried on some cable companies in the area. WFMZ provides local news coverage to and has cable carriage in Carbon, Monroe, Luzerne, and Schuylkill counties within the Wilkes-BarreScranton television market.

History[edit]

Prior to the debut of channel 69, an earlier television station that held the WFMZ callsign, which was also based in Allentown, operated on UHF channel 67 from December 1954 to April 1955.

The current incarnation of WFMZ first signed on the air on UHF channel 69 on November 25, 1976. Its initial programming featured a mix of religious content and general entertainment, as well as two daily local newscasts. The station ran religious shows such as the PTL Club and The 700 Club from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In the afternoons the station ran a mix of family-type drama shows and classic sitcoms. In prime time, the station ran a newscast and the Phil Donahue Show. Religious shows ran late night. On Saturdays, the station ran a few hours of children's shows, specialty shows and some religious shows. On Sundays, the station aired mostly religious shows. The station was on air about 15 hours a day.

News was always prominent. In the 1990s, the station began running fewer religious shows and more sitcoms, talk shows and reality shows. News gradually expanded and by 2000, the station was running three hours of local news a day and a mix of comedy shows and talk/reality and court shows. The station runs about six hours a day of news as well as talk and reality shows.

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[2]
69.1 720p 16:9 WFMZ-HD Main WFMZ-TV programming
69.2 480i WFMZ-AW The 69 News AccuWeather Channel

Retro TV was carried on a subchannel of WFMZ after the digital conversion in 2009. On July 4, 2011 Me-TV was broadcast by WFMZ, but on January 24, 2014, Me-TV announced that it would move its Philadelphia-market affiliation from WFMZ-TV's 69.3 subchannel to KJWP (channel 2), which has carried Me-TV programming in addition to the WFMZ subchannel since November 2013.[3][4] In April 2014, Atlanta-based Tuff TV officially replaced Me-TV on the 69.3 subchannel;[5] in December 2014, the signal began carrying the Heroes & Icons network feed.

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WFMZ-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 69, 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 broadcasts on its pre-transition UHF channel 46.[6] Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 69, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition.

WFMZ's standalone signal was sold in the 2017 broadcast spectrum auction. It enters a channel-sharing agreement with WBPH-TV when its signal signs off the air.[7] To relieve any congestion related to the channel sharing, some of WFMZ's subchannels moved to KJWP, which WFMZ purchased in a separate transaction with the proceeds from the spectrum sale.[8] [9]

The 69 News AccuWeather Channel[edit]

WFMZ debuted The 69 News AccuWeather Channel on February 5, 2001.[10] It broadcasts on WFMZ's second digital subchannel and is available through digital cable within the Allentown area, broadcasting 24 hours a day. According to WFMZ, it is the first 24-hour local weather channel in the United States.[citation needed] Local weather updates are provided every 15 minutes by WFMZ's on-air weather staff, with a rotation of live local camera views from around the station's coverage area, radar/satellite images, graphical and text forecasts, current conditions and weather trivia airing at other times. Advertising appears in the form of icons in one corner of the screen, and audio announcements. The channel is streamed live on the Internet through the station's website and is simulcast during the overnight hours on WFMZ's primary subchannel. This channel is locally produced, unlike The Local AccuWeather Channel associated with other AccuWeather-affiliated stations. The channel's format is similar to The Weather Channel's Local on the 8s.

Programming[edit]

Syndicated programming[edit]

Syndicated programming seen on WFMZ includes Judge Judy, Steve Harvey, The Doctors, Dr. Phil, and Last Man Standing, among others.

Local programming[edit]

News[edit]

WFMZ's former nightly 10 p.m. newscast title screen, used until October 2013.

WFMZ-TV currently broadcasts 46½ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (8½ hours on weekdays, three hours on Saturdays and one hour on Sundays). The station's newscasts primarily focus on Allentown and southeastern Pennsylvania. The 5:30 and 10:30 p.m. newscasts on weeknights focus primarily on news stories in neighboring Berks County and its county seat of Reading; they are branded as 69 News Berks Edition. WFMZ was awarded two Regional Emmy Awards for "Best Newscast," respectively in 2004 and 2012.

The station's news department debuted with WFMZ itself on November 25, 1976 and originally featured two daily newscasts at 7 and 10 p.m. under the title Newspulse. The news programs was retitled Channel 69 News by 1987 and was shortened to 69 News in 1999. Those two newscasts eventually expanded to include additional local newscasts on weekday mornings, weekdays at noon and 5 p.m. and every night at 6 p.m., while the 7 p.m. newscast was dropped. In February 2003, the station debuted a half-hour Spanish-language nightly newscast at 11 p.m. – one of the few English-language stations to offer a news program in another language; an additional half-hour Spanish newscast at 8 p.m. debuted in 2007, but was canceled two years later, leaving the 11 p.m. edition as the only newscast on WFMZ produced in Spanish. In 2014, the Spanish newscast expanded to 6:30 p.m. on WFMZ-DT4 and WBPH-TV 60.

In 2005, WFMZ formed a broadcast partnership with Philadelphia's ABC owned-and-operated station WPVI-TV (channel 6) that allowed the two stations to cooperate in news gathering for local stories. The most recent set for WFMZ's newscasts debuted on November 15, 2017. On May 1, 2008, WFMZ became the fourth television station in the Philadelphia market to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. Until it expanded the program to 5 a.m. in 2012, WFMZ was the only news-producing television station in the Philadelphia market – and effectively the largest news-producing station in the United States by market size because Allentown was part of the Philadelphia market – whose weekday morning newscast continued to maintain a post-5 a.m. time slot. On October 15, 2014, WFMZ added an hour-long newscast at 4:00 p.m., making it the third station in the Philadelphia market (after WCAU 10 and WPVI 6) to broadcast local news in that timeslot.[11] On February 16, 2015, WFMZ debuted its new street-level studio inside the PPL Center sports arena in Center City Allentown; the noon newscast is broadcast from the location.

Other locally-produced programming[edit]

The station produces various local programs about business, sports and health related issues:

  • The American Law Journal is a call-in show that debuted in 1990, hosted by attorney Christopher Naughton, who is joined by various attorneys to answer questions about legal topics.
  • Animal Doctor, hosted by weeknight 6 p.m. weather anchor Kathy Craine, features veterinarians from around the region discussing various animal- and pet-related issues.
  • The Big Ticket is a high school football highlight show that airs every Friday at 11 p.m. (in place of the Spanish-language Edición en Español newscast, which airs at 6:30 pm on WFMZ-DT4) during the fall. The Big Ticket features highlights from local games featuring Lehigh Valley and Berks County schools, along with player and coach interviews. It debuted in 1995 and is hosted by Jim Vaughn and Dan Moscaritolo, with reports from sports reporter Dave Lesko.
  • Business Matters is a discussion program, hosted by Tony Iannelli, that features a panel of experts gathering to discuss various business issues.
  • The Freddy Awards are modeled after the Tony Awards ceremony. It debuted in 2003. A panel of evaluators view musical performances from participating high schools. The best are honored in a ceremony that is broadcast live on WFMZ each year. Ed Hanna and Shelley Brown host the ceremony from the State Theatre in Easton.
  • Lehigh Sports Magazine is a sports program that debuted in 1994 and airs during the fall.[12] It is hosted by Jim Vaughn; it features interviews with Lehigh University coaches and players.
  • Talk With Your Doctor is a call-in show that discusses health-related issues. It debuted on January 17, 2000,[13] and is hosted by Doug Eberhart. Eberhart is joined by a panel of doctors from St. Luke's Hospital.
  • The Peak[14] features the latest medical innovations, nutritious recipes and interesting events. It debuted on September 30, 2012,[15] and is hosted by Ashley Russo and Mike Mittman.
  • WFMZ Documentary Unit is a partnership with Julian Farris Films to create documentaries focused on local events and people. This partnership has earned honors for its work on projects like the Emmy-nominated documentaries Boscov: An American Story Time Bomb: Allentown Gas Explosion and Aftershocks: Earthquake in Haiti. The unit is headed up by 69 News Reporter Jaccii Farris and includes Executive Producer Amy Unger, both of whom also play a role at Julian Farris Films.

Alternate distribution[edit]

In New Jersey, WFMZ is carried on basic cable in Phillipsburg and Milford (which are located in the western part of the New York City market). WFMZ is carried on cable providers in Schuylkill County (Tamaqua, Pottsville, and surrounding areas), Carbon County, Monroe County, and Luzerne County (all located in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre market). In northwestern New Jersey, it is available on digital cable on Comcast's Port Murray system alongside CBS owned-and-operated station KYW-TV (channel 3), Fox O&O WTXF-TV (channel 29) and NBC O&O WCAU (channel 10). It is not carried on satellite in portions of the market lying within the New York City market. Over-the-air reception from its main transmitter begins to decrease past US Highway 206.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Modification of a Licensed Facility for DTV Application". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  2. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WFMZ
  3. ^ Downey, Kevin (January 24, 2014). "Me-TV Picks Up Big-Market Primary Slots". TVNewsCheck. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  4. ^ Malone, Michael (January 27, 2014). "Me-TV Inks New Deals in New York, Philly". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  5. ^ "Tuff TV Affiliates". Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  6. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
  7. ^ "NERW Extra: Big $ for NBC, WGBH in Spectrum Auction". 13 April 2017.
  8. ^ News, 69 (14 April 2017). "WFMZ-TV expansion fueled by FCC auction".
  9. ^ http://www.wfmz.com/station/dtv-questions
  10. ^ Valley gets its own TV weather channel, The Morning Call, February 6, 2001.
  11. ^ WFMZ is ready to broadcast local news at 4:00 p.m., starting October 15th. The Changing Newscasts Blog, October 5th, 2014.
  12. ^ "Lehigh Sports Magazine debuted in 1994 and airs during the fall season".
  13. ^ "Reading Eagle - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
  14. ^ "The PEAK TV". www.thepeaktv.com.
  15. ^ ""The Peak" Premieres on Sunday, September 30 at 6:30 pm on WFMZ-TV".

External links[edit]