|Hartford–New Haven, Connecticut|
|Channels||Digital: 36 (UHF)|
|Slogan||Everywhere in Connecticut|
Connecticut's #1 Local News
(sale to Gray Television pending)
First air date
|September 23, 1957|
Former call signs
Former channel number(s)
Call sign meaning
|Frederick Sessions Beebe|
(former president of former owner Post-Newsweek Stations)
|HAAT||288.8 m (948 ft)|
289 m (948 ft) (CP)
Public license information
WFSB, virtual channel 3 (UHF digital channel 36), is a CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Hartford, Connecticut, United States and serving the Hartford–New Haven television market. The station is owned by the Meredith Local Media subsidiary of Des Moines, Iowa-based Meredith Corporation. WFSB's studios are located on Denise D'Ascenzo Way in Rocky Hill, and its transmitter is located on Talcott Mountain in Avon, Connecticut.
Most of WFSB's programs are seen in Springfield, Massachusetts over a low-power semi-satellite station, WSHM-LD (channel 3.5). That station is based at the facilities of sister station WGGB-TV (channel 40) in Springfield, although some master control and other internal operations are hubbed through WFSB.
WFSB signed on the air on September 23, 1957 as WTIC-TV, owned by the Hartford-based Travelers Insurance Company, along with WTIC radio (1080 AM and 96.5 FM). As Connecticut's second VHF station, WTIC-TV was one of the most powerful stations in New England, not only covering the entire state but a large chunk of western Massachusetts and eastern Long Island in New York. It provided secondary coverage to much of the southern sections of Vermont and New Hampshire. During its first year on the air, Channel 3 was an independent station, as ABC was affiliated with the state's other VHF outlet, WNHC-TV (channel 8, now WTNH) in New Haven; while CBS and NBC had owned-and-operated stations on the UHF band in the market, WHCT-TV (channel 18, now Univision affiliate WUVN) in Hartford and WNBC (channel 30, now WVIT) in New Britain, respectively. With no network affiliation, WTIC-TV devoted much of its airtime to movies, syndicated programs, and three daily newscasts (including one at 10:00 p.m.).
In 1958, CBS was looking to sell WHCT-TV. The network's ratings had been alarmingly low in the market because television manufacturers were not required to have UHF tuners at the time. Many viewers northeast of Hartford got a better signal for CBS programming from WNAC-TV (now WHDH) in Boston or WPRO-TV (now WPRI-TV) in Providence, Rhode Island, while those southwest of Hartford with an outdoor antenna were able to watch the network via New York City flagship station WCBS-TV. Network head William S. Paley decided that it was better to have CBS air its programming on a VHF station, even if it was only an affiliate. WTIC-TV was the obvious choice due to its massive coverage area. Paley quickly negotiated an affiliation deal, and channel 3 became the network's new affiliate in November 1958. WTIC radio had been with NBC Radio for over thirty years. Soon after the affiliation switch, channel 3 surged to the top of the ratings, and has remained there more or less ever since.
The switch to WTIC-TV for CBS had repercussions in Springfield. Although Springfield already had a CBS affiliate in WHYN-TV (channel 40, now sister station WGGB-TV), that station's owners, the Hampden-Hampshire Corporation, knew they would find the going difficult competing against WTIC-TV's stronger VHF signal. WHYN-TV sought to move to the VHF band as well. to no avail. In response, WHYN-TV switched its affiliation to ABC (previously, some ABC programs had been seen on WWLP). Over the years, WTIC-TV repeatedly blocked WHYN/WGGB's attempts to switch back to CBS.
In 1962, the WTIC stations moved to Broadcast House, a state-of-the-art facility in the Constitution Plaza development in Downtown Hartford. A decade later, in late 1972, Travelers Insurance decided to exit broadcasting. The announcement was made to the staff at an employee meeting held in Studio A on January 15, 1973. While the WTIC radio stations were spun off to a company formed by station management called 1080 Corporation, WTIC-TV was sold to The Washington Post Company. The sale of all three stations was closed on March 8, 1974 and the Post's broadcasting division, Post-Newsweek Stations, changed Channel 3's call letters on that date to the current WFSB in honor of broadcasting division president Frederick S. Beebe, who had died a few months earlier. At the time, the FCC did not allow television and radio stations in the same market to share the same call letters if they had different owners. To get the WFSB call letters, the Post had to convince Framingham State College in Framingham, Massachusetts to give up those call letters, which were used on the college's low-power FM radio station, whose call letters were changed to WDJM-FM as a result of the switch. The WTIC call letters returned to Connecticut television in 1984 when Arch Communications, owned by the son of the then-owner of WTIC radio, launched a new independent station on channel 61.
In the late 1980s, Post-Newsweek moved its corporate offices from Washington, D.C. to space located alongside Broadcast House making the station the company's flagship. This was part of a strategy move by the Post to give its various sub-corporations their own independent identities, which worked well at first. By the mid-1990s, however, WFSB found itself in a shrinking market without any significant growth opportunities. In June 1997, Post-Newsweek traded WFSB to the Meredith Corporation in exchange for WCPX-TV (now WKMG-TV) in Orlando, Florida. The sale closed that October although the Post-Newsweek group maintained its base in Hartford until 2000, when the company relocated to its then-largest station, WDIV-TV in Detroit.
In 2005, WFSB announced plans for a new, modern studio at an office park in suburban Rocky Hill, with a glass façade and lobby. It was originally intended to be built in downtown Hartford at Main and Trumbull streets, adjacent to the station's longtime home on Constitution Plaza. However, WFSB opted for a suburban location after finding that the downtown site was too small. The new studio opened in 2007.
On May 3, 2021, Gray Television announced it had purchased the Meredith Local Media division for $2.7 billion. The deal is expected to be completed later in the year. If the deal is approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), WFSB (along with WGGB and WSHM-LD) would become Gray's first stations in southern New England.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|3.1||1080i||16:9||WFSB||Main WFSB programming / CBS|
|3.2||480i||WFSB-2||Court TV Mystery|
|3.4||WFSB-4||"WFSB Fairfield County"|
Even though Fairfield County is part of the New York City market where CBS flagship WCBS-TV is based, WFSB targets viewers in the area through "WFSB Fairfield County" on a fourth digital subchannel and the digital tier of Optimum systems; it is essentially a simulcast of WFSB except for some Fairfield County-specific advertising and community calendar events and a preemption of Live with Kelly and Ryan (which is produced by and seen on WABC-TV).
In 2007, the station launched a digital subchannel branded as Eyewitness News Now. With local PBS member CPTV as partner on December 1, 2008, WFSB launched Connecticut Sports Network, which covered 41 high school championships and 20 small colleges.
WFSB shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 3, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 33, using PSIP to display WFSB's virtual channel as 3 on digital television receivers. WFSB was the only Connecticut station that participated in the "analog nightlight" program, with the analog signal remaining in operation until June 26. The sign-off included a clip of the first sign-on of WFSB when they were WTIC and it repeated itself before the actual switch occurred.
WFSB presently broadcasts 37 hours of news per week (with six hours each weekday and 3½ hours each on Saturdays and Sundays). WFSB has been far and away the ratings leader in the Hartford-New Haven television market for as long as it has been a CBS affiliate, with WTNH in New Haven and WVIT in New Britain regularly switching between a distant second and third place. In addition to its local newscasts, the station has a Sunday morning news program called Face the State at 8:30 a.m. During the May 2011 sweeps, the program had ratings above that of the national Sunday shows, including NBC's Meet the Press and ABC's This Week.
On January 13, 2012, WFSB began simulcasting its weekday noon and 6:00 p.m. newscasts on radio stations WLIS (1420 AM) in Old Saybrook and WMRD (1150 AM) in Middletown. On February 28, 2012, WFSB entered into a partnership with The Bulletin in which the two media properties share news footage and stories, along with WFSB providing local forecasts for the Norwich, Connecticut-based newspaper.
Notable former on-air staff
- Mike Adams
- Dick Bertel
- Julie Bidwell (Banderas) (now at Fox News Channel)
- Mika Brzezinski (now at MSNBC)
- N. J. Burkett (now at WABC-TV in New York)
- Virginia Cha (now at KGTV in San Diego)
- Denise D'Ascenzo – Lead evening news anchor at WFSB from 1986 until her death in 2019, becoming the longest-serving anchor at the station and the longest-serving news anchor at any Connecticut television station.
- Jim Forbes
- Gayle King (now at CBS News)
- Ted Leitner (later at KFMB-TV in San Diego)
- Bill O'Reilly (later at Fox News Channel, now at Newsmax TV)
- Janet Peckinpaugh
- Randall Pinkston
- Mike Randall (now at WKBW-TV in Buffalo)
- Bob Steele (deceased)
- Al Terzi
- Joe Tessitore (now at ESPN)
- David Ushery (now at WNBC in New York)
- Jim Vicevich
- "Digital TV Market Listing for WFSB". RabbitEars.Info. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
- "Gray to acquire Meredith Corporation's Local Media Group in a $2.7 billion transaction". Gray Television. May 3, 2021. Retrieved May 3, 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "WTIC-TV Formally Opens with Telecast Tonight". The Hartford Courant. 1957-09-23.
- "WTIC to Air News, Sports, and Weather". The Billboard. August 19, 1957. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2011-12-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Fates & Fortunes (Death notice for Frederick Sessions Beebe)". Broadcasting. May 7, 1973. Retrieved February 2, 2015.[dead link]
- Meredith Corporation to acquire Hartford Conn., television station, Business Wire (via HighBeam Research), June 2, 1997.[dead link]
- Kenneth Gosselin (November 11, 2006). "WFSB goes into future, out of city". The Hartford Courant.
- "Meredith To Add Three Katz Diginets". TVNewsCheck.com. March 20, 2015. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
- Romano, Allison (January 19, 2009). "Cutting Bait On Subchannels". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
- "List of Digital Full-Power Stations" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-08-29. Retrieved 2009-06-22.
-  CDBS Print
- "UPDATED List of Participants in the Analog Nightlight Program" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. June 12, 2009. Retrieved June 4, 2012.
- One, New England. "WFSB Wins the May Ratings Race in Hartford | Hartford". New England One. Retrieved 2020-09-07.
- Santos, Derrick. "November 2015 Ratings Results for Hartford | Hartford". New England One. Retrieved 2020-09-07.
- Knox, Merrill (June 10, 2011). "WFSB's 'Face the State' beats national Sunday shows in Hartford/New Haven". TV Spy. Ad Week. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
- WFSB Simulcasting News On Radio Stations, TVNewsCheck, January 13, 2012.
- Bulletin, Channel 3 teaming up, Norwich Bulletin, February 28, 2012.[dead link]
- "Denise D'Ascenzo Dies: Emmy Winning News Anchor For WFSB-TV In Connecticut Was 61" from Deadline Hollywood (December 8, 2019)
- Official website
- WSHM-LD "CBS 3 Springfield"
- www.wticalumni.com: A site that was created by Bill Clede and carried on by David Kaplan featuring pictures, audio, information and trivia about the old WTIC AM/FM/TV before its sale by the Travelers in 1974.
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WFSB-TV