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WHSV-TV 2006 ABC logo.JPG
Whsv mnt.png
Harrisonburg/Staunton, Virginia
United States
CityHarrisonburg, Virginia
BrandingWHSV-TV3 (general)
WHSV-TV3 News (newscasts)
CBS The V (on DT2)
MyValley (on DT4)
SloganWorking Hard For You.
Positively Entertaining (on DT3)
ChannelsDigital: 20 (UHF)
Virtual: 3 (PSIP)
Translators42 (UHF) Signal Knob
Affiliations3.1 ABC
3.2 CBS (WSVF-CD2)
3.3 Ion Television
3.4 MyNetworkTV/MeTV
OwnerGray Television
(Gray Television Licensee, LLC)
First air dateOctober 1953; 65 years ago (1953-10)[1]
Call letters' meaningHarrisonburg
Former callsignsWSVA-TV (1953–1976)
Former channel number(s)Analog:
3 (VHF, 1953–2009)
49 (UHF, 2006–2018)
Former affiliationsNBC (1953–1975; secondary from 1968)
CBS (secondary, 1953–1963)
DuMont (1953–1956)
Fox (secondary, 1994–1996)
Transmitter power271 kW
Height666.1 m (2,185 ft)
Facility ID4688
Transmitter coordinates38°9′55.8″N 79°18′44.9″W / 38.165500°N 79.312472°W / 38.165500; -79.312472
Licensing authorityFCC
Public license informationProfile

WHSV-TV, virtual channel 3 (UHF digital channel 20), is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Harrisonburg, Virginia, United States and serving the Shenandoah Valley. Owned by Gray Television, WHSV maintains studios at 50 North Main Street (U.S. 11) in downtown Harrisonburg, and operates a newsroom in Fishersville, serving Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County. The station's transmitter is located at Elliott Knob west of Staunton.

WHSV operates one fill-in digital translator on UHF channel 42, which is licensed to Harrisonburg, but located on Signal Knob near Strasburg, Virginia and serves the Winchester/Front Royal area (in the Washington, D.C. television market). Its signal is also relayed in Moorefield, West Virginia on low-powered translator W40AS-D,[2] which is owned by Valley TV Cooperative, Inc.


Channel 3 signed on October 19, 1953 as WSVA-TV (for We Serve Virginia Agriculture). It was owned by Frederick L. Allman and his Shenandoah Valley Broadcasting Corporation along with WSVA radio (AM 550 and FM 100.7, now WQPO). The station was a primary NBC affiliate, with secondary CBS and ABC affiliations. The station also carried DuMont programs.[3] It was the only commercial station between Richmond and Roanoke until WVIR-TV signed on from Charlottesville in 1973. Although it was owned by one of Virginia's leading broadcasters, WSVA-TV operated on a shoestring budget. Station engineers switched to and from the signals of the three network affiliates in Washington, D.C. because it was unable to afford direct network feeds. The station did not air any locally produced programs (except for local newscasts) until 1956, when it built a studio along U.S. Route 33 in unincorporated Rockingham County. That year, Allman sold the WSVA stations to Transcontinent Television of Buffalo, New York, with NBC executive Hamilton Shea as a minority partner. Allman earned a handsome return on his original investment into WSVA radio in 1935.[4] In 1959, the Washington Evening Star, owner of WMAL AM-FM-TV in Washington, acquired Transcontinent's controlling interest, as well as 1% of Shea's stake.[5] The CBS affiliation was dropped in 1963.

WSVA-TV logo, circa 1970.

In 1965, the Star sold the WSVA stations to James Gilmore, Jr., a Michigan businessman; the sale was necessary because WMAL-TV's new tall tower would have caused a large grade B overlap with WSVA-TV.[6] Under Gilmore's ownership, the station became a primary ABC affiliate in 1968. This was a very unusual move since, then as now, it was the only station in its market; ABC was not nearly on par with CBS and NBC in the ratings at the time (and would not be until the 1970s). It picked up NBC's morning program Today from 1968 until ABC debuted Good Morning America in 1975, but only aired the second hour of Today since the station did not sign on until 8 a.m. (a practice that continued well into the 1970s). Despite wealthier ownership, it was still unable to get a network feed. Occasionally, channel 3 accidentally aired WMAL-TV's commercials when engineers forgot to switch from WMAL-TV's signal during local breaks.

In 1975, channel 3 dropped the remaining NBC programs from its schedule. That same year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled that if a city had only one FM radio station, one AM radio station and one television station, they could not be owned by the same person. Gilmore kept the radio stations and sold WSVA-TV to Charlottesville-based Worrell Newspapers, publisher of The Daily Progress of Charlottesville, in 1976. Later that year, the station assumed its current WHSV-TV callsign.[7] Under Worrell, the station was finally able to acquire a direct network feed. WHSV launched a translator on UHF channel 64 in Charlottesville in 1979. WHSV marked Worrell's entry into broadcasting;[7] the company would subsequently add WIFR-TV in Rockford, Illinois and WBNB-TV in Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands to its group before selling the three stations to Benedek Broadcasting in 1986.[8]

From 1994 until 1996, WHSV served as a secondary affiliate of Fox; this allowed the station to carry most Washington Redskins games through the network's NFL coverage.[9] Construction of a new broadcast facility in downtown Harrisonburg began in 1998, with WHSV relocating there in the spring of 1999.

WHSV-TV logo, used from 1996 to 1999.

Benedek went bankrupt in 2002, and most of its stations, including WHSV, were bought by Gray Television.[10] A 5 p.m. weekday newscast was also added that same year. At that time, a new set was constructed in the station's Augusta County newsroom in Staunton. The streetside set featured a window overlooking downtown Staunton along West Frederick Street. The 5 p.m. weekday newscast became WHSV's first newscast to originate from the Augusta County Newsroom. In October 2003, WHSV began originating its 5 p.m. newscast from both Harrisonburg and Staunton. WHSV's 6 p.m. weekday newscast also originated from both Staunton and Harrisonburg for a brief period in the spring of 2004. During that time, WHSV's 6 p.m. weekday newscast featured three anchors. The three-anchor, dual-city format was abandoned after a few months.

In August 2004, WHSV management began providing managerial, sales and human resources support to Gray Television's upstart CBS affiliate WCAV in Charlottesville. Several members of WHSV's news and production staff transferred to WCAV following its launch. That same year, WHSV's Charlottesville translator was broken off as a separate station serving as the market's ABC affiliate, WVAW-LP on channel 16.

WHSV logo, used from 1999 to 2006.

To this day, WHSV is the only full-power commercial station in the Shenandoah Valley. This is due to the area's small population, as well as the fact that virtually all of the market is located in the United States National Radio Quiet Zone. The market's only other commercial station is low-power sister station WSVF-CD, which launched with Fox and CBS subchannels in October 2012 after Gray purchased former WAZT-CA repeater WAZM-CA several months earlier. The only over-the-air competition to WHSV and WSVF comes from WVIR, which operates translators in Harrisonburg and Bridgewater. The area's DirecTV and Dish Network's local feeds supplement the area with stations from Washington, D.C. Cable providers pipe in stations from Washington, Richmond and Roanoke, depending on the system.



WHSV-DT3 is the Ion Television-affiliated third digital subchannel of WHSV-TV, broadcasting in 16:9 widescreen standard definition on UHF channel 49.3 (or virtual channel 3.3 via PSIP).

On March 5, 2007, WHSV launched "TV3 Winchester", an ABC affiliate for Winchester, Virginia. The station was a joint project between WHSV and Shenandoah University. Along with Winchester, the station served Frederick, Clarke, Warren and Shenandoah counties in Virginia. Although TV3 Winchester transmitted an over-the-air signal on WHSV-DT3, it could only be seen on cable in its primary coverage area. TV3 Winchester ceased operations on December 5, 2013; WHSV-DT3 remained vacant until October 2018 when a standard definition feed of Ion Television was eventually added to that subchannel.


WHSV-DT4 is the dual MyNetworkTV/MeTV-affiliated fourth digital subchannel of WHSV-TV, broadcasting in 16:9 widescreen standard definition on UHF channel 49.4 (or virtual channel 3.4 via PSIP). The subchannel can also be seen on Xfinity channel 2. Outside MyNetworkTV programming, there is no syndicated fare since MeTV takes up all of the remaining broadcasting time except for live college sports from Raycom Sports' ACC Network.


A new transmitter tower was built behind WHSV's Harrisonburg studios to accommodate the additional satellite receivers needed for both channels. The station began broadcasting on the date of MyNetworkTV's launch, September 5, 2006. The CW affiliation for the market went to Charlottesville-based NBC affiliate WVIR-TV which broadcasts the network on a third digital subchannel through The CW Plus programming service. On September 24, 2012, WHSV-DT4 added a secondary affiliation with the Weigel-owned classic television network MeTV, with the network's programming replacing syndicated programs previously seen outside of MyNetworkTV's primetime schedule.[11]


WHSV-DT4 does not carry any live newscasts produced by WHSV that are exclusive to the subchannel. Rather, it airs repeats of newscasts seen on the main channel including the two-hour weekday morning show (at 7) and the nightly 6 o'clock broadcast (at 7). The subchannel also simulcasts the weeknight half-hour prime time newscast at 10 from Fox affiliate WSVF-CD. Even if this program is delayed or preempted on the Fox station, it still airs in the regular time slot on WHSV-DT4. In addition, this subchannel may occasionally air WHSV's 11 p.m. newscast normally seen on the main channel on Saturday evenings in the event there are delays or a preemption due to ABC sports programming. The 10 o'clock program maintains a dedicated news anchor and reporter separate from newscasts on WHSV.

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP short name Programming [12]
3.1 720p 16:9 WHSV-DT Main WHSV-TV programming / ABC
3.2 480i SD simulcast of WSVF-CD2 / CBS
3.3 Ion Television
3.4 MyNetworkTV & MeTV

During the late summer and early fall of 2006, WHSV underwent major technical upgrades to make way for the station's new digital subchannels. A new transmitter tower was built behind the station's Harrisonburg studios to accommodate the additional satellite receivers needed for WHSV's Fox and MyNetworkTV-affiliated subchannels. WHSV's main analog transmitter was replaced during the week of August 31, 2006. Broadcasts were only available to viewers with cable while the transmitter was being replaced.

On January 16, 2008, WHSV reached a carriage agreement with DirecTV to add WHSV, and its Fox and MyNetworkTV-affiliated digital subchannels to the satellite providers' local channel lineup.

WHSV originally planned on turning off its analog transmitter of February 17, 2009, the original deadline of the federally mandated digital conversion. The station restored the signal the following Friday however, because several translator stations in communities such as Bergton that are owned by local cooperatives and county governments were unable to convert their transmitters to reconvert the digital signal into analog form,[13] along with viewers who could receive Channel 3 signal well on analog, but not at all digitally. WHSV's broadcasts became digital-only, effective June 12, 2009.

Spectrum reallocation, move to Staunton[edit]

As part of the 2016–17 spectrum reallocation auction, U.S. full power television stations will no longer broadcast on channels higher than channel 36 after July 3, 2020. WHSV's channel 49 primary digital signal will move to channel 20 and relocate from its current site at Big Mountain near New Market to Elliott Knob overlooking Staunton, where it currently operates a fill-in translator.[14] The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) objected to WHSV's continued operation from Big Mountain unless the effective radiated power in its direction was reduced to 0.2 watts, which Gray claimed would have resulted in an unusable signal in Harrisonburg.[15]

Gray has proposed a series of engineering changes and new translators to make up for lost coverage in the northern part of the Shenandoah Valley. The existing translator on channel 42 from Signal Knob near Front Royal, which is entirely directed toward Winchester, will move to channel 24 and become less directional in order to also cover the valley.[16] Gray will convert the existing main transmitter site on Big Mountain to a translator on channel 28, allowing it to comply with the NRAO's objection by reorienting its signal to transmit to the east, toward Page County. It has also applied for two other new translators: one directly across the valley from Big Mountain, on channel 15 from North Mountain in Broadway, and another on channel 34 from Massanutten Peak overlooking Harrisonburg.[17][18] [19]

Gray applied for a waiver to begin operations from Elliott Knob by August 31, 2018, nearly two years before its original March 2020 deadline.[20] Although the waiver was not yet approved, WHSV-TV announced the switch-over date as September 10 at midnight. When this date passed without approval, Gray reapplied to move WHSV's transition date to December 2018.[21] The switch-over was completed on December 7.[22]

Local programming[edit]

In addition to its local newscasts and ABC network programs, WHSV produces other locally produced programs: The Endzone, is a 40-minute sports highlight program covering high school football games across the Shenandoah Valley that airs Fridays at 11:25 p.m. during the high school football season. Sports X-tra is an online sports discussion show produced by WHSV's sports department, covering sports news from the previous week.

The station also produces the Sunday morning religious program Light for Today, which broadcasts from People's Baptist Church in Harrisonburg, and broadcasts the music and variety show Virginia Dreams Centerstage. WHSV also sponsored an annual singing competition called "Voice of the Valley", an idea that was originated by former WHSV personality Jenelle Smith. Finalists are unveiled during the station's noon newscasts the week of the Rockingham County Fair with an hour-long live finale that is broadcast from the fair.

News operation[edit]

The station's weekday morning newscast, WHSV News Daybreak, has received recognition as one of the highest-rated local morning news programs in the United States.[23] WHSV and TV3 Winchester utilizes Facebook and Twitter accounts to relay local news stories through social media.[24][25]

In the early 1990s, the station began producing a midday newscast at noon on weekdays. WHSV purchased its first microwave live truck in 2004. Prior to that, the station relied on rented equipment for remote broadcasts. Since 2004, WHSV has purchased additional microwave equipment for use by its news department.

2006 was a year of significant change at WHSV. First on February 27, 2006, WHSV’s weekday morning newscast expanded from a 90-minute program to a two-hour program with the addition of a half-hour at 5 a.m.; this coincided with the debut of new weather technology purchased from Weather Services International. The station’s Harrisonburg and Augusta County news bureaus underwent a dramatic overhaul in April 2006, with the addition of new sets and studio camera equipment. WHSV newscasts were broadcast from a temporary studio in the Harrisonburg newsroom during the two-week construction period with the new sets debuting on April 24, 2006 (portions of WHSV’s previous set, built in 1999, were donated to nearby Turner Ashby High School). News director Van Hackett, who joined the station in December 2003, retired in August 2006 and was succeeded by former WHSV reporter Ed Reams, who left a job at WDSU/New Orleans to return to the Shenandoah Valley. On July 21, 2006, popular weather anchor Jay Webb left after six years with the station, accepting a job with WDBJ/Roanoke, Virginia. Webb enjoyed a week-long send-off from his on-air colleagues before his final WHSV broadcast on July 21.

On October 30, 2006, WHSV dropped The Andy Griffith Show from its longtime 5:30 p.m. timeslot in favor of a half-hour newscast anchored by longtime reporter Melanie Lofton. This coincided with the debut of a new logo for the station, the retitling of the station's newscasts as WHSV News 3 and updated graphics for its newscasts. While the logo itself was new, elements of the previous graphics package were retained. On November 27, 2006, WHSV dropped Gari Communications' "Making a Difference" in favor of 615 Music's "News One" as the theme music for its newscasts, which remained until 2015, when it was replaced by Stephen Arnold Music's "This is the Place."[26]

On April 7, 2008, the station's 5 and 5:30 p.m. newscasts began featuring a three-anchor lineup consisting of Melanie Lofton, Bob Corso and meteorologist Tracy Turner. This new format came along with a new arrangement of the newscast.

On December 5, 2013, TV3 Winchester ceased its news operation.[27]

Former on-air personalities[edit]


  1. ^ The Broadcasting and Cable Yearbook says October 19, while the Television and Cable Factbook says October 9.
  2. ^ "Digital TV Market Listing for W40AS". RabbitEars.Info. Retrieved 2011-08-06.
  3. ^ "Television Highlights". Cumberland Evening Times. Cumberland, MD. 1954-06-01. p. 21.
  4. ^ "Brisk buying surge swaps four stations, $7.7 million" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting. April 9, 1956. pp. 35–6. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  5. ^ "Changing hands" (PDF). Broadcasting. August 10, 1959. p. 54. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  6. ^ "Four stations sold for $6.8 million" (PDF). Broadcasting. June 7, 1965. pp. 79–80. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  7. ^ a b "Worrell Newspapers Purchases TV Station". The Middlesboro Daily News. June 9, 1976. p. 11. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  8. ^ "Changing Hands" (PDF). Broadcasting. September 22, 1986. p. 86. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  9. ^ "With Ratings Only So-So, WHSV Drops Fox's Redskins". Daily News-Record. March 4, 1996. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  10. ^ McClellan, Steve (April 2, 2002). "Gray Communications to buy Benedek". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  11. ^ "Where to Watch MeTV In Harrisonburg". © 2018 MeTV National Limited Partnership. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
  12. ^ http://www.rabbitears.info/market.php?request=station_search&callsign=WHSV#station
  13. ^ "Digital TV Goes Dark For Some Rural Viewers". NPR. Retrieved 2011-08-06.
  14. ^ "Amendment to a Modification of a Licensed Facility for DTV Application". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  15. ^ "WHSV-TV Unable to Construct Waiver". FCC LMS.
  16. ^ "Minor Modification of a Digital Replacement Translator Licensed Facility Application". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  17. ^ "New Digital Replacement Translator Construction Permit Application [Luray]". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  18. ^ "New Digital Replacement Translator Construction Permit Application [Massanutten]". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  19. ^ "New Digital Replacement Translator Construction Permit Application [Broadway]". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  20. ^ "DTV Legal STA Application". Licensing and Management System. Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  21. ^ "Amendment to a DTV Legal STA Application". FCC LMS.
  22. ^ Webb, Jay. "WHSV Channel Change". WHSV-TV.
  23. ^ http://setxhomepage.com/content/fulltext/?cid=43882%7CMike McNeil Profile, WHSV Daybreak Recognition
  24. ^ "Niet compatibele browser". Facebook. Retrieved 2011-08-06.
  25. ^ "WHSVnews (WHSVnews) op Twitter". Twitter.com. Retrieved 2011-08-06.
  26. ^ http://www.southernmedia-nmsa.com/#1,1,WHSV
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-12-05. Retrieved 2013-12-05.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]