|Panama City, Florida
Panama City CW (DT2)
Can Count On!
TV Now (DT2)
|Channels||Digital: 18 (UHF)
Virtual: 7 (PSIP)
|Affiliations||NBC (since 1982, also from 1953–1972)|
(Gray Television Licensee, LLC)
|First air date||December 1, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||James Harrison Gray
(founder of Gray Television)
|Sister station(s)||WECP-LD, WTVY, WRGX-LD, WCTV/WSWG|
|Former callsigns||WJDM-TV (1953–1960)|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
7 (VHF, 1953–2009)
8 (VHF, until 2009)
7 (VHF, 2009–2015)
|Former affiliations||Independent (1953)
ABC (1953–1982; secondary until 1972)
DuMont (secondary 1953–1955)
CBS (secondary 1953–1961)
|Transmitter power||67 kW|
|Public license information:||Profile
WJHG-TV is the NBC-affiliated television station in Panama City, Florida. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 18 (or virtual channel 7.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter on SR 20 in unincorporated Youngstown. Owned by Gray Television, the station is sister to low-powered CBS affiliate WECP-LD and the two outlets share studios on Front Beach Road/SR 30 in Panama City Beach.
WJHG was founded on December 1, 1953 as WJDM-TV as was owned by local businessman J.D. Manley. It became known by many people as "Wait Just A Darn Minute" (a play on its call letters) because it would frequently go off-the-air with technical problems.
At first, the station aired local programming such as church services and wrestling and went as an Independent outlet for a short period of time before securing a primary affiliation with NBC and secondary affiliations with CBS and ABC. Mel Wheeler purchased the station in 1957, and in 1960, James Harrison Gray (the founder of Gray Communications) bought the station and changed the call letters to the current WJHG-TV after his initials.
WJHG dropped CBS in the 1960s after WTVY in Dothan, Alabama became the default CBS affiliate for Panama City as well. That station's transmitter (in Bethlehem, Florida) is technically located in the Panama City market even though its primary coverage area is the Wiregrass Region of Southeastern Alabama. On August 1, 1972, WJHG, along with then-sister station KTVE in El Dorado, Arkansas switched its primary affiliation to ABC, leaving the area without a primary NBC affiliate until WDTB (now WMBB) signed-on in 1973 as the NBC affiliate. In 1982, WMBB and WJHG switched networks with this station going back to NBC.
In 1998, WJHG was almost sold when the Phipps family sold WCTV in Tallahassee to Gray Communications. This would have violated the FCC's pre-1996 ownership rules because WJHG's grade B signal covers the extreme western parts of the Tallahassee market. The 1996 Telecommunications Act allowed for overlapping fringe signals so Gray kept WJHG. Instead, Gray ended up selling its flagship station (WALB-TV in Albany, Georgia) because its city-grade signal overlapped that of WCTV's in the Southwestern Georgia portion of the Tallahassee market which was still protected under FCC rules.
In 2002, Gray bought most of Benedek Broadcasting's stations (including WTVY) whose transmitter provides a signal that covers all the way from Fort Walton Beach, Florida to Troy, Alabama. By this time, signal contours were no longer an issue and Gray could keep both stations.
Since both stations had traditionally been available on cable in both the Dothan and Panama City area, WJHG has run WTVY stories that take place in those parts of northwestern Florida that are in northern part of the Panama City market. Meanwhile, WTVY has run WJHG stories focusing on Panama City and the coast.
Sometimes, WTVY will run its own stories on Panama City but WJHG did not cover Dothan at all (Southeastern Alabama's default NBC affiliate was WSFA from Montgomery). Gray launched low-powered WRGX-LD as a Dothan-based NBC affiliate on June 1, 2013 ending WJHG's availability in the Dothan market. On June 28, 2010, WJHG began broadcasting their newscasts in 16:9 enhanced definition widescreen.
Circle 7 logo
The station used the "Circle 7" logo as far back as the 1950s without objection from ABC. At some point, however, the network trademarked the logo for exclusive use by its owned-and -operated stations that shared the channel 7 dial position in several major television markets across the nation. In 1982, when Gray Communications switched WJHG's network affiliation to NBC, ABC ordered WJHG to cease using the logo. Station manager Ray H. Holloway produced archival film and still photographs that showed the local station had been using the "Circle 7" logo longer than the network.
In order to bring the matter to a quick and satisfactory end, the station elected to modify the logo. The modification was minor (the bottom of the circle was left open) but enough to pacify executives at ABC in New York City who were upset over the station's decision to "defect" to NBC. However, there are non-ABC stations still using designs similar to the Circle 7 logo including two of Sunbeam Television's stations (independent station WHDH in Boston and Fox affiliate WSVN in Miami).
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|7.1||1080i||16:9||WJHG-HD||Main WJHG-TV programming / NBC|
|7.2||720p||WJHG-CW||Panama City CW|
|7.3||480i||4:3||CBS SD||Simulcast of WECP-LD|
WJHG-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 7, 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 relocated from its pre-transition VHF channel 8 to channel 7. On December 19, 2012, WJHG received a construction permit to move from VHF channel 7 to UHF channel 18 (previously occupied by Panama City sister station WECP). WJHG's move to digital channel 18 (retaining virtual 7) and WECP's to channel 29 (virtual 18) took place on May 21, 2015, with the FCC issuing the station's license on June 5, 2015.
Notable former personalities
- Jake Bell - Sports Anchor/Reporter, Feature Reporter (2000–2002)
- Kristen Berset - Anchor/Producer (now at WUSA-TV in Washington)
- Earl Hutto - News/Sports Anchor (1960s/70s; retired U.S. Congressman)
- Shepard Smith - Anchor/Reporter (now at FOX News)
- David Steele - Sports Anchor (mid 1970s; now with Sun Sports and the NBA's Orlando Magic)
- Phillips, Greg (May 6, 2013). "Dothan getting NBC affiliate". Dothan Eagle. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
- "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and the Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- "H.R. 5107". Government Printing Office. Retrieved 26 September 2013.