|Branding||WKBN 27 (general)
WKBN 27 First News (newscasts)
|Slogan||Investigative. In-Depth. In The Valley.|
|Channels||Digital: 41 (UHF)
Virtual: 27 (PSIP)
(sale to Nexstar Broadcasting Group pending)
(LIN License Company, LLC)
|First air date||January 11, 1953|
|Call letters' meaning||taken from former sister radio station|
|Sister station(s)||WYFX-LD, WYTV|
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
27 (UHF, 1953–2009)
|Former affiliations||ABC (1953–1957)
|Transmitter power||650 kW|
WKBN-TV is the CBS-affiliated television station for the Mahoning Valley of Northeastern Ohio and Northwestern Pennsylvania. Licensed to Youngstown, Ohio, it broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 41 (or virtual channel 27.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter near the city's Pleasant Grove section. The station can also be seen on Time Warner Cable channel 6 and Comcast digital channel 193, and in HD on Time Warner Cable channel 1006.
WKBN is owned by Media General. WKBN is sister to low-powered Fox affiliate WYFX-LD and ABC affiliate WYTV. The latter, however, is actually owned by Vaughan Media, LLC and operated by Media General through a shared services agreement (SSA) and a joint sales agreement (JSA). All three outlets share studios on Sunset Boulevard near Youngstown's Pleasant Grove section.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP short name||Programming |
|27.1||1080i||16:9||WKBN-HD||Main WKBN-TV programming / CBS|
|27.2||480i||4:3||WYFX-SD||Simulcast of WYFX-LD|
The station went on-the-air January 11, 1953 as the first UHF station in Ohio and the sixth in the nation, beating WFMJ-TV to the air by 56 days. It was owned by the Williamson family along with WKBN radio (AM 570 and FM 98.9, now WMXY). The radio station was a CBS Radio affiliate, and out of loyalty, the television station has been a primary CBS affiliate from the beginning. It also had secondary affiliations with ABC and DuMont. Shortly afterward, WKST-TV in nearby New Castle, Pennsylvania (now WYTV) signed-on and took the ABC affiliation. With DuMont off-the-air three years later, WKBN was solely affiliated with CBS by the end of 1956.
In 1997, the Williamsons sold the station to Gocom which later became Piedmont Television and the station changed its logo and graphics package shortly after. Although most of the Williamsons have moved away from Youngstown, the family still makes major donations to the area. Most notably, Youngstown State University's Williamson College of Business Administration, which is housed in Williamson Hall, is named in their honor. The Williamsons held onto WKBN-AM-FM until 1999. However, WKBN-TV does retain a news and weather sharing partnership with iHeartMedia, the current owners of its former radio sisters.
On April 19, 2006, WKBN began airing its digital signal on UHF channel 41. The digital broadcast features CBS programming in high definition (when available) and also carries a simulcast of low-powered sister station WYFX-LP. On November 15, Piedmont Television announced the sale of WKBN and WYFX to New Vision Television based in Atlanta. The sale closed in early March 2007. Shortly afterward, WKBN began operating longtime rival WYTV in a shared services agreement.
On February 8, 2009, the station did a "dual HD" test airing both college basketball on its main digital signal and the Gatorade Duel (the qualifying race for the Daytona 500) on 27.2 (which simulcasts WYFX) in a possible attempt to broadcast both signals in high definition full-time. WKBN had to compress both signals to the 720p format in order to make it possible. It began broadcasting both channels in high definition full-time the next day making WKBN the eighth station nationally to broadcast two subchannels on the same signal in high definition. This continued until October 4, 2011, when New Vision moved the WYFX-HD transmission to the WYFX-LD antenna. 27.2 continues to carry a standard definition feed.
WKBN's powerful signal provides viewers in the eastern half of the Cleveland DMA an alternative to WJW (FOX) and WOIO (CBS) which broadcast on channels 8 and 10, respectively. VHF has proven to be a problem with digital television and frustrated viewers have had better luck picking up WKBN's UHF signal than with WJW and WOIO's VHF signals.
On May 7, 2012, LIN TV Corporation announced that it will acquire the New Vision Television station group for $330.4 million and the assumption of $12 million in debt. Along with the outright ownership of WKBN-TV and WYFX-LD, the agreement includes the acquisition of New Vision's shared services agreement with Parkin Broadcasting, giving LIN operational control of WYTV. LIN and Vaughan also entered into a joint sales agreement between WKBN and WYTV. On October 2, the FCC approved the proposed sale to LIN TV. The transaction was closed on October 12, 2012.
On November 15, 2012, the master control operators at WKBN were notified that the day-to-day master control operations at Sunset Boulevard will be handled by a hub at the Chicopee, Massachusetts studios of sister station WWLP. The master control hubbing was completed on June 29, 2013 at 4 a.m. All syndicated and network content on WKBN, WYFX, WYTV and MyYTV now flows via fiber optic from the hub facility at WWLP; local newscasts still originate from the Sunset Boulevard studios in Youngstown.
On March 21, 2014, Media General announced that it would purchase LIN Media and its stations, including WKBN-TV, WYFX-LD, and the SSA and JSA with WYTV, in a $1.6 billion merger. The FCC approved the deal on December 12, 2014, but a condition of the deal requires Media General to end the JSA between WKBN-TV and WYTV within two years due to tighter regulations on such deals. The merger was completed on December 19.
On February 12, 2015, WKBN-TV launched a revolutionary high-tech news set. The set utilizes Virtual and Augmented Reality elements, computer-generated designs that are layered on real scenic elements. Pioneering this new set, WKBN is one of the only local broadcast stations in the entire country to utilize this technology. Using state of the art technology, the new look is both dynamic and flexible, allowing the station an unlimited amount of options for continuous design enhancements.
Syndicated programming on this station includes Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, and The Dr. Oz Show among others. All are distributed by CBS Television Distribution. (Before 2010, the former two shows aired on WYTV from the beginning.)
WKBN presently broadcasts 31 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (5½ hours on weekdays, 2 hours on Saturday and 1½ hours on Sunday).
WKBN established a weekday morning program in 1992. On January 23, 2006, WYFX's First News at 10 on Fox 17/62 (produced by WKBN) became the area's only hour-long prime time broadcast on weeknights while remaining thirty minutes on weekends.
After a rebranding occurred in 2008, the title changed to First News on Fox. For a period, WYFX's broadcast competed with another newscast seen at the same time on MyNetwork affiliate WYTV-DT2 that was produced by its parent ABC station. There is also a two-hour weekday morning show seen on WYFX while WKBN broadcasts CBS This Morning. Known as First News This Morning on Fox, the show is essentially an extension of the CBS affiliate's show offering a local alternative.
In December 2007, the news departments of WKBN and WYTV physically merged. As a result, over forty personnel at WYTV and six at WKBN were laid-off. Under the shared services agreement, this station began producing newscasts on the ABC affiliate from a secondary set at the Sunset Boulevard studios. A previous plan calling for WYTV to build satellite streetside studios in Downtown Youngstown were abandoned due to the consolidation. The current operational status of its Doppler weather radar based at the old facility on Shady Run Road is unknown. The two stations gradually had their on-air looks mirror each other while their respective web sites became identical. New logos for the stations and updated websites debuted in January 2009 including combined operations for sports and weather.
An updated graphic and music theme, created by John Christopher Burns Design, premiered on February 24, 2009 replacing graphics dating back to 1997. The "WKBN" lettering style in its new logo was inspired from the WKBN sign at its historical facility. To differentiate the CBS and ABC affiliates from each other and maintain a separate identity, the stations adopted individual graphic and music packages. Due to the duopoly, WKBN and WYTV maintain separate primary anchors for news, weather, and sports during the week but share most general assignment reporters and video footage. The two initially maintained separate web sites as well, however after LIN Media took over ownership of WKBN & WYFX and operations of WYTV, WYTV's website became a redirect to WKBN's website with only WYTV's station identification information available on WKBN's web site. Recently, WYTV has its own website once again.
On May 6, 2010, the two outlets upgraded their combined news operation to high definition complete with new graphics on WYTV. Local news seen on Fox affiliate WYFX was also included in the change. There are news and weather sharing partnerships with WNCD-FM 93.3, WAKZ-FM 95.9, WMXY-FM 98.9, WBBG-FM 106.1, WKBN-AM 570, and WNIO-AM 1390.
Currently, Erika Thomas co-anchors the 5pm, 6pm, and 11pm newscasts weeknights. She also co-anchors the 10pm newscast on WYFX. Dave Sess co-anchors the 5pm & 6pm newscasts weeknights. Stan Boney co-anchors the 11pm newscast as well as co-anchoring the 10pm newscast on WYFX. Dan Martin co-anchors 27 First News This Morning. Lauren Wood also co-anchors the morning news and anchors the Noon news. Abbie Schrader anchors the weekend edition of 27 First News This Morning and Julie Bercik anchors weekend evenings.
- "History of WKBN/WYFX". WKBN.com. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
- "WKBN, sister station sold to New Vision Television". Vindicator. November 16, 2006. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
- "New Vision Television Announces Agreement to Acquire WKBN-TV, CBS Affiliate and WYFX-TV, Fox Affiliate in Youngstown, Ohio from Piedmont Television Holdings, LLC, Inc.". WKBN.com. November 15, 2006. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
- Lavery, Tom (February 9, 2009). "WKBN tests dual HD signal" (blog). Pittsburgh Radio & TV Online. Eric O'Brien. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
- Malone, Michael (May 7, 2012). "LIN Acquiring New Vision Stations for $330 Million". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
- "Joint Sales Agreement" (PDF). Federal Communications Commission. May 4, 2012. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
- "LIN Completes New Vision Stations Buy". TVNewsCheck. October 12, 2012. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
- Reid Blackwell, John (March 21, 2014). "MG will combine with LIN TV chain". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved March 22, 2014.
- "Television companies to merge". The Vindicator. March 22, 2014. Retrieved March 22, 2014.
- FCC Okays Media General/LIN Merger Broadcasting & Cable (12/12/2014)
- Media General Completes Merger With LIN Media, Press Release, Media General, Retrieved 19 December 2014