|Utica/Rome, New York
Central New York's CW 11 (on DT2)
|Slogan||Where the News Comes First
|Channels||Digital: 29 (UHF)
Virtual: 2 (PSIP)
2.2 The CW
|Owner||Heartland Media, LLC
(WKTV Licensee, LLC)
|First air date||December 1, 1949|
|Call letters' meaning||Kallet Television
|Former channel number(s)||13 (VHF analog, 1949-1958)
2 (VHF analog, 1959-2009)
|Former affiliations||DuMont (1949-1956)
|Transmitter power||708 kW|
WKTV, an American television station, is the NBC affiliate for the Mohawk Valley of Central New York, licensed to Utica. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 29 (or virtual channel 2.1 via PSIP) from a transmitter in the Eatonville section of Fairfield and Herkimer. The station can also be seen on Time Warner Cable channel 2 and in high definition on digital channel 1204. Owned by Heartland Media, it has studios on Smith Hill Road in Deerfield (with a Utica postal address). Syndicated programming on WKTV includes Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, Dr. Phil and Judge Judy among others.
|Channel||PSIP short name||Video||Aspect||Programming|
|2.1||WKTV-HD||1080i||16:9||Main WKTV programming / NBC|
|2.2||WKTVDT2||480i||4:3||Central New York's CW 11|
The station launched on December 1, 1949 as Utica's first television station, operating on VHF channel 13. It was the 93rd television station in the United States to sign-on. This made Utica one of the smallest cities in the nation with a television station. It was owned by Copper City Broadcasting Corporation, controlled by Myron Kallet, along with WKAL (1450 AM). As the only station in its area, it was affiliated with all four major networks at the time: NBC, DuMont, ABC, and CBS, with NBC being its primary affiliation. It lost DuMont in 1956 following the network's closure, and lost CBS soon afterward following a dispute with the network; since then, WHEN-TV/WTVH in Syracuse has served as the default CBS affiliate for the Utica area.
In 1951, a young local radio announcer named Dick Clark joined the staff at WKTV. He was a talented and good-looking announcer that quickly gathered a loyal following. Clark's father was the manager of Utica radio station WRUN (1150 AM, later to become WUTI and shut down in 2013; and 104.3 FM, now WFRG-FM), and his son wanted to avoid the name recognition factor. To avoid confusion, the younger Clark became known on-air as "Dick Clay". Eventually, Clark would anchor the weeknight newscasts on WKTV (replacing Robert Earle, who would later host the GE College Bowl). In 1952, Clark departed WKTV for WFIL AM-FM-TV in Philadelphia.
In 1958, Kallet sold WKTV and WKAL to a group led by Paul Harron and Gordon Gray, who had previously owned WIBG AM-FM in Philadelphia and WPFH in Wilmington, Delaware. Soon afterward, on January 1, 1959, WKTV moved to VHF channel 2 in a dial realignment, which allowed WTRI (channel 35) in Albany to move to channel 13 (where it became WAST, now WNYT), and (along with the earlier move of a channel 13 allocation in Hamilton, Ontario to channel 11, becoming CHCH-TV) led to a channel 13 allocation being assigned to Rochester (which signed on in 1962 as WOKR and is now WHAM-TV). With the switch, WKTV upgraded its signal and began to cover a fairly wide area stretching from as far south as the Catskill Mountains, as far east as The Berkshires in Western Massachusetts and into Southern Ontario, Canada. The Harron/Gray group, Mid New York Broadcasting, sold WKAL in 1961, but retained WKTV, and in subsequent years acquired several additional stations, including KAUZ-TV in Wichita Falls, Texas and WMTW-FM-TV on Mount Washington, New Hampshire. Harron also operated a chain of cable systems in the Northeastern United States, including a system in Utica, Central New York Cable TV (Later, Harron Cable TV) built in 1963. The company eventually became known as Harron Communications Corporation.
WKTV enjoyed a monopoly in the Utica/Rome television market until February 28, 1970 when WUTR signed on as an ABC affiliate. WKTV then became affiliated solely with NBC, and is now one of the network's longest-serving affiliates. In the mid-1980s, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled on cross ownership of broadcast, cable and print media in the same communities. The FCC grandfathered Harron. A few years later Harron acquired the nearby Canajoharie, NY cable system, then owned by a local appliance dealer. The Canajoharie plant extended well within a twenty mile contour of WKTV’s Middleville, NY transmitter site. The FCC revoked Harron’s grandfather status and required divestiture of either it’s cable or television assets in the region. In 1992, Harron sold controlling interest in WKTV to Smith Broadcasting (the cable system was later sold to Adelphia and now part of Time Warner). In 2004, Boston Ventures, acquired the Smith Broadcasting stations, and formed Smith Media, LLC, after founder Bob Smith died in 2003.
In September 1998, the creation of The WB 100+ led WKTV to partner with the group to launch a cable-only WB affiliate. The new service replaced network flagship WPIX from New York City on Time Warner Cable systems in the Mohawk Valley and it used the "WBU" (standing for The WB Utica) call sign in a fictional manner. On January 24, 2006, The WB and UPN announced the two networks would end broadcasting and merge to form The CW; when the new network launched on September 18, WKTV launched a new second digital subchannel to carry it through The CW Plus (a similar service to The WB 100+); the new subchannel supplanted "WBU".
WKTV has been broadcasting its digital signal on UHF channel 29 since May 2006 and in high definition starting with the 2008 Summer Olympics. On February 18, 2009, the station turned off its analog transmitter and began broadcasting exclusively in digital. This left some viewers without a reachable signal and others looking for an outdoor UHF antenna. To continue serving those areas, WKTV began simulcasting its weekday newscasts at noon and 5 on WUTQ (1550 AM, now WUSP) and WADR (1480 AM, now WRCK). In May 2011, the radio stations began simulcasting the second hour of WKTV's weekday morning show. On March 16, 2012, WUTQ-FM (100.7 FM), then simulcasting WUTQ/WRCK, began simulcasting the newscasts. WUTQ/WRCK broke from the simulcast later that year when WUTQ-FM owner Ken Roser sold the stations to Good Guys Broadcasting Corporation. WUTQ-FM continues to simulcast WKTV's 5pm newscast and its weekday morning show; however it now simulcasts the first hour due to an expansion of its popular morning talk show "Talk Of The Town".
Due to an ongoing retransmission dispute, Time Warner Cable replaced WKTV with fellow NBC affiliate WBRE-TV from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on December 16, 2010. WKTV-DT2 was also dropped and eventually replaced by HBO Family. On the same date, rival WUTR began to be seen in the Burlington, Vermont/Plattsburgh, New York market on Time Warner Cable after sister station WVNY was dropped for the same reason. Nexstar Broadcasting Group, owner of WBRE, and Mission Broadcasting (a broadcaster whose stations are operated by Nexstar), owner of WUTR, opposed the use of their stations as replacement programming and requested the Time Warner Cable franchise for the affected regions be revoked. WKTV and Time Warner reached an agreement, the terms of which both sides refused to reveal, on January 8, 2011, allowing WKTV and the CW subchannel to return to the cable system the next day. (Ironically, WVNY would later be sold to Nexstar Broadcasting, making it a sister station to WUTR.)
On October 1, 2013, Smith Media reached a deal to sell WKTV to Heartland Media, a company owned by former Gray Television executive Bob Prather. The sale was completed on March 20, 2014. WKTV launched a third digital subchannel eight months later on November 10, carrying programming from Me-TV.
On January 29, 2015, WKTV switched to full high definition television, including the debut of a new set.
America's Greatest Heart Run and Walk
WKTV hosts a telethon for the American Heart Association every March during the same weekend as America's Greatest Heart Run and Walk. The telethon is aired live from Utica College and usually begins the Friday evening before the run/walk. It continues on Saturday during the event with live coverage from various points along the course. Ironically, the telethon usually out-raises the WIBX Heart Radiothon by more than tenfold even though the radiothon was the original event from the entire Heart Weekend.
Boilermaker Road Race
For many years, WKTV has provided live coverage of the Boilermaker Road Race, a 15-kilometer (9.3 mi) road race that begins near Utica Boilers and ends at the F.X. Matt Brewery. Coverage is anchored primarily from the finish line and supplemented by live trucks positioned at key points along the course, portable transmitters on the race's media truck, motorcycles (driven by volunteers), and formerly a helicopter. The coverage is unique in that it begins by covering the race itself following the leaders throughout the race with interviews after they reach the finish line. Then, the focus shifts to the local angles of the race, with stories of life on the volunteers who make the race happen, local notables running the race (usually including current WKTV on-air staff), and former on-air staff who come back home to run. There is also coverage of post-race events.
WKTV is popular in its coverage area for its Christmas cards where station personnel gather with their families. Each person (or group/family) gets about 7–10 seconds of face time and various shots are spliced together to create a sixty second spot. In order to include every employee, several versions are created and are rotated throughout the holiday season. The song "Christmas is Paintin' The Town" by The Oak Ridge Boys is played in the background every year.
St. Patrick's Day Parade
WKTV provides live coverage of the city's annual Saint Patrick's Day parade each March, both on television and online.
The station has been a ratings stronghold in the Mohawk Valley for its entire history. For the most part, this is because the station had no local competition before WUTR's 1970 sign on; in addition, WUTR aired no local newscasts from August 2003 through September 2011, again leaving WKTV as the lone news operation in the market.
In September 2001, WKTV entered into a news share agreement with Fox affiliate WFXV (then owned by Quorum Broadcasting), leading to a 10 p.m. newscast on that station. Known as NewsChannel 2 on Fox, the show aired every night for a half-hour and was virtually identical to WKTV's regular newscasts. The broadcast generally originated live from WKTV's studios; however, there were frequently technical problems beaming the show to WFXV's facility through microwave relay. Sometimes, WKTV personnel had to record the newscast in advance and physically deliver the videotape to WFXV; the stations' studios are next to each other on top of Smith Hill in Deerfield, NY. When the outsourcing contract ended on August 31, 2004, WFXV decided not to renew it (by this point, WFXV was owned by Nexstar Broadcasting Group and operated Mission Broadcasting's WUTR through a joint sales agreement). The next day, the 10 p.m. newscast moved to cable-exclusive "WBU", with the weekend edition dropped; the newscast continues to air on WKTV-DT2. Like all CW Plus affiliates in the Eastern Time Zone, WKTV-DT2 airs the nationally syndicated morning show The Daily Buzz on weekdays from 6 until 8.
Newscasts on WKTV officially upgraded to true high definition on January 29, 2015, making WKTV the third station in the Utica area (behind WUTR and WFXV) to switch. Its HD conversion was a two-step process, beginning with the construction of a new set, which debuted on August 4, 2014, and continuing with the replacement of its news and engineering equipment with HD-ready versions. During weather forecast segments, WKTV features live NOAA's National Weather Service Doppler weather radar data from several regional sites. On-air, this is known as "StormTracker 2 Live Doppler".
- Channel 2 virtual TV stations in the United States
- Channel 29 digital TV stations in the United States
- "WKTV (TV) Utica Affiliates With ABC-TV" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting. December 5, 1949. p. 53. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
- "Joseph Trela". Utica AM Radio. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
- "Two Join NBC-TV" (PDF). Broadcasting-Telecasting. April 18, 1949. p. 4. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
- "Rock, Roll and Remember", by Dick Clark and Richard Robinson (New York, Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1976)
- "Closed Circuit" (PDF). Broadcasting. November 10, 1958. p. 5. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
- "Changing hands" (PDF). Broadcasting. May 22, 1961. p. 52. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
- "Jack Paar Will Sell TV Station" (PDF). Amsterdam Recorder. Associated Pressdate=November 10, 1967. p. 5. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
- "Paul Harron, Sr.". Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
- "Nexstar Adding Stations In CA, VT". TVNewsCheck. November 5, 2012. Retrieved November 5, 2012.
- Seyler, Dave (October 21, 2013). "Prather resurfaces in upstate New York". Television Business Report. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
- Application For Consent To Assignment Of Broadcast Station Construction Permit Or License , Federal Communications Commission, 21 October 2013
- Consummation Notice, CDBS Public Notice, Federal Communications Commission, Retrieved 21 March 2014.
- Fybush, Scott (August 4, 2003). "WUTR Pulls Plug on Local News". NorthEast Radio Watch. Retrieved April 1, 2011.
- WUTR AND WFXV TO LAUNCH HIGH DEFINITION EYEWITNESS NEWS ON SEPTEMBER 12. News release (August 15, 2011). Retrieved August 15, 2011.
- Fybush, Scott (August 27, 2001). "Bad Blood at the Blood Drive". North East RadioWatch. Retrieved April 1, 2011.
- Fybush, Scott (August 30, 2004). "CHOI Wins a Reprieve". NorthEast Radio Watch. Retrieved April 1, 2011.
- Official website
- WKTV-DT2 website
- WKTV-DT3 website
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WKTV
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WKTV-TV