|Utica–Rome, New York|
|City||Utica, New York|
|Slogan||2.1: Where the News Comes First|
Digital: 29 (UHF)|
Virtual: 2 (PSIP)
(WKTV Licensee, LLC)
|Founded||December 1, 1949|
|Call letters' meaning||
|Former callsigns||Cable only: WBU|
|Former channel number(s)||
13 (VHF, 1949–1958)
2 (VHF, 1959–2009)
|Transmitter power||708 kW|
|Height||402 m (1,319 ft)|
WKTV is a dual NBC/CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Utica, New York, United States and serving Central Upstate New York's Mohawk Valley. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 29 (or virtual channel 2 via PSIP) from a transmitter in the Eatonville section of Fairfield. Owned by Heartland Media, it has studios on Smith Hill Road in Deerfield (with a Utica postal address).
On cable, the station's primary channel can be seen on Charter Spectrum channels 4 and 1203 in both standard and high definition. WKTV's DT2 subchannel is on Spectrum channels 5 and 1209, and its DT3 channel is on Spectrum channels 11 and 1212.
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; after that, WHEN-TV/WTVH in Syracuse served as the default CBS affiliate for the Utica area until 2015.
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 market. The FCC grandfathered Harron. A few years later Harron acquired the nearby Canajoharie, New York cable system, then owned by a local appliance dealer. The Canajoharie plant extended well within a 20-mile (32 km) contour of WKTV's Middleville, New York transmitter site. The FCC revoked Harron's grandfather status and required divestiture of either its 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 is now part of Charter Communications). 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-TV" (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 replaced "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. The station signed-off its analog signal on February 18, 2009, 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 p.m. 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 5 p.m. 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 Mission Broadcasting, making it a sister station to WUTR.)
On October 1, 2013, Smith Media reached a deal to sell WKTV to Heartland Media, a newly-formed 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 MeTV.
On October 26, 2015, WKTV announced that it would launch CBS on its second digital subchannel (under the "CBS Utica" branding) on November 22. The new affiliation marks the first time CBS has had an affiliate in Utica since the end of WKTV's secondary affiliation with the network in the mid-1950s, as well as the first time CBS has ever had a full-time affiliate in Utica. Following the change, CW programming moved to WKTV's third subchannel, with MeTV in turn being transferred to a new fourth subchannel.
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP short name||Programming |
|2.1||1080i||16:9||WKTVNBC||Main WKTV programming / NBC|
|2.3||WKTV-CW||Central New York's CW 11|
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. The 6 a.m. half-hour of WKTV's morning newscast, the first half-hour of its noon newscast (prior to The Young and the Restless), and its entire 11 p.m. newscast are also simulcast on WKTV-DT2, with future plans for WKTV to produce exclusive newscasts for the subchannel using CBS resources.
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, New York.
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 continued on the station, which became WKTV-DT2 in 2006, until WKTV-DT2 switched affiliations to CBS on November 22, 2015. At that point, the newscast moved to WKTV-DT3, where it continues to air to this day.
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.
On January 25, 2016, WKTV began producing a 7 a.m. newscast for WKTV-DT3. Like the 10 p.m. newscast, it airs for a half-hour and is similar to WKTV's regular newscasts. 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".
Notable former staff
- Dick Clark – anchor (1951-1952, deceased)
- Robert Earle – announcer/anchor (1949-1951, later host of G.E. College Bowl)
- Channel 2 virtual TV stations in the United States
- Channel 29 digital TV stations in the United States
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