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WMC-TV Channel 5 (general)|
WMC Action News 5 (newscasts)
Yesterday, Tomorrow, Always.|
Your News Leader
First to Care. First to Serve.
Digital: 5 (VHF)|
Virtual: 5 (PSIP)
(sale to Gray Television pending)
(WMC License Subsidiary, LLC)
|First air date||December 11, 1948|
|Call letters' meaning||
We're the Memphis|
Commercial television station
(also variation of original WMCT calls)
|Former callsigns||WMCT (1948–1967)|
|Former channel number(s)||
|Transmitter power||34.5 kW|
|Height||308 m (1,010 ft)|
|Public license information:||
WMC-TV, virtual and VHF digital channel 5, is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Memphis, Tennessee, United States. The station is owned by Raycom Media. WMC-TV's studios are located on Union Avenue in midtown Memphis, and its transmitter is located between Crestview Drive and Fletcher Creek, near Bartlett. The station serves roughly the western third of Tennessee, northern Mississippi, eastern Arkansas and the southeastern corner of Missouri over the air, on satellite, and on various cable systems.
The station first signed on the air on December 11, 1948 as WMCT, broadcasting on VHF channel 4 as the first television station in Tennessee. The station originally broadcast from studios located inside the Goodwin Institute Building in Downtown Memphis. It was owned by the E. W. Scripps Company, along with the city's main newspaper, The Commercial Appeal and WMC radio (AM 790 and FM 99.7). As the only television station in Memphis for its first several years of operation, WMCT aired programming from all four national networks of the time: NBC, CBS, ABC and the now-defunct DuMont Television Network. However, it carried NBC as a primary affiliation, owing to WMC-AM's longtime affiliation with the NBC Blue Network. It lost CBS programming when WHBQ-TV (channel 13) signed on in September 1953, but continued to share ABC programming with WHBQ until January 1956, when WREC-TV (channel 3, now WREG-TV) launched as a full-time CBS affiliate with WHBQ taking over the ABC affiliation full-time. It lost DuMont when that network ceased operations in 1956. During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.
The station moved to VHF channel 5 in 1952 because of Channel 4 interference with fellow NBC affiliate WSM-TV in Nashville (now WSMV) also on Channel 4; however, this would later make WMCT short-spaced to another Nashville station, WLAC (now WTVF), when that station signed on in 1954. Since at least the 1950s, WMC-TV's logo has included an illustration of a riverboat, a symbol of the Mississippi River region which the station serves. For many years, the station's sounder included the riverboat's whistle – something which dates to the 1930s on its former AM sister. The whistle is still heard at the opening of WMC-TV's current newscasts. The station was known as "The Showplace of the South" during the 1960s. It dropped the "T" from its callsign (simultaneously tacking on the "-TV" suffix to it) on January 1, 1967 (at the same time, the co-owned FM station changed its call letters from WMCF to WMC-FM). Also in 1967, it began using a "5" logo resemblance to the numerical typeface found on a five-dollar bill, which would be used for over two decades.
The WMC stations moved to their current location at 1960 Union Avenue in Midtown Memphis in 1959 and celebrated with a broadcast hosted by comedian George Gobel. In 1960, the stations broadcast live remotes of John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, who both came to Memphis to campaign for the presidency. When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to Memphis to support the sanitation workers' strike that set the stage for his assassination in 1968, then-station general manager Mori Greiner established an unprecedented program called The 40% Speaks, in an effort to promote racial healing in the community. In an odd illustration of how little real integration had occurred in local television, the first host of this program was news anchor Dave Patterson, who himself was Caucasian. When Patterson left WMC-TV, his replacement was a white professor from Memphis State University, now the University of Memphis.
Like many NBC affiliates from the 1960s through the 1990s, WMC-TV began pre-empting a handful of NBC programs, mostly a sizeable portion of the network's daytime lineup, in favor of syndicated talk shows, although NBC's daytime reruns of sitcoms would often continue to air in the early morning hours (between 5 and 6 a.m.). In 1979, in an effort to build its viewership for The Today Show, WMC created a lead-in morning program titled Wake-Up Call. For the first three years, it was hosted by Dick Hawley and Peggy Rolfes. Denise DuBois replaced Rolfes in 1982 and co-hosted for the next ten years. By the mid-1980s, Wake Up Call was the highest-rated talk show on local television in the U.S., with a 52% share of the viewing audience.
After many years of solid management, Scripps sold WMC-AM-FM-TV to Atlanta businessman Bert Ellis in 1993. The graphics package that introduced this logo was adopted when the then newly formed Ellis Communications purchased WMC-TV and several other stations in 1993. Ellis was a longtime fan of his hometown's long-dominant station, WSB-TV, and styled his new broadcast group after that station. Under Ellis, two of WMC's siblings adopted the logo style as well: KSLA-TV in Shreveport, Louisiana and WECT in Wilmington, North Carolina, both of which use modified versions today. Ellis, in turn, sold the stations to a new broadcasting group formed by the Retirement Systems of Alabama, and subsequently named Raycom Media (that also purchased AFLAC's broadcasting unit), in 1996; Raycom sold off the radio stations to Infinity Broadcasting in 2000. (They are now owned by Entercom.)
Pending sale to Gray Television
On June 25, 2018, Atlanta-based Gray Television announced it had reached an agreement with Raycom to merge their respective broadcasting assets (consisting of Raycom's 63 existing owned-and/or-operated television stations, including WMC-TV), and Gray's 93 television stations) under the former's corporate umbrella. The cash-and-stock merger transaction valued at $3.6 billion – in which Gray shareholders would acquire preferred stock currently held by Raycom – will result in WMC-TV gaining new sister stations in nearby markets, including the Knoxville duopoly of CBS affiliate WVLT-TV and CW affiliate WBXX-TV (currently Gray's only Tennessee properties) and ABC/CW affiliate WTOK-TV in adjacent Meridian, Mississippi, in addition to its current Raycom sister stations.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|5.1||1080i||16:9||WMC-NBC||Main WMC-TV programming / NBC|
WMC-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 5, at 12:01 a.m. on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 52, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition, to its analog-era VHF channel 5 for post-transition operations.
Syndicated programming seen on WMC-TV includes Live with Kelly and Ryan, Right This Minute, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and Wheel of Fortune, among others. The syndicated version of Jeopardy! was originally carried locally on WMC-TV, but has since moved to WREG-TV. Rachael Ray and The Dr. Oz Show were originally broadcast on WMC-TV, but neither show currently airs in the Memphis market.
A popular local program on WMC-TV was Magicland, a live-audience magic series for children, hosted by anchor/announcer Dick "Mr. Magic" Williams, which aired Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. from 1966 until Williams's retirement in 1989. It is cited in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-running magic series in television history, having amassed 1,200 original episodes in its 23-year run.
One of the station's first broadcasts was a football game at Crump Stadium in Memphis. WMCT first broadcast what was then known simply as Championship Wrestling (later to become USWA Championship Wrestling in 1989) by stringing cables across the street from its studio to the since-demolished Ellis Auditorium in downtown Memphis early in the 1950s. Wrestling returned to Channel 5 in 1977, after several years on WHBQ-TV, and for many years the very popular live in-studio professional wrestling program was broadcast live on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Some of the wrestlers became regional celebrities from their exposure on the program, including Jerry "The King" Lawler, whose fame earned him his own locally produced Sunday sports program on channel 5 during the 1980s. USWA Championship Wrestling eventually became the last remaining program of its kind in the U.S., before its cancellation in 1997. Long before national PGA Tour broadcasts began, WMC-TV broadcast live professional golf from the Memphis Open, with a three-camera remote truck providing coverage from three greens.
WMC-TV presently broadcasts 40 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 6½ hours on weekdays, 4½ hours on Saturdays and three hours on Sundays). The station's newsroom is named after longtime employee Ed Greaney, who died on June 19, 2005. Greaney started working at WMCT in 1949, only two months after the station signed on and worked at channel 5 until retiring in late 2000.
Appropriately for a station founded by a newspaper, WMC-TV has a strong local news tradition. For the better part of its first four decades on the air, it was the dominant station in Memphis. However, rival WREG closed the gap in the late 1980s, and for the next two decades the two stations waged a spirited battle in the Nielsen ratings. WREG would not overtake WMC until the February 2006 sweeps period with the appointment of former WHBQ anchor Claudia Barr and former WMC morning anchor Richard Ransom as its evening anchors. Since that time, WREG has beaten WMC in the mornings, at 10 p.m. and on weekends. For the May 2013 sweeps period, WREG's newscasts beat WMC's in most timeslots (except at 5 and 6 p.m.), while WMC beat WREG in the 6 p.m. timeslot by .3 of a point. During the February 2014 sweeps, WMC fell to second place in all timeslots, trailing WREG by several points.
In October 2006, WMC debuted an overhauled news set (the first set update since 1995), along with an updated graphics and music package. On July 2, 2008, WMC-TV became the first television station in the Memphis market and the second in Tennessee (behind WTVF in Nashville) to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition.
On August 22, 2011, WMC-TV debuted an hour-long 4 p.m. newscast, which replaced The Oprah Winfrey Show (which ended its run in May of that year) and competes against WREG's newscast in the same timeslot. On June 26, 2013, WMC-TV debuted an hour-long weekday morning newscast from 7-8 a.m. on its Bounce TV-affiliated second digital subchannel with a heavy emphasis on weather and traffic updates. The 7-8 a.m. Bounce newscast ended in 2017.
Former on-air staff
- Dave Brown - chief meteorologist, hosted Championship Wrestling (1977–2015)
- Jack Eaton - Sports Director (1956–1991)
- Ursula Madden - Main Anchor now PR for mayor of Memphis
- Lance Russell - freelance host; best known as the host of the live Championship Wrestling program on Saturday mornings (joined the station in 1977 from WHBQ-TV)
- Dick Williams - host of Magicland (1966–1989)
- Pam McKelvy (2013–2014)
- Richard Ransom
- John Bryant
- Donna Davis
- Andy Wise - Consumer Investigator (2008–2017)
WMC-TV was historically the default NBC affiliate on cable and over-the-air in two neighboring media markets—Jackson, Tennessee and Jonesboro, Arkansas, as NBC never affiliated with any stations in either of these markets. In 2014, WNBJ-LD signed on the air as the Jackson area's own NBC affiliate. WMC-TV remains intact on the area's cable system of Jackson Energy Authority. That system also carried Nashville's WSMV until the sign-on of WNBJ.
In late January 2015, WMC's ABC-affiliated sister station KAIT (channel 8) in Jonesboro converted their second subchannel, KAIT-DT2, into an NBC affiliate for the Jonesboro area. In addition, WMC-TV's over-the-air signal still provides city-grade coverage into both Jonesboro and Jackson. The central and southern portions of the two southernmost counties in the Missouri bootheel can also still pick up WMC-TV's signal. 
- Miller, Mark K. (June 25, 2018). "Gray To Buy Raycom For $3.6 Billion". TVNewsCheck. NewsCheckMedia. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
- "Require Prime Evening Time for NTA Films", Boxoffice: 13, November 10, 1956
- 1965 listing From Radio-Info
- "GRAY AND RAYCOM TO COMBINE IN A $3.6 BILLION TRANSACTION". Raycom Media (Press release). June 25, 2018.
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- Dade Hayes (June 25, 2018). "Gray Acquiring Raycom For $3.65B, Forming No. 3 Local TV Group". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation.
- RabbitEars TV Query for WMC
- List of Digital Full-Power Stations
- "WMC - TitanTV". TitanTV. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
- Newspaper Clip from www.memphiswrestlinghistory.com
- WMC-TV: News, Weather, Traffic, Radar, and Sports for Memphis, TN; WMCTV.com | Action News 5 in High Definition
- Marszalek, Diana (July 23, 2013). "News Finds A New Home Among Diginets". TV News Check. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
- Wise, Andy. "GOODBYE ANDY: The story that made Andy's career". Retrieved 2017-12-16.