|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (May 2012)|
|Concord, New Hampshire
|Channels||Analog: 21 (UHF)|
|Owner||The Flatley Company|
|First air date||April 16, 1984|
|Last air date||March 31, 1989|
|Call letters' meaning||We're New Hampshire Television|
|Former affiliations||Independent (1984–1988)
The station first signed on the air on April 16, 1984, operating as an independent station. WNHT initially ran a business news format during the day and a general entertainment format featuring off-network sitcoms, drama series and movies at night. Business news programming was dropped in the fall of 1985, and WNHT ran a full-time general entertainment schedule in competition with WNDS (channel 50, now WBIN-TV). The station's programming consisted of drama series, movies, first-run syndicated shows, and sitcoms by this time, but did not feature cartoons as many other independents did. After just three months, the original owners[who?] sold WNHT to The Flatley Company, a broadcaster owned by Boston real estate developer Thomas Flatley.
Unfortunately, the station's ratings were very low, so by 1986 the station moved into a more traditional independent schedule, adding a few cartoons to the lineup. By then, ratings were decent and the station became profitable.
Manchester is 40 miles (64 km) from Boston, while Concord is about 55 miles (89 km) from that city. While southern New Hampshire is considered to be part of the Boston market, it had (and still does have) its own ABC station, WMUR-TV (channel 9). Boston VHF stations had grade A signals in Manchester and Grade B signals in Concord, while the UHF stations had grade B signals in Manchester but spotty signals in Concord. It was thought that the Manchester/Concord/Portsmouth region could break away from Boston and become its own television market. At the start of 1988, this area had its own ABC station, WNDS, WNHT, PBS member station WENH-TV (channel 11, part of New Hampshire Public Television), and WGOT (channel 60, now WNEU) which had just began operation. If this area were to break away from Boston, it would rank in the top 100 of all U.S. television markets. After much research, it was thought that the area needed a CBS affiliate.
With that in mind, WNHT became affiliated with CBS on February 1, 1988. Except for Star Trek, off-network syndicated reruns disappeared from the schedule, while first-run talk shows like Donahue and The Oprah Winfrey Show remained. On May 28, WNHT established a news department and began airing local newscasts at 6:30 a.m., 12 noon, 5, 6 and 11 p.m. However, the station failed to lure local CBS viewers away from WNEV (channel 7, now NBC affiliate WHDH) and Portland, Maine's WGME-TV, two established CBS stations in the neighboring markets which both reached Concord even without cable coverage. The cable systems in southeastern New Hampshire carried WNHT, while the systems in western and northern New Hampshire did not. Cable providers also carried at least WNEV, while many others also carried WGME, with cable systems in northern New Hampshire carrying WGME and/or WCAX-TV from Burlington, Vermont. Worse, there were no syndication exclusivity or must-carry laws compelling cable providers to black out the other CBS affiliates. Even if there were, WNEV still would have been receivable over-the-air in Concord through its grade B signal in the area.
With ratings continuing to disappoint, at the end of 1988 the station laid off some staffers in hopes of cutting payroll. By March 1989, the morning, midday and 5 p.m. newscasts were canceled, leaving only the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts. Even those moves did not make WNHT more profitable.
On March 31, 1989, Flatley informed station staff in a meeting that the station would go off the air at midnight that night due to its continuing poor ratings and financial problems. According to an article in the Union-Leader newspaper, Flatley compared this decision to the one where he had to put to sleep his terminally ill German shepherd. That afternoon, viewers started seeing this message on the bottom of the screen: "IT IS WITH REGRET THAT WE ANNOUNCE THAT WNHT WILL BE LEAVING THE AIR PERMANENTLY TONIGHT AT MIDNIGHT." That night, the station's newscasts were replaced by reruns of Three's Company. As stated, WNHT went off the air at midnight, even though Pat Sajak's talk show was still on the air at that moment.
After a sale attempt to "Rogue Television Corporation" (a joint venture of Boston Phoenix owner and publisher Steve Mindich and WHRC (channel 46, now WWDP) part-owner Michael C. Mooney) in 1990-91 fell through, the WNHT license was sold to Wilson Hickham's New England Television (no relation to the David Mugar company who, ironically, owned former competitor WNEV/WHDH-TV) in 1991, and again to Boston University in 1993, who reactivated the station as WNBU in 1995. The station is now WPXG, a relay of Boston Ion Television affiliate WBPX-TV (that station is the former WABU, of which WNBU served as its southern New Hampshire satellite station).
- WNHT News 21 (1988–1989)