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Nashville, Tennessee
United States
Branding NPT – Nashville Public Television
Slogan Television Worth Watching
Channels Digital: 8 (VHF)
(to move to 7 (VHF))
Virtual: 8 (PSIP)
Subchannels 8.1 PBS
8.2 Npt2
8.3 PBS Kids
Affiliations PBS (since 1970)
Owner Nashville Public Television, Inc.
First air date September 10, 1962; 54 years ago (1962-09-10)
Call letters' meaning Nashville
Former callsigns WDCN-TV (1962–2000)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
2 (VHF, 1962–1973)
8 (VHF, 1973–2009)
46 (UHF, until 2009)
Former affiliations NET (1962–1970)
Transmitter power 17.65 kW
Height 390 m (1,280 ft)
Facility ID 41398
Transmitter coordinates 36°2′50.4″N 86°49′48.9″W / 36.047333°N 86.830250°W / 36.047333; -86.830250 (WNPT)
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
Website www.wnpt.org

WNPT, virtual and VHF digital channel 8, is a PBS member television station licensed to Nashville, Tennessee, United States. The station is owned by Nashville Public Television, Inc., a community-funded, nonprofit organization. WNPT's studios are located on Rains Avenue in southeast Nashville, and its transmitter is located in the southern suburb of Forest Hills.


The station signed on the air on September 10, 1962, as WDCN-TV (for Davidson County Nashville), on VHF channel 2. It is Tennessee's second-oldest educational television station, behind WKNO-TV in Memphis, established six years earlier in 1956. It was originally licensed to the board of Nashville Public Schools, which became an arm of the metropolitan government when Nashville and Davidson County merged in 1963. Like most eventual PBS member stations, WDCN was mainly established to serve area schoolchildren with educational programming.

In the early 1970s, WDCN agreed to swap channel frequencies with ABC affiliate WSIX-TV, which was seeking a stronger signal. Metro agreed to trade frequencies upon realizing that WDCN's core audience would be better served on channel 8, despite its limited reach (the channel 8 transmitter facility in Nashville was short-spaced to fellow PBS station WGTV in Atlanta).[1] Although the channel 2 signal traveled a very long distance under normal conditions, several Middle Tennessee viewers did not get a good signal from WDCN because the original frequency was short-spaced to another Atlanta station, WSB-TV.

On December 11, 1973, WSIX-TV changed its call letters to WNGE-TV (now WKRN-TV) and moved to channel 2, while WDCN moved to channel 8.[2] It was only the third time in U.S. television history that the FCC allowed two established stations to exchange frequencies; an almost identical trade occurred in New Orleans three years earlier in 1970, also involving the ABC and PBS stations.

The channel 8 signal was more or less unviewable in several areas of the market's eastern fringe, such as Cookeville. This area is slightly more rugged than the rest of Middle Tennessee, and the channel 8 signal was not able to penetrate it as well as the channel 2 signal could. Much of this area was left without PBS programming until WCTE signed on in 1978.

Originally, the station broadcast from a building located near Belmont College (now Belmont University) on 15th and Compton Avenues, a facility shared with WSM-TV (channel 4, now WSMV) until 1963. The proceeds from the exchange of channel positions with then-WSIX/WNGE owners General Electric enabled WDCN-TV to build studios in 1976 near the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in south Nashville, on the former site of Nashville Central High School. According to station officials, WKRN also maintains the original WDCN transmitter and antenna as part of the 1973 arrangement. The original site is now used as Metro's communications center.

Logo variant in 2000, when the station changed from WDCN to WNPT.

Political and funding issues prompted the Metro Nashville government to begin proceedings in the late 1990s to relinquish WDCN's license to a community board. Some local residents welcomed the change, since they believed that the school board's operation of the station kept WDCN from broadcasting PBS programs reputed to be even mildly controversial (even though Nashville itself is very liberal by Southern standards, the suburbs and adjacent rural areas are quite conservative, especially on social issues), including some programs that were broadcast on practically all PBS stations in markets as big or smaller than Nashville.

Whatever the motivation, WDCN would become the last public television station in the state to be emancipated from a governmental body. WKNO had never been publicly operated, and the state board of education released the remaining stations in the state to community groups back in 1984. Metro formally released WDCN in 2000 to a new board known as "Nashville Public Television". The new board changed the station's calls to WNPT on February 22. Since then, the station has almost never referred to its call letters or channel number on the air (except during legal IDs), usually calling itself "Nashville Public Television".

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital signal is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[3]
8.1 1080i 16:9 NPT-1 Main WNPT programming / PBS
8.2 480i NPT-2 NPT2 (MHz WorldView (midnight-6 a.m.)
PBS Encore (6 a.m.-midnight)
8.3 NPT-3 PBS Kids


In the late 2000's NPT-2 launched to carry PBS Encore programming, with programming from MHz Worldview airing overnights.


WNPT-DT3 began broadcasting the 24-hour PBS Kids channel on June 30, 2017.[4]

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WNPT shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 8, on June 12, 2009, the official date in which full-power television stations in the United States transitioned from analog to digital broadcasts under federal mandate. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 46 to VHF channel 8 for post-transition operations.[5]

Out-of-market coverage[edit]

Northern Alabama[edit]

From the 1970s, up until 1980 at earliest, WNPT, along with the "big three" commercial stations, were carried on cable television in Northern Alabama, including in Florence, Decatur, and Huntsville. This ended as more national cable channels were established throughout the 1980s, and became available to most cable systems. [6] Lincoln County, Tennessee is the only middle Tennessee county in the Huntsville DMA, but Fayetteville Public Utilities, its local cable carrier, carries WNPT instead of the PBS station in its home market, Alabama Public Television.

Southern Kentucky[edit]

During much of the 1960s, although the Bowling Green, Kentucky area was considered to be within the Nashville DMA until Nielsen created a market area of its own in 1978, WNPT (as WDCN) was the default PBS outlet for that area, because no other educational television station reached that area with its signal. This ended when WKGB-TV, a broadcast relay station of the Kentucky Educational Television (KET) network of Lexington, signed on the air in September 1968. However, even after WKYU-TV signed on in that same area in January 1989, WDCN was available on cable in the Bowling Green up until about the early 2000s. WNPT can still be picked up with an outdoor antenna in the city of Bowling Green proper.

In Glasgow, the Glasgow Electric Plant Board still carries WNPT on their system. [7] The South Central Rural Electric Cooperative also carries WNPT on all of its systems, making it available to their customers as far north as Hart, Green and Larue counties, the latter two of which are in the Louisville DMA. [8] [9]


  1. ^ "VHF frequency swap in Nashville." Broadcasting. March 26, 1973, pp. 60-62. [1][2]
  2. ^ "In brief: Two gets you eight." Broadcasting. December 17, 1973, pg. 10. [3]
  3. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for WNPT
  4. ^ "Nonstop Children's Programming on NPT3 PBS Kids! - News and Programming Updates From Nashville Public Television." WNPT-TV (via Press Release). Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  5. ^ "DTV Tentative Channel Designations for the First and Second Rounds" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-03-24. 
  6. ^ Huntsville Rewound - The History of Huntsville AL Television
  7. ^ Glasgow Electric Plant Board Cable Lineup
  8. ^ Barren, Hart, Metcalfe & Adair Lineup. South Central Rural Telephone Cooperative. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  9. ^ SCRTC Cable Lineup for Green and Larue Counties (2016)

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Channel 2 Nashville occupant
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Channel 8 Nashville occupant
Succeeded by