WREG-TV

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WREG-TV
WREG 2011 logo.png
Memphis, Tennessee
United States
Branding WREG News Channel 3
Slogan Here for Breaking News
Channels Digital: 28 (UHF)
Virtual: 3 (PSIP)
Subchannels 3.1 CBS
3.2 News Channel 3 Anytime
3.3 Antenna TV
Affiliations CBS
Owner Tribune Broadcasting
(WREG License, LLC)
First air date January 1, 1956; 60 years ago (1956-01-01)
Call letters' meaning Variation of original calls
Former callsigns WREC-TV (1956–1971)
Former channel number(s) Analog:
3 (VHF, 1956–2009)
Transmitter power 906 kW
Height 313 m
Facility ID 66174
Transmitter coordinates 35°10′52″N 89°49′56″W / 35.18111°N 89.83222°W / 35.18111; -89.83222
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile
CDBS
Website wreg.com

WREG-TV, virtual channel 3 (UHF digital channel 28), is a CBS-affiliated television station located in Memphis, Tennessee, United States. The station is owned by Tribune Broadcasting, subsidiary of the Tribune Media Company. WREG maintains studios located at Channel 3 Drive (off of I-55) near the Mississippi River on the west side of Memphis, and its transmitter is located between I-40 and Whitten Road, approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) southeast of Bartlett.

History[edit]

The station first signed on the air on January 1, 1956 as WREC-TV, and began regular broadcasts the following day on January 2. It was originally owned by electrical engineer and radio dealer Hoyt Wooten (who had applied for one of the first television licenses in the country in 1928), along with WREC radio (AM 600 and FM 102.7, now WEGR). The call letters stood for Wooten's radio store, the Wooten Radio-Electric Company, where he had founded WREC radio in 1922. It took the CBS affiliation from WHBQ-TV (channel 13, which had been a CBS affiliate since it signed on in September 1953), as WREC-AM had been a CBS Radio affiliate since 1929. WREC-TV's original studios were located inside the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis.

For its first six years, WREC-TV was the only locally owned station in Memphis (WHBQ-TV was owned by General Tire and WMC-TV was owned by Scripps). However, in 1963, Wooten sold WREC-AM-FM-TV to Cowles Communications, earning a handsome return on his original investment of 40 years earlier. In turn, Cowles sold WREC-TV to The New York Times Company in 1971. The new owners changed the station's calls to the current WREG-TV—a deliberate play on the old call letters.[1] Cowles later sold the radio stations to other interests.[2] Four years later, the Times Company built new studio facilities for WREG on one of the highest points on Chickasaw Bluff, overlooking the Mississippi River. The station had long since outgrown the Peabody Hotel, and management felt that building a new studio near the Mississippi would be appropriate since Memphis has long been identified with the river. On March 2, 1975, channel 3 signed off from the Peabody Hotel for the last time, and signed back on 45 minutes later with its first transmission from the new studios on Channel 3 Drive.[3] The station also maintained studio space in the Peabody Place shopping center, adjacent to the Peabody Hotel, marking a partial return of sorts to its early years. The studio was shut down in 2011 when Peabody Place closed.

On September 12, 2006, The New York Times Company announced its intention to sell its nine television stations. On January 4, 2007, the company entered into an agreement with private equity group Oak Hill Capital Partners to sell the stations to the Oak Hill-operated holding company Local TV,[4][5] the sale was finalized on May 7.[6] On July 1, 2013, Local TV announced that it would sell its stations to Tribune Broadcasting (which formed a management company that operated both Tribune and Local TV's stations in 2008) for $2.75 billion.[7] The sale was completed on December 27.[8]

Digital television[edit]

Digital channels[edit]

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[9]
3.1 1080i 16:9 WREG-DT Main WREG-TV programming / CBS
3.2 480i 4:3 NC3A-DT News Channel 3 Anytime
3.3 Antenna TV Antenna TV

The station became a charter affiliate of Antenna TV upon its launch on January 1, 2011 and is carried on digital subchannel 3.3.[10]

Analog-to-digital conversion[edit]

WREG-TV discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over VHF channel 3, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television.[11] The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 28, using PSIP to display WREG-TV's virtual channel as 3 on digital television receivers.

Programming[edit]

Syndicated programs seen on WREG-TV include Inside Edition, Jeopardy!, and Entertainment Tonight. WREG is one of the few CBS stations that pre-empts CBS This Morning Saturday, airing a three-hour Saturday morning newscast in its place. Over the years, WREG has produced many local programs, such as News Channel 3 Knowledge Bowl and Mid-South Outdoors (later known as News Channel 3 Outdoors). The station also currently produces Live at 9, a weekday morning program that maintains a talk show-style format and the public affairs program Informed Sources, which airs on Saturday evenings and sometimes Sunday nights and discusses current local issues.

Throughout the early 1960s into the late 1980s, WREC/WREG claimed to possess the largest feature film library of any television station in the United States, which was evidenced in its daily (late afternoons and late nights) and weekend programming lineup at the time. The station used some of those features for theme weeks (such as "Godzilla Week" and "John Wayne Week"), which proved to be very popular with viewers. However, like most major network affiliates in the early 1980s, WREG-TV began cutting back on the heavy amount of movies that occupied much of its off-network schedule, a move prompted by the presence of cable, VCRs, and the emergence of then-independent competitors WPTY (channel 24, now WATN-TV) in 1978 and WMKW (channel 30, now WLMT) in 1983.

News operation[edit]

Former WREG News Channel 3 at 5pm newscast open.

The station presently broadcasts 40 hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 6½ hours on weekdays, 4½ hours on Saturdays and three hours on Sundays). For more than two decades, WREG has been in a Nielsen ratings war for first place with longtime powerhouse WMC-TV. WREG did not actually win a ratings period, however, until February 2006 after it paired former WHBQ anchor Claudia Barr and former WMC morning anchor Richard Ransom as its main evening anchors. Since that time, WREG has gradually built on its wins in the all-important 10 p.m. slot and now consistently dominates that time period. Since the February 2014 sweeps period, the station's newscasts have placed first in all time slots.

WREG-TV offers locally produced programs in addition to its news programming. Every Saturday morning, it offers "Knowledge Bowl" which features competing high school teams the chance to show their knowledge on a variety of topics. It all leads up to a championship round in which the winning students get scholarships worth thousands of dollars. Saturday evenings, the station airs "Informed Sources" - a half-hour program whose panel discusses the prior week's top news stories.

On June 13, 2011 beginning with the 10 p.m. newscast, WREG-TV became the third station in the Memphis market (behind WMC-TV and WHBQ-TV) to begin broadcasting its local newscasts in high definition. However, it was the first station to broadcast in 100% HD including field cameras. The switch came with a refresh of the newsroom set and new graphics, however major technical glitches occurred during the week following the conversion. In mid-2011, the WREG news studio received a major overhaul with the unveiling of a "newsplex" set (designed by FX Group) that occupies a large studio with loft areas and continues into a smaller newsroom area in the back and includes numerous live areas and a set for the Live at 9 program.

Notable former on-air staff[edit]

Out-of-market Coverage[edit]

WREG-TV, along with Little Rock’s KTHV, previously served as the default CBS affiliates for the Jonesboro area. WREG’s signal can reach at least the Jonesboro area, and it is available on Suddenlink cable,[12] as well as the cable system of Paragould Light Water and Cable in the Paragould area. This ended on August 1, 2015, when Jonesboro-based Fox affiliate KJNB-LD signed on the Jonesboro market's first locally based CBS affiliate on its second digital subchannel.[13] This has resulted in the displacement of KTHV from Suddenlink cable, and may also result in the displacement of WREG-TV.

WREG-TV also previously served as the default CBS affiliate for the Jackson, Tennessee media market, along with Nashville’s WTVF. This ended on January 1, 2012, when ABC affiliate WBBJ converted its WBBJ-DT3 subchannel into a primary CBS affiliate and secondary Me-TV affiliate for that area.[14] In spite of this, both WREG and WTVF remain on Jackson Energy Authority’s E-Plus Broadband Cable system.[15]

At one point in time during the 1980s and 90s, WREG operated a translator based in Malden, Missouri, K62DA, which served some northern sections of the Memphis market, as well as the far southern parts of the Paducah, Kentucky/Cape Girardeau, Missouri market.[16]

References[edit]

External links[edit]