|Channels||Digital: 36 (UHF)|
45.3: Antenna TV
|Owner||Cunningham Broadcasting |
(WRGT Licensee, LLC)
|Operator||Sinclair Broadcast Group|
cable: Bally Sports Ohio
First air date
|September 23, 1984|
Former channel number(s)
45 (UHF, 1984–2009)
30 (UHF, 2002–2019)
Call sign meaning
|The Wright brothers (who were from Dayton)|
|HAAT||351 m (1,152 ft)|
Public license information
WRGT-TV, virtual channel 45 (UHF digital channel 36), is a Dabl-affiliated television station licensed to Dayton, Ohio, United States. The station is owned by Baltimore-based Cunningham Broadcasting; the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns ABC/Fox/MyNetworkTV affiliate WKEF (channel 22), operates WRGT-TV under a local marketing agreement (LMA). However, Sinclair effectively owns WRGT-TV as the majority of Cunningham's stock is owned by the family of deceased group founder Julian Smith. Both stations share studios on Corporate Place in Miamisburg, while WRGT-TV's transmitter is located off South Gettysburg Avenue in southwest Dayton.
WRGT-TV was a charter Fox affiliate from the network's sign-on in 1986 until 2021.
WRGT-TV signed on as an independent station on September 23, 1984, owned by Meridian Communications, based in Pittsburgh. WRGT-TV was Meridian's second station following WVAH-TV in Charleston, West Virginia two years earlier. Meridian founded WRGT-TV following a high-stakes "in-contest" competition among four potential owners in the late 1970s. The station ran a general-entertainment format consisting of cartoons, classic sitcoms, recent off-network sitcoms, old movies, drama shows, and sports. On its sign on date, WRGT-TV broadcast 2001: A Space Odyssey, with a stereo simulcast of the audio over WTUE-FM 104.7. It originally used the slogan "Off To a Flying Start", featuring an animated Wright "B" Flyer used in its first promos (the "WRGT" calls are a reference to the Wright brothers).
Prior to its sign on, the only source of non-network programming in Dayton was WTJC (channel 26, now WBDT) a mostly religious station. However, WXIX-TV and WIII-TV (now WSTR-TV), both in Cincinnati, and WTTE in Columbus all reached portions of the Dayton market, and WTTV in Indianapolis was available on cable. Meridian persuaded WTJC's owner, Miami Valley Christian Television, to sell most of that station's non-religious programming to WRGT-TV. For all intents and purposes, it was now the only general-entertainment station in Dayton and the first independent since the demise of WKTR-TV in 1970 (now public station WPTD) and WSWO-TV in Springfield in 1972 (which used the same channel 26 allocation as WTJC/WBDT).
Despite the competition from larger-market stations and with WXIX, WSTR and WTTV being available on cable, WRGT-TV prospered. It would not have any real competition in Dayton until 1999 when WBDT became a primary WB affiliate (it was a brief O&O of the Pax TV network before then). After Fox launched on October 6, 1986, WRGT-TV became a charter affiliate of the fledgling network. On October 30, 1987, Meridian sold the station to Act III Broadcasting. Act III merged with Abry in 1994. A few months later, Abry was filed to sell all of the stations to Sullivan Broadcasting, a company controlled by J. David Sullivan. In 1998, after Sullivan was bought out by Sinclair, Sinclair filed to sell all license assets of the station, alongside WVAH-TV to Glencairn, Ltd.
By 1999, more reality and talk shows would be in the station's mix. In 1998, Sullivan's managing partner Sinclair bought WKEF (then an NBC affiliate). In 2001, Sinclair purchased most of Sullivan's other stations, but could not buy WRGT-TV for two reasons. The Dayton market has only seven full-power stations, not enough to legally permit a duopoly. Also, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not allow common ownership of two of the four highest-rated stations in a single market. With this in mind, WRGT-TV was sold to Glencairn, Ltd. However, nearly all of Glencairn's stock was controlled by trusts in the name of the Smith family who were founding owners of Sinclair. This effectively gave Sinclair a duopoly in Dayton. Glencairn later changed its name to Cunningham Broadcasting. There is undeniable evidence that Glencairn/Cunningham are merely shell corporations used to circumvent FCC ownership rules.
Until the early 2021 move of the Fox 45 programming to a subchannel of sister station WKEF, WRGT-TV was also considered an alternate ABC affiliate, airing that network's programs when WKEF was unable to do so such as during a breaking news emergency or local special. Until that move, WRGT-TV, along with CBS affiliate WHIO-TV (channel 7), were the only two stations in the area who had not changed their network affiliations even through the swaps of 2004.
In August 2006, it was confirmed that Fox's new sister network, MyNetworkTV, would air on a new second digital subchannel of WRGT-TV. On September 16, 2006, Time Warner Cable added MyTV Dayton to its digital cable lineup. In November 2008, the subchannel additionally became a launch-day affiliate of This TV.
Around November 11, 2010, Sinclair announced that when carriage agreements expired at the end of the year, it planned to pull all of its owned and/or operated TV stations in the United States, including WRGT-TV and WKEF, from Time Warner Cable, in a dispute over "retransmission fees". Negotiations began between the two parties. Around December 6, Time Warner announced that it would continue to provide Fox network programming on its systems (presumably via video on demand services), under a deal reached with Fox earlier in 2010; syndicated and local programs on Sinclair's Fox affiliates would not be seen. On December 31, Time Warner reached an agreement with an out-of-market station, presumably Cincinnati's WXIX-TV, to provide Fox network programming at least through the end of February. Later that same day, Sinclair and Time Warner extended talks for another two weeks, with continued cable carriage of Sinclair's stations, through January 14, 2011. On January 15, 2011, after a 24-hour extension of the previous deadline, Time Warner and Sinclair reached a tentative settlement. After further negotiations, a final agreement was reached on February 2, 2011, keeping WRGT-TV and WKEF on Time Warner.
On February 21, 2012, Miamisburg City Council approved a $150,000 loan to Sinclair, which planned to move the WRGT-TV/WKEF studios from Soldiers Home-West Carrollton Road in Dayton, and to move their business and sales offices from Broadcast Plaza (the former WRGT-TV studios), consolidating all within the former studios of CW affiliate WBDT on Corporate Place, off Byers Road, in Miamisburg. Sinclair expected to spend $5 million on renovations to its new facility, making it fully digital and high definition. The stations had anticipated moving into their new studios in November 2012; the move was finalized on January 27, 2013, with high definition newscasts, updated graphics and new logos on both stations.
On May 15, 2012, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Fox agreed to a five-year extension to the network's affiliation agreement with Sinclair's 19 Fox stations, including WRGT-TV, allowing them to continue carrying Fox programming through 2017.
On February 28, 2017, WRGT-TV added the Sinclair-owned Charge! on its fourth digital subchannel, 45.4. Charge! programming is only available over-the-air and has never been provided by local cable operators.
On October 8, 2019, the station replaced This TV programming on subchannel 45.2 with programming from Dabl.
On December 29, 2020, the station announced that on January 1, 2021, its main subchannel would be moving to 22.2 on sister station WKEF. The announcement though, still showed Fox 45 programming retained on WRGT-TV's subchannel 45.1; station management did not explain this. However, Sinclair made a similar move of the Fox affiliation from Port Arthur, Texas-licensed KBTV-TV, which it operates, to a subchannel of Sinclair-owned KFDM, licensed to Beaumont, Texas; station management there explained that the programming would air on both channels in a transition period ending on February 1. In addition, TBD and Stadium would be moving from WKEF to new WRGT-TV subchannels 45.5 and 45.6. The station advised over-the-air viewers to rescan on January 1.
As a Fox affiliate, WRGT-TV broadcast 17¼ hours of locally produced newscasts each week (with 3¼ hours each weekday and 30 minutes each on Saturdays and Sundays).
In 1998, WRGT-TV started its nightly 10 o'clock newscast, now known as Fox 45 News at 10, using sister station WKEF's existing news team. In the February 2006 sweeps period, the station's 10 o'clock news was the fastest growing local broadcast in the Dayton market, on certain nights, sometimes winning the time slot. Until 2007, there was direct 10 o'clock news competition from WHIO-TV's Time Warner Cable-only Miami Valley Channel. There was no over-the-air competition until August 18, 2007, when NBC affiliate WDTN began to produce a nightly 10 o'clock newscast on CW affiliate WBDT; this beat WRGT-TV's show in Dayton's metered market household ratings on the 26th day of its broadcast.
On June 12, 2006, WKEF began airing a weekday morning program from 5 to 7, called ABC 22 Good Morning. On the same day, WRGT-TV began airing Fox 45 in the Morning from 7 to 9 a.m. weekdays. In August 2008, WKEF began producing a 6:30 p.m. newscast for WRGT-TV, airing on weeknights against the national news broadcasts on the "Big Three" stations.
On July 9, 2019, the station rebranded its news operation as Dayton 24/7 Now, sharing that brand with WKEF. It introduced streaming apps and a social media presence with the same name and redirected its former website, www.fox45now.com. In addition, it tweaked its graphics to a different variation used by Sinclair stations.
The station's digital signal is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
WRGT-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 45, 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 remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 30. Through the use of PSIP, digital television receivers display the station's virtual channel as its former UHF analog channel 45.
WRGT-TV moved its digital signal from channel 30 to channel 36 at 10 a.m. on October 18, 2019, as part of the FCC's spectrum reallocation process. The station's transmitter power was reduced from 498 kW to 44.16 kW, pending a construction permit with the FCC to increase power to 1,000 kW. New antennas for both WRGT-TV and WKEF were installed via helicopter prior to December 23, 2019 and were connected to interim auxiliary transmitters on January 24, 2020; the station predicted that the transmitter work would be completed soon after.
- Channel 36 digital TV stations in the United States
- Channel 45 virtual TV stations in the United States
- List of television stations in Ohio
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